July 29: Vegas Golden Knights
In only the second entry draft in team history the Golden Knights had to sit out the first day after trading their first round pick to Detroit (Joe Veleno) in a transaction that saw Tomas Tatar move to the bright lights of Vegas. After a successful first year at the draft table you can expect that GM George McPhee and company did their homework to make sure they got a sizeable return at the draft table in day two, and start to round out their top-heavy prospect pool. The Golden Knights only had one pick in the first three rounds, but eight picks overall which saw them select three forwards, four defensemen and goalie with a focus on NCAA prospects; half of their players targeted will be headed to the American collegiate system.
Ivan Morozov, C; Round 2- 61st Overall
Sometimes doing well in the playoffs has its disadvantages, and making it to the Stanley Cup Final is no exception. The Golden Knights had to wait patiently until the end of the second round when they took Ivan Morozov with the 61st pick. Morozov was ranked everywhere from early second round to late third round depending on the publication, but he brings a two-way style of game that should translate well to the NHL. Morozov played in the MHL where he compiled 23 points in 30 games and five more points in seven playoff games. He caught the eye of many scouts at the U18 World Junior Classic where he tied for second on team Russia in points. Morozov is adept at both ends of the rink, however this may limit him from a fantasy perspective because he’s well versed in the defensive zone. It’s expected that he’ll stay to play in the KHL after his rights were transferred to perennial powerhouse SKA St. Petersburg, which should help his progression, but there is always the worry of the “Russian factor”.
Slava Demin, D; Round 4- 99th Overall
Demin is an offensively gifted defenseman that spent most of the year in the BCHL where he posted 45 points, including nine goals, in only 57 games. As a native Californian, he worked his way through the Anaheim Jr. Ducks system before making the jump to one of the top tier-II junior leagues in Canada so that he could maintain his NCAA eligibility and is committed to one of the top programs in the country next season where he’ll head to the University of Denver. His path over the past couple of seasons looks very similar to Ian Mitchell whom he’ll play alongside and be mentored by this year. Expect moderate point totals as Demin gets acclimatized to the NCHA style of game – typically considered the hardest conference in NCAA – and then a big jump in point totals if Ian Mitchell decides to head to Chicago at the end of 2018-19.
Paul Cotter, C; Round 4- 115th Overall
As a natural centre, Cotter has played a minimal role in some of the top programs with the Compuware and Little Caesars around the Detroit area before ending up with the Lincoln Stars in the USHL last season. Out of the 39 points he picked up in the 51 games he played in, 18 of those were goals. In fact, he’s always had a good knack for finding the back of the net, and will look to hone those skills next year where he’s committed to play with Western Michigan in the NCAA. It’s difficult to tell how high Cotter’s fantasy upside is going reach because early on it was expected that he’d be more of a two-way depth player, but in the past couple of years he’s shown an increased ability for finding the score sheet. It’s his solid mix of skill, speed and grittiness that may eventually land him in the NHL as a secondary scorer, but it will take a couple more years in the NCAA to paint a clearer picture of what his long-term potential is.
Brandon Kruse, LW; Round 5 – 135th Overall
In an unexpected move the Golden Knights went off the board to select Kruse in the 5th round. Origin