Defense wins championships and the Vegas Golden Knights could look to bolster a strength at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Despite being a third-year expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights have already accumulated a nice crop of high-end blueliners.
With Shea Theodore emerging as a bona fide star on the blueline too, the Golden Knights have constructed a steady supply of NHL-caliber defensemen.
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However, outside of Theodore, the Knights lack a real horse or a blue chip talent on the blueline.
But, if they wanted to, the front office could look to change that at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, whenever it may go ahead.
Because, sitting among a boatload of elite talent in the upper-echelons of this year’s Draft class is an absolute stud by the name of Jamie Drysdale.
Ranked No. 3 by NHL Central Scouting and projected by many to be the first defenseman off the board, Drysdale boasts all the intangibles needed to morph into a top-four NHL blueliner.
Also boasting the attitude needed to lead an NHL franchise, the right-shot is likely to be gone by the time the Anaheim Ducks go on the clock with the No. 5 overall pick.
And he will, barring an almighty shock, be off the board by the time the Golden Knights have to decide how to use the No. 24 overall pick.
Needing to bolster their farm system with a blue chip talent and replace the void left by Brannstrom, going all in and being aggressive by moving up in order to steal Drysdale would be an incredibly smart move by the Golden Knights.
Granted, jumping up from 24 to somewhere inside the top five is a huge leap and it would take a significant package to do so.
Life is about taking risks, however, and if the scouts and experts are to be believed then Drysdale is a franchise defenseman waiting to be nurtured and developed.
Standing at 5’11” and weighing in at 170 lbs, Drysdale is a skilled top-end blueliner who has exceptional skating ability coupled with an elite hockey IQ.
He can move the puck incredibly well and, as a result, would help to boost the Golden Knights’ transition game which has been a glaring weakness as of late.
Drysdale is very much an offensive defenseman who could quarterback the power play eventually, forming a deadly one-two punch with Shea Theodore on the man advantage.
The 18-year-old really upped his production this year with 47 points (nine goals, 38 assists) in 49 games with the Erie Otters in the OHL, while he stepped up for Canada at the World Junior U20 Championships with Colorado Avalanche prospect Bowen Byram struggling with illness.
In seven games Drysdale contributed three points (one goal, two assists) as Canada won gold, and the defenseman’s impressive showing on the big stage more than likely helped his stock and boosted his pedigree ahead of the Draft.
What really sets Drysdale apart, though, is his ability to make high-level plays under pressure while being able to drive play and move the puck up the ice.
He sees and reads the play exceptionally well and he can create a boatload of high-danger scoring chances with his pass-first mentality.
Drysdale is also a right-shot defenseman, a rare commodity among Golden Knights blueliners, and he can also withstand hits fairly well despite his small frame.
All in all, Jamie Drysdale is the ultimate package and he’s got the potential to morph into an absolute stud for an NHL franchise.
Again, jumping up from the No. 24 pick to the top five is a huge ask but, if the Vegas Golden Knights can somehow pull off the unthinkable, then they could well unearth their future franchise defenseman.
And that would be worth the risk, no matter the price they would have to pay in order to trade up.