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VGK Warmups vs Avalanche

Steve Marcus

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Lukas Cormier (40) warms up before an NHL preseason game against the Colorado Avalanche at T-Mobile Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022.

With development camp come and gone, the offseason now begins for the Vegas Golden Knights.

Players, coaches and executives with the club are enjoying their time with the Stanley Cup. At the same time, prospects making their first impression to Vegas management or trying to take that next step to becoming NHL players put in a full week at the camp at City National Arena.

“The guys that have been here before, you’re looking to see if there’s growth from last year, and then the new guys, just how they do,” said Wil Nichol, the Golden Knights’ director of player development.

Players attend development camp for three years before the true evaluation begins. They learn everything from a Golden Knights perspective; how they train, how they eat, how important the community is.

But there’s still the on-ice aspect and how the players evolve from year to year. There were some names that stood out, like those participating in their first development camp, and those who were development camp “veterans.”

A look at some of the notable prospects:

Brendan Brisson, F

One of the Golden Knights’ top prospects, Brisson took part in his final development camp last week and is expected to compete for a spot on the NHL roster this fall.

Brisson, the 29th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, had an up-and-down first year of professional hockey with AHL Henderson last season. The ups came in the second half with 25 points in his final 31 games.

If Brisson doesn’t crack the Golden Knights roster, he’ll be the top forward on a Silver Knights team hoping to turn it around under new coach Ryan Craig. The former Vegas assistant coach’s primary focus was with the forwards. Brisson will get quality coaching from the same person who helped Nicolas Roy and Chandler Stephenson become high-quality NHL players.

Lukas Cormier, D

In another case of a roller-coaster year, Cormier’s first full pro season was more of a second-half surge as well. Cormier finished with 35 points to crack top 30 in scoring among AHL defensemen last season.

While undersized at 5-foot-11, that hasn’t deterred Cormier. He still needs to improve on winning puck battles in the defensive zone, but he’s a talented offensive-minded defenseman who should be entrusted with a top-four role. Henderson’s blue line will be one to watch, with top defenseman prospect Kaedan Korczak inching closer to a full-time NHL role.

“Pro hockey is a long year,” Cormier said. “(I’m) just trying to get better in every part of my game. Just have a hard summer of work to be ready for camp and next season.”

Jesper Vikman, G

The 21-year-old Swedish goalie was a surprise during last year’s development camp. At 6-foot-3, Vikman showed he’s athletic with the ability to cover a lot of the crease.

Vikman signed his three-year entry-level contract in April and will start his pro career this season. He’ll compete for the backup role in Henderson with Isaiah Saville, or in the short term, he will be the No. 1 option with ECHL Savannah.

Either way, the Golden Knights have liked what they’ve seen from Vikman. He just needs more time to show what he can do in the professional ranks.

Jackson Hallum, F

There weren’t a lot of goals scored during the two development camp scrimmages, but Hallum tallied the majority of them. He had three in the two scrimmages, including two in a 15-second span on Thursday.

Hallum, a third-round pick from the 2020 draft, has surprised many with his speed and ability to create offense by skating around defenders. But he’s shown a scoring touch as well; Hallum had six goals and 11 assists as a freshman year at Michigan last season. That was with a talented roster featuring top-5 picks Adam Fantilli (Columbus) and Luke Hughes (New Jersey).

“The guys play at a high intensity, so that’s the main thing I’ll bring back (to Michigan),” Hallum said. “(I’m) always playing at that high intensity and bringing it every day.”

He’s expected to have an increased role with the Wolverines next season. A good sophomore campaign could see him earning his entry-level contract in the near future.

Joe Fleming, D

Coach Bruce Cassidy has tried to keep an eye on prospects who made an impression during last year’s development camp. Fleming was one of those.

An undrafted defenseman, Fleming signed a three-year entry-level deal last year after an impressive appearance in development camp. He’s coming off a 27-point season with Sherbrooke of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League after spending the prior season with Cedar Rapids of the USHL.

His penalty minutes still need to come down — he had 202 in 2022 with Cedar Rapids compared with 75 with Sherbrooke — but his hustle and commitment to playing defense has put him in position to be a player to monitor in Henderson next season.

Danny Webster can be reached at 702-259-8814 or [email protected]. Follow Danny on Twitter at twitter.com/DannyWebster21.

Article written by #LasVegasSun

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