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Knights farm system report: Top prospects knocking on the door

The Golden Knights had injuries aplenty this season, but not enough to go headfirst into the prospect pool.

The Knights led the NHL with 476 man games lost but still found a way to clinch a sixth playoff berth in seven seasons.

In total, 37 players skated for the Knights this season. Six of them were 23 years old or younger, and some of them will be fighting for roster spots at the NHL level next season.

Here’s an updated look at the Knights’ farm system:

Silver Knights

Brendan Brisson, RW

The Knights’ first-round pick from 2020 finally got his first crack at NHL action this season, appearing in 15 games and amassing eight points.

Uncertainty surrounding the Knights’ forwards next season could open the door for Brisson to push for a full-time roster spot. Given the team has only about $7 million in cap space with six unrestricted free agents — five at forward — wiggle room is sparse.

Brisson had 38 points (19 goals, 19 assists) in 52 games with the Silver Knights, a slight uptick from the 37 points in 58 games in 2023.

Coach Bruce Cassidy said Brisson took strides in his game, particularly in puck pursuit. This is a crucial summer for Brisson, Cassidy said, to get stronger when it comes to puck battles and finding space in the middle of the ice.

“I’d like to see him find a way to use his shot better,” Cassidy said. “That just (takes) a little experience over time.”

Kaedan Korczak, D

Odds favor Korczak becoming an everyday NHL player next season.

The Knights’ second-round pick from 2019 got an extended look with the NHL club because of injuries to Shea Theodore and Alec Martinez. He made the most of that opportunity with nine points in 26 games and was a plus-12 at five-on-five.

The 23-year-old is a restricted free agent this summer and in need of a new contract. Korczak is also no longer waivers-exempt, meaning any team can claim him if the Knights try to send him to Henderson.

Korczak has to play, and the Knights already have their top seven defenseman under contract next season. Something’s got to give.

“It’s been good to have a year (learning the system),” Korczak said. “I think it’s been easier to learn all the drills and get up to speed.”

Lukas Cormier, D

Cormier’s season was a mixed bag.

He made the most of his limited time with the Knights, recording his first NHL point Jan. 6 against the New York Islanders. Cormier was a sorely needed puck-mover the Knights were desperately lacking due to injuries.

However, his first year under coach Ryan Craig in Henderson did not yield positive results, with 30 points in 58 games and a team-worst minus-30.

At 5 feet, 10 inches, Cormier isn’t expected to be a defensive stalwart. The fact his offensive numbers took a dip shows some concern. He had 35 points in 62 games in 2023.

Korczak’s potential promotion could mean Cormier is next in line, but consistency will be vital moving forward.

“He’s a little behind from where (Korczak) was. If he comes into training camp and shows that he can play, he’ll get a longer look,” Cassidy said.

Jiri Patera, G

The Knights like their goaltending prospects, and that could be a reason why the 25-year-old Patera’s time with the organization may come to an end.

The sixth-round pick from 2017 has not appeared to take steps in the right direction since leading the Silver Knights to the playoffs two years ago.

Patera went 14-15-1 in 2023 with a .911 save percentage, only for him to drop to 11-10-4 and a .903 save percentage this season.

He also struggled in his time in the NHL, going 1-3-1 this season with 3.98 goals-against average.

Isaiah Saville split time with Patera in Henderson this season and could be in line to be the new No. 3 goalie in the organization. Swedish goalies Jesper Vikman and Carl Lindbom will also compete for playing time.

Junior players

Matyas Sapovaliv, C

The Knights’ second-round pick from 2022 had his best junior season to date with 62 points in 59 games with Saginaw of the Ontario Hockey League.

Saginaw is hosting this year’s Memorial Cup, the championship of the Canadian Hockey League. Sapovaliv had an assist in the Spirit’s 5-4 round-robin win over the Moose Jaw Warriors on Friday.

Ben Hemmerling, C

The 20-year-old center and sixth-round pick from 2022 continues to impress.

Hemmerling, who signed his entry-level contract in November, completed his junior-playing career with 91 points (31 goals, 60 assists) with Everett of the Western Hockey League this season.

Look for Hemmerling to make a push for a top-six role in Henderson.

Mathieu Cataford, C

Another young center who took a scoring leap this season.

Cataford, the third-round pick from last year’s draft, had 90 points in 65 games with Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He played four games with the Silver Knights in April and tallied two assists.

Contact Danny Webster at dwebster@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DannyWebster21 on X.

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