The 2017-18 season was full of historic firsts for the Vegas Golden Knights. Not only did National Hockey League’s newest team beat the odds by qualifying for the postseason, but they also became the darlings of the entire sports world by making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.
Before the Golden Knights took the ice for the first time, they started to build their foundation at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. They selected center Cody Glass with the first-ever pick in franchise history, sixth overall, and he has been proving that he was worth the investment.
A Huge Junior Career Has Vegas Excited
Glass shot up the draft rankings after a big 2016-17 season with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, which saw him score 32 goals and 94 points in 69 games. The following season, he scored 37 goals and 102 points in 64 games. He was added to the Chicago Wolves’ playoff roster but did not appear in any of their three games.
Glass impressed the Vegas staff during both development and training camp before the start of the 2018-19 season.
“The difference coming from an 18-year-old to a 19-year-old … he’s coming in with that much more confidence,” Golden Knights assistant coach Ryan Craig said. “His body is starting to develop more strength. If he keeps trending upward in a way with much more progression, he’ll be fine.”
Ultimately, Glass was sent back to Portland in September and even though he was limited to 38 games due to injury, he still put up 15 goals and 69 points. After his WHL season ended he was promoted to the American Hockey League and fit right in.
The Jump to the Pros Has Been No Problem
Glass made his AHL debut with the Wolves on Apr. 5 and scored his first two professional goals against the Milwaukee Admirals. Glass played in Chicago’s final six regular season games and put up three goals and five points.
He is really making his mark during the Wolves’ Calder Cup playoff run, which has them currently tied 1-1 with San Diego Gulls in the Western Conference Final. He is tied with Curtis McKenzie for the team lead in goals with five and is second on the team in scoring with nine points.
The Wolves have played in two overtime games this postseason and Glass scored the game-winning goal in each of them. The 20-year-old center had the first huge moment of his professional career by scoring in overtime against the Iowa Wild in Game 1 of the Central Division Final.
He showed that goal was no fluke in the opening game against the Gulls when he struck again in extra time to give the Wolves an early series advantage.
Veteran Help and Smarts Leading to AHL Success
When Glass moved up to the professional ranks he was immediately put on a line with veterans Tomas Hyka and Tye McGinn, who have over 500 combined games of AHL experience. The youngster is grateful for his time with the duo.
“I think it makes it easier on myself,” Glass said of playing with McGinn. “I have been on his line since day one. Especially him and Hyks, they have been awesome to me since I’ve been here and they make me feel really comfortable off the ice and on the ice. They’ve done a great job just fitting into my game style. They’re really good players, so I am lucky to be on a line with them.”
Head coach Rocky Thompson has been impressed with Glass ever since his arrival. The second-year coach credits Glass’ brain for his seamless transition from the WHL to the AHL.
“He got to play in the regular season, which was important,” he said earlier this month. “Coming out of juniors is hard. He was an elite junior player, but the size is different and the speed is different. The center position is the hardest position, in my opinion, to play because you’ve got to play up ice and a 200-foot game.
“The speed and the pace of the game is always an adjustment. Smart players can sometimes adjust quicker than other players. Cody is really cerebral. He’s humble, so he’s very coachable. I think that has helped his transition. You don’t get drafted sixth overall if you don’t have a high level of skill and ability. I think the guys who are a little bit more cerebral can make a quicker transition because they just adjust faster. They see it, they feel it and they make the adjustments themselves.”
The Golden Knights currently have 12 veteran forwards under contract for the 2018-19 season including the likes of Jonathan Marchessault, Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone. They also have a whole slew of free agents to make decisions on like William Karlsson and Brandon Pirri.
With the roster in Vegas as full as it is, Glass will have an uphill climb to earn an NHL roster spot next fall. Whenever he does arrive in Sin City, be it in October or later in the season, he will be as good as advertised.