Golden Knights draft picks understand theirs is a long journey to NHL

Updated June 25, 2017 - 12:18 am

CHICAGO — Two days and 217 picks later, the NHL Entry Draft had successfully proven an obvious point: Big Baller Brand probably won’t ever moonlight into making overpriced skates, because I’m not sure it could find a young player self-absorbed enough to wear them.

These kids and their altruistic attitudes would drive LaVar Ball batty.

Hockey’s culture, perhaps more than any other sport, is to exhibit patience in developing skill, to encourage growth at lower levels and allow nature to take its course for things such as size and speed and strength.

It’s most like baseball this way, only with development leagues spread across the globe.

So it happens that all but one of the Golden Knights’ selections on Friday and Saturday probably will return to their amateur teams next season, the exception being a 20-year-old right wing named Keegan Kolesar, acquired from Columbus for the 45th overall pick.

He probably isn’t coming straight to Las Vegas, either, slated to start his Knights journey with the Chicago Wolves, the team’s American Hockey League affiliate.

It’s more than self-restraint on management’s part not to rush players who are clearly unprepared for the game’s highest level, but also the understanding of those players to embrace such a timeline.

They all want to reach the NHL like, well, now.

They also know it’s not how things work.

Beyond names such as Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid and players of a generational magnitude, the idea that an entry draft pick, other than perhaps the top few taken annually, will go directly from hearing his name called to an NHL arena is impractical.

Said one fourth-round draft pick Saturday: “I just started shaving.”

It’s this unassuming attitude of most young hockey players that is so endearing, the fact that when they are asked to describe their game, many begin with those areas in which they need to improve rather than where their strengths exist.

Good luck finding that perspective from 18-year-old athletes drafted into other sports.

“I don’t shoot the puck enough,” said Ben Jones, a seventh-round Canadian center pick of the Knights from the Niagara Ice Dogs of the Ontario Hockey League. “I need to get into the dirty areas more where the puck is. I can improve every part of my game, but mostly my skating.

“Going in the seventh round, I have a chance to prove people wrong, but the only way that happens is by having a hunger to work hard and learn and push through. You can always get bigger and better.”

This kid would really struggle as an NBA lottery pick.

It went that way for seven rounds, those general manager George McPhee selecting as the first draft class in franchise history talking more about what they need to do than have already done.

Most never have been to Las Vegas — something that will change Tuesday when the team’s development camp opens at the Las Vegas Ice Center — but several of them associated the city with the same movie.

They know all about the jungle cat in the bathroom.

“I’ve seen ‘The Hangover,’ ” said first-round pick Erik Brannstrom, possibly the draft’s best defenseman, who plays in the Swedish Hockey League. “I’ve seen all three.”

Let’s hope he doesn’t think Mr. Chow is the prototypical resident, though some of the crazies along the Strip might give him that impression.

There is time for all of them to mature. A player not signed by his drafted team within two years can re-enter the draft, and a team owns the rights of an NCAA player until 30 days after he departs college, the latter of which could come into play with fifth-round pick Jonathan Dugan, a forward from Rochester, New York, who is scheduled to play at Providence in 2018-19.

“What’s important is we feel like we made good picks, but now we have to develop these kids properly,” McPhee said. “Each kid will do it in different ways. We’ll watch all of them and be really smart about it. We’re not going to fast-track anyone. Even some of the kids that aren’t as big as others, I’ve always felt if you’re good enough, you’re big enough. But it never hurts for a kid to play an extra year of juniors or two years. It’s better to overcook them than throw them in there raw.

“It’s like having a kid in the eighth grade suddenly go to 11th or 12th grade. It’s too much, not only on the ice but socially for some of these kids. We’ll be open-minded. If someone is ready, you play them, but there’s a good chance all these kids are going back to amateur.”

That thinking sure wouldn’t fly as a motto for Big Baller Brand skates.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Golden Knights Videos
Gerard Gallant happy with Golden Knights bounce-back performance
The Golden Knights snapped a two-game losing streak Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 in Tampa with a 4-1 win over the Lightning. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Marc-Andre Fleury on the Knights sweeping the Lightning
Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 of 29 shots and was the game’s No. 1 star Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 in Tampa. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brayden McNabb said Knights win over Lightning a team effort
Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb said everyone contributed to the 4-1 win Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 at Tampa. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge: Knights make a statement, beat Lightning
Review-Journal Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and reporter Steve Carp talk about the Golden Knights 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, ending the Knights' 2-game losing skid.
Golden Knights defeat Lightning 4-1
Golden Edge video host Bryan Salmond recaps the Golden Knights 4-1 win over Tampa Bay.
Todd Richards is happy for Las Vegas having its own NHL team
Todd Richards, Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach, spoke about his days with the Las Vegas Thunder on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 in Tampa (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jonathan Marchessault has fond memories of his time with Lightning
Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault talks about his days with Tampa Bay after practice Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018 in Tampa, Florida (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant remains positive despite Golden Knights’ current two-game losing streak
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said his team isn’t discouraged after two straight losses following practice In Tampa Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge: Predators Shut Out the Golden Knights
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and Golden Knights beat writer Steve Carp go over the Golden Knights loss to the Nashville Predators.
Golden Edge: Knights Shut Out By Predators
Bryan Salmond recaps the Golden Knights away game against the Nashville Predators.
Golden Knights' Deryk Engelland on 1-year contract extension
Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland talks about his one-year contract extension following practice on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Golden Knights face the Predators Tuesday night.
Golden Edge: Golden Knights hold Fan Fest on Fremont
Bryan Salmond talks to Golden Knights players, staff and fans during the first Fan Fest held on Fremont Street.
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant on goalie Malcolm Subban
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about Malcolm Subban and the team's goaltenders. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge: Knights Fall To Oilers In Overtime
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond, Review-Journal reporters David Schoen and Steve Carp recap the Golden Knights second loss to the Oilers.
Golden Knights React To Loss Against Oilers
Marc-Andre Fleury, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Reilly Smith and Deryk Engelland answer questions in the locker room about their loss against the Oilers.
Gerard Gallant Goes Over The Loss Against Oilers
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant takes question after the loss to the Oilers.
Golden Edge: Interview With Shea Theodore
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond interview Golden Knights defensemen Shea Theodore to talk about the fans and how he got into hockey.
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant on defenseman Brad Hunt
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about increased playing time for defenseman Brad Hunt on Friday at City National Arena. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge Look Ahead: Knights Face Oilers After Break
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond, Review-Journal reporters David Schoen and Steve Carp go over what the Golden Knights have to face after their break ends on Saturday.
Golden Edge: Knights Beat New York Rangers
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and Review-Journal reporters Steve Carp and David Schoen go over the Golden Knights win over the New York Rangers.
Karlsson Talks About His Performance During The First Half Of The Season
Golden Knights forward William Karlsson goes over his personal performance during the first half of the NHL season.
James Neal On Golden Knights Week Off From Hockey
Golden Knights forward James Neal talks about the one week vacation the Golden Knights will have before playing the Oilers on Saturday.
Gerard Gallant Talks After Win Against Rangers
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant talks after the win against the New York Rangers.
Golden Edge: Knights Feel The Blues Against St. Louis
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and Review-Journal reporter Steve Carp go over tonight's Golden Knights game against the St. Louis Blues.
Golden Edge: Knights Fall to The Blues
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond gives a quick recap on tonights Golden Knights game against the St. Louis Blues.
Golden Knights' Jonathan Marchessault on 6-year, $30 million contract extension
Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault addressed his six-year, $30 million contract extension prior to the team's game with St. Louis on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge: Marchessault signed, Knights on a roll
Bryan Salmond talks to David Schoen about the Golden Knights magical December as well as Jonathan Marchessault's contract extension, including a special picture he has hanging in his locker.
Golden Knights' David Perron says key to team's success is never being satisfied
Golden Knights forward David Perron talks to the media following practice on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, and says the team's hard work and focus as factors in the team's current eight-game winning streak. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights' Alex Tuch on the camaraderie of the team
Golden Knights rookie Alex Tuch talks about how the team is very close on and off the ice following practice on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, at the team's practice facility in Las Vegas. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jonathan Marchessault signs contract extension
The Vegas Golden Knights announced they have signed forward Jonathan Marchessault to a 6-year contract extension worth an average of $5 million. Marchessault has tallied a team-high 37 points this season. Marchessault ranks in the top-25 in the NHL in scoring, and his 22 assists are a career-high. Last season, Marchessault recorded his first 30-goal season with the Florida Panthers. "Since we all came here, we just feel like part of a big family and we love this city," Marchessault said.
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Shut Out Predators
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and Review-Journal reporters David Schoen and Steve Carp go over tonights shutout win against the Predators.
Golden Knights players' favorite hockey Christmas presents
Sticks and skates dominates the list. Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Abandoned Pomeranians adopted through Golden Knights event
Many Pomeranians found their fur-ever homes for the holidays The Animal Foundation and the Vegas Golden Knights hosted a Pucks for Paws event, to kick-off the adoption of 164 Pomeranians found abandoned in Sandy Valley. 5 dogs were available at auction, while 10 more were available in a raffle to benefit Animal Foundation. The dogs were named by Golden Knights players and donned small Knights sweaters. The other Pomeranians will be available through an online raffle, open through Jan. 1
By the numbers: Expectations, challenges for Las Vegas’ WNBA team
The newly relocated Las Vegas WNBA franchise will begin play in the 2018 season. New owners MGM Resorts will integrate a professional franchise into Las Vegas’ busy sports landscape that’s shared with the 51s, Lights FC, Golden Knights and Raiders. Here are some of the expectations and challenges the team will have. 1. Ticket prices: The key to any sports franchise is selling season tickets and group outings. For Las Vegas’ team, that starts with locals. "(You don’t) just open the doors and tell everybody you’ve got a game and stand there waiting to sell tickets," 51s president Don Logan said. "You’ve got to get out, you’ve got to get out into the community and you’ve got to do everything we do. There’s no easy way." Last year, San Antonio charged $12 to $165 for single-game tickets for 17 home games. 2. Creating an identity: Coach Bill Laimbeer inherits a team from San Antonio that hasn’t made the playoffs or had a winning season since 2012. Las Vegas' team is also a franchise that lost its first 14 games last season before finishing a league-worst 8-26. 3. Patience will be required: Will they have to fill all 12,000 seats at Mandalay Bay for the season to be deemed successful? "They have to be realistic," Connecticut Sun CEO Mitchell Etess said. "If they could get 5,000 bodies into every single game, that would be pretty good for the first year."
VGK University: Introduction to hockey, and much more
Vegas Golden Knights officials Misha Donskov and Murray Craven chat about VGK University, a five-course instructional for hockey fans, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Dec. 3, 2017. (Ron Kantowski/ Las Vegas Review Journal)
Nate Quote
Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt is leading the team in time on ice. He talks about the adjustment to the style of play in the Pacific Division, as well as his pregame "Magic trick" ritual. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights goaltender Maxime Lagace on starting in goal
Golden Knights goaltender Maxime Lagace talks about his journey to becoming the starting goaltender Saturday, Nov. 12, 2017 at City National Arena. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt
Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt talks about goaltender Maxime Lagace at City National Arena. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights forward William Karlsson
Golden Knights forward William Karlsson on the team's blue-collar mentality. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about his team's accountability in the locker room. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like