Knights On Ice’s 2020-21 preseason Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the top 25 players under the age of 25 currently in Vegas’ system. The KOI staff members created their own Top 25 Under 25 ballots. Each individual writer’s ballot was then used to generate a composite score that formed the final rankings.
Today we continue this year’s version of our Top 25 Under 25 series, highlighting the top young players in the Vegas Golden Knights organization. Keegan Kolesar, the first entry so far on this list who has played in the NHL, comes in at No. 22.
No. 22: Keegan Kolesar
- Position: RW
- Age: 23
- Currently playing: Henderson Silver Knights
- Nationality: Canadian
Kolesar made his NHL debut on Jan. 11, playing 12:06 against the team that drafted him, the Columbus Blue Jackets. In that game, a game which Jonathan Marchessault missed, Kolesar played more minutes than Tomas Nosek and Ryan Reaves; he attempted just one shot.
Kolesar was on his best per-game scoring pace last year, his third season in the AHL, scoring 18 points in 33 games, most of which were assists. But that came a season after he scored 20 goals in 74 AHL games with Chicago and was one of the better Wolves players in the playoffs with six goals and 11 points.
Keegan Kolesar demonstrating some of the grit and skill that will give him a chance to be a 4th line scoring threat for the Golden Knights in the not-too-distant future. #Vegasborn pic.twitter.com/w7EQ5xx2JD— Jack Manning (@NHLJackManning) June 2, 2019
Kolesar’s game is a two-way one, but to make the NHL full-time he’ll need to get back to those goal-scoring ways. At 6-foot-2, Kolesar has the physicality to make a difference at both ends of the ice, and he was one of Rocky Thompson’s go-to penalty killers throughout his time in Chicago.
He has the ability to find high-danger chances and to capitalize on them, as he did when he scored 20 goals in the 2018-19 season. The problem is doing it consistently. In two of his three AHL seasons, Kolesar has scored a combined eight goals in 77 games.
Kolesar has time to climb higher on this list and earn a role at the NHL level, however. He signed a two-year extension with Vegas on Oct. 19 and will be with the team for a few more years. For now, he’ll look to make a larger impact with Henderson starting Feb. 5.