It’s a near certainty that one of the Vegas Golden Knights’ young defensive prospects will make the jump to the NHL this coming season. President of hockey operations George McPhee confirmed as much following the trade that sent defenseman Colin Miller to the Buffalo Sabres.
But the Golden Knights might be getting even younger than expected this season, especially if forward Cody Glass, the very first draft selection in franchise history, impresses enough in training camp to earn a roster spot. And given what Glass has shown over the last 12 months, there’s no reason to believe he isn’t ready to join the big club.
Glass, 20, averaged a whopping 1.81 points per game (15 goals, 54 assists in 38 contests) with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks in 2018-19 despite missing part of the season with what appeared to be an ugly knee injury. When the Winterhawks’ season concluded, Glass made the jump to the AHL and helped guide the Chicago Wolves to the Calder Cup Final, collecting seven goals and 15 points in 22 postseason games.
Not bad for a kid who still has to wait nearly seven months to legally purchase an alcoholic beverage.
Glass proved himself against grown men in the AHL, and he believes the run to the Calder Cup Final was enough experience to give him a leg up going into training camp.
“Just going through the AHL playoff run, things like that, just a lot of experience under my belt now,” Glass told the media on Thursday. “I kind of know what to expect going into the higher level. Obviously juniors, little bit of a step down from the pro league, so to get a taste of pro means a lot going into this year with Vegas.”
For Glass, a center, to make the full-time leap to the NHL, there will need to be a roster spot available for the taking, and William Karlsson, Paul Stastny and Cody Eakin are all locked in as the Golden Knights’ top three centermen.
The fourth-line center spot, however, is up for grabs. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare is now a member of the Colorado Avalanche, and Tomas Nosek, Nicolas Roy and, of course, Glass, are all very much in the running to fill the void. But would the Golden Knights really want their prized first-round pick from the 2017 NHL Entry Draft to begin his career playing sheltered minutes on the fourth line?
In all likelihood, no.
Luckily, Glass does have experience playing on the wing, which could earn him a shot to play alongside Eakin and Alex Tuch on the third line (though that would require him to play on his offhand, as Tuch is locked in at right wing).
“I’ve played wing in the past when I was growing up and then I’ve pretty much been center throughout junior,” said Glass. “I started on the right wing and then went to center, so I’m familiar with both positions. I think they want me to play center. I’m not sure, I can’t really get into that.”
Center or wing, Glass probably couldn’t care less. After being sent down to his junior club each of the last two summers, the Winnipeg native is hungry for NHL action, and he made it clear that he wants to be playing in Vegas this season — nowhere else.
“My goal is to be in the NHL. The past two years, being sent down to junior kind of sucks,” said Glass. “I did really well in the AHL I thought, team did really well. They want a bunch of winners on their team. I made it to the finals, that could really help me a lot, and I’m really looking forward to my opportunity here.”