The 3 best non first-round NHL Draft steals on the Golden Knights

While the Vegas Golden Knights aren't known for developing their own first-round draft picks, they do have some late-round steals. Here are the three best.
Vegas Golden Knights v Edmonton Oilers
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The Vegas Golden Knights aren't known for building a team through the NHL Draft. Normally, they're not gun-shy about trading away prospects to better their team. Whether it's acquiring Jack Eichel or Tomas Hertl, Vegas isn't afraid of taking the big swing to win titles. Luckily, that happened in 2022-23, when they took down the Florida Panthers in five games (ironically, Florida won the next season).

While names like Nicolas Hague and Paul Cotter have stuck around, Vegas has operated on trading for the best players. Not even free agency is as important to the team's operations as acquiring other players. As mentioned earlier, big names like Eichel were picked up to bolster different aspects, including the power play and first line. In turn, it's helped the franchise become a regular NHL power. And some people believe hockey doesn't belong in the desert.

But let's go back to those picks for a second. These players have grown from NHL Draft prospects to important members of the Vegas Golden Knights. That includes sizable defensemen and hard-hitting centers, all of whom have done their part to further the team. It's almost like a miracle with this team, considering the world-class talent acquired spared them in return.

Since the Golden Knights don't have much of a history keeping first-round draft picks, let's see which prospects in the later round have done the best. It might sound silly to create a list of the best non first-round choices. However, these players have done enough to get them to their first title. Who are the three best non first-round draft picks for Vegas ever?

Nicolas Hague: 2017 second-round pick (34th overall)

When Nicolas Hague was drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round of the 2017 NHL Draft, he was seen as a big body who could move well. Such positive attributes would help the franchise with their attack, bringing his booming shot with him. He's gotten his chops in, contributing 10 assists in 2023-24.

But that wasn't the main reason why he was drafted in 2017. Hague is a massive body, standing at 6'6" and weighing 240 lbs. That makes him an imposing force on the forecheck, where he's developed in the past two seasons. With 244 blocked shots and 270 hits in that time frame, he's become a dangerous blue-liner who can scare off opposing attackers.

That's why he'll become a crucial defenseman in the team's future. Nicolas Hague's presence makes it easy to move off a player like Alec Martinez, who's 11 years his senior. There are questions surrounding Shea Theodore and Brayden McNabb, who both are entering the last year of their respective contracts. However, having the second-round draft pick around will bring a physical presence.