Entering the final day of the season, manager Wushuguy was unable to secure extensions for three of their biggest names. Superstar Ilan Russo, who led the league in scoring and in points, is taking his newfound fame to free agency where he expects a hefty increase in salary. Newcomer Adolf Zahorec, who anchored the blueline in his presence, will also take his talents to free agency. Last but not least, free agent defender Juhana Sitala, will also be leaving, although his presence wasn't really felt throughout the season, posting relatively poor numbers but anchoring the D2/D3 lines.
With that said, the draft became the number one priority for manager Wushuguy and that's where the future of the Golden Knights lie. The Golden Knight scouting team spent hours pouring over the prospect list and scouting performances throughout the entire season with an entire revision and re-ranking in the days leading up to the draft. As a result, the entire management team for the Golden Knights are proud to announce that they got all the players they had on their shortlist.
Round 1, 179th Pick Overall - F Faton Marte
Marte comes from Stadl U18 Lowen in the DEJHL. Standing at 5'5 168 lbs, Marte is a tiny natural sniper with excellent shooting skills. His endurance, spirit, and skating make up for his lack of physical stature and he has some slick puck handling skills already. Although he regressed in his performance last season, he is still a solid threat and should be in the starting lineup in the future for the Golden Knights.
Round 2, 210th Pick Overall - D Younes Aprin-Potvin
Standing at 5'9, 170 lbs, this talented defenseman is another shorty in the Golden Knights pipeline but has impressive traits. He's a natural stay-at-home defender from the North Sydney Kings where he has steadily improved over the last 3 seasons, this year with a career high 17 points. While he has a long way to go to work on his skating, passing, and puck handling skills, he has already excelled in the defensive area and plays a strong physical game. He even has some nice shooting from the point and may even see some time on the powerplay in the future.
Round 2, 213th Pick Overall - F Martin Stantien
The Golden Knights' second selection in the 2nd round was Martin Stantien from the Hamiltony U18 KLH team in the CZJHL. A lesser known entity, he's a highly sought after traitset. He has a great love of the game and is a very responsible and respectful individual who impressed in his draft interviews. He has impressive size and plays a big solid game. He's well-rounded but has a slightly higher offensive upside vs. defense. He's got great endurance for a big man so look for him to toss his body around. He's another solid pick and though he regressed in his point totals, he was a lot more responsible this year.
Round 2, 214th Pick Overall - F Ahti Ahola
With the 214th pick, the Golden Knights were able to select from Inhantehtaat U18 from the FIJHL, forward Ahti Ahola. This talented sniper has been a 30 goal scorer in the FIJHL so hopefully he can bring some of that skill to the LIHL. This past season, he took a step back from shooting and learned to develop some passing skills, as evident by his +5 PPA total this past season. He's got exceptional puck handling skills and has solid endurance and shooting for a 5'11 forward. He still could use some work on his overall game but his skating is slowly improving along with his other skills.
Round 2, 216th Pick Overall - C Axel Prahl
A surprise at 216th, many thought the talented Swedish centre from Saxen U18 HK would have been picked higher. A natural powerforward standing at 5'10 207 lbs, he's a solid player but his personality may have skewed him away from other teams. In addition, his performance regressed last season and he picked up some more penalties. However, he threw the body around a lot to show teams he isn't afraid to mix it up. Axel has solid skating, physical upside with impressive endurance. He has some nice puck handling and faceoff skills to boot. He just needs to work on his passing/shooting and definitely needs to improve his defence.
Round 2, 220th Pick Overall - F Billy Bourgault
The final Golden Knight pick of the draft was spent on F Billy Bourgault from the Hindon Predators in the CAJHL. A very quiet and soft-spoken individual, he said all the right things during the draft interview. A talented player that can play different roles, he had a quiet but impressive season raising his point totals and showing some offensive prowess. He's got some solid puck handling skills and has some skill overall but needs improvement in a lot of areas. He does trend upwards and that's why management took a chance with him.
With the future players set to look for their first contract, manager Wushuguy will be in tough this off-season to figure out future plans. Should he start the youth movement now and take another year to get them some experience? Or should he go all-in during the off-season and hopefully allow these talented youth players to develop in the minors?