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Golden Knights find value on second day of NHL draft

Updated June 22, 2019 - 8:11 pm

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Kelly McCrimmon spent a portion of his first weekend in charge of the Golden Knights’ draft poking fun at the media for believing its own player rankings.

Rather than giving the incoming general manager his next punch line and writing about how the Knights had players fall to them Saturday, how about a different choice of words?

The Knights got excellent “value” on their seven picks based on projections, landing four forwards, two defensemen and a goaltender during the final day of the NHL draft at Rogers Arena.

All of the team’s draft choices will attend development camp, which begins Tuesday at City National Arena.

“We were really happy with how our day went,” McCrimmon said. “It really finished off a great weekend for our organization.”

A day after injured center Peyton Krebs was selected at No. 17 overall, the Knights traded up in the second round to select defenseman Kaedan Korczak, then added two forwards that some analysts thought would come off the board sooner: Russian Pavel Dorofeyev (third round) and Marcus Kallionkieli (fifth round).

Defenseman Layton Ahac heard his name called in his hometown during the third round before the Knights went with developmental forwards Ryder Donovan (fourth round) and Mason Primeau (fifth round) along with goaltender Isaiah Saville (fifth round).

“You work all year to target guys, and I think we feel that we did quite well,” assistant director of player personnel Bob Lowes said.

The Knights gave up a third-round pick (No. 82 overall) to move up from the 48th pick to No. 41 in order to nab the 6-foot-3-inch, 194-pound Korczak.

A native of Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Korczak produced four goals and 33 points and logged 64 penalty minutes in 68 games for Kelowna of the Western Hockey League.

“We felt that he was a first-round talent,” McCrimmon said.

Korczak was ranked No. 32 among North American skaters by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau and represented Canada at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships and also played for Team Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup tournament.

The 18-year-old plays the right side and was the second WHL player selected by the Knights this year, joining Krebs of Winnipeg (formerly Kootenay).

“I knew they were kind of interested toward the end of the season, and at the combine they seemed pretty interested, too,” Korczak said. “Getting traded up for is pretty cool. I had that experience with Kelowna. … It was a pretty cool thing when they called my name.”

Dorofeyev (6-1, 176) produced 17 goals and 31 points in 19 games in the Russian junior league and appeared in 23 games for Kontinental Hockey League club Magnitogorsk with one goal and an assist.

He went No. 79 overall to the Knights and immediately jumps near the top of the team’s thin prospect pool at forward.

Dorofeyev said through a translator that he has one year remaining on his contract in Russia and then is open to playing where the Knights believe is best for his development.

“Our guys saw him at some under-20 events and had some KHL viewings as well and really felt strongly about the potential and the upside that he has,” McCrimmon said.

Kallionkieli, taken 139th overall, led all rookies in the United States Hockey League with 29 goals for Sioux City and was No. 47 in the Central Scouting Bureau rankings for North American players.

The 6-2, 195-pound left wing was not heavily scouted in his native Finland and has a unique background. His father is from Finland, and his mother is Brazilian.

“From a skill-set standpoint, certainly ahead of where we were able to pick him,” McCrimmon said. “As you move through the draft, that’s really what you’re trying to bet on is which players have that ceiling that they could be NHL players.”

Ahac (6-2, 190), who is committed to Ohio State, posted four goals and 28 assists to help Prince George win the British Columbia Hockey League title.

The two-way standout gained confidence after participating in the World Junior A Challenge in December and rose in the scouting rankings in the final half of the season.

In the fourth round, the Knights took Donovan of Minnesota prep powerhouse Duluth East (No. 110 overall). The 6-4, 186 pounder is committed to Wisconsin.

Saville, who led the USHL in goals-against average and is headed to Nebraska-Omaha, went 135th overall. The Knights’ final pick was Primeau, the son of former NHL player Wayne Primeau, at No. 141.

More Golden Knights: Follow at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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