Who the Golden Knights could target in the NHL Entry Draft

A quick look at three potential draft candidates for Vegas.

On Friday night, the 2021 NHL Entry Draft will kick off in what has been an extremely busy week for the league. The Vegas Golden Knights own the rights to pick No. 30, which is really No. 29 due to the forfeiture of the Coyotes’ first-round pick.

There are a few options that the Golden Knights could consider. However, it will be especially difficult to gauge or predict what the front offices around the league will do as a result of the shortened seasons and limited scouting due to COVID-19.

Quite a few Golden Knights reports, including our Knights On Ice Top 25 Under 25 rankings, include a lot of forwards in the higher ranks of the farm system. That makes sense considering the Knights have used four out of five previous first-round picks on forwards (Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki, Peyton Krebs, Brendan Brisson).

With Robin Lehner signed for four more years and Logan Thompson, the heir apparent, knocking on the door of the NHL, it’s unlikely that Vegas will take a goaltender early in the draft.

With that in mind, it’s possible that the Golden Knights will target a defenseman with the 30th pick this year, though teams are often flexible, employing the “best player available” strategy when it comes down to it.

Considering the volatility of the draft this season, a lot of players could fall. Here are a few names that could be on the board late in the first round.

Carson Lambos, D

Carson Lambos comes in at No. 21 on TSN’s Bob McKenzie’s final rankings and is 11th on Central Scouting’s list of North American skaters.

Despite the high ranking, there’s a chance he could fall in the first round since he’s coming off an injury.

Lambos is a left-handed offensive defenseman with great speed and a lethal shot that gets through traffic; he is a threat every time he has the puck.

The 18-year-old made a brief appearance in the WHL with the Winnipeg Ice but spent most of 2020-21 with JYP in Finland. The majority of his games were played with JYP’s U20 team; he scored two goals and 11 points in 13 games.

Elite Prospects: “Lambos is a potent shooter with the skill and instincts to manipulate defenders and improve his shooting location. With and without the puck, he activates from the point, becoming a passing option and a scoring threat. He fakes shots and passes, waits for the defender to commit, then bursts into the space he created.”

Corson Ceulemans, D

Corson Ceulemans is another defenseman the Knights could consider if he’s still on the board late in the first.

He is ranked 22nd on McKenzie’s list and 14th on Central Scouting’s list of North American Skaters.

The 18-year-old is committed to the University of Wisconsin and is coming off a shortened season with the AHJL Brooks Bandits in which he recorded 11 points in eight games. The right-handed defender may not have played much, but he was excellent went he did. That carried over into the U18 World Junior Championship, where he collected eight points — including one goal — in six games.

Ceulemans, like Lambos, is an offensive defenseman with an excellent shot and playmaking ability.

Some of those attributes are shown here:

Zach Dean, C

If the Golden Knights wanted to stay with their track record, a forward that they could look at is Zach Dean.

Dean is ranked 31st on McKenzie’s board and has impressed as a centerman in the QMJHL. In two seasons, he has scored 28 goals and tallied 66 points in 80 games.

Dean is an excellent puck handler and playmaker with excellent skating ability.

His skating and quick hands are on display here:

There is a lot of uncertainty ahead of the draft, so it is entirely possible that all or none of these players will be available when the Golden Knights make their choice.

It should be one of the more fascinating drafts yet.

How to watch

Round 1

When: Friday, July 23 — 5 p.m.
Radio: Fox Sports Las Vegas 98.9 FM/1340 AM

Rounds 2-7

When: Saturday, July 24 — 8 a.m.
TV: NHL Network
Radio: Fox Sports Las Vegas 98.9 FM/1340 AM