Although many have speculated that the Golden Knights would be highly active in the college free agent market, that isn’t going to be the case, GM George McPhee told ESPN’s Craig Custance (Insider required). The team is focusing at this point on targeting players who they believe have NHL upside in the near-term instead of signing several to fill spots at the minor league level for next season.
Custance adds that one of the players that Vegas has interest in is defenseman Neal Pionk. The Minnesota-Duluth sophomore is expected to have quite a few teams interested in his services should he decide to turn pro. Although he’s undersized at just 5’11, he boasts a powerful shot that could make him a strong power play threat down the road.
Other news and notes from the NCAA:
- While he was likely to draw NHL interest, St. Cloud defenseman Jimmy Schuldt has decided to not go pro and instead return for his junior NCAA season, reports Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News (Twitter link). This isn’t the first time the 21 year old has spurned overtures to sign with an NHL team as he was one of the more sought after blueliners on the market last season. In 36 games with the Huskies this season, Schuldt had eight goals and 11 assists.
- The Avalanche plan to offer a contract to defenseman Will Butcher in the coming days, reports BSNDenver’s Adrian Dater. Colorado drafted the 22 year old back in the fifth round (123rd overall) back in 2013. If he doesn’t come to terms on a contract, he would be eligible for unrestricted free agency in mid-August. This season with the University of Denver, Butcher has six goals and 29 assists in 39 games.
- Flyers GM Ron Hextall landed one of the more notable college free agents last season in goaltender Alex Lyon and told CSN Philly’s Jordan Hall that he’s hopeful that they will be able to add someone in the coming weeks. However, he noted that Philadelphia’s depth of young prospects at all positions could ultimately work against them as players may opt to pursue a spot with an organization that doesn’t have as many youngsters to compete with for a spot.