Wednesday, March 31, 2021 | 2 a.m.
Golden Knights forward Cody Glass had one of his best games of the season Monday against the Kings, which made Tuesday’s news that he was assigned to AHL Henderson a bit of a an eye-opener.
Glass several times had been assigned to the NHL taxi squad as a move to save salary-cap space, but he had not been sent to the Silver Knights prior to Tuesday. This looked like a former first-round pick struggling to find his groove in the NHL and taking a step back.
“I just wanted to see him get a little more confidence 5-on-5,” Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. “So we’d like him to go down there and play games, contribute and be an offensive player, come back and give us some juice when he returns.”
Glass has been a power-play weapon for the Golden Knights, with five of his 10 points and all four of his goals coming on the man advantage.
Even strength was a different story. Glass struggled for much of the season at 5-on-5, and was worth minus-0.9 Goals Above Replacement in that area, according to stats site Evolving Hockey. Another stats site, Natural Stat Trick, says that only William Carrier and Ryan Reaves have lower percentage of share of shots and expected goals at 5-on-5.
Glass had been a healthy scratch for the previous three Golden Knights games prior to Monday, with coach Pete DeBoer saying he looked “fatigued” after missing the previous 11 months with an injury.
“He sat and watched for a couple, hopefully re-energized,” DeBoer said before Monday’s game. “If he does get it in, I think we’re looking for a shot of energy for him, which I think he’ll provide.”
He did just that, as his line with Keegan Kolesar and Alex Tuch was by far Vegas’ best, according to both the eye test and Natural Stat Trick’s line tool. He didn’t register a point, but was a factor in generating the Golden Knights’ third-period goal.
“I thought he had a really complete game, and he definitely needs to build off that game because I thought it was a perfect game for him,” forward Jonathan Marchessault said.
Still, McCrimmon said it was a long-term decision, and he felt that Henderson is the best thing for Glass right now. Henderson plays Wednesday in Tucson.
Glass returns to the AHL where he spent parts of the last two seasons, including his professional debut in 2018-19 when he helped the Chicago Wolves, then Vegas’ affiliate, reach the Calder Cup Final.
This is far from the development path the Golden Knights envisioned when he was selected sixth overall in the 2017 draft as the first pick in franchise history. While it’s true that he’s still young (turns 22 tomorrow), it’s also true that few top prospects return to the AHL after establishing themselves as NHL regulars, as Glass did both last year and this season.
With the trade deadline 12 days away, the move also allows the Golden Knights to assess if they need another forward. McCrimmon hinted at a quiet deadline, but if Glass struggles in the AHL, perhaps it spurs the front office into acquiring another forward.
Glass will almost certainly return to Vegas at some point, but the Golden Knights want him to rediscover the game that made him one of the best prospects in the sport two years ago.
“You want to make your decisions based on what’s best for development,” McCrimmon said. “At the same time we’re in the winning business, so you’re factoring all those things together.”