Las Vegas Sun

September 25, 2017

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Golden Knights’ younger players show glimpses of team’s future

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Jesse Granger

The Vegas Golden Knights picked three players — Cody Glass, from left, Nick Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom — in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft on June 23, 2017, at the United Center, in Chicago.

It’s only a power play drill during a rookie training camp practice, but Vegas Golden Knights first-round picks Cody Glass and Nick Suzuki are shredding the defense.

The 18-year-olds, likely years from contributing at the NHL level, are already providing glimpses of what could be the Golden Knights future top line pairing.

“They impress every single day and you can see their ability and foundation as a player are outstanding,” said Rocky Thompson, head coach of the AHL affiliate Chicago Wolves who is running the rookie camp. “Every day you just see a little more.”

While the competition isn’t what they’ll face when they are finally members of the Golden Knights, it’s encouraging to see Glass and Suzuki dominating as they should, Thompson said.

“I think we both see the ice really well,” Suzuki said. “(Glass) is a really good passer and he likes to set up guys and I’ll be in good spots for him to pass to me.”

Glass had 62 assists in only 69 games last season in junior hockey with the Portland Winterhawks, and Suzuki scored 45 goals in 65 games with the Owen Sound Attack.

“We want to play a skilled, fast game,” Glass said. “Opponents may try to be physical but we are just going to be playing our game, which is strong and fast.”

Glass and Suzuki are building rapport off the ice as well, getting to know each other during Golden Knights’ development camp as well as during the under-18 camp for Team Canada.

“Especially with he and I being drafted together, we’ve become good friends ever since,” Glass said. “There’s so much opportunity with Vegas and they’re giving us every opportunity.”

Many Golden Knights supporters were frustrated when the team passed on big-name NHL players like Marian Gaborik, Sami Vatanen and Bobby Ryan during June’s expansion draft in favor of side deals for draft picks. The displeasure multiplied when solid, established players Marcus Kruger, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Marc Methot were traded for even more picks.

But while the Golden Knights may suffer in the short term, General Manager George McPhee is hoarding high draft picks and elite prospects in an attempt to build what he hopes is the NHL’s next powerhouse. Those side deals helped net players such as Glass and Suzuki, and Vegas will make 10 picks in the initial two rounds of the next three drafts.

“I’m just so thankful for the opportunity,” Glass said, “and three years down the road we could both be playing together as top players in the NHL so that’s something to look forward to.”

Jesse Granger can be reached at 702-259-8814 or [email protected]. Follow Jesse on Twitter at twitter.com/JesseGranger_.

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