Vegas Golden Knights are about to turn five months old and they already have three, four, maybe even five blue-chip prospects in their system. There may not be many other teams you could say have that many blue-chip prospects in their system who have been around for years, and even decades.
Where the Golden Knights are lacking is the depth, they don't have nearly enough prospects as almost every other team in the league, but it is understandable being only five months into their franchise. The drop off after those three to five blue-chip prospects is a significant fall off and it falls off rather quickly.
Let's get right to the Top 10 and breakdown where that fall-off is and how fast it drops.
Vegas' Top 10:
1. Vadim Shipachyov
2. Nick Suzuki
3. Cody Glass
4. Erik Brannstrom
5. Alex Tuch
6. Nikita Gusev
7. Shea Theodore
8. Tomas Nosek
9. Nicolas Hague
10. Teemu Pulkkinen
Trying to determine where that aforementioned fall-off is, all depends on what you think of these prospects at the bottom of the list. Nicolas Hague is quite a few years away from playing significant minutes in the NHL, Tomas Nosek showed flashes last season with Detroit's Calder Cup Champion Grand Rapid Griffins., but as far as blue-chip prospects go, I think the fall-off is right at Tuch, Gusev and Theodore. Gusev could become a great fantasy asset, if he ever crosses the pond, which is a big if. Tuch could become a solid scoring line winger, but it may take a few growing pain years to learn the professional game. Shea Theodore has the chance, but is likely more of a two to four defensemen and not a number one guy. Especially with Brannstrom coming through the system.
The top four guys are going to be outstanding NHL players. I really do believe Suzuki is going to be a better NHL fantasy player than Cody Glass. Glass will be a great NHLer, but if you just take fantasy hockey into consideration, then I have to put my money on Suzuki. He has a much higher ceiling than Glass.
Erik Brannstrom's stock is continually climbing, he was drafted 15th overall, but during the World Junior Summer Showcase he flashed his puck moving skills and it was the first good look that North Americans saw of him (unless you were a draft analyst who watched him closely last year). Brannstrom is headed back to the SHL to play with HV71 and play against much larger men, which will only help his development. Brannstrom will also be at the forefront of all scouts lists when the WJC start up during the Christmas and New Year's break.
Alex Tuch showing up for Vegas' first prospect camp when he wasn't even invited just showed his commitment to being a team player and proving he wants to be a part of the Vegas franchise and maybe one day be at the heart of this team competing for the coveted Stanley Cup.
Reid Duke impressed Vegas management when prospect camp broke showing his leadership and his willingness to be the "vet" around some of the younger guys. Duke is only 21-years-old, but acts more like he is 27 or 28. He will be a great fit with the Chicago Wolves, who are basically starting from scratch with their new affiliation with Vegas. Duke will likely grow into a great role player who shows and wears his heart on his sleeve.
Griffin Reinhart is probably the only faller of this prospect group, moving from the Edmonton Oilers, who were in need of low-end NHL caliber defensemen, to the Vegas Golden Knights, who tried to take a stranglehold of the defensemen market after the Expansion Draft, but might have miscalculated a little bit. Vegas has a few too many NHL caliber defensemen and it definitely hurts Griffin Reinhart. Reinhart is bound for the Chicago Wolves to begin the year and may not get a call-up at all this entire season. Unless Vegas can start moving out a number of their NHL roster defensemen, Reinhart is log jammed behind about eight or nine guys who are on one-way contracts. Reinhart will need to be patient and wait out his opportunity in the AHL.
Players to Target this season:
Alex Tuch is the first guy on my list. I have been on Tuch's bandwagon ever since he became a Golden Knight and I will continue to be on that wagon until he shows me otherwise. Tuch needs to have a productive camp and he could steal a top-six spot in the starting lineup come October. The 'RW' depth in Vegas looks like; James Neal (unless he moves to LW), Reilly Smith and David Perron (also possible LWer), so depending on where Neal and Perron land, Tuch could make it hard on Gallant to decide where to play him out of camp. Oscar Lindberg and Teemu Pulkkinen should be slotted in the third and fourth line roles, where Tuch could easily bounce Pulkkinen out of the lineup.
Shea Theodore is a guy I will be trying to draft or trade every chance I get in any of my keeper, dynasty, or even deep one-year leagues. Theodore should be lined up on the first powerplay unit and could reach the 40 point mark, maybe even the 45-47 point mark if Vegas outperforms expectations, which isn't likely. 47 is celieng, and I think the 30 point mark is a close floor for Theodore, which is definitely worth a roster spot in almost any league settings.
Prospect Depth Chart:
2017 Entry Draft was a very good draft for the Golden Knights. Twelve draft picks by the end of the draft, including five picks in the first two rounds, three of those first rounders, top 15. It really solidfied their long term top prospect depth. They'll have to make sure there development and scouting is up to NHL standards and hope their late round picks materialize into organizational depth. You can read all about their 2017 draft picks in Vegas' July 31-in-31. Their 2018 Entry Draft will have far less picks, six picks. But come 2019 and 2020, they will once again have a plethora of picks.
2019 – twelve picks.
2020 – nine picks.
The Golden Knights will not be attending any of the prospect tournaments that start in a couple weeks. They will be meeting up with the Los Angeles Kings for a couple of prospect games, no dates or times have been announced, but the LA Kings Insider has reported they will meet for two games in mid-September. Follow myself, @zwambag, on twitter to get the latest information as it becomes available.
Check out all of our August 31-in-31 series articles HERE. And also be sure to check out the latest episode of the Dobber Prospects Radio. The Summer Series continues, Peter and I are picking four to five teams an episode to give you prospects who could or will be fantasy relevant this year. You can find the latest episode link in our show notes, which can be found HERE.
The Golden Knights were covered by Vegas' own, Daniel Negreanu on Episode 29, find the show notes HERE.