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Vegas Golden Knights Announce New General Manager


Kelly McCrimmon, right, new general manager of the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team, attends a news conference with president of hockey operations George McPhee, left, and owner Bill Foley, Thursday, May 2, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

For as much as the Golden Knights have their sights on winning now, they still must maintain a long-term vision for the franchise.

The future will come into a little clearer focus starting at 5 p.m. tonight when the NHL Draft begins in Vancouver, British Columbia. Vegas has a chance to retool its farm system over the next two days with nine picks in the opening five rounds, including five picks in the top 100.

The Golden Knights have the 17th overall pick in tonight’s first round, which will air on NBC Sports Network in its entirety. The final six rounds will start at 10 a.m. Saturday with NHL Network providing television coverage.

The Golden Knights have their own picks in the second through fifth rounds — numbers 48, 79, 110 and 141 overall — to go with several others they’ve acquired. The team holds the rights to Winnipeg’s third (No. 82), Nashville’s third (No. 86), Minnesota’s fifth (No. 135) and Montreal’s fifth (No. 139).

The draft presents an opportunity to replenish the depth Vegas couldn’t stockpile last year. The Golden Knights didn’t have a first-round pick last year after the Tomas Tatar trade and didn’t make a selection until grabbing center Ivan Morozov with the 61st overall pick.

They then grabbed defenseman Slava Demin at No. 99, their only other pick in the top 100.

The Tatar deal, as well as trades for Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone, zapped much of the prospect pool the Golden Knights acquired in their first draft, where they owned three first-round picks and seven in the top 100.

Vegas still has enviable defensive depth with draft picks Nicolas Hague and Dylan Coghlan, as well as former free agent signings Jimmy Schuldt and Zach Whitecloud nearly ready to contribute. They’re stocked at the blue line even after trading top prospect Erik Brannstrom to Ottawa for Stone.

At goalie, Vegas has one of the league’s best in Marc-Andre Fleury, but he’ll turn 37 years old when his contract expires in three years, meaning the Golden Knights may need to start planning for down the road. Goalies don’t often go in the first round, but US National Team development backstop Spencer Knight could be an exception to the rule.

If he’s available at No. 17, Vegas will have a tough call to make.

But there are more pressing needs. The most likely possibility is that the Golden Knights draft a forward tonight — more specifically, a center.

The Golden Knights do own the rights to one of the top centers outside of the NHL in 20-year-old Cody Glass, who’s shown plenty of reasons for optimism. Glass cruised through his season with Portland in WHL juniors this year, knotting six points in five games, and then scored 15 points in 21 AHL playoff games with the Chicago Wolves.

That was the most AHL postseason points by a player 20-years-old or younger since 2005.

Outside of Glass though, Vegas is particularly thin on potential impact centers. And with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare a free agent, Cody Eakin and Erik Haula hitting free agency after next season, Paul Stastny the year after that and the uncertainty around William Karlsson, center is Vegas’ biggest need in the draft.

The question then is, who do they take?

The issue is that while there are a lot of strong center prospects in this year’s draft, none of them are expected to slide to No. 17. Vegas would sprint to the podium if Jack Hughes, Kirby Dach, Alex Turcotte, Dylan Cozens, Trevor Zergas or Peyton Krebs were available, but they’re all likely to be gone by the top 10.

If Vegas is enamored enough with one of those players, however, a trade could be in play. The Golden Knights need to shed cap space, and packaging their first-rounder with a proven player like Eakin or Colin Miller could move them high enough to take one of the aforementioned centers.

They also have three third-round picks, three fifth-rounders and two second-rounders next year, so they have plenty of assets for a potential move up the draft board.

Outside of the top tier, the next group of centers still provides Vegas with plenty of options. NHL Central Scouting grades Alex Newhook, Philip Tomasino, Ryan Suzuki and Raphael Lavoie as potential first-rounders, and multiple mock drafts agree.

This is Vegas’ sweet spot. If they don’t trade up in the draft, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Newhook, Tomasino, Suzuki or Lavoie grab a Golden Knights cap when their name is called.

Article written by #LasVegasSun