Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25: Dylan Coghlan shows great promise in first NHL season

The offensive defenseman comes in at No. 10 in the rankings.

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.

The Vegas Golden Knights signed Dylan Coghlan as an undrafted free agent after he attended the Knights’ inaugural development camp and training camp. Coghlan is now in the final year of that three-year, entry-level contract, which was signed in September, 2017.

No. 10: Dylan Coghlan

  • Age: 23
  • Position: Defense
  • Currently playing: Vegas Golden Knights
  • Nationality: Canadian/

The right-handed defenseman returned to the WHL for the 2017-18 season, scoring 17 goals and 63 points in 69 games with the Tri-City Americans. He added three goals and 14 points in 14 playoff games.

Coghlan went pro the following year, scoring 15 goals and 40 assists in 66 games with the Chicago Wolves in his first season in the AHL. He led all Chicago defensemen in both categories, and he repeated that effort the following season despite seeing a drop in production with 11 goals and 24 points in 60 games. In total, Coghlan recorded 26 goals and 64 points in 126 games in the AHL, and 16 of those goals came on the power play.

The 6-foot-2, 206-pound defenseman has spent this season floating between the Golden Knights’ active roster and taxi squad.

He made his NHL debut Feb. 5 against Los Angeles. With Alex Pietrangelo and Brayden McNabb on the shelf, the Knights called Coghlan up from the taxi squad and inserted him into the lineup in the team’s eighth game of the campaign. Coghlan played a relatively uneventful 13:15, but he picked up his first NHL point in his third game, assisting on a first-period Chandler Stephenson strike against Anaheim.

Coghlan scored his first career NHL goal March 10 against the Minnesota Wild, evening the score at 1-1 early in the first period. However, Coghlan wasn’t finished.

He went on to score his second and third career goals to complete his first hat trick, making history in the process.

Coghlan is only the third defenseman in NHL history to score his first three career goals in the same game. He also became the first Golden Knights defenseman to score a hat trick.

At the time of his second goal, the Knights were trailing by three late in the third period. Coghlan put Vegas back in the game with two goals in the span of 3:50, but the Knights were unable to complete the comeback. Only Coghlan lit the lamp for Vegas that evening, and it was a statement performance and a clear demonstration of his ability.

Not only does he possess a lethal shot, but he is not afraid to get involved in the play and step up in the offensive zone, and he doesn’t take unnecessary risks doing so. His third goal was particularly impressive as he faked the shot, passed the puck to Shea Theodore and then moved back to create separation between himself and the defender, giving himself space for the one-timed blast.

His offensive awareness is impressive, and his transition game is solid. The hat trick was a great example of the offensive spark Coghlan is capable of providing.

His passing isn’t lacking, either.

In total, Coghlan has played 27 games with the Golden Knights this season. He has three goals and five points, a minus-three rating, two penalty minutes, 30 shots, 28 hits and 15 blocked shots. Coghlan is fourth among Vegas defensemen in individual Corsi per 60 (11.82) and second in individual scoring chances per 60 (4.46) at 5-on-5. Coghlan’s 54.57 percent Corsi share is fourth on the team (trailing only the members of Vegas’ second line).

His ice time has fluctuated throughout the year, though he skated a season-low 6:24 last week against the Ducks, which is a considerable drop from his season average of 13:43. Pete DeBoer seems to have lost some faith in the young rearguard. Earlier this year, Coghlan was improving and getting more and more comfortable with every game, but he has since quieted down and hasn’t recorded more than one shot in each of his last nine games.

Notably, however, Coghlan has seen time as both a forward and defenseman in recent games, and he continues to be listed on the fourth line as the Knights employ 11 forwards and seven defensemen. He even took a faceoff the other night, but he hasn’t looked out of place.

Coghlan has all the tools to become a full-time NHL defenseman with significant offensive upside, and while his defensive game remains a work in progress, the fact that there’s still room for growth is not a concern. He played heavy minutes on the Wolves’ power play in the AHL and could eventually secure a more significant role with the Knights.

Coghlan has proven himself as a capable blueliner and should continue to improve the more he plays, which could very well include some time in the Knights’ upcoming postseason run.

How would you grade Dylan Coghlan’s performance so far this 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
No. 17: Brandon Kruse
No. 16: Peter DeLiberatore
No. 15: Connor Corcoran
No. 14: Ivan Morozov
No. 13: Isaiah Saville
No. 12: Jiri Patera
No. 11: Brendan Brisson