Today was the first practice of the Vegas Golden Knights Rookie Camp. About 26 players came out to prove they are ready for a spot on the team. There’s a lot of action happening in these practices. Often, 2 sets of players are performing the same drill on different ends of the ice. It can be hard to really analyze the performance of every player. So I focused my attention on the players I thought had a shot of making the team: Nic Hague, Zach Whitecloud, Jimmy Schuldt, Cody Glass, and Paul Cotter.
My simple method of analyzing an hour long practice (besides noticing their skating, positioning, accuracy, and general skills) was to award a + or – for the good or bad things they did on the ice. For example, if their positioning was good and they did the right thing on the ice, I gave them a +. But if they lost the puck, weren’t positioned properly, or were the cause of a goal against, then they got a -. If they were just “fine” on the ice, nothing special and nothing bad, then they got a ,.
Here’s how each player did.
Jimmy Schuldt: – + – – – –
A lot of people have very high hopes for Jimmy Schuldt. I read great things about him, like others, but until I see someone in action, I try to have no opinion or expectation of them. Basically, I watch them with an unbiased eye.
Jimmy came from St. Cloud State University and, apart from one game with the VGK last season, he doesn’t have any professional experience; so most likely he was just experiencing some nerves. But from the hour long practice, I saw one great thing he did, and lots of not so great things. He seemed to focus too much on where the puck was, and not enough on where HE should be. This was just one day, and everyone has their “off days”. Perhaps he’ll re-group and be amazing in the rookie games.
Nic Hague: + + + + + + +
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Nic Hague. He’s a great offensive defender, and he reminds me of Alex Tuch in his size and potential for greatness. And while I wish I saw a little bit more from his skating today (nothing wrong with it, just nothing impressive), he didn’t disappoint from his performance. He frequently was able to steal the puck from forwards, his positioning was always spot on, he was as effective on offense as the forwards, and he was calm and collected on the ice. He made it look easy and it was like everyone else was playing in HIS game. When paired with Zach Whitecloud, the two were a perfect wall of defense.
Zach Whitecloud: – + + + + +
Whitecloud, like Hague, was calm and collected on the ice. He was a natural leader. He understood positioning and made it very difficult for his opponents to have an effective offense. While I don’t expect to see as many points from him as I do from Hague, I think he’ll be a reliable defender and is ready to play in the NHL.
Cody Glass: + , + + + ,
Glass was the most reliable forward today. Truthfully it was hard for the forwards to be impressive because defenders like Hague and Whitecloud were so good, but Cody did a good job. His skating was great, passing was great, and he seemed to understand positioning. There was nothing he did to make me think he wasn’t ready for the NHL, but also nothing to make me think he needs to be there. I am definitely excited to see what he can do in the rookie games. Though I have to say, if any rookie is going to make the team this year, they need to really stand out and be the BEST in the Rookie Face-offs.
Paul Cotter: + , – , , , ,
Paul was fine. Again, it was hard to stand out as a forward with the fantastic defenders we had. To be honest, he didn’t get my attention as much as some other players. But when I was focused on him, I just didn’t see anything that made me want more. He was reliable, didn’t have many blunders, and is probably good enough to play in the AHL, but I just didn’t see anything special… yet. We’ll see what he can do during the Rookie Face-offs.
Obviously this was just one practice, and I’m just one person who could have missed or overlooked something. We still have the rookie face-offs, a practice, and the preseason games to see how the players perform over time. I can’t wait to see who surprises us over the next few weeks and who steps up their game.