Latest Knights’ Updates: Head Coach Bruce Cassidy Makes Honest Admission Amid Knights’ First-Round Targets at the 2024 NHL Draft…

Despite their flurry of activity at the trade deadline, the Vegas Golden Knights couldn’t advance past the first round in their Stanley Cup defense. However, they retained their first-round pick in this year’s NHL entry draft. Remarkably, the club managed to acquire Tomas Hertl, Noah Hanifin, and Anthony Mantha while holding onto the No. 19 pick for June’s draft.

Barring any trades to acquire more picks, the first-round selection will be one of the few additions for the Golden Knights during their home draft event, set to take place at the Sphere from June 28-29. With the acquisitions of Mantha, Hanifin, and Adin Hill, Vegas is slated to pick once more before the sixth round, having re-acquired their third-round pick from Pittsburgh in the Reilly Smith trade.

Given the limited number of picks, the focus is on the No. 19 overall selection. Here are some prospects who could fit well with the Golden Knights’ system and be available when they make their pick, assuming they haven’t traded it by then.

Michael Hage, C, Chicago Steel (USHL)

Vegas needs an infusion of talent in their pipeline, especially after trading away 2023 first-round pick David Edstrom and defensive prospect Daniil Miromanov. General Manager Kelly McCrimmon and his team will likely look for the best player available, regardless of position.

Michael Hage could be an excellent candidate if he’s still on the board. The Chicago Steel center ranked fourth in the USHL with 75 points in 54 games, earning First Team All-Star honors. Despite a shoulder surgery last season, his speed and high-end offensive skills suggest significant NHL potential.

Ryder Ritchie, C/RW, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)

Ryder Ritchie, as noted in Peter Baracchini’s mock draft, could be an ideal fit for Vegas. The Prince Albert Raiders forward, who won’t turn 18 until August, is known for his mature playmaking abilities and high hockey IQ. His confident and assertive style aligns well with the Golden Knights’ emphasis on puck possession.

Ritchie has a strong record, having been a key part of Team Canada’s gold-winning teams at the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and the 2024 IIHF World U18 Championships. His responsible and intelligent play could be a valuable asset for Vegas.

EJ Emery, D, USA U18 (NTDP)

In a defense-heavy draft class, EJ Emery stands out as a potential first-round pick. Even with Vegas’s depth on the back end, including seven defenders under contract for next season and Alec Martinez’s pending free agency, adding a defensive prospect like Emery makes sense.

Emery has been moving up draft boards with his stable, shutdown defensive play complemented by a developing offensive game. With veterans like Alex Pietrangelo and Brayden McNabb aging, and both McNabb and Shea Theodore entering contract years, Emery could bolster Vegas’s future defensive core.

In a draft filled with uncertainty beyond the projected No. 1 pick, Macklin Celebrini, the Golden Knights will face unpredictability when making their selection. However, even in a draft not considered particularly strong or deep, promising players like Hage, Ritchie, and Emery fit the Golden Knights’ organizational ethos and could significantly enhance their roster.

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