Growing up in Winnipeg, Cody Glass had an upbringing like many other youngsters in Canada. He grew up playing hockey and idolizing top NHL stars such as Sidney Crosby and hometown hero Jonathan Toews. However, his path differs from most because he has a chance to become the next great Canadian-born, two-way center, just like the players he looked up to as a kid.
The 20-year-old Glass just completed the longest season of his young career. The journey started in Portland with the WHL’s Winterhawks, then a short trip to British Columbia to play for Team Canada at the World Junior Championship before ending the year with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves and a disappointing loss in the Calder Cup final.
Before he was able to make his pro debut in April, he had to rise through the ranks of bantam, midget and junior. And Glass credits his father, Jeff, as one of his biggest influences on and off the ice as he was navigating his way through the hockey landscape. “Through thick and thin, he’s always been there,” Glass said. “He’s the one who has pushed me every day to be the person and player I am today. Without him, none of this happens.”
A knee injury in January limited Glass to 38 WHL games this past season, but he still put up 15 goals and 69 points. When the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder made the jump to the AHL, it was a seamless transition: he scored twice in his pro debut against Milwaukee.
Glass, the first-ever draft pick in Vegas Golden Knights history (sixth overall in 2017), had a knack for big moments when he arrived in Chicago. He finished the AHL playoffs tied for the team lead in scoring with 15 points, and he had three game-winning goals, including two in overtime. But he deflected the credit for his personal achievements. “First, it starts with trust from the coaching staff,” Glass said. “They aren’t going to put me out there if they don’t trust me. For a guy coming in at the end of the year, it’s very tough, and it puts them in kind of a weird position. I just wanted to gain their trust from the start.”
Wolves coach Rocky Thompson, who is starting to grab the attention of NHL GMs himself, has been high on Glass since he first stepped into the dressing room and credits Glass’ smarts for his easy transition to the pro game. “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,” he said. “The speed and 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. That has helped his transition. You don’t get drafted sixth overall if you don’t have a high level of skill and ability. 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.”
It’s not a matter of if Glass will make the jump to the NHL, but when. And when that happens, fans in Vegas can expect to see a complete package, the type of player you’d expect grew up idolizing Toews. “A two-way player and a playmaker,” said Glass of himself. “The coaching staff in Vegas really likes a 200-foot player who plays both ends of the ice well. I know the skill is there, it’s just those little things I’m trying to work on. Obviously, strength and speed, those are two things I need to work on to make the jump. Playing in my own end while playing offensively are two keys to my game.”
The Golden Knights are loaded with veteran forwards, so cracking the NHL roster at training camp will be a tall task for Glass this fall. He may have to wait to get his first taste of Las Vegas, but that won’t upset anyone in Chicago.