By Zackery Robert
Coming along to the second newest team in the NHL we have the Vegas Golden Knights who have found quite the amount of success early on into their franchise history with now making their second Stanley Cup finals in their short six year history.
This team in particular is very odd, they’ve been around for six years so some of their picks they have made would’ve had time to develop and begin their career with Vegas. However this is not the case for the majority of their higher value and skill prospects because they have traded nearly all of them away before allowing them to play in Vegas. For example all of their first round picks from 2017, their first ever draft, have been traded away for older players, Cody Glass is on Nashville right now, he was originally drafted sixth in 2017. Nick Suzuki is on Montreal after being the centre piece in the Max Pacioretty trade. For their third pick in the first round of 2017 at number 15 Erik Brannstrom, he is now currently on Ottawa as part of the Mark Stone trade.
Clearly Vegas has not learned the value of having top prospects in their pipeline because they did it two more times, 2019 first round pick Peyton Krebs was traded away to Buffalo in the Jack Eichel trade, Krebs at least played 13 games for Vegas before leaving. Finally their most recent display of draft then trade is with 2021 first round draftee Zachary Dean, Dean was the 30th pick in the 2021 draft and was just traded this past deadline time to St Louis for Ivan Barbashev. Now some of these trades have brought in some good players that have led them to early success but this success will taper off real quick with their ageing core and part of their core being injury prone. Pacioretty is one already that is no longer in Vegas after only four seasons in which he never played every game of a season. Mark Stone has been injured, Jack Eichel has had his injured neck surgically repaired just last year. These players are ageing and in a short time Vegas will be in deep trouble as they will not be able to unload their big contracts on old players to anyone, and with no first round prospects staying around for very long Vegas will not have those higher skilled players to help dig them out of the bottom of the league.
In 2022 they did not have a first round pick and the same goes for 2018 which means that their only first round prospect remaining is that of 2020 29th overall centre Brendan Brisson who is currently their best prospect. He played in 58 games in the AHL this year scoring 56 points. A very good showing by the young centre gives hope that they have one good forward prospect currently but this will not be enough in 3-5 years time.
To round out let’s say a top four of best current prospects for Vegas you would have to put 2021 second round pick Daniil Chayka as one and 2019 second round pick Kaeden Korczak and USHL goalie Cameron Whitehead who was a 2022 fourth round pick. These are to all go along with 2020 first rounder Brendan Brisson as their number one prospect.
Vegas has taken a much different approach than what most teams and GM’s would do, they have taken away their future in return of a fierce first few years. Vegas has been a contender for a few years now and that is great for their fans and to grow their base and status but when their fierceness turns into dullness and their players that they made big moves for or have big contracts to just cannot keep up what will happen to Vegas. They will turn into a team that will be a bottom team trying to recreate or re imagine themselves but they will not have the tools to do so because they have either traded away their top draft picks for older players at the latter halves of their primes or they traded away their higher potential prospects within a couple years for someone who has already shown what they can do. They wanted to be good right away and it may have seriously hurt their future in doing so.
This year Vegas will look to have a first round pick along with four other picks for a total of five in the draft, 1st, 3rd, 3rd (BUF), 6th, 7th. With how the playoffs have gone their first rounder will be either 31st or 32nd and at that area in the draft, players that they could look at could be winger Gavin Brindley, centre Danny Nelson or defenseman Tanner Molendyk. Whether or not they keep this first round prospect long enough to see them develop and turn into a potential key player for their franchise in the future is up to them.
For more information on the 2023 NHL Draft class be sure to pick up your copy of the comprehensive DraftPro 2023 NHL Draft Guide.