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31 in 31

Top prospects for Vegas Golden Knights

Tuch, Glass, Suzuki among talented forward group

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Vegas Golden Knights wanted to use the NHL Expansion Draft and their first NHL Draft to put a competitive team on the ice while stockpiling picks and talent for the future. They believe they accomplished those goals.

"We wanted to accelerate our draft and development process by a couple of years," general manager George McPhee said. "If you look at what we did, in effect, we did three years of drafting in one draft because we went into the draft with three first-round picks and three second-round picks."

 

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Here are the Golden Knights' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

 

1. Alex Tuch, RW

How acquired: Trade from Minnesota Wild on June 21

Last season: Minnesota (NHL): 6 GP, 0-0-0; Iowa (AHL): 57 GP, 18-19-37

Tuch, 21, needed to get pro experience in the American Hockey League, and did so last season with Iowa. The 6-foot-4, 222-pound forward made his NHL debut on Feb. 4 and played six games for Minnesota.

"He's got all the attributes you'd like to have in a player," McPhee said. "He skates well. He's big. He's competitive. He's good around the net. He simply needed the experience under his belt to become a better player and he's got that. ... The development process has been fine for him and it's what he needed."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

2. Cody Glass, C

How acquired: Selected with No. 6 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: Portland (WHL): 69 GP, 32-62-94

Glass, 18, played a bigger role than expected with Portland in the Western Hockey League last season, and the highly skilled center (6-2, 178) took advantage of the opportunity. A strong second half helped him improve his standing in NHL Central Scouting's rankings.

"We had a really young team, so he played a big role early," Portland general manager and coach Mike Johnston said in June. "That was good for him. He got prime ice time. ... He's going to get bigger and a lot stronger over the next couple of years."

Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20

 

3. Nick Suzuki, C

How acquired: Selected with No. 13 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: Owen Sound (OHL): 65 GP, 45-51-96

Suzuki, 18, said he tries to model his game after Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, one of the NHL's best two-way players. Suzuki isn't big (5-11, 183) but he's a good skater and hard to knock off the puck. After a superb regular season, he had 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in 17 Ontario Hockey League playoff games.

McPhee said he was impressed by Suzuki's hockey sense.

"I think you can say that about all three of those players: Glass, Suzuki and [Erik] Brannstrom," McPhee said of the Golden Knights' first-round draft choices. "They're all highly intelligent players. They process the game very well and they make plays. They make things happen. That is the real strength of all three of them."

Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20

 

4. Erik Brannstrom, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 15 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: HV71 (Sweden): 35 GP, 1-5-6; HV71 J20 (SuperElit): 19 GP, 9-14-23

Though somewhat undersized, Brannstrom (5-10, 173) has an attractive blend of skill and quickness. He excelled against older, bigger players in his first season with HV71, which won the Swedish Hockey League title. Scouts were also impressed by the 17-year-old's performance during the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan.

"A very good feel for the game," McPhee said. "Good awareness and makes things happen offensively."

Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20

 

5. Keegan Kolesar, RW

How acquired: Trade from Columbus Blue Jackets on June 24

Last season: Seattle (WHL) 54 GP, 26-34-60

The Golden Knights kept an eye on the development of Kolesar with Seattle and saw enough from the 6-2, 227-pound forward to acquire him for a second-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

"Real good progression over four years in Seattle," said Kelly McCrimmon, the Golden Knights' assistant general manager. "Big strong player with skill."

McCrimmon noted that Kolesar played on a line with center Matthew Barzal, a New York Islanders prospect, in Seattle, where they helped the Thunderbirds win the WHL championship last season.

Kolesar, 20, likely will start his first professional season with Chicago in the AHL but there is a good chance he could play in the NHL before it's over.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

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