California Rubber

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Golden Knights pick up eight solid prospects at 2018 NHL Draft


The Vegas Golden Knights made eight selections during the June 22-23 NHL Draft in Dallas, all on the second day after trading their first-round selection at the trade deadline to the Detroit Red Wings for forward Tomas Tatar.


With their first pick, the Golden Knights took Russian forward Ivan Morozov in the second round (61st overall).

Morozov played for Khanty Mansiysk in the Russia junior leagues last season and also posted five points in five games with Team Russia at the 2018 IIHF Under-18 World Championship. He scored 11 goals and added 12 assists in 30 games for Mamonty Yugry before joining Khanty Mansiysk. He says he models his play after Washington Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Then in the fourth round (99th overall), Vegas scooped up Cypress, Calif., native and Anaheim Jr. Ducks grad Slava Demin, a defenseman who has played the past two seasons for the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild.

Demin scored nine goals and dished out 36 assists for 45 points in 57 games with the Wild in 2017-18, adding two goals and five assists in 20 playoff games for Wenatchee. He is committed to play at the University of Denver next season.

“It’s an unbelievable experience,” said Demin. “You only get this experience once in your life, so it’s pretty cool to go through it. Going to Vegas, it’s a new organization and they had an unbelievable season. They were up there in the Stanley Cup Final, so it’s just super cool to be part of an organization that has done so well right from the get go. Seeing their players from the expansion draft and what they want in their players. It’s unbelievable.”

nhl_draft_2018Sixteen picks after Demin, the Golden Knights selected Lincoln Stars (USHL) forward Paul Cotter, a Michigan native (Canton) who finished fourth in scoring for the Stars in 2017-18 with 39 points in 51 games. He also led the Stars in playoff scoring with four goals and four assists in seven games and is committed to play at Western Michigan University in 2018-19.

“I’m kind of speechless at this point,” said Cotter. “I think it’s pretty much the same thing for everybody, but it’s especially special to be a part of Vegas. They speak for themselves with them being an expansion team and their first year having so much success. I’m crazy excited to hopefully get started and enjoy the process from here on out.”

The Golden Knights stayed in Michigan with their first of two fifth-round picks in Saline native and Bowling Green State University forward Brandon Kruse, who went 135th overall. Kruse skated in 41 games as a freshman at BGSU, collecting 33 points and was named to the All-WCHA Rookie Team after finishing fifth overall in scoring among NCAA freshmen.

“I was just out actually getting a bite to eat with one of my buddies,” Kruse said. “I was watching the draft there, I saw my name pop up, he was kind of freaking out and my stomach kind of dropped. Then just seeing Vegas and what they’ve done this year, I couldn’t be any happier.”

Windsor Spitfires (OHL) defenseman Connor Corcoran (pictured) was next at pick No. 154. He anchored the blue line for the Spitfires in 2017-18 while accumulating three goals and 21 assists.

“It’s something you dream of as a little kid and this moment will stick with me forever,” Corcoran said. “Especially having my family (in Dallas), it’s just awesome having them by my side and them getting to experience it as well.”

Salisbury Prep defenseman and Quinnipiac University commit Peter Diliberatore went in the sixth round (180th overall), saying afterwards that it was “a surreal feeling.”

Also in the sixth round (185th overall), Vegas chose Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL) defenseman Xavier Bouchard before rounding out the draft with London Knights (OHL) goalie Jordan Kooy in the seventh round (208th overall).

Photo/Terry Wilson/OHL Images

— Matt Mackinder

(Aug. 10, 2018)

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