The Vegas Golden Knights made six selections during the 2021 NHL Draft. They held the 30th pick after falling to the Montreal Canadiens in the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Making two trades on the second day of the event, the franchise shipped picks No. 114 and No. 155 to the Detroit Red Wings for pick No. 102. Along with this, the two clubs also agreed to terms on one more draft-pick swap. Acquiring the 38th and 128th picks, the Golden Knights sent back pick No. 36 at the top of the second round.
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Zach Dean, C, Gatineau Olympiques-QMJHL (Round 1, Pick 30)
Daniil Chayka, D, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva-MHL (Round 2, Pick 38)
Jakub Brabenec, C, HC Kometa Brno-Czech (Round 4, Pick 102)
Jakub Demek, RW, Slovakia U18-SVK-2 (Round 4, Pick 128)
Artur Cholach, D, Sokol Kiev-Ukraine (Round 6, Pick 190)
Carl Lindbom, G, Djurgårdens IF J20-J20 Nationell (Round 7, Pick 222)
Opting to select Dean with their first selection at the end of round one, the six-foot center racked up 20 points in 23 games with the Gatineau Olympiques last season. In need of depth at the position, the group has been linked to disgruntled Buffalo Sabres star Jack Eichel. They are currently slated to enter the 2021-2022 season with Chandler Stephenson, William Karlsson, Nicolas Roy, and Nolan Patrick up the middle. Dean has the skating and puck handling ability to score goals both in tight and off the rush. Furthermore, the team also added to one of the best young defensive cores in the NHL. A long and mobile defenseman with the physical ability to disrupt opposing cycles, Chayka has the tools to play top-four minutes down the road.
Best Pick: Zach Dean
A former top-five pick in the QMJHL Draft, Dean emerged onto the scene in his first year in the league. He finished third on the team with 18 goals and 28 assists in 57 games. The Alberta native also represented Team Canada Black at the 2019 Under-17 World Hockey Championships. One of the best players in the tournament, he tied Shane Wright for the team lead in points with three goals and four assists in seven games. Dean is hard to contain off the rush with his powerful first stride and ability to pull away from defenders. He’s also an excellent playmaker with a strong hockey IQ. Furthermore, he also remains hardworking in his own end, allowing him to win puck battles on the boards and disrupt the opponent’s cycles.
Worst Pick: Artur Cholach
A member of Sokol Kiev last season, Cholach appeared in four games for the team. Recording just one point, the 6’4″ blue liner will make the trip to play in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) next season. The first Ukrainian player to be drafted since 2007, he represents a gamble in the sixth round for general manager Kelly McCrimmon and company. Needing considerable improvements to his skating, his strides are often short and choppy, making it hard for him to keep up with elite forwards. In addition, Cholach has a raw offensive game. Struggling to handle the puck at times, he is prone to giving the puck away when being forechecked. A prototypical high-risk, high-reward pick late in the draft, there was better talent on the board for the Golden Knights.
Sleeper Pick: Carl Lindbom
Ranked fifth among goaltenders by NHL Central Scouting, Lindbom made just eight starts with Djurgårdens IF J20 a year ago. Struggling mightily, the 18-year-old netminder posted a 3.02 goals-against average and a .890 save percentage. However, the Stockholm, Sweden native was able to cement his draft status at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship. Helping lead his home country to a bronze medal, he posted a 4-2 record with a .928 save percentage. Displaying strong fundamentals, he is able to read and track passes to help square up opposing shooters. Along with this, he remains quick on his feet, with the ability to read pucks through traffic. Choosing to move off of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury early on in the offseason, Vegas will have Robin Lehner in net under contract for four more seasons. However, with little talent in between the pipes in the franchise’s prospect pipeline, Lindbom represents a perfect selection in the seventh round.
One of the deepest rosters across the league, the Golden Knights won 40 games to finish as runners-up in the ultra-competitive West Division. Looking to get back to their first Stanley Cup Final since their inaugural season in 2017-2018, the team would advance past the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche in the opening two rounds of the playoffs in 2021. However, the franchise would fall short yet again after losing to the Canadiens in six games in the following round.
Home to the 10th oldest roster in the league with an average age of just over 27-years old, Vegas enters the 2021-2022 season with the 19th ranked prospect system, according to The Hockey Writers. They need to continue to stockpile talent after shipping out multiple high-end prospects like Nick Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom. Capable of driving play off the rush while also creating for his teammates, look for Dean to develop into a high-end number two center if he can reach his full potential. Furthermore, Chayka can play top-four minutes after refining his game, while both Brabenec and Demek can play inside the bottom six at the pro level.
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