Welcome to the 2018 Top Shelf Prospects series. As we go through the Summer of 2018 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top prospects in the NHL. We will be following the order of the first round of the NHL draft (as if there were no traded draft picks) and you can find all the articles here. Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2018 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed.
What we will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2018-19 roster of the NHL team in question. We will also bring you one sleeper pick – a player who was either drafted in the 4th-round or later, or was an undrafted free agent signing who we pick as our dark horse to make the NHL. For those wondering, the cut-off for what is or isn’t a prospect is typically about 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or is 25 years old. These are not hard or fast rules though, and we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.
Vegas Golden Knights Prospects
The Vegas Golden Knights shocked the world. The expansion team came out of the gates hot, and while analysts and pundits predicted that they would fall down to earth, it never happened. The team took first place in the Pacific Division. They then swept the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, beat the San Jose Sharks in round two, and took down the Winnipeg Jets in the Western Conference final to make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. The clock struck midnight on their Cinderella run, with the Washington Capitals beating the Golden Knights to take home the Cup. The end of season awards was a reflection of their season. George McPhee, Gerard Gallant, William Karlsson, and Deryk Engelland all took home awards.
With their strong start, the Knights have looked to improve their team over the summer. They made a big free-agent splash by signing Paul Stastny. The Knights strengthened the defence with Nick Holden. They also signed depth pieces in Daniel Carr and Curtis McKenzie. The team also suffered some losses to their depth with James Neal, and David Perron leaving the club. The question now becomes if the team will integrate any of their 2017 NHL Draft Picks into the roster.
2018 NHL Draft Picks: Ivan Morozov, Slava Demin, Paul Cotter, Brandon Kruse, Connor Corcoran, Peter Diliberatore, Xavier Bouchard, Jordan Kooy
Graduations: Shea Theodore, Alex Tuch, William Carrier, Malcolm Subban, Tomas Nosek (age)
Top Prospect: Cody Glass
Center — shoots Right
Born April 1st, 1999 — Winnipeg, Manitoba
Height 6’2″ — Weight 178 lbs [188 cm / 81 kg]
Drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 1st round, #6 overall at the 2017 NHL Draft
Glass scored 37 goals and 65 assists for 102 points for Portland last year, improving his draft year point total by eight, despite playing five fewer games. He also added four goals and 13 points in 12 playoff games. Glass was named a WHL West Division First Team All-Star.
Cody Glass is a good, but not a great skater. Once he gets going, he shows very good speed. He could stand to work on his first step and his acceleration though. There is a bit of a short and jerky quality to his starts and it robs him of some quickness. If he can improve this area he will be even more dangerous. Glass has good agility and edgework, which helps him to be very elusive in the offensive zone and through the neutral zone. His balance and strength are also decent but could be improved with more lower-body strength.
Glass has good hands, with the ability to stick handle in tight spaces and make moves one-on-one. He protects the puck extremely well down low, extending plays and keeping possession. He shields the puck well, using his body to keep defenders away, while also having the good balance to fight through checks. Glass is good in board battles, and could be even better as he adds some muscle to his frame. He also has the passing skills and vision to make his linemates better and put up points. Glass is a creative playmaker, finding a way to get the puck to a teammate, even when there doesn’t appear to be much of a lane to do so. He can make those passes on both his forehand and backhand and through tight spaces.
He also has a decent wrist shot and good release. Glass’ quick hands help him to finish plays in tight to the net. What really sets him apart offensively though is his hockey IQ. He is almost always in the right spot or making the correct play with the puck. He puts the puck into good areas, allowing a teammate to get it and make a play. Glass then finds an opening, and looks for a soft spot in the defence to get open for a return pass.
Glass shows a very strong two-way game. His hockey IQ translates to the defensive end of the ice, where he shows good positioning and excellent anticipation. A strong and active stick creates turnovers, which he quickly translates into offence. He also is willing to block shots. Glass can kill penalties, as well as being strong in the face-off circle.
Glass has all the skills needed to be a future number one centre in the NHL. The question for the Knights will be how to develop those skills. Because of the CHL-NHL Transfer Agreement, Glass is not eligible to play in the AHL this year (except for a late season run after his WHL team is eliminated). The question for the Knights will be if they keep him up with the big club or have him spend another year in the WHL where he would play over 20 minutes a game and dominate.
Expect Glass to start the season in Vegas. Sometime before he plays his 10th NHL game, the team will have to decide whether they want to keep him on the big club, or send him back to the WHL. If he proves capable of being a contributing member of the third line or higher, he should stay in the NHL. But if he will only get limited fourth line minutes and spend time in the press box, then he should be back in the WHL. Training camp and early results will determine this.
#2 Prospect: Nick Suzuki
Centre — shoots Right
Born August 10th, 1999 — London, Ontario
Height 5’11” — Weight 183 lbs [180 cm / 83 kg]
Drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 1st round, #13 overall, at the 2017 NHL Draft
Suzuki had another strong season with 42 goals and 100 points in 64 games for the Owen Sound Attack. He also played in 11 playoff games, scoring three goals and 12 points. Following the Attack’s second round loss, he played in one playoff game for the Chicago Wolves in the AHL.
Suzuki is a good but not great skater. He has a quick first step and good acceleration but can improve his stride and have better top-end speed. He uses that acceleration and first-step to chase down loose pucks and gets in quickly on the forecheck, throwing hits or pressuring defenders into turnovers. Once he gets the puck, he uses his agility and edgework to create space and open up passing lanes.
He also has good stickhandling skills and can beat defensemen one-on-one with quick cuts, and changes of pace and then driving to the net. Suzuki could stand to be a little stronger, to improve his balance, and protect the puck better in the cycle as well as battle along the boards at higher levels. He does very well in these areas in junior hockey, but he should add muscle before he heads to the next level.
Suzuki is extremely intelligent as a hockey player. He thinks the game very well, spotting openings that other players do not see and seems to be a step ahead of where the puck is going. When he has the puck, he makes smart plays, and when he does not, he finds openings to get the puck and create a scoring chance. Suzuki has excellent vision and is a very good playmaker. He can feather tape-to-tape passes through tight openings and can put his linemates in a great position to finish his passes.
Also impressive as a goal scorer, Suzuki has quick hands and drives the net, where he can finish plays in tight. He’s also quick to pounce on rebounds and has the hand-eye coordination to deflect point shots. Suzuki is strong enough to battle for position in front of the net and slippery enough to avoid a defender and find a soft spot in a good scoring area. From further out, Suzuki has a good wrist and snapshot. His release is very quick and can be deceptive for goaltenders. Suzuki is effective on give-and-go plays, passing to a teammate and then finding open space for a return pass.
Suzuki has excellent work ethic that serves him in all three zones. He brings the same relentless approach to battling for pucks in the neutral zone and the defensive zone, that he shows on the forecheck. He has good positioning and when he is able to create a turnover, Suzuki is quick to transition to offence and create a scoring chance. His face-off skills are also advanced for a young player.
Suzuki could challenge Glass for a spot in the Golden Knights top nine, however he seems not quite as advanced in his game as Glass does. Suzuki likely heads back to the OHL. He will fetch a huge package at the OHL trade deadline if the Attack are not looking like contenders. He should also play for Team Canada at the World Juniors. Suzuki could be NHL ready as early as 2019.
#3 Prospect: Erik Brannstrom
Defence — shoots Left
Born September 2nd, 1999 — Eksjö, Sweden
Height 5’10” — Weight 173 lbs [178 cm / 78 kg]
Drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 1st round, #15 overall at the 2017 NHL Draft
Brannstrom put up two goals and 14 points in 44 games playing for HV71 in the SHL, Sweden’s top Men’s League. He also put up a goal and four points in seven games playing for Sweden at the World Juniors and won a Silver Medal. He joined HV71’s under 20 team for the playoffs and led them to the league title and won the MVP award with five points in five games.
In order to succeed in the NHL as an undersized defenceman, one must be an excellent skater. Brannstrom certainly checks that box. He has outstanding speed in both directions and gets up to top speed quickly, with great acceleration. Brannstrom has an excellent stride, and his strong lower body gives him a lot of power. He is able to fight through checks and is tough to knock off the puck. He also has very good edgework and agility. Brannstrom can use subtle moves and shifts to get past forecheckers and start the transition game.
Brannstrom is also an excellent playmaker. He has outstanding puck handling ability and the poise to control the puck and make plays in all situations. He can use his skating and stickhandling to break the puck out of his own zone and get the transition game started. Brannstrom can create offence both through leading the rush and as a trailer. He also is able to walk the line at the blue line, making smart plays when quarterbacking things from the point. His passing skill and vision is also high end and gives the impression that he can be a power play quarterback at the next level. He is smart with the puck, making smart plays with it on his stick.
Erik Brannstrom could stand to increase the power in both his wrist and slap shots. Added upper body mass could help with this in the coming years. However, his slap shot and one-timer are accurate and he keeps it low and on the net. He also has a knack of getting it on the net, even with traffic. Brannstrom also has a very good release and excellent accuracy on his wrist shot. He uses it to effectively get shots on net when under pressure.
Brannstrom’s best asset in the defensive zone is his ability to retrieve loose pucks and start the transition quickly. The best defence is a good offence, and he shows that by quickly starting the transition game. When he does get pinned in his own zone, he can be overpowered by bigger and stronger forwards. He also could stand to work on his positioning and defensive reads.
Brannstrom will head to North America and is likely to start the season for the Chicago Wolves. The Golden Knights will give him time to adjust to the size of the North American rink and the more physical games that it leads to. He is also eligible to play at the World Juniors again. Brannstrom could see short stints of NHL time if the Golden Knights see injury issues, but it is likely to be 2019-20 before he is ready for a full-time role.
#4 Prospect: Nicolas Hague
Defense — shoots Left
Born December 5th, 1998 — Kitchener, Ontario
Height 6’6″ — Weight 215 lbs [198 cm / 98 kg]
Drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2nd round, #34 overall at the 2017 NHL Draft
Hague was named the captain of the Mississauga Steelheads prior to the season, and had a breakout offensive campaign, putting up monster numbers. The defenseman scored 35 goals and 78 points in 67 games. Hague also scored four points in six playoff games. He was named both OHL Defenseman of the Year, and CHL Defenseman of the Year. Following the season he played five regular-season and three playoff games for Chicago, picking up one assist.
Already measuring 6-feet-6-inches tall, Hague is a giant on the blue line. His skating is surprisingly quick for a player his size and his stride long and fluid. He does have some problems with particularly speedy smaller forwards, but for the most part, his skating is more than adequate and gets Hague to the areas of the ice he needs to be. He plays a strong two-way game and covers a lot of ground for a big man. His edgework and pivots are also good for his size but could continue to be improved. He has surprisingly good lateral agility. In terms of strength on his skates and balance, he can continue to add muscle to his frame, but his size helps him to win board battles and clear the front of the net.
In his three years in the OHL Hague scored 14, 18 and finally 35 goals. He has a howitzer from the point on the power play. His one-timer was nearly unstoppable by junior goalies. He also can sneak down to the face-off circles and fire a deadly wrist shot with a quick release. Hague is able to move well laterally and walk the line to open up shooting lanes to get his shot through. The shot has good accuracy and he gets off his one-timer quickly.
Hague has improved his passing skills as well. He makes a good breakout pass from his own end and looks to make the smart play at the oppositions blue line. This is an area he really worked on over his junior career but there are still times he needs to be even more patient to make the right play. That said he is likely to be more of a trigger-man than quarterback at the blue line at the pro level.
Hague isn’t likely to lead the rush but is willing to join it as a trailer. He can unleash his slap shot, as well as a powerful wrist shot as the fourth forward on the rush. He has decent stickhandling ability. While he won’t lead a rush, Hague can make a move or two to skate the puck out of danger and start the transition game with a quick pass.
The big man shows good defensive instincts for a player his age. He steers attackers to the outside, battles hard in the corners and clears the front of the net. Hague maintains good gap control. He is not afraid to use his body and push players around and knock them off the puck, but don’t expect big open-ice hits either. Hague uses his positioning and a long, active stick to cut down passing and shooting lanes.
With his late-1998 birthday, Hague is eligible for the AHL this season and will likely end up playing for the Chicago Wolves. The Golden Knights would love to see his offence translate at the AHL level. Hague could be the perfect compliment to Brannstrom on the Wolves powerplay. As bigger defenders often take a little more time in the AHL, he is likely at least a year, and maybe two years away from an NHL impact.
#5 Prospect: Lucas Elvenes
Left Wing/Center — shoots Left
Born August 18th, 1999 — Angelholm, Sweden
Height 6’1″ — Weight 173 lbs [185 cm / 78 kg]
Drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 5th round, #127 overall, at the 2017 NHL Draft
Elvenes split time between the Allsvenskan and SHL last year and put up eye-popping numbers for a teenager. In 28 games of SHL play with Rogle, he scored five goals and 16 assists. In 22 games of Allsvenskan play with IK Oskarshamn, he had four goals and 21 points. He also added seven points in seven playoff games. Despite so few games, he led the Allsvenskan in assists by a junior-age player.
Elvenes is a very good skater. He has very good speed. However, it is his edgework and agility that really set him apart. He can make very quick changes of direction, turns, and other lateral movements in order to get past a defender. Once he gets an opening, Elvenes has the acceleration necessary to blow past his man and create a scoring opportunity. He also has good lower body strength. This gives him the power to fight through checks as well as the balance necessary to be strong on the puck and win battles on the boards or in front of the net.
Elvenes is an outstanding stickhandler. He can make plays with the puck in very tight spaces and at top speed. When this is combined with his skating ability, he can create a ton of offence off the rush. He is also very good on breakaways and in the shootout, as well as creating space and opportunities with open ice on the power play. However, Elvenes has a tendency to rely on his skill a little too much at times. He can get himself into trouble by trying to do too much with the puck, and not effectively using his linemates.
Elvenes is very creative as a playmaker. He can make passes through tight spaces, and set up plays for linemates. Elvenes extends plays waiting for a teammate to get open and then can hit him with a quick tape-to-tape pass for a good scoring opportunity. As far as his scoring goes, he has the soft hands to finish in tight to the net. His shot has a good release but can use an increase in power from further out. More importantly, he needs to work on his accuracy, as missing the net can be a problem. While he is not a big hitter, Elvenes is willing to play a physical game, battling for loose pucks and getting to the dirty areas of the ice.
Elvenes is a solid two-way player. He brings his grittiness to the defensive end of the ice, battling for loose pucks and helping to contain opposing forwards. He backchecks effectively and supports the defence down low. His good skating and positioning help Elvenes in his own end.
The Golden Knights signed Elvenes to his entry-level contract in June, and he will join the team for training camp. He is unlikely to make the big team and could play in the AHL or be loaned back to his Swedish club. Elvenes is eligible to play for Sweden at the World Juniors. While he is likely a couple of years away from NHL action, he looks like a real steal given where he was drafted. Elvenes’ game likely translates better as a winger going forward.
#6 Prospect: Stanislav (Slava) Demin
The Golden Knights drafted Stanislav (Slava) Demin with the 99th overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Demin. As no games have been played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.
#7 Prospect: Ivan Morozov
Centre/Left Wing — shoots Right
Born May 5th 2000 — Khanty-Mansiysk, RUS
Height 6’1″ — Weight 178 lbs [185 cm / 81 kg]
Drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2nd round, #61 overall at the 2018 NHL Draft
We had a short profile of Morozov prior to the draft. He was ranked #95 in our pre-draft rankings. We will add a full scouting report here.
Morozov put up 23 points in 30 games for Mamonty Yugry in the KHL and added five points in seven playoff games. He also played his first KHL game. Morozov also represented Russia at the Under 18s, scoring five points in five games and at the World Junior A Hockey Challenge with four points in four games. He has transferred to SKA St. Petersburg for next season.
Morozov is a good skater, who can take a defenceman wide and accelerate to the net on the rush. He has a very good first step and acceleration. His ability to change speeds allows him to fool defenders, and if he gets a step on them, he can accelerate past and drive the net. Morozov is also shifty, with good agility and edgework. He can make quick cuts and changes in direction to get past his mand. He needs to add lower body strength to be stronger on his skates. This would help Morozov win more battles on the boards and fight through checks.
Morozov is very much a pass-first player. He has the vision and skills to set up teammates, both in the cycle game and on the rush. He loves to work the give-and-go, moving the puck quickly to a teammate and getting into an open area. Morozov needs a bit more work on his stickhandling as well as to gain confidence in using it to improve as a playmaker. While he moves the puck well, he does not have the patience to hold onto it and try to open up other scoring opportunities.
Morozov is not afraid to take the puck to the net off the rush. Once he gets there he has the soft hands to finish in tight. He also has a good wrist shot and a quick release. When defenders back off to respect his skating, he can use them as a screen and fire the puck on net. He needs to get stronger on his skates in order to be more effective at controlling the puck on the cycle and winning battles on the forecheck.
Morozov is another player with strong work-ethic at both ends of the ice. He backchecks effectively, providing backpressure against the rush as well as support down low against the cycle. He has good size and strength to handle board battles against junior competition but will need to add muscle before going to the pros. Morozov
Morozov will likely play in the MHL for the SKA’s development team next season. They are one of the richest and most powerful clubs in the KHL and cracking their lineup, especially as a teenager, is not easy. He could see the occasional call-up and should be part of Russia’s team at the World Juniors.
#8 Prospect: Dylan Coghlan
Defence — shoots Right
Born February 19, 1998 — Nanaimo, BC
Height 6’2″ — Weight 189 lbs [188 cm / 86 kg]
Signed with the Vegas Golden Knights as a Free Agent, June 2017.
After twice being undrafted, Coghlan signed a free agent deal with Vegas. In his final season of junior hockey, he lit up the WHL with 17 goals and 63 points in 69 games. He also shone in the playoffs with 14 points in 14 games for Tri-City. Even after Tri-City picked up Jake Bean and Coghlan lost some power play time, he just kept on scoring.
Coghlan is a good skater. His top-end speed is good in both directions and he has the acceleration to reach that speed in just a few strides. This helps him to play a solid two-way game. He has a very good first step, allowing Coghlan to win races to loose pucks and retrieve dump-ins and move them in the other direction. He is also strong on his skates, winning battles for loose pucks and clearing the front of the net. Coghlan could use work on his agility though. He can sometimes be beaten by especially quick forwards.
Coghlan has greatly improved his offensive game over his junior career. While he is willing to join the rush or pinch at the blueline to try and create offence, he picks his spots well. Coghlan has very good hockey IQ and this helps him to find the right times to take chances and not get caught up ice. He has worked on his shot over the years and it has greatly improved. He has a strong slapshot and understands how to get it through traffic and on the net.
Coghlan is also improving as a playmaker. He is a good stickhandler and is poised with the puck. He makes smart passes, both in starting the transition game and in quarterbacking things from the point. Coghlan sees the ice well and finds the right teammate to set up a scoring chance. He can also carry the puck out of his own zone and start the rush by skating it up the ice.
Coghlan was known as a strong defensive defenseman before his offensive game unexpectedly exploded. That part of his game has remained. He maintains good gap control and forces opponents to the outside and away from dangerous areas. He also has an active stick and poke checks opponents and cuts down passing lanes. Coghlan is quick to get the puck out of the zone and start the transition. He also plays physical but does so in a disciplined way avoiding penalties.
After a strong junior career, Coghlan heads to Chicago to begin his pro career. The Golden Knights hope that his offensive game will translate to the AHL level. He likely needs a couple years in the AHL, rounding out his game before he is ready to challenge for an NHL job.
#9 Prospect: Oscar Dansk
Goalie — shoots Left — catches Left
Born February 28th, 1994 — Stockholm, Sweden
Height 6’3″ — Weight 195 lbs [191 cm/88 kg]
Drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2nd round, #31 overall at the 2012 NHL Draft
Signed with the Vegas Golden Knights as a Free Agent in July 2017
When the Golden Knights faced injury issues at goalie last year, Dansk was given the opportunity to play his first NHL game. He went on to play four games for the team, putting up a 1.78 goals-against average and 0.946 save percentage. He also played 20 games for Chicago with a 2.44 goals-against average and 0.918 save percentage. The Blue Jackets gave up on their former second-round pick and this was a season of redemption for Dansk.
Dansk is a tall, athletic goalie. He plays the traditional butterfly style. Dansk has good athleticism and quick reflexes. He moves well laterally and slides quickly from post-to-post and is able to make some very nice saves as a result. Dansk is also extremely strong down low and covers the bottom of the net effectively. He is great at stopping the first shot and is rarely beaten on a clean opportunity. Dansk has an excellent glove hand though he could use some work on his blocker side. Dansk is a good puck handler and is always coming out of his net to play the puck. He may even come out of his net more than many coaches would feel comfortable with.
Dansk shows very good technique in the net. He goes down in a wide butterfly stance, but it is controlled and there are no gaps. Dansk has very good size and covers a lot of the net. He is quick to recover when he does drop down and gets ready for the second shot. His movements in the crease are controlled and smart. He could use some work on his rebound control, as this will need to be developed with experience.
Dansk’s demeanour in the net is cool and calm. He recovers quickly from goals against and plays with a quiet confidence. He can sometimes get flustered by big strong forwards crashing the net, and he’ll have to learn to deal with this to succeed in the NHL.
Dansk recently signed a two-year deal with Vegas. He could challenge Malcolm Subban for the role of backup goaltender but is more likely to play in Chicago. Dansk may never be an NHL starter, but he could be a future backup in the league, either in Vegas or elsewhere.
#10 Prospect: Ben Jones
Centre — shoots Left
Born February 26th, 1999 — Waterloo, Ontario
Height 6’0″ — Weight 187 lbs [183 cm / 85 kg]
Drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 7th round, #189 overall at the 2017 NHL Draft
Jones’ offensive numbers exploded in his post-draft season. He upped his goal total to 30 and his points to 79 in just 68 games. He also added five goals and 12 points in 10 playoff games.
Jones is a good skater. He has a quick first step and his acceleration allows him to reach top speed in just a few strides. He uses his ability to change speeds as a weapon that can fool defenders. If Jones gets a step on his man, he can pull away and drive to the net. His top-end speed allows him to get around the ice and play a 200-foot game. Jones has good edgework and agility. He can elude defenders both with and without the puck. He could stand to be stronger on his skates. Jones wins battles on the boards in juniors but will need to be stronger to play this game in the pros.
Jones is an effective playmaker. He sees the ice well and opens up passing lanes to set up scoring chances through use of his skating and stickhandling. He can create enough space from a defender to be able to make the play. Jones makes the smart, simple play but it is very effective in maintaining possession and creating offence. He can sometimes try to force things with his stickhandling and that can lead to turnovers but did a better job of limiting that tendency this year.
Jones has a very good wrist and snapshot. They also feature excellent releases which can fool opposing goaltenders. Jones can also score in tight to the net with soft hands to deke goalies, bang in rebounds, or deflect pucks. He is good at finding the soft spots in the defence and getting open for a scoring chance. Jones is aggressive in front of the net and in the corners. He does a good job of winning battles on the boards.
Jones was a defenceman in minor hockey and only switched to centre in the OHL. This helps him to play a strong two-way game. He is good in his own zone, helping to support the defence down low and protect against the cycle. His quick stick helps Jones to create turnovers and transition into offence. He is a smart player and uses his hockey IQ to anticipate plays and break them up. Jones is often matched up against the opposing team’s top lines.
Jones’ development one of the reasons that the IceDogs are making trades to go all in this off-season. Niagara believes that they have a chance to compete for the OHL Championship and Jones will be a big part of their team. He will need AHL time after his OHL career is done, but he is already looking like a steal in the seventh round of the 2017 NHL Draft.
Sleeper Prospect: Jack Dugan
Left Wing — shoots Right
Born March 24th, 1998 — Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Height 6’2″ — Weight 185 lbs [188 cm / 84 kg]
Drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 5th round, #142 overall, at the 2017 NHL Draft
After being drafted out of Northwood Prep School, Dugan spent last season with the Chicago Steel in the USHL. He put up 31 goals and 66 points in 54 games. He was named to the USHL First All-Star Team. Dugan continued his strong play in the playoffs with two goals and eight points in seven games. He also played five games for Team USA in the World Junior A Hockey Challenge, scoring three goals and four points in five games.
Dugan has a powerful stride which helps him to fight through checks and get to the net. He does this well at the junior level, but will need to keep adding lower-body strength in order to play this style in the pros. He also has good speed and the acceleration to reach that speed in just a few strides. Dugan can get even better. His stride is a bit awkward and choppy. Fixing that would make him even faster and more powerful.
Dugan plays a power forward style. He is a good puck-handler and can make plays even when moving at top speed. Dugan can beat a defender in a one-on-one situation and get to the front of the net. When he gets there he has the hands to finish in tight. He also has a powerful wrist shot and a good release. Dugan battles hard in the corners to win loose pucks and create chances.
Dugan is a decent playmaker as well. He sees the ice well and makes smart passes to teammates. He uses his skating, size and strength to get away from a defender and make a pass to a teammate. Dugan is quick to get in on the forecheck and create turnovers. He also extends plays and maintains possession down low in the cycle game.
Dugan is willing to bring his high compete-level and willingness to battle along the boards to all three zones. He backchecks hard and is willing to play physical in all three zones. Dugan is a smart player who sees plays developping and makes the play to break them up.
Dugan is committed to attend Providence College next season. The Knights hope to see his offensive game translate at the NCAA level. If he can put together a couple of strong NCAA campaigns, he will be in line for an NHL contract and a chance to turn pro. Expect him to need AHL time as well. Overall Dugan is likely a three to four year project.
As a new team, the Vegas Golden Knights assembled a nice collection of high-end talent in players like Glass, Suzuki, and Brannstrom. Beyond that, there is a lack of depth though. Hague, Morozov, Demin, and Dansk are good for B-Level prospects. Four of the prospects listed could have qualified as the sleeper prospect, and likely would have been outside the top 10 on teams with more established systems. Beyond this group, things get really thin though. That depth should be on the way as the Knights have 10 draft picks in 2019, and nine in 2020. Over those two years, they have two first-rounders, five second-round picks, and four third-round picks. The pool should improve quickly.
The team signed Zach Fucale to add to the goaltending depth, though he was a failed prospect in the Montreal Canadiens system. He joins Maxim Zhukov, Dylan Ferguson, Jordan Kooy and Jiri Patera in the system. On defence, they also have Zach Whitecloud, Jake Bischoff, Xavier Bouchard, Peter Corcoran, and Peter Diliberatore. Up front, the team has Jake Leschyshyn, Jonas Rondbjerg, Brandon Kruse, Nicholas Campoli, Paul Crouse, and Stefan Matteau.
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