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.
Brandon Kruse was selected in the fifth round (No. 135 overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and comes in at No. 17 on the Vegas Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25 list. The 5-foot-9, 155-pound winger is a small and speedy force on the ice, and he’s one of the most consistent players in the Knights organization.
No. 17: Brandon Kruse
- Age: 21
- Position: LW
- Currently playing: Bowling Green State University, NCAA
- Nationality: American
Kruse is already off to a solid start in his senior year at Bowling Green State University. He has 11 goals and 32 points in 27 games thus far; that scoring pace — 1.2 points per game — is the highest of his collegiate career, and he’s already set a new previous career high in goals (11).
He also is sitting at a plus/minus rating of plus-29, by far the best of his career and a significant improvement over last year’s plus-one.
Though not an elite goal-scorer, Kruse has generated prolific production throughout college. He has a total of 38 goals and 140 points in 147 NCAA games (0.95 points per game), which helped him land in Sports Illustrated’s “Top 100 NCAA Players to Watch in 2020-21” piece back in November, where he ranked No. 25 overall.
One of Kruse’s greatest strengths is his skating, as he’s blazing fast and great on his edges.
His impressive skill set also features a strong hockey sense and creativity on the ice. He’s a great passer and has really committed to working hard at both ends of the rink.
Brandon Kruse (VGK 2018 5th round) picked up two points in his season opener, including this goal from a massive individual effort. He'll be looking for a huge senior year to secure an NHL contract. #VegasBorn #VGKProspects pic.twitter.com/qgIuXTDJTQ— Jack Manning (@NHLJackManning) November 15, 2020
The native of Saline, Michigan is very talented, but there are still a few areas of his game that could use some improvement.
One is his strength. Size isn’t nearly as important as it used to be, but Kruse will need to add at least 10-15 pounds of muscle to his 155-pound frame if he wants to compete in the AHL and ultimately push for an NHL roster spot.
He also needs to continue to work on his shot, though his results so far this season seem to indicate that he is certainly on the right track.
Kruse joins George McPhee as one of 73 players in Bowling Green State University history to top 100 points, and he has great upside, particularly for a fifth-round draft pick. The Knights have yet to sign him, but if Kruse continues to produce at this pace, it’s hard to believe the organization won’t lock him up by this summer after another stellar season.
Previously in the Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25 2020-21 series:
Honorable mention: Layton Ahac
No. 25: Jonas Rondbjerg
No. 24: Jake Leschyshyn
No. 23: Paul Cotter
No. 22: Keegan Kolesar
No. 21: Ben Jones
No. 20: Marcus Kallionkieli
No. 19: Lukas Cormier
No. 18: Pavel Dorofeyev