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31 in 31

Top prospects for Vegas Golden Knights

Glass leads group expected to make impact in NHL next season

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / NHL.com Columnist

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

 

[Golden Knights 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the Numbers]

 

1. Cody Glass, F

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

Last season: Portland (WHL): 64 GP, 37-65-102

Glass, 19, has done what the Golden Knights hoped he would since becoming the first amateur draft pick in franchise history. He tied for sixth in scoring in the Western Hockey League, made the WHL Western Conference first all-star team and added strength to his 6-foot-2, 178-pound frame last season.

But the Golden Knights are in no rush with their prospects. They have a strong NHL roster, mostly intact after a run to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season, and a philosophy of patience with development. If no prospect cracks the NHL roster this season, that's fine.

In Glass' case, they would be comfortable with him back to Portland to keep learning under former NHL coach Mike Johnston and play for Canada in the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship. He needs to keep adding strength.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

Video: Cody Glass talks with NHL Tonight

 

2. Erik Brannstrom, D

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

Last season: HV71 (SHL): 44 GP, 2-13-15

Brannstrom (5-foot-10, 173), who turns 19 on Sept. 2, might be the Vegas prospect most ready to play in the NHL. He played against men in the Swedish Hockey League last season and was an important member of Sweden's silver-medal world junior team. The Golden Knights love his skill, instincts, skating and enthusiasm.

But he hasn't played a game in North America yet, and the plan is for him to make the adjustment this season. The question is where. If he doesn't play in Vegas, he could play for Chicago of the American Hockey League or Brandon of the WHL.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

Video: Erik Brannstrom talks with NHL Tonight

 

3. Nicolas Hague, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 34 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: Chicago (AHL): 5GP, 0-1-1; Mississauga (OHL): 67 GP, 35-43-78

Hague (6-foot-6, 215) improved tremendously last season. He was the Canadian Hockey League defenseman of the year after leading CHL defensemen in goals and Mississauga in scoring. He played five regular-season and three playoff games for Chicago of the AHL.

The Golden Knights think the 19-year-old has a high ceiling and will benefit from time in the AHL.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

 

4. Nick Suzuki, F

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

Last season: Owen Sound (OHL): 64 GP, 42-58-100

Suzuki, 19, is similar to Glass. He finished fourth in the Ontario Hockey League in scoring last season. If Suzuki returns to Owen Sound this season, the Golden Knights will expect him to be one of the best players in the OHL, play for Canada at world juniors and continue to develop. At 5-foot-11, 183, he needs to add size and strength.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

Video: VGK@VAN: Suzuki roofs a nifty backhander past Demko

 

5. Zach Whitecloud, D

How acquired: Signed as free agent March 8, 2018

Last season: Vegas (NHL): 1 GP, 0-0-0; Bemidji State (WCHA): 36GP, 4-15-19

Whitecloud, 21, is the oldest of Vegas' top prospects. He has size at 6-foot-2, 209, and skates, passes and shoots well.

But he lacks high-level experience. After two seasons with Virden of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and two for Bemidji State in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, he needs reps in pro hockey with Chicago of the AHL. The Golden Knights think he will develop well in time.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

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