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McKeen’s 2020-21 Hockey Yearbook: Vegas Golden Knights Top 20 Prospects

McKeen's Top 20 New York Rangers prospects for the 2020-21 season. You can read an organizational assessment prior to the draft in Ryan Wagman's article found here. Following the draft we provided a review on each teams performance based on our rankings found here.

  1. Peyton Krebs, C (17th overall, 2019. Previous ranking: 1)

Krebs has elite level vision coupled with elite passing skills that enable him to make plays and passes that few others can. He is a cerebral player who can slow the game down or push the pace to generate offense. His high hockey IQ enables him defensively in winning draws, leading play through the neutral zone, and effectively playing across all 200 feet of the ice. His weaknesses are few. His shot is only average, although he doesn’t hesitate to use it. He needs to have a finisher on his line for him to reach his full potential. The second concern is his size. This size will not prevent him from having an NHL career in any way but has created some doubts to his future projection. He is very quick, both in processing the game and in how he moves around the ice. He has separation speed and high agility enabling him to attack defenders in multiple ways. He is a great puck carrier and has the potential to be a true top line player. 50 assist seasons seem like a possibility in the not too distant future. – VG

  1. Brendan Brisson, C (29th overall, 2020. Previous ranking: NA)

The son of super-agent Pat Brisson, Brendan showed a different positive element of his game in each viewing, regardless of his linemates. He moves the puck around exceptionally well, and his ability to create movement between the dots is especially impressive. He is athletic and coordinated, able to adjust to misplaced passes with his hands or his skates and prepare a shot or follow-up pass without a hitch. He reads the play with great maturity. Despite being somewhat physically underdeveloped, he shows surprising balance and strength on the puck, allowing him to win an unexpectedly high number of board battles. Brisson also shows commendable commitment away from the puck. He backchecks hard and has been known to sneak in behind an opposing puck carrier to strip the puck from him and get the game going back the other way again. His top speed is average or slightly above, but he adds plus agility, balance, and a non-stop motor to keep his feet moving. The shot is fine but would be much better with a quicker trigger. The Michigan commit has clear top six upside and enough versatility to carve out a lower role if push comes to shove. – RW

  1. Pavel Dorofeyev, LW (79th overall, 2019. Previous ranking: 2)

Dorofeyev is an interesting offensive prospect with some strong offensive assets, including technically sound skating. His edgework and efficient stride help him be effective even though he lacks the natural explosiveness needed for elite speed. He is good on the power play and can be both a playmaker as well as a shooter. He can one-time slap shots with precision and release hard wrist shots quickly. His most impressive asset is his strong puck skills, both carrying and passing, and looks like a zone entry specialist. There are some concerns about the consistency of his decision-making as he often prefers an east-west game rather than north-south, slowing the game down to seek cross passes rather than moving the puck forward. His game away from the puck is inconsistent and lacking intensity. If Dorofeyev learns to use his offensive assets more efficiently, he can become a top six NHL forward, but he may need to play in a top six role to reach his full potential. - JH

  1. Jack Dugan, LW (142nd overall, 2017. Previous ranking: 3)

Drafted in his second year of eligibility, after moving through multiple programs as a teen, Dugan had a good freshman year with Providence, before breaking out for the Friars as a sophomore, leading the nation in scoring, and earning recognition as a Hobey Baker finalist and being named New England’s best collegiate forward. Dugan is recognized as a bigger scoring threat, but he has also become more patient and has learned to look for more options for his teammates. There are many aspects of his game to like — he has excellent vision and his ability to see the ice plus his creativity makes him an exceptional playmaker. The top-line forward likes to hang out around the net and can feed his teammates from that position. At 6-2”, Dugan could stand to put more weight to his frame, so he doesn’t get pushed off the puck so easily. He has to pump his legs to skate, but he cycles smoothly in the zone. He has an ability to set his teammates up, but that is also his weakness as he needs to pass the puck less and shoot more to take that next step in his development. - JS

  1. Ivan Morozov, C (61st overall, 2018. Previous ranking: 4)

Morozov lived out of a suitcase last year, playing across three different leagues, as well as playing internationally for Russia. While he has yet to truly establish himself as a full time KHL player, he had a strong second half with SKA. Playing more of a power game, Morozov is more likely to try to plow through you rather than deke around. He combines strong skating ability, great puck protection, and a heavy wrist shot to provide an offensive impact. He is also a strong two-way player who uses his size effectively to win challenges for the puck and who can play in all situations. His main knock is consistency. He needs to find a way to be impactful from shift to shift, using his size effectively to dominate down the middle of the ice. Once he does come over to North America, he projects as a potential middle six center who will not need much additional seasoning to begin making his mark on the NHL. – BO

  1. Lucas Elvenes, C/RW (127th overall, 2017. Previous ranking: 5)

Exploding onto the scene from practically his first AHL game, Elvenes won AHL Rookie of the Month honors in October while steaming through an 11-game point streak and leading the league in scoring until early December. Bursting with speed and high-level passing ability, the Swedish hybrid forward loves to play a perimeter game that is predicated upon puck movement and his man-to-man game at top speed. He made faster passes than defenses were expected and take advantage of his speed against the walls. With soft hands and a smooth set of skates, he was as effective as any AHL winger at establishing possession in the offensive zone. With length and mature anticipation, Elvenes can also more than hold his own on defense. His shot could be more of a weapon, and with its speed and quick delivery, he should use it more often going forward, as he barely took more than one shot per game last year. Additional usage should make him that much harder to defend against. - TD

  1. Connor Corcoran, D (154th overall, 2018. Previous ranking: 6)

Corcoran has developed very well since being drafted, emerging as one of the top two-way defenders in the OHL last season. Originally drafted because of his size, solid mobility, and projectable skill set at both ends, he has embraced the jack-of-all-trades motif and become an all-situations minute eater for the Windsor Spitfires. Corcoran excels most in the defensive end where he understands how to use his quickness and mobility to play a suffocating, shutdown role. Not an overtly physical player, he shows poise and restraint, exhibiting great gap control to shut down the transition game, but also a good stick to excel in coverage. Offensively, his confidence soared last year as he took that next step in being able to lead the charge at even strength, and quarterback the powerplay effectively. While his offensive skill set is not dynamic enough to be a significant point producer at the next level, he definitely has the potential to develop into a quality #4-6 defender who can provide a reliable presence, following a few years of seasoning at the AHL level. - BO


  1. Kaedan Korczak, D (41st overall, 2019. Previous ranking: 7)

Korczak has really had a nice step forward in his development this past season. His shot rate is up nearly a full shot per game over his draft year and his goal production has followed suit. He has shown more offensive presence and looks much more comfortable with the puck on his stick. Last season he did not seemed as rushed to move the puck and is trusting in his ability to make a play. There was always a lot to like about his size, skating and overall defensive game but his ability to sneak in from the point to make a play, coupled with his development on the powerplay where he sets the table for his teammates, have been two very important and noticeable improvements. He has an excellent one timer and moves well laterally along the blue line which also adds another layer to his offensive game. He has always shown excellent gap and wall control where he uses both his reach and physical presence to disrupt his opponent’s game. – VG

  1. Lukas Cormier, D (68th overall, 2020. Previous ranking: NA)

Strong offensively yet lacking off the puck, Cormier has some of the traits that are constantly in demand, namely his high-end mobility and capacity to lead the rush. He handles the puck well and is a fine distributor from the point, with a large share of his QMJHL production coming on the power play. This speaks to the type of player that Cormier is and is expected to be at maturity; a power play specialist. He can quarterback the man advantage, distributing wisely to his teammates down low from the top of the umbrella. To Cormier’s credit, he is not a complete cipher in his own zone. He uses his stick well and keeps a solid gap. He is undersized, but not exactly a pushover. More concerning than his lack of size or strength is his tendency to look lost in the defensive zone, too often failing to pick up a man and contributing to a scoring chance against. The feeling here is that he gives a team more than he gives back, but that feeling may not be universal. Cormier’s combination of skating ability and puck skills will make him an asset. – RW

  1. Dylan Sikura, C (178th overall, 2014. Previous ranking: 14 [Chicago])

A sensational skater, Sikura remains one of the Blackhawks’ most dynamic and intriguing offensive prospects. A sixth-round pick from back in 2014, the Northeastern alum has been a consistently dangerous player in transition with AHL Rockford, leading them in points per game in each of the last two seasons. His skating is a huge plus, as he can and will blow through the neutral zone against the walls or weave through the middle of the ice to begin an offensive chance. Passing off the rush and at full speed is a big asset of his as well, as he has some solid setup-man tools. Small and ineffective away from the puck, Sikura looks to be a solely offensive prospect and an alarmingly snake-bitten one, with just one goal in 47 NHL games across three stints, and he is already 25 years of age. His forechecking and ability to win races for the puck as a depth player will have to shine if he has a chance at making it with a deep Chicago forward lineup in the future. - TD

  1. Zach Whitecloud, D (Undrafted Free Agent, signed Mar. 8, 2018. Previous ranking: 8)

Whitecloud has never been the most talented piece in the Vegas system, but his well-rounded defensive game and ability to effectively play against anyone gives him an NHL ceiling that rivals his more skilled counterparts in the Golden Knights organization. He quietly became an NHL regular before the March pause amid the COVID-19 pandemic and has drawn into Vegas’ round-robin postseason lineup already. While he is not the most impressive player to behold, the undrafted Bemidji State alum has no real flaws and can expertly slip into any role needed from him. A hard-nosed physical player, he plays deep, tight gaps and uses his 6-2” frame to close down any inside position against opposing forwards. He routinely shuts down plays below the goal line with his body, eliminating cycle play and high danger net-front chances. He has shown an underrated puck-moving ability to pair with his fairly respectable mobility, but I don’t expect him to be a two-way force of any kind in the NHL. Polished and ready for a permanent job on the Knights’ blueline, Whitecloud will likely stay put in the big league from this point on. - TD

  1. Keegar Kolesar, RW (Trade: Jun. 24, 2017. Originally: 69th overall, 2015 [Columbus]. Previous ranking: 9)

In making his NHL debut on January 11, logging just over 12 minutes of ice time, Kolesar has shown to be far enough along in his development to be a viable call-up option in a pinch. Though he struggled in his third full AHL season, he has carved out a role within the organization and looks to make the club full time in the 2020-21 campaign. One of most complete players in the system, the 6-2”, 223lb winger has a bruising power-forward game in the mold of Ryan Reaves that would be fitting for Vegas’ heavy fourth line. With nifty and elusive hands as well as a dangerous, albeit inconsistent shot, Kolesar is capable of racking up points, while pressuring opposing defenses and goaltenders as a depth option. His puck-protection skills against the boards and tenacious forechecking could make him one of the peskiest players to play against in a deep Vegas forward lineup. He is capable of taking on heavier defensive minutes with AHL Chicago, where he has been one of the top penalty-killing forwards on the club. He is becoming more of a certain future NHLer, but it looks like his ceiling is as a fourth liner with a grinder’s scoring output. - TD

  1. Isaiah Saville, G (135th overall, 2019. Previous ranking: 10)

Team USA’s third string netminder at last year’s WJC (he never played) Saville still has the highest upside of any goalie in the Vegas system. The freshman had some hiccups in adjusting to life in college, playing for a minnow in a top-heavy NCHC conference no less, but he still was able to demonstrate a number of the traits that made him an exciting draft prospect one year earlier. A southpaw on the smaller side for a modern goaltender, the Alaskan is very athletic with impressive lateral agility, yet he plays a very calm game, keeping his feet steady and generally playing with an abundance of composure. Going forward, he could stand to be a tad more assertive, especially when it comes to handling the puck. He should also work on tightening his five hole to be a less attractive target for shooters. More than anything, though, he needs to be more consistent from game to game. As with all goalies, there is boom-or-bust potential here, but the shine has not yet come off Saville. - RW

  1. Gage Quinney, C/LW (Undrafted Free Agent, signed Jun. 1, 2018. Previous ranking: 11)

Quinney became the first Las Vegas-born player to appear in an NHL game earlier last season, and he absolutely earned that big-league debut. Signed as a free agent in July of 2018, the winger has been quietly superb in the AHL with seasons of 33, 43, and 36 points (the last of which came in just 46 contests) since coming over from the Pittsburgh organization. Playing with more pace than ever, Quinney makes great reads of the ice and knows exactly where to the put the puck, whether that is utilizing his well-placed and heavy wrist shot or drawing defenders to him before dishing it out. An excellent puck-handler, he does not lose it often when attempting to move through traffic. He is not the biggest forward, but he competes well for pucks and can kill penalties with effectiveness. What hurts his potential is that the lefty does not have great speed and at 25, this might be the plateau of what he can provide. If the Knights truly value the former WHL role player, he can suit up for a bottom-six PK role in the near future. - TD

  1. Jiri Patera, G (161st overall, 2017. Previous ranking: 12)

Patera has shown continued progression last season bringing his GAA down from 3.31 to 2.55 and his save % up from .906 to .921, both of which metrics are significant season over season improvements. The strengths of his game are his control and positioning. He is able to stay pretty compact without a lot of stray movements which keeps him square to the puck and in control of his body. He isn’t a great lateral mover, but he gets across fine. His glove hand is pretty strong, and he does well tracking the puck through traffic. His rebound control is pretty good, and he directs pucks to the corners well. Occasionally, these are off target and end up in the slot but overall, his game is solid. He protects the bottom of the net extremely well. The only concern with his overall game is he tends to go down a bit early to protect the lower half of the net and his save % drops dramatically (per the more the puck is elevated. - VG

  1. Peter Diliberatore, D (180th overall, 2018. Previous ranking: 13)

Diliberatore is currently an average player in most aspects, but he has a couple of stellar aspects to his game. He spent two seasons playing prep hockey at Salisbury before joining Quinnipiac as a true freshman and making an offensive impact while playing in every game. Diliberatore is an offensive defenseman who led all Quinnipiac defenders in scoring this past year as a sophomore. While his skating, hockey sense and his skills range more on the average side, his big assets are his shot and physicality, even though he measures in at a slender 6-0” and 170 pounds. While he could certainly add more weight to his frame, he still uses what he has well. His shot is also exceptional, and it is one of the reasons why Diliberatore is an effective offensive defenseman. He has a blistering slapshot from the point, and he likes to use it, leading all Quinnipiac blueliners by more than 20 shots on the season. He will need at least one more collegiate season before turning pro. - JS

  1. Dylan Coghlan, D (Undrafted Free Agent, signed Sep. 20, 2017. Previous ranking: 14)

Undrafted and signed out of Tri-City before the Knights ever played their first game, Coghlan spent the 2019-20 season working on the defensive side of the game, with mixed results. Out there against top competition more often and for longer, his gaps and patience without the puck improved last season. This is encouraging, because offensively, he doesn’t need much work. A solid skater capable of carrying his heavy 6-2” frame to an impressive top speed, Coghlan is a rush-oriented defender who likes to carry the puck into the zone, allowing him to use his plus vision to defer to a teammate or his booming slapshot for a chance from the line. His defensive decision-making still needs some work, and his absence on the Chicago penalty kill is not a good sign, but he is a depth puck-rushing defender at the NHL level with potential on the power play with a bit more work. - TD

  1. Brandon Kruse, LW (135th overall, 2018. Previous ranking: 15)

An undersized winger with good wheels, Kruse moved directly from the NAHL to the NCAA as an 18-year-old and immediately put up impressive numbers with Bowling Green State. He has continued to put up strong numbers in the two subsequent seasons for the Falcons, as one of the key offensive drivers for the team. His stature will always be a concern, even if he plays tougher than one might expect, but his quick feet have thus far helped him avoid hits even as he regularly wins races for the puck. He also demonstrates great vision for passes, stickhandling the puck into the clear and finding an open man in a more dangerous spot. Those are skills which can help to mitigate his size concern, although not the concern that he can be one-dimensional, relying on the same tricks again and again to escape danger. That he has not yet signed is indicative that he will return to school for a senior season and that Vegas would like to see more progress before extending a contract. It’s hard to expect more out of a fifth rounder. – RW

  1. Marcus Kallionkieli, LW (139th overall, 2019. Previous ranking: 16)

After a blistering start to his draft year, it has all been downhill for Kallionkieli in the last two years. First, he saw his production dry down considerably in the second half of his draft season, something that could have been written off as a result of his first North American experience. The Golden Knights took the plunge on his impressive set of tools eventually coming through. He has solid size, which he puts to good use, owns a pair of slick and soft hands, and generally reads the game well. His skating needed some work, and he wasn’t a natural finisher, but there was plenty to work with. Unfortunately, after being drafted, Kallionkieli moved from the USHL to the WHL, but an off-season injury delayed his debut until December and he never really got going. Vegas has already given him an ELC, so they believe, but the winger needs to recover from a lost season. More a project now than ever, he is spending the early part of 2020-21 playing back in Finland. – RW

  1. Jesper Vikman, G (125th overall, 2020. Previous ranking: NA)

While Vikman’s numbers in his SuperElit rookie campaign were unexceptional – and are significantly worse in the early goings this year - he was at a disadvantage playing for a poor AIK club. He is tall and reads the play well, keeping his composure in difficult circumstances. He also does well at controlling rebounds. On the downside, his size seems to come at the expense of athleticism. Furthermore, he is rather raw technically. Vikman will need to show that he has mastered the Swedish junior level to earn a regular spot on the senior side. On a deeper with a deeper prospect pool, Vikman, at this stage in his development, might be an afterthought. With Vegas, whose system hasn’t yet been built up like more mature franchises, Vikman is a player to watch. That said, his lack of experience with the Swedish national age-based teams might be telling. Even more than Kallionkieli (#19), Vikman is a long-distance project. – RW