Recapping the Golden Knights Draft Weekend


General Manager Kelly McCrimmon and the Vegas Golden Knights had themselves a weekend at the NHL’s entry draft.

Vegas made two trades, both with the Detroit Red Wings, to move back from 36 to 38 and up from 114 to 102. At the end of the draft day(s), the Golden Knights added new six prospects to the organization:

# 30 Zach Dean, C
#38 Daniil Chayka, D
#102 Jakub Brabenec, C
#128 Jakub Demek, C
#190 Artur Cholach, D
#222 Carl Lindbom, G

Bob Lowes, the Golden Knights Assistant Director of Player Personnel summarized the organizations approach to selecting their new prospects. “We pride ourselves in the due diligence that we do. We really believe in how good of a person whether you’re going to reach your potential or not. I think we got some real good character kids in this draft.”

Here is some analysis of all six Vegas picks in order of selection.

Zach Dean, Centre, 30th Overall

Dean played last season with the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympics and is expected to take part in the Vegas’ regular pre-season training camp.

A full draft night breakdown of the pick can be found here.

Daniil Chayka, Defense, 38th Overall

Chayka spent the 2020-21 season in Russia, splitting time between CSKA of the KHL as well as the VHL and MHL, only putting up seven points in 26 games. He made a real name for himself last season, his second year with the Guelph Storm of the OHL, potting 11 goals and 34 points in 56 games. He plans to return to the OHL next season.

A full draft night breakdown of the pick can be found here.

Jakub Brabenec, Centre, 102nd Overall

Jakub Brabenec is one of three centres Vegas has taken with its first four picks in this year’s draft, as he and Demek join first-round selection, Dean. He spent last season playing in the Czech Extraliga, the highest Czech league, against men; where he managed a lone assist in 23 games.

Brabenec had a standout performance and had four assists in five games on a disappointing Czech team at the U18 World Championship. This excellent performance helped propel him being ranked 21st among European skaters by Central Scouting.

The 6-foot-1, 174-pound centre is an excellent skater who does not stop moving his feet and has an excellent first step. He’s responsible with the puck and is a creative playmaker with strong vision. He has a powerful shot but is reported to sometimes suffer from tunnel vision while suffering from a ‘pass-first mentality.’

Brabenec is competitive and plays hard in all three zones, and has some elusiveness in his game. He projects to be more of a bottom-six player. But these are exactly the types of players the Golden Knights need to find, and hit on if they want to extend their playoff contention window.

Jakub Demek, Centre, 128th Overall

The Golden Knights seem to have gotten stuck on the name Jakub as they doubled down on it 22 picks later.

The native of Kosice, Slovakia has played his entire career in his native country. He tallied two assists in 10 games with HC Kosice of the Tipos Extraliga, the highest league in Slovakia. He still managed to notch 13 points in 25 games with Slovakia’s U18 team.

The 6-foot-4, 196-pound centre will play next season with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League.

Artur Cholach, Defense, 190th Overall

Cholach was the third overall selection in the 2021 CHL Import Draft, taken by the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League. He is the first Ukranian player taken in the NHL draft since goaltender Sergei Gaiduchenko was drafted in 2007. He’s the first Ukranian defenseman to be drafted since Maxym Linnik in 1998.

The 6-foot-4, 198-pound left-handed d-man played at the AAA level in 2019-20, recording three goals and 10 points in 16 games with the New Jersey Titans.

Carl Lindbom, Goalie, 222nd Overall

Lindbolm, the Central Scouting’s fifth-ranked European Goalie, will join an organization deep at the net-minder position. He is considered a “project” type prospect but has plenty of time to add to his small 6-foot, 165-pound frame and develop his game, as the Knights have multiple goalies ahead of him on the depth chart.

Last year, the Swede played eight games with Djurgårdens IF in the J20 SuperElit league, the highest level of junior competition in Sweden. He went 3-4-0 with a 3.02 goals-against average and .890 save percentage. Given the minuscule sample size and the lasting effects of COVID-19 complications, it may be too soon to judge him based on those stats.

Lindbom has strong instincts and is considered a fast and athletic goalie. He is quick on his feet, has great tracking, and reads the pass well, though he needs to work on his rebound control. Again, having multiple goalies in front of him on the depth chart allows Lindbom the time needed to develop to his fullest ability.

Draft Wrap-up

For not having a high pick, the Golden Knights were able to strengthen their organizational depth down the middle and on defense. Vegas got both a high-end centre and defensemen in Dean and Chyaka in the mid-thirties. Both project to be on the NHL club’s top lines someday.

The other three skaters project to either be organizational depth or role players for Vegas. To clarify, that is not at all diminishing the player or their skills and abilities. Championship winning teams need players to fill out the bottom six and depth roles, not everyone can be or needs to be one of the league’s best.

Playoff teams nail their first and second round picks. Dynasties hit on picks throughout the draft, finding that diamond in the rough. There will be no telling if Vegas hit the jackpot with these picks for almost a decade from now.

But the wait and gamble is all part of the game. And to win? Well, that’s what we’re doing here isn’t it.

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