The Vegas Golden Knights general manager has long viewed the NHL’s entry draft as the way to build a championship team. The expansion draft on Wednesday is where the base of the Las Vegas roster was built, but the superstars of the future will come from the entry draft.
George McPhee and Las Vegas entered the night with three of the top 15 picks in the draft and came out with a potential core for a future run of playoff appearances.
Vegas Golden Knights First Round Draft Picks
- Sixth – Cody Glass
Center | 18 years old | Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
6-foot-2 | 178 pounds | Right-handed
- 13th – Nick Suzuki
Center | 17 years old | Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
5-foot-11 | 183 pounds | Right-handed
- 15th – Erik Brannstrom
Defensmen | 17 years old | HV 71 (SHL)
5-foot-10 | 179 pounds | Left-handed
Besides becoming the first Entry Draft pick in team history, Glass also becomes the first player to ever wear our road white jersey. pic.twitter.com/nlDvrD7piW
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) June 23, 2017
The Golden Knights’ first pick in this draft, Cody Glass, became a top 10 prospect after a terrific 2016-17 season in the Western Hockey League. Glass posted 32 goals for the Portland Winterhawks, while leading the team in assists with 62 assists.
Prior to his breakout season, Glass had not been projected as a first round pick. In his first full season with Portland, Oregon, he recorded just 10 goals and 17 assists in 65 games. He more than tripled his output in just one season.
At 178 pounds, Glass may be a little small for the NHL right now, but McPhee wants to put together a team based on speed and skill. The 18-year-old can still head back to Portland, Oregon to further improve his game, but Glass could be the perfect man to center a skillful line in Las Vegas in the future.
Get selected by the Golden Knights, get ready for the media. pic.twitter.com/fimcuilEnz
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) June 24, 2017
In Nick Suzuki, Las Vegas got another offensive weapon. Suzuki finished fourth in the Ontario Hockey League in goals last season with 45. He added 51 assists in 61 games. Similarly to Glass, Suzuki had a monster year after a 2015-16 season that paled in comparison.
Finally, McPhee took a defensemen in Erik Brannstrom out of the Swedish Hockey League. Brannstrom had nine goals and 14 assists from the blue line for HV 71’s under 20 team.
All three players Las Vegas selected are young, small and skilled. It is exactly what McPhee is trying to build. He doesn’t want clunky players that just try to jam the game up. He wants hockey to be beautiful. Sacrificing size for speed is how McPhee plans to build this team.
You likely won’t see any of these three players in Las Vegas anytime soon. They’ll spend their time in junior hockey until they are ready and until the Golden Knights are ready. The plan from owner Bill Foley is for the Golden Knights to make the playoffs in year three. That could be the time for these three to make an impact at the NHL level.