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Las Vegas–With the 2018 NHL Draft gone and over with, the Vegas Golden Knights selected eight new prospects into the fold.
Their eight picks this year were down by four selections in their first ever NHL Draft that they participated in back in 2017.
This year, the Golden Knights did not have a first round pick to use in the 2018 Draft. The Golden Knights gave that up in the Tomas Tatar trade in last season’s NHL Trade Deadline.
So with their first available pick at 61st overall in the draft they chose Russian Center Ivan Morozov.
The Golden Knights did not have any picks to use in the third round so they had to wait until round 4 to make their next selection.
They picked up defenseman prospect Stanislav Demin from the Wenatchee Wild at 99th overall.
In 57 games with Wenatchee, Demin scored 9 goals, recorded 36 assists for 45 points.
In the playoffs with Wenatchee, Demin scored two goals and pitched in with five assists in 20 games.
Demin, is already committed to playing at the University of Denver in the 2018-19 hockey season so he will have time there to work on his game.
“I think my biggest asset is my skating. So, just move my feet and use that all over the ice and being able to get up in the play and defend. So, I will use my feet in the rush and be able to play in all situations. I think that’s my biggest asset and going to be a huge help when I step into Denver when I am playing against bigger and stronger competition.” Demin mentioned.
After Demin was selected, he talked about the feeling of being drafted by the Golden Knights.
“It’s an unbelievable experience. You only get this experience once in your life. So, it’s pretty cool to go through it. Going to Vegas, it’s a new organization and they had an unbelievable season. They were up there in the Stanley Cup Final, so it’s just super cool to be part of an organization that has done so well right from the get go. Seeing their players from the expansion draft and what they want in their players. It’s unbelievable.” Demin said after Vegas drafting him.
As a young defenseman that is up and coming as a prospect, there are many veteran blueliners to look up to and model their game after and for Demin it’s Nashville Predators Captain Roman Josi.
“I think he is a guy that I try to model my game after. He is a really good player and I have watched a lot of him.” Says Josi
Since the departure of Shea Weber with the Predators, Josi has provided solid leadership and defense on their backend.
Several picks later at 115th overall, the Golden Knights grabbed 18-year old Center Paul Cotter from USHL’s Lincoln Stars.
In the 51 games that Cotter played in last season with Lincoln, he put the puck in the back of the net 18 times, he tallied 21 assists for 39 points.
During their playoff run, Cotter led the Stars in the scoring department with his four goals and four assists in seven games.
Like Demin, Cotter is committed to playing collegiate hockey next season with Western Michigan University in an effort to elevate his overall play.
“I think just overall the NHL is getting bigger, faster and stronger. I know Western Michigan will be a great stepping stone and it should be a great opportunity for me. I think I definitely rely on my skill and speed to have success at Western and as I continue to progress. I think just using that physicality that has been a problem in my game and keeping leadership. I think those are good traits to help me move forward.” Said Cotter.
“I think I can improve on a lot. Defensive zone is probably the biggest thing I want to key in on and get better at.” Cotter added.
Cotter looks up to several NHLer’s that he tries to emulate his game after. One of those is 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins organization. Another notable on his list includes current Golden Knights forward James Neal.
“I think of Ryan Kelser and Patrice Bergeron. I have always been of fan of watching James Neal and Ilya Kovalchuk, but I don’t think I can correlate to playing like them, but I’d say definitely Ryan Kelser and Patrice Bergeron.” Says Cotter.
These players that Cotter mentioned are having really good NHL careers which includes Kovalchuk who is coming back to North America to play for the Los Angeles Kings.
20 picks following the Cotter selection at 135th overall, the Golden Knights went to General Manager George McPhee Alma mater of Bowling Green State University and snagged forward prospect Brandon Kruse.
For Kruse he was in an interesting spot during the draft when his name was called, eating with his friend.
“I was just out actually getting a bite to eat with one of my buddies. I was watching the draft there, I saw my name pop up, he was kind of freaking out and my stomach kind of dropped. Then just seeing Vegas and what they’ve done this year, I couldn’t be any happier.” Kruse said.
Kruse suited up in 41 games in his first season as a freshman with Bowling Green. In that span, Kruse was ranked at #5 in scoring among freshman’s in the NCAA. He scored eight goals, added 25 assists for 33 points.
With the way the NHL game is at now speed is an important factor which is strength in how Kruse plays.
“I think my speed and my skillset. Those have gotten me where I am today and I think they’ll allow me to play at the next level as I continue to grow.” Says Kruse.
As he continues to work on his playing ability, Kruse did make mentioned of what he needs to get better at.
“Probably just size and strength and then keep working on my shot. Obviously at the next level in the NHL those guys all have really good shots. Little things like size and strength and shooting pucks.” Kruse replied.
At 154th overall, the Golden Knights picked up their second defenseman in the draft in Connor Corcoran from the Windsor Spitfires.
Turns out Corcoran was coached by current Chicago Wolves Head Coach Rocky Thompson.
He fondest hockey memory with Windsor last season was taking the 2018 Mastercard Memorial Cup.
“Definitely last year winning the Memorial Cup. That’s my greatest hockey moment, other than today.” Said Corcoran.
Patrolling the blueline for the Spitfires last season, Corcoran recorded three goals and pitched in with 21 assists for 24 points.
He was also co-leader in scoring among defenseman in the playoffs with three points in six games.
With the defenseman talent in the NHL, there are plenty of d-man to look up to and model after and with Corcoran he said it was Washington Capitals blueliner Matt Niskanen.
“He’s a great shutdown D, he’s a two-way D, he competes, he’s hard-working, he’s physical and he can also chip in on the penalty kill and power play as well.” Says Corcoran.
Nisakanen recently won the 2018 Stanley Cup in Vegas when his Capitals beat the Golden Knights in game 5 by a 4-3 final.
For Corcoran, he talked about the support structure that he has in his corner that helped maturate his hockey career to where he is at today.
“Definitely my parents. Also, a lot of coaches have helped me along the way, but at the top would definitely be my parents. All the sacrifices they’ve made for me, pushing me to my limits. I’m very thankful for them.” Corcoran replied.
The next player that Vegas selected in the draft came in the 6th round at pick number 180 in defenseman prospect Peter Diliberatore.
Diliberatore comes from Salisbury Prep where he spent the 2017-18 season playing for. In 28 games for Salisbury, Diliberatore scored four goals, registered 13 assists for 17 points.
Next season, Diliberatore is already committing to play for Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.
His NHL idol is Ottawa Senators Captain and two time Norris Trophy Winner Erik Karlsson.
“I think he’s a very strong skater and he brings that offensive ability too. He uses that skating ability to also put himself into good defensive position.” Diliberatore said.
He mentions that his asset on the ice is his hockey sense.
“I think my skating, my IQ and my ability to improve every day. I think, on the ice, my skating and my IQ allows me to create plays and make things happen and my ability to want to improve every day is going to drive me to my goal of playing in the NHL.” Says Diliberatore.
Diliberatore was the Golden Knights third player drafted this year at the defenseman position.
Five picks later at 185th overall, the Golden Knights selected their fourth defenseman prospect in the draft, Xavier Bouchard.
Bouchard played for Baie-Comeau Drakkar last season and served as one of their Alternate Captains. Thru 65 games, Bouchard put the puck in the back of the net three times, tallied 18 assist for 21 points.
Represented Team Canada White in the Under-17 World Hockey Championship in 2016-17.
In taking the next step in the process of being a better hockey player, Bouchard identified the areas in which he can improve on.
“The speed and maybe game management. Less turnovers and stuff like that. I know I have to work on my defensive game and I’ll work on that for sure.”
He looks up to Columbus Blue Jackets and former Nashville Predators defenseman Seth Jones.
“I think he’s a great model for me. He’s a smart player, big guy who can skate. A good two-way defenseman and I like to watch and learn as much as I can from him.” Bouchard on Jones.
The Golden Knights last pick of day was in fact an addition as they acquired the 208th overall pick from the Penguins and going back to Pittsburgh was a 7th rounder in next year draft.
They used their new 208th pick in the draft and grabbed London Knights goaltender Jordan Kooy.
Kooy managed to produce a .904 save percentage in 24 games with the OHL Knights.
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