Knights On Ice’s 2019-20 preseason Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the top 25 players under the age of 25 currently in Vegas’ system. Six Knights On Ice writers created their own Top 25 Under 25 ballots. Each individual writer’s ballot was then used to generate a composite score that forms the final ballot.
At No. 23 on our Top 25 Under 25 series comes forward Brandon Kruse — the first forward revealed on the list. Drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in the fifth round (No. 135 overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, Kruse now plays left wing for Bowling Green State University in the NCAA.
No. 23: Brandon Kruse
Age: 20 (March 26, 1999)
Size: 5-foot-9, 154 pounds
Kruse had a stellar year in his second season in the NCAA, exceeding expectations with 41 points in as many games. Of those 41 points, 10 were goals while 31 were assists. Kruse improved his game after a highly successful rookie season that not only saw him record 33 points in 41 games, but also saw him named to the NCAA (WCHA) All-Rookie Team. Kruse joins the company of multiple big names in the hockey world who were also named to the NCAA (WCHA) All-Rookie Team in the past such as Jason Zucker, Justin Schultz, Jake Gardiner, Justin Faulk, Jaden Schwartz, Kyle Turris, Tyler Bozak, Erik Johnson and many more.
Kruse finished the 2018-2019 season second in points on his team — only two points behind Max Johnson for the team lead. His career-best season earned him a spot on the NCAA (WCHA) Second All-Star Team as well.
Brandon Kruse lights the lamp on the odd man rush and @BGFalconHockey takes a 1-0 lead late in the second period against (2) Minnesota Duluth.— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) March 30, 2019
2nd Period | BG 1 | UMD 0#NCAAHockey pic.twitter.com/jnLQewmqhZ
The biggest issue surrounding Kruse would be his size. Like many before him, size has always been a concern when looking at small point-producing forwards. His height is not the big issue, though. Instead, it’s his weight. His point-per-game season in 2018-2019 was encouraging, but at 154 pounds, he needs to add more muscle if he wants a legit change to crack the NHL.
Adding about 10-15 pounds of muscle could make all the difference for Kruse. Many small forwards in the NHL have proven that size is not as important as it once was perceived to be — Alex DeBrincat serves as a good example. However, the NHL is a highly physical league and scouts do still take size into account.
If Kruse continues to produce as he did this past season for Bowling Green and adds some muscle, his stock could increase significantly. Kruse has a ton of potential and is a rather underrated prospect in the Golden Knights’ system. His chances of making the NHL may be a lot higher than many believe, and if he can have another great season like he had this past year, he could have a real shot at earning a chance to crack the NHL lineup within the next few years. Still, though, much of this is dependent on how he matures physically.
Previously in Vegas Golden Knights Preseason 2019 Top 25 Under 25: