Cody Glass was supposed to be gone. He wasn’t meant to make it to Vegas. But time unfolds in its own way and with its own sense of direction. Welcome to Vegas Golden Knights history, Cody Glass – first player ever selected by the franchise in the amateur draft.
Glass, from Winnipeg, Manitoba and a star with the WHL’s Portland Winter Hawks, was watching the expansion draft unfold on Wednesday night and saw three fellow Manitobans selected by the Golden Knights and it got him thinking.
Calvin Pickard, Brendan Liepsic and Cody Eakin all hail from the same Canadian province as Glass. They all live and train in Winnipeg in the summer. Young hockey players see NHLers at the gym or the rink in their hometowns and it stokes their dreams.
“I saw those guys going to Vegas, I saw the jersey and I was thinking maybe it could happen to me,” said Glass. “I’m so thrilled. When I interviewed with Vegas at the combine – it was my best interview. I left the room thinking I’d put my best foot forward. I really liked the guys in the room and I started to think I could trust them with my career and where I want to go and what I want to accomplish in hockey.”
Golden Knights GM George McPhee and his scouting staff were so enamored with Glass – they arranged a trade to move up if needed to get him. But when the first four picks of the opening round unfolded and Glass was still available – McPhee’s intel told him he could wait and get Glass in the six spot. It worked out and Glass became the first ever to walk on to the entry draft stage and pull on a Golden Knights jersey.
“He’s a smart, smart player. An elite centre with exceptional hockey sense,” said McPhee. “Getting to draft a top end centre like Cody – it’s a great fit for us.”
McPhee doubled down at centre ice with his second pick grabbing Nick Suzuki. Suzuki exploded with the Owen Sound Attack this season scoring 45 goals and 96 points in 65 goals. He shot up in the rankings moving from the second round to as high as 12th overall on some draft boards. Vegas got him at 13.
“Forty five goals. That gets your attention,” said McPhee. “Again, another highly skilled centre. To be able to get two players like that in one round – it’s rare.”
Vegas moved to the blue line with its final pick in the first round and took Erik Brannstrom at No. 15.
McPhee said he’s wanted the player for over a year.
When we saw him we knew we wanted him and were going to get him. We just had to figure out how,” said McPhee. “We think he’s Ryan Ellis (Nashville Predators defenseman). Same size and same game. He’s sees the ice and is so smart. And he can wire it. He’s got a shot and lots of offence in his game.”
Brannstrom comes from Sweden and says playing in Vegas is something he never imagined.
“It’s incredible. I can’t wait to get there and to become a part of the team,” said Brannstrom.
“Playing in the NHL has been my dream for a long time. Vegas wants me. So I want Vegas. I want to make Vegas a winner.”
McPhee and the Golden Knights have three picks in the second round on Saturday morning and still have ten remaining.
“We move to third at the start of every round. There are lots of good players in the second round – we really like some of the players available at the top,” said McPhee. “We’ve got lots of work left and lots of opportunity for good players.”