Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25: Paul Cotter enters second pro season with much to prove

Cotter makes his Top 25 Under 25 debut, coming in at No. 23.

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.

Making his debut on the Vegas Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25 list is center Paul Cotter, who comes in at No. 23 on the heels of an underwhelming season with the Chicago Wolves.

No. 23: Paul Cotter

  • Position: C
  • Age: 21
  • Currently playing: Henderson Silver Knights
  • Nationality: American /

Cotter was drafted in the fourth round (No. 115 overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and is projected to play his second season with the Golden Knights’ AHL affiliate — now the Henderson Silver Knights — when the AHL kicks off its season in early February.

He’s hoping for better results this time around.

The Canton, Michigan native recorded just four goals and nine points in 56 games last season with Chicago, and he finished the year with a minus-13 rating. Clearly, the production wasn’t there, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was a wasted season.

After all, it allowed Cotter, who started his first pro season as a 19-year-old, to get a year of professional experience under his belt.

But it has been an interesting ride for Cotter, now 21.

After getting drafted, he played eight games with Western Michigan University before leaving for the London Knights of the OHL. A month later, he signed an entry-level contract with the Golden Knights. He finished the year in the OHL, scoring nine goals and 26 points in 48 games before going scoreless in 11 postseason games. And then he mysteriously missed Golden Knights development camp. It was later revealed that he had appendicitis, but it appeared to be a tough setback for his advancement in the Knights system.

However, Cotter entered camp brimming with confidence and eager to prove he was ready to make the jump to the AHL, and he made it happen with a strong showing in camp and preseason action. Vegas ultimately elected to keep him with Chicago rather than send him back to the OHL.

Unfortunately for Cotter, his numbers last season (4-5—9) didn’t reflect his skill level, but he has a chance to rewrite the script this year.

The 6-foot-0, 191-pound forward plays with great tenacity and has a great shot and strong hands.

Cotter has great upside, but he’s a well-rounded player who hasn’t yet demonstrated what he’s truly capable of.

He seems to be at his best when he’s counted out or overlooked, though, so perhaps it’s a good thing that he has something to prove this year.

In order to improve his stock, Cotter needs to showcase his offensive abilities more consistently, be more aggressive and start getting his name on the scoresheet more often.

He certainly has the skill and the tools to make it happen.

Previously in the Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25 2020-21 series:

Honorable mention: Layton Ahac
No. 25: Jonas Rondbjerg
No. 24: Jake Leschyshyn