In the 2021-22 Player Review series, we will evaluate the 2021-22 performances of each key member of the Golden Knights. Players were evaluated based on overall performance in the regular season with regard to pre-season expectations and how that player performed in his particular role.
It wasn’t long ago that Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Dylan Coghlan had fans buzzing with excitement after posting 40 points in 66 games in his first AHL season. The buzz has died down considerably since then as he’s only managed 19 points in 88 NHL appearances thus far. But at just 24 years old, Coghlan now has a fair amount of NHL experience under his belt, which sets him up for a crucial 2022-23 campaign.
Season in review
After posting six points in 29 games with the Golden Knights in 2020-21, the hope was that Coghlan would take the next step this season and begin logging points more consistently. Unfortunately, his offensive production remained more or less the same, averaging 0.22 points per outing (he averaged 0.20 points per game in 2020-21) with 13 points in 59 contests.
Of course, consistent point production isn’t the only signifier of quality play. Brayden McNabb serves as a strong example of this. While he’s never been known for lighting up the stat sheet, he’s made a career out of being a steady stay-at-home defender who shuts down enemy rushes and limits quality scoring opportunities. Coghlan, however, isn’t that type of defenseman. He’s never been considered a defensive stalwart by any stretch, so when he’s not producing offensively, the upside to his game is limited.
While Coghlan did do a good enough job of driving play at 5-on-5, opposing teams tended to get the better of their opportunities while he was on the ice. Of the 25 Golden Knights skaters who earned at least 200 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time, Coghlan ranked second-to-last in Goals For percentage (45.28). Only Jake Leschyshyn ranked lower in that category.
On more of a positive note, though, Coghlan did end up earning some valuable time on the Golden Knights’ second power play unit with other players out of the lineup due to injury, which resulted in a pair of power-play markers and four total points. Not eye-popping numbers, but it’s something.
This summer’s training camp is going to be key for Coghlan. He will become an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent at the end of the 2022-23 season, and he’ll need to make some considerable improvements in order to earn an extension with the Golden Knights. But to make those improvements, he’ll need to earn playing time. And to earn playing time, he’ll need to beat out the other young defensemen looking to accomplish the same feat.
The Golden Knights’ top four is set with Alex Pietrangelo, Alec Martinez, Shea Theodore and Brayden McNabb in the fold (assuming everyone remains at full health). And beyond that quartet, the Knights have Zach Whitecloud, Nic Hague and Ben Hutton also competing for minutes, not to mention Kaedan Korczak and Peter Diliberatore hoping to make the jump to the NHL from Henderson.
As things currently stand, it’s quite possible that Coghlan could enter the 2022-23 season as the Golden Knights’ seventh defenseman. He’s still young and has time to round out his game, but with so many other youngsters itching to earn more playing time, Coghlan needs to make a noticeable improvement fairly quickly.
Knights On Ice grade: C-
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