LAS VEGAS — Cody Glass was a smart pick by the Vegas Golden Knights.
“He has the ultimate hockey tool, and that’s hockey IQ and knowing where to be on the ice,” forward Max Pacioretty said. “He’s a lot of fun to play with. He’s the future of this team, and I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Glass became the first Vegas amateur draft pick when the Golden Knights selected him No. 6 in the 2017 NHL Draft, two days after the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft.
He became the first Vegas amateur draft pick to play for the Golden Knights when he made his NHL debut in the season opener at T-Mobile Arena on Oct. 2 and scored on his first shot in a 4-1 win against the San Jose Sharks.
The 20-year-old center will play his third NHL game when the Golden Knights play the Boston Bruins at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday (10 p.m. ET; ESPN+, ATTSN-RM, NESN, NHL.TV).
The most impressive thing about him is that he doesn’t try to be impressive.
“We call it Instagram hands or Instagram skills,” Pacioretty said. “Kids want to go out there and stick-handle a million miles an hour or skate a million miles an hour and do all this stick-handling through cones. I can’t ever see him doing that. I could just see him going out there and making the right plays.
“And it really is a breath of fresh air to have a kid come in here and just be relaxed, just make the right plays, not be arrogant at all but be confident in his ability to know where to be on the ice and what plays to make. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a rookie really have that skill and that kind of persona.”
In Vegas’ fourth preseason game, a 3-1 win against San Jose at SAP Center on Sept. 21, defenseman Nick Holden dumped the puck into the right-wing corner. Forward Reilly Smith pressured a defender, and the puck went around the end boards behind the net.
Glass had defenseman Dalton Prout lined up. He could have delivered a huge hit.
“So many kids, when they’re trying to make a team, they’re trying to skate in there a million miles an hour on the forecheck and almost run someone over,” Pacioretty said. “The [defenseman] was in a vulnerable position trying to pick up a puck behind the net, and instead of trying to run him through the glass, [Glass] puts his stick on his stick, strips him and then has his head up to make a play to me in the slot.”
Pacioretty scored on a one-timer.
“Everyone is so obsessed with looking fast and looking like you’re working hard,” Pacioretty said. “That’s kind of the stuff for the outside, but when you’re on the ice and you realize who has the hockey sense, he just kind of goes out there and makes it look easy making the right play shift after shift.”
The question entering training camp was if Glass would be one of the Vegas’ top nine forwards or be better off developing with Chicago of the American Hockey League, where he finished last season and had five points (three goals, two assists) in six regular-season games and 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 22 playoff games.
With third-line center Cody Eakin injured, the Golden Knights moved center Paul Stastny to the third line and put Glass between Pacioretty and Mark Stone on the second line. Stastny could help Valentin Zykov and Brandon Pirri; Pacioretty and Stone could help Glass. But Glass could think with Pacioretty and Stone too.
“Man, I love watching him play,” defenseman Nate Schmidt said with a laugh. “He’s got better vision and playmaking ability than I could ever have. I just think the way that he sees the game, and he can slow it down and understand how the play’s going to happen.
“He’s got two great linemates he can learn from and understand what it means to be a pro. …. Excellent players in our league. It can only shoot him into another level.”
Glass is smart enough to know he needs to adjust, like when he joined Chicago of the AHL.
“That’s when I start using my mind and kind of just reading plays that are usually what I’m used to,” Glass said.
But it’s only a matter of time.
“I think you say one thing, he kind of digests it and knows,” Stastny said. “He’s always asking, ‘Why?’ He knows we do things for a reason. So in that sense, for us smarter players that play with him, he’s easy to play with because you can talk to him and know he’s going to make adjustments.
“The team we have with the depth we have, we’ll put him in different situations. The more games he plays, the more comfortable he will be. You saw it from preseason to now. After 10 games, after 20 games, he’s just going to find his niche more.”