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Devin Little The Hockey Writers

Published on Friday, May 29, 2020





Vegas Golden Knights: Mock Draft Choices and Reasoning

The Hockey Writers recently completed a full seven-round mock draft, and I had the privilege of drafting for the Vegas Golden Knights. While the attention has been turned to the playoffs following the league’s return-to-play announcement, it’s never too early to take stock of what prospects the team could get their hands on come the draft.

The rules were simple: picks were awarded based on league standings, and no trades were allowed. All the “general managers” could do was pick a player and then move on. Conditional picks were traded instead of retained.

Related: Best Late-Round NHL Draft Picks

With this in mind, it’s time to assess how I did. Despite prior moves, the Golden Knights were able to add five players to their prospect pool in this mock draft. The process began with pick number 24.

24. Braden Schneider

What was I thinking?

The left side of the Golden Knights’ defense is set for a while with Shea Theodore and Nate Schmidt in place. The right side, however, could use a little help. While Kaedan Korczak (selected in the second round of last year’s draft) looks promising, the organization still lacks in high-end defensive prospects. As the first round moved into its middle-third, I realized that there were going to be some good defenders left on the board by the time the Golden Knights were on the clock.

Braeden Schneider Brandon Wheat Kings
Braeden Schneider of the Brandon Wheat Kings (Tim Smith)

Schneider is one of the more NHL-ready players available in the draft as well. He’s a true two-way defender, and I could see him developing into a strong middle-pair defenseman or even a number-two guy. While he likely needs one more year in the WHL, he should be able to crack the Golden Knights’ lineup after that. GM Kelly McCrimmon will certainly keep his eye on him as he plays for McCrimmon’s Brandon Wheat Kings.

Other players on my radar:

I had four players I considered here, including Schneider. Emil Andrae and Kaiden Guhle were the first two players off the board in the second round, and both have NHL potential. Both are left-handed defensemen, a factor which made me favor the right-handed Schneider. At forward, I’m a huge fan of Tyson Foerster. He has NHL size and an NHL shot – he could become a mainstay on a team’s power-play. In another universe, I would have traded back from 24 to collect a second-round pick; maybe in that universe, I select Foerster instead.

68. Pavel Novak

What was I thinking?

After taking a nap through the second round, I woke up at the beginning of the third round because the Golden Knights actually have an early pick courtesy of the New Jersey Devils. I knew that if I wanted to add a potential impact forward in the draft, I needed to act soon. At 68, I took a forward that I think will score at the NHL level.

Pavel Novak Kelowna Rockets
Pavel Novak #11 of the Kelowna Rockets (Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)

Novak has a good shot, is right-handed, and can play either wing. The true test of whether he can crack the NHL or not is if his offensive game can develop enough to warrant a top-nine role. If he gets there, I can see him taking one-timers on the power-play, and providing depth scoring from the middle-six. I don’t think Novak is a diamond in the rough, but I do think he could be a gem.

Other players on my radar:

Two players I had in mind for this pick were picked right before 68. I would have scrapped my plan to grab a forward if Eemil Viro was still available. The other was Daniel Torgersson. With what was available at 68, Novak was my first choice, but I did consider Luke Evangelista here as well. He slid all the way to the Oilers at pick 82, and I likely would have taken him with my next pick if he were still available.

86. Tyler Tullio

What was I thinking?

The reason I say I LIKELY would have taken Evangelista here is that I also really like Tullio here. I think round three is where you can find players that may not be studs, but they can become depth players that the fans fall in love with. Tullio fits that mold perfectly.

Tyler Tullio Oshawa Generals
Tyler Tullio of the Oshawa Generals (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

While he’s undersized at 5-foot-9, Tullio is the type of player that isn’t afraid to muck it up in the corners, but he can also carry the puck to the offensive end and set-up a beautiful play. He’s a competitor, and every team/coach loves players like that. He projects as another middle-six forward, and that’s perfectly fine at this stage of the draft.

Other players on my radar:

I had two other players I considered here; one was a winger, and the other was a goalie. Winger Oliver Suni went 92nd overall to the St. Louis Blues, and I like his size and abilities at both ends of the rink. At the end of the day, Tullio is a guy that could sell jerseys and I don’t see that from Suni yet. In net, I had my eyes on Nico Daws. Ranked as the top North American goalie by Central Scouting, Daws would have been a solid add here, and I could be persuaded that he would have been the better pick, but I think Tullio provides something every team desires.

179. Ville Ottavainen

What was I thinking?

Size and shot – Ottavainen has both. Now in the sixth round, you’re picking players based on tools that they possess that you think could translate at the professional level. After selecting three players that I believe will play games in the NHL, I deemed it okay to select a defenseman who needs some time to establish himself. (from ‘Rangers rearguard Ville Ottavainen inks deal in Finland,’ Waterloo Region Record, 04/07/2020)

With 15 points in 53 games with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL, Ottavainen has some offensive ability. However, if he’s going to make it to the NHL, it will likely be as a bottom-pair, stay-at-home defender. That’s fine! There’s certainly value in that, and if he can reach that level, this will have been a solid pick.

Other players on my radar:

I like forward Joe Miller, who played his junior season of high school this year. In fact, I like him so much that I picked him at 180th overall for the Pittsburgh Penguins. That being said, I believe in Ottavainen’s ability to reach his potential a bit more than Miller. The other player I had in mind here was Oliver Tärnström, but I opted for defense instead.

210. Ethan Bowen

What was I thinking?

It’s time to snag a center. Sure, it could benefit the Golden Knights to take a guess and pick a goalie here (my one regret of this draft is that I didn’t take one) but when there’s a player available that you like, you might as well take him. In the case of Bowen, I would have taken him earlier if I felt like I was going to miss out on him.

Bowen is committed to play for the University of North Dakota next season. UND is one of the premier college programs in the country, and I believe it will do wonders for him. He’s got good offensive instincts and good size as an 18-year-old. Maybe he becomes a third-line center in the NHL, maybe he’s nothing more than an AHL guy. With the 210th pick, you can afford to place a bet.

Other players on my radar:

Honestly, I was pretty much banking on picking Bowen here. If I had to pick somebody else, it likely would have been Michal Gut, who went 216th to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Gut is fine, but as I said, I would have picked Bowen higher than 210th if I had to.


All in all, I came away with three forwards and two defensemen. As I previously mentioned, I believe the first three players taken here will crack an NHL roster in some capacity. Schneider could become a key part of the Golden Knights’ defense sooner rather than later. Novak and Tullio both have middle-six upside, with Tullio standing out to me with the biggest “steal” potential. The last two picks are both project players that could eventually fill a depth role with the team.

Related: 2009 NHL Entry Draft – 5 Forgotten Picks

Given the picks I had and the rules I had to follow, I’m pleased with this draft class. I believe it addresses some needs within the organization, and it offers some serious upside. We’ll see if Kelly McCrimmon agrees once draft day comes around.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comment section down below!

The post Vegas Golden Knights: Mock Draft Choices and Reasoning appeared first on The Hockey Writers.


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