Dylan Coghlan has put himself into the conversation regarding a position on the blue line with the Vegas Golden Knights this season. Management has returned six defensemen from last season's roster and in the event the club carries seven D, there's an opening for at least one new defender.
There's also the possibility of a prospect or veteran free agent winning a job and forcing management to make a decision about one of the incumbents. The club is rich in its blue line depth and it's going to make for heavy competition at training camp. Jobs aren't safe at this point.
Coghlan's story is one of determination and outlasting the odds. After slipping through the draft in 2017, he turned a development camp invite into an entry level contract and through two games at this season's rookie camp, he's been the best player on the ice for the Golden Knights prospects. If it's a race among the VGK prospects to make the big club out of training camp, Coghlan's three goals and two assists at the Rookie Faceoff have given him an early lead.
The 21-year-old out of Duncan, B.C., had 15 goals and 25 assists for the Chicago Wolves in the AHL last season. He's got a one-time slapshot which only a few players in the NHL can look down upon. He's worked hard under the tutelage of Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson to improve his defensive zone play.
"I struggled with the defensive part of the game but I really worked on that with Rocky (Thompson) and CD (Chris Dennis). I'm much more confident in the defensive zone now," said Coghlan. "You can always improve. The offense is there but the defense has really come along. You can't be a one-way defenseman. That's not the way it works."
From the Golden Knights' inaugural development camp, which was held at the Las Vegas Ice Center prior to City National Arena's completion, Coghlan's growth as a player has been greater than any of the organization's prospects. He's come from almost no status on the depth chart to nipping at the fringes of Gerard Gallant's lineup card.
"It's exciting going to camp. There's a job there. It's there for one of us. I hope it's me. But at the same time, I'll be happy for whoever gets it, said Coghlan. "It's one of the things I love about this organization, they don't leave anybody out and they treat everyone equal. I feel just as special as Cody (Glass) or Nic (Hague). It doesn't matter if you're on the NHL team or a prospect. They treat everyone with respect."
The Golden Knights are an organization about opportunity and Coghlan can be held up as the shining example: "Here is a sheet of ice, here is an opportunity. Show us what you've got."
Coghlan says he's seen those words in action.
"It's a unique situation but with this organization there always seems to be opportunity," he said. "I can look back and remember my first dev camp and now I'm going into my second year as a pro. The organization does everything to try and help you get better. To make you an NHL player."