With the 2020 NHL Entry Draft kicking off tonight in a virtual setting in the middle of October, you might be excused for feeling a bit out of sorts. It’s a strange time for so many things. One of the strangest things that could happen tonight is that the VGK might end up not selecting anyone at all today. How likely is that to happen? Will the Golden Knights draft someone tonight?
As trade talks have heated up regarding Marc-Andre Fleury over the last few days, VHN has learned one of the sticking points in getting a third team involved to eat up to half of Fleury’s remaining salary is the price the Golden Knights are willing to pay that intermediary. If the price is indeed a first plus a second, Vegas has to think fast if they want to give up this year’s first or next. As listed by our good friends at PuckPedia, the Golden Knights do not have a second, fourth or fifth round pick this year. Vegas does have two third-round picks as well as a sixth and seventh round selection tomorrow.
The second round pick to move Fleury would have to be next year’s pick (where they have two in the second round), leaving the choice to Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon which first rounder is better to keep. If you believe as many do this year’s draft is very deep, it makes sense to shed both picks from the 2021 draft. I personally would likely opt for both picks coming from next year as well if there’s a choice to be made. Of course, you’re gambling on finishing better than you did this year and hitting a home run or two in free agency.
Should Vegas keep its first round pick for tonight, here are a few potential names that could be available at number 29.
I feel like the Golden Knights have the most need on defense, not forward as some would suggest. Vegas has gone forward-heavy in its first three drafts and has plenty of talent at the NHL and prospect level. Defense is another story. Even if the VGK go out and land Alex Pietrangelo or Torey Krug in free agency, those guys can’t play the whole game. Having a top-four defensive nucleus that you trust in all situations can win you a lot of games and cover a lot of possibilities. Especially now that Nate Schmidt’s name (and salary) is going to pop up in more and more trade rumors this week, defense is where I’d focus my search.
Braden Schneider, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
The obvious choice for a few reasons if he’s still available. One is that Kelly McCrimmon knows the Wheat Kings very well because he used to own the team. Talk about a direct scouting pipeline. Another reason is that he’s a right-shot defenseman which is always a big value. He has good size at 6-2, 202 lbs. and puts up decent offensive numbers (42 points in 60 games). Schneider takes care of his own end very well. If he does fall to #29 I do not hesitate to snatch him up.
Helge Grans, Malmo (Sweden)
Another right-shot defenseman, Grans is #6 among European Skaters according to Central Scouting. At 6-3 he has good size and also has good offensive instincts. His draft stock jumped in the last half of the season, indicating a player on the rise as he matures physically.
William Wallinder Jr., MODO (Sweden)
The biggest (6-4) in my group of potential picks, Wallinder is lauded for his skating ability. Let me tell you, that’s nothing to sneeze at because I’ve seen so many prospects fail to make the NHL because of poor skating. The other important skill he brings is the ability to carry the puck with poise, due in part to his skating ability. You can teach a lot of skills but to have those two already well developed is a major plus.
Ryan O’Rourke, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
A well-rounded player who can also contribute occasionally on offense. Also praised for his leadership skills, something that I think gets overlooked a lot in a young player.
Justin Barron – Halifax (QMJHL)
I left Barron off my draft list because of his injury history. If he is able to get past the problems brought on by blood clots and other maladies I think he will be an everyday NHLer. But I’m not one to take that chance with a first round pick.
I would pick Schneider if available hands down. But I have a feeling he may not be and for that reason, I’m going with Wallinder as my selection at #29 overall for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think happens in the first round in the comments!