The Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday signed their three first-round picks from the 2017 NHL Draft.
Center Cody Glass (No. 6), center Nick Suzuki (No. 13) and defenseman Erik Brannstrom (No. 15) each received a three-year, entry-level contract.
“This is an exciting announcement for the Golden Knights organization as we signed three of our top prospects,” general manager George McPhee said. “Cody, Nick and Erik have demonstrated exceptional skill and hockey sense playing at their current levels. We will look for these players to continue to exhibit the hard work necessary to further their development and continue their positive career trajectories.”
Glass was selected with the pick assigned to Vegas in the NHL Draft Lottery. He led Portland of the Western Hockey League with 94 points (32 goals, 62 assists) in 69 games last season.
“I think there’s a lot of pressure to it, but then again, I know what I can do on the ice,” Glass said of being the first NHL Draft pick made by Vegas. “They believe in me. I’m just going to prove them right.”
Suzuki was selected with a pick acquired in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets. He was second on Owen Sound of the Ontario Hockey League with 96 points (45 goals, 51 assists) in 65 games and led them with 23 playoff points (eight goals, 15 assists) in 17 games.
“I don’t think it’s daunting,” Suzuki said of joining an expansion team. “I think it’s really exciting. If the three of us can do something special there, it’s going to be amazing.”
Brannstrom was selected with a pick acquired in a trade with the New York Islanders. He had six points (one goal, five assists) in 35 games with HV71 in Sweden.
The Golden Knights open their first NHL season Oct. 6 at the Dallas Stars.
“We’re not going to fast-track anyone,” McPhee said at the draft in Chicago in June. “It never hurts a kid to play an extra year in junior, two years in junior. It’s better to overcook them than throw them in there raw.
“It’s like having a kid in 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. So we’ll be open-minded about if someone’s ready to play (in the NHL), but there’s a good chance all these kids are going back to amateur.”
The Golden Knights on Saturday also signed restricted free agent defenseman Griffin Reinhart (two years, $800,000 average annual value) and forward Brendan Leipsic (two years, $650,000 AAV).
Reinhart (Edmonton Oilers) and Leipsic (Toronto Maple Leafs) were selected in the NHL Expansion Draft.