For the National Hockey League’s second youngest club, the Vegas Golden Knights do a heck of a job at the Entry Draft.
Four players drafted by the Golden Knights have appeared in at least 60 NHL games; all were drafted in 2017. The trio of Erik Brannstrom, Nick Suzuki and Cody Glass were picked in the 1st round by Vegas in 2017 and have all been moved via trade. This has not led to a lack of depth by any means for Vegas, as exemplified by the emergence of guys like Petyon Krebs and Nicolas Hague; two guys who joined the Golden Knights mid-season (Hague in 2019-20) and made an impact.
One of the only negatives of being a consistent playoff contender is the lack of early draft picks. Besides their first entry draft, the Golden Knights have not picked closer to 1st overall than 17th. This makes it even more crucial for their scouting staff to be on the ball and prepared with a list of high potential players later in the draft rounds.
This year, the Golden Knights technically pick 30th overall but will actually make the 29th selection of the draft. The Arizona Coyotes were forced to relent their pick as a result of their draft testing scandal. Arizona was accused of putting draft-eligible players through physical testing during the season, which is against explicit NHL rules.
There are a lot of solid options for the Golden Knights at 29th overall and with the great amount of high end talent and organizational depth, they can look for the best player available at their number. No need to fill any positional holes. They simply don’t have any.
Here are a few names that could be on the board late and donning the Vegas Gold on draft day.
Tyler Boucher, LW
The American winger sits 29th on TSN’s Bob McKenzie’s final rankings and is 25th on Central Scouting’s list of North American skaters.
The 18-year-old Tyler Boucher combines flair, quickness, and physicality in his quick style of play. He prefers to take on multiple opponents at a time, either skating past opposing players or simply hitting them on sight. He has a sense of hunger when he jumps on the ice and chases down pucks when they are loose. This is a major reason why he has been lethal as a goalscorer. Boucher had 12 goals and 19 points through 19 games at multiple levels on the U.S. National Team this season.
He would fit in on a future Golden Knights team as a solid middle six player who can run the penalty kill. Think a Mark Stone-lite kind of player.
Scott Morrow, D
Vegas is set for a long time at the defense position with Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore at the helm. But who could ever say no to another gifted offensive defenceman. For the Golden Knights, that could be Scott Morrow.
A product of Shattuck St. Mary’s 18U Prep team, Morrow is coming from an illustrious school known for its talented alumni. Sidney Crosby, Zach Parise and Jonathan Toews all played for the prep school on route to their NHL careers. The 18-year-old has dominated the USHS Prep level with 45 goals and 167 points in only 129 games. He utilized his 6-foot-2 frame and elite skating ability to generate buckets of offense. He has the ability and drive to set the play and pace of the game and shows he loves to do it.
Picking Morrow does come with some pause as he hasn’t played higher than the high school level. As seen with players like the Buffalo Sabre’s Casey Mittlestadt, players that dominate at the high school level have a difficult time adjusting to the next level and facing opponents of equal size and skill. Another concern is that Morrow is regularly one of the last defenders to re-enter the defensive zone. It is something he will have to work on if he wants to make that jump to the next level.
Regardless of the NHL draft, Morrow will be joining the University of North Dakota next season. He will get to play alongside Ottawa Senators prospect Jake Sanderson and work on the defensive side of his game. He may even need multiple years at the NCAA level to fully develop. It’s really hard to tell until he dons the North Dakota green.
Samu Tuomaala, RW
Teams can never have enough offense, and boy, does Samu Tuomaala score a lot of goals.
The Finnish prospect loves to shoot the puck and is extremely smart with unloading it. His IQ of knowing when to shoot or not is almost veteran-like. Pair this with his breakaway speed and he has the makings of a potential elite goalscorer in the NHL. Tuomaala spent the majority of the 2020-21 season with the Karpat U20 team, tallying 15 goals and 16 assists in 30 games.
The only knock on the 18-year-old is he not as great defensively. Like most elite offensive prospects, he will need a few more seasons outside the NHL to work on rounding out his game. With his skating ability and hockey IQ, the defensive side of the game will come with time.
This year’s NHL Entry draft holds a lot of uncertainty, not just for the Golden Knights but for all teams. A lot of prospects have not played in over 12 months and are still looking to develop. There is a great chance any mock drafts get blown out of the water immediately. As with the future of these prospects, only time will tell.
Round one of the draft starts Friday night at 5 P.M. PST (8 P.M. EST) on ESPN2. Rounds two through seven get underway the next day, Saturday July 24th, starting at 8 A.M. PST (11 A.M. EST).
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