Welcome to Last Word’s Draft Boom and Bust series. As the 2020 NHL Entry Draft approaches, we decided to examine each team’s best and worst pick since the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. We will examine each player, why they were picked where they were, and what their NHL career was like. Today, we’ll focus on the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft Boom and draft bust. You can’t judge the Knights’ drafts up to this point, as it is way too early to tell.
Vegas Golden Knights Draft Boom and Bust – Expansion
There were a bunch of great options to chose from for this exercise, and we will get into a few more after this. However, Jonathan Marchessault is selected as the biggest boom from the Vegas Golden Knights draft during expansion for more than one reason. For starter’s, since being drafted, he has played in the top-six and put up a whopping 181 points in 225 games played. He has also added 29 points in 27 games during the playoffs. Marchessault is a speedy player who is good for 25 goals. He can also move the puck well and has no issue bringing in the assists.
What makes him the biggest boom of this draft isn’t just the fact that he is very good though. It is what else came with him. Looking at how Vegas got him is just as impressive. Vegas also received Reilly Smith from the Florida Panthers in return for a fourth-round pick. Smith has added 167 points in 212 games. Also, he has 28 points in 27 games. What makes Marchessault the biggest boom of this Vegas draft is that he was a player dump to get rid of another salary. Both of these players ended up being legit top-line players for Vegas and all it costed them was a fourth-round pick.
At the time, people knew the deal was a bad one for Florida. However, it was justified because Florida was shedding some salary while also trying to protect some younger defencemen. The pick has worked out better than most imagined it could, landing it as the biggest boom.
Nate Schmidt: Schmidt was taken as a younger player with some upside. The Washington Capitals had too many good players to protect so Schmidt fell to Vegas. He has since become a guy who can throw up 30 or so points but plays very well in all areas of the ice. He is a top defenceman for the Knights and at 28-years-old they hope he can stay like that for a while still. Considering Vegas got nothing extra for Schmidt is the reason he doesn’t quite match up to Marchessault for the biggest boom.
William Karlsson: Karlsson was one of the most underrated pickups from the Vegas Golden Knights draft. He immediately stepped in and scored 43 goals, 33 more than his previous high. His shooting percentage was unsustainable for that season, however, he still seems to be good for around 20 goals each year anyways. Coming way out of the blue for Vegas, Karlsson was one of the smartest pickups of the draft.
Erik Haula: Once again, not only because the player they selected was a good choice, but because of what else they got. For taking Haula, the Knights also got Alex Tuch. Both of these guys were very useful pieces in their Stanley Cup run. However, they don’t quite match what Marchessault and Smith brought to the table. Regardless, they were very savvy pickups.
The Vegas Golden Knights draft didn’t feature too many busts in it. Even some of the players that weren’t that good were turned for a draft pick of some sort right after the draft. Meaning that the team did a good job selecting them knowing they could move them if needed. However, Griffin Reinhart was not a smart pick. At the time, he was a former fourth-overall pick that had struggled to find a full-time NHL gig. He played a handful of games with the Edmonton Oilers, but ultimately was staying with their AHL team.
At the time of the draft, Reinhart was still a 23-year-old. Since a lot of Edmonton’s better players were protected among the rules, Vegas didn’t have a ton to choose from. However, even a name like Jujhar Khaira would have been a better pickup. Heck, even someone like Kris Russell would have likely been movable. Although he was overpaid, it was fair to say many teams still saw him as a top-four defenceman back then. Regardless, Reinhart wasn’t the best option.
Career With Vegas
Reinhart never even played a game with the Vegas Golden Knights. He spent two seasons with their AHL team. Even there, he didn’t look very good. Points aren’t everything for defencemen but you would hope to see more than 28 in 135 games played. This past season he played for the Kunlun Red Star of the KHL. He had a measly two assists in 33 games. It is safe to say his hope of an NHL career is over. Considering he never really sniffed the Golden Knights roster, this was a bad pick.
Teemu Pulkkinen: Pulkkinen was another young guy the Knights thought may have had some upside. However, he just never panned out. Before they drafted him, he had 22 points in 83 games. That number stayed the same as he never played an NHL game with Vegas. He has also been playing in the KHL since 2018. The reason he isn’t as big of a bust as Reinhart is simply there were much fewer expectations. It was a flyer on a guy most people had never heard of before.
Connor Brickley: There were not many expectations when the Knights drafted Brickley. He was a 25-year-old who hadn’t played much in the NHL. He also never got to play a game with the Knights and has played just 14 NHL games since 2018. This past season, he played in Austria. However, the Knights did get a fifth-round pick from the Carolina Hurricanes to select Brickley. Which is why the pick isn’t considered as much of bust. Low expectations mixed with another asset makes for a fair outcome.
That’s our list! Let us know what you agreed and disagreed with, and check out Draft Boom or Busts here.