This week the Vegas Golden Knights are having their 2018 Development Camp. The camp combines both this year’s and last year’s draft picks, as well as other invited young players. The purpose of the camp is to teach these players how the Knights organization does things, and how to improve their game so they can be ready to play with the team in a few years. They learn new on-ice techniques, physical training, cooking and nutrition, and how they can improve individually.
The camp runs all week ending in scrimmages today, tomorrow, and Saturday. Normally I would wait until the end of the camp to write an assessment of the players, but I’ve decided to start early.
Why you ask?
Because I need a distraction. My husband and I are on a “juice cleanse.” I’m an athlete and may look healthy to outsiders, but my diet has been horrendous my whole life. So I’m starting over. And let me tell you, it’s not easy. For 3 days I have to drink 5 different (gross) healthy juices without eating anything else. It’s hard. I miss cheese and cookies and chips and brownies and…. okay I’ll stop. But the point is, I need to write about something, and the development camp players have won the writing lottery in my head.
So let’s talk players!
The players are separated into two teams. The grey team and the white team. For the most part, the grey team is made up of this year’s draft picks, and the white team has last year’s picks (although 3 of these players are on the grey team). Each team practices at different times, only to combine on the ice for the joint scrimmages. It’s been cool seeing how much better the players are that were here last year for development camp. They are “skating” proof that the camp works and really helps the players improve rapidly.
The new draft picks have a lot to learn before they are ready to play in the NHL. But some of last year’s draft picks are looking great and could be very strong players for the Golden Knights in the next few years.
Here are the one’s that stood out to me:
Cody Glass: Of course. He was drafted 6th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, and was the first pick ever for the Vegas Golden Knights. Although he didn’t make the roster last year, his game has really improved and he’s looking promising this year as an AHL player. What I noticed about his play was that he was consistent. While some players were good at times, they made “rookie mistakes” other times. But not Glass. His shooting was the most accurate I’ve seen in the camp. If he wasn’t getting it in the net, he was hitting the post. And Glass always put himself in the best position to make the play. He’s definitely someone to watch this year.
Gage Quinney, Tarek Baker, and Ryan Wagner: These boys weren’t drafted, but they’ve showed promise in this camp. While these players didn’t stand out as much as say Glass or Hague, they are a solid bunch. Their shots and passing were accurate and they move with confidence and purpose.
Keegan Kolesar: He played last year in the AHL and ECHL and has been paired with Glass on several drills during this camp. They seem to have chemistry together and Kolesar definitely has the skill to be paired with Glass. He might even teach Glass a few things. Kolesar is a strong offensive player who I would expect to play for the Knights in the coming years.
Nick Suzuki: Nick was someone that the fans were very familiar with. He was a first round draft pick last year. And while he can be very good on offense, he wasn’t as consistent as I’d like. Could have just been the nerves. We’ll see what he looks like during the scrimmages this week.
Zach Whitecloud, Nicolas Hague, and Erik Brannstrom: All three of these players were drafted last year and all three are fantastic. Whitecloud is solid D. He moves fluidly on the ice and plays smart. Hague and Brannstrom however, really excited me. Not only are they smart on defense, but they are strong scorers as well. In fact, Hague was outshooting all the offensive players on his team! Granted he has more experience, but still it’s impressive. And Brannstrom reminds me of Karlsson when he shoots. These 3 make me excited for our team’s defense in the future.
Form your own opinion!
Joint scrimmages will take place today (Thursday, June 28th) at 4pm, Friday at 10am, and Saturday at 10:15am at City National Arena. If you have the time, I encourage you to go out and watch. After all, these players might be playing at T-mobile soon! Check them out and let me know what players stood out to you!