If you are unfamiliar with what a prospect pyramid is, the idea was thought of by hockey personality Steve Dangle. It is essentially a tier list for NHL prospects but put in the shape of a pyramid to signify how grade-A prospects don’t grow on trees and are harder to come by. When I was a wee boy back in college, I did two of these for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
For the Vegas Golden Knights, their overall prospect pool is better than you would expect. Their reputation of trading away futures for players who can help them win now does have its backing. They traded away players such as Peyton Krebs, Cody Glass, Erik Brannstrom, and Nick Suzuki, after all. But their prospect pool still has some highlights, which we will be showing off today.
To qualify as a prospect, I am only including players who have signed a deal with the Golden Knights, are under 25 years of age, and have played less than 10 NHL games. These players will be graded mostly on how likely they will make it into the NHL as soon as this upcoming season.
Daniil Miromanov, Jake Leschyshyn, Jonas Rondbjerg, and Logan Thompson, while not solidified NHL players just yet, are in the ‘graduate’ category. Also, I am not going over every prospect in the Golden Knights system. Everyone else will be listed in the fittingly named ‘everybody else’ category.
One more thing. I want to thank VGK prospect nerd Jack Manning for some of his input on these prospects. Follow him on Twitter here. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
A tier one player, in my eyes, is a generational talent and superstar NHL prospect. A player at this level would jump straight to the NHL and never play a game in the minors. In Dangle’s videos, the only player who ever made it into tier one was Auston Matthews. The Golden Knights and several other NHL teams do not have a player in this category. I would even argue that top prospects like Shane Wright or Juraj Slafkovsky don’t belong in this tier either. The only name you could argue being in this tier is the player named Future Considerations, who the VGK just acquired.
Even this tier is barren for many NHL teams, especially those contending. But I am putting Brendan Brisson in as the sole Golden Knights prospect in tier two. We’ve talked a lot about Brisson here at VHN and covered his play in the Frozen Four and Olympic Games.
Brisson is a dynamic forward who has a stellar shot and strong skating skills. Elite Prospects went as far as to say that he was the best problem-solving forward in the 2020 draft, not named Alexis Lafreniere.
With the University of Michigan (a current NHL prospect machine), the 20-year-old scored 21 goals and 21 assists in 38 games for 41 points. He also scored eight points in seven games with the HSK and two goals in four games at the Olympics with Team USA.
We have a duo of defensemen in the next tier for the VGK. This is impressive, considering they already have a collection of young defensemen in or near the NHL. Nicolas Hague, Zach Whitecloud, Daniil Miromanov, and formerly Dylan Coghlan are all examples of this.
A former third-round pick, Lukas Cormier will likely play in the revived World Junior Championships. He has won the Emile Bouchard these past two seasons in the QMJHL. The Bouchard trophy is essentially the Q’s Norris Trophy, signifying the league’s best defenseman.
“If he hits his potential, he’s going to be similar to Samuel Girard or even Shea Theodore,” said Jack Manning, Golden Knights prospect expert.
With the Charlottetown Islanders in 2021-22, the 20-year-old Cormier scored 33 goals and 48 assists for 81 points in just 62 games.
Kaedan Korczak, a former second-round pick, got a taste of NHL action last season as he played one game in February as the VGK were hit with injuries. The 6-foot-4 defenseman is a physical two-way player who can eat up a lot of minutes and chip in offensively occasionally.
“Korczak is a ready (or nearly ready) NHL defenseman. On a worse team, he is in the starting lineup for game one,” said Manning.
With the Silver Knights, the 21-year-old scored two goals and 12 assists for 14 points in 47 games played.
The Golden Knight’s history with Russian-born players has been strange, to say the least. Let’s hope these next two prospects don’t leave the team dramatically like Vadim Shipachyov, Nikita Gusev, and now Evgenii Dadonov all did.
The 21-year-old Pavel Dorofeyev led the Henderson Silver Knights in scoring in 2021-22. He did so with 27 goals and 25 assists for 52 points. He was in 2019 in the third round and gives the VGK a potentially NHL-ready forward. The possibility of Dorofeyev building off his sole NHL game of experience in 2022-23 is high, with the Golden Knights needing forward depth.
Ivan Morozov is another Russian forward in the system who is just now joining the Silver Knights after coming over from the KHL. With the international aspect, there is always the question of whether or not Morozov can adapt to North American ice. He scored eight points in 17 games with St. Petersberg and three points in five games with HK Sochi.
“Morozov, at times, was the best center for SKA St. Petersburg and outplayed both Vasili Podkolzin and Kirill Marchenko, both of whom will be NHL regulars this year,” Manning said.
In November of 2021, Paul Cotter burst onto the scene for the Golden Knights, called up from Henderson due to injuries once more. He scored two goals in his first four NHL games as an electric under-the-radar scoring forward. After being sent back down, he scored 34 points in 59 games with the HSK.
Rounding out our prospect pyramid, we have two Jakubs. Slovakian winger and former fourth-round pick Jakub Demek is a sizy centerman who can throw the body and chip in points.
“Demek is a monstrous 6-foot-4 center who dominates physically close to the net. He’s particularly good at cleaning up rebounds and making passes from below the goal line,” said Manning.
Czech center Jakub Brabenec is just 18 years old and a 2021 fourth-round pick by the VGK. He scored 64 goals with the Charlottetown Islanders of the QMJHL and was teammates with Lukas Cormier.
“Brabenec is a center who can skate, make great passes, and is particularly adept at tipping in goals between the blue paint and the hash marks,” said Manning.
First-round pick in 2020, Zach Dean, showed promise with Gatineau of the QMJHL and scored 52 points in 47 games played. But at 19-year of age, he still has some development left in him. Recently re-signed Brayden Pachal is a strong AHL defensive defenseman who can be recalled for stay-at-home play as the captain of the Silver Knights. Zack Hayes, who played three games for the VGK last season, is a big defenseman who also saw NHL action last season.
At over 1,000 words and are going to call it here. No disrespect to all the other prospects in the Golden Knights organization. Again, players can come out of nowhere in the NHL and be dominant. On the contrary, some of the players listed today might never even play an NHL game. Here are the honorable mentions: Mason Primeau, Maxim Marushev, Marcus Kallinkieli, Layton Ahac, Peter Diliberatore, Daniil Chayka, Connor Corcoran, Isaiah Saville, Matyas Sapovaliv, and Jiri Patera.
Golden Knights fans will get a chance to watch some VGK prospects starting August 9th with the World Junior Championships. The Silver Knights open their season on October 14th.