The rookies get on the ice Thursday at City National Arena as the Vegas Golden Knights prepare to participate in Friday’s Coyotes Rookie Faceoff Tournament in Arizona.
Twenty-seven players are on the roster, the majority of whom will likely wind up playing for the Henderson Silver Knights. But this is an important time for the participants as invitations to take part in the Golden Knights’ preseason camp on Sept. 22 are on the line.
It’s also a chance to make a good impression on Silver Knights coach Many Viveiros and GM Tim Speltz. So expect an intense few days on the ice.
What can we expect to see? Here’s five rookie camp storylines to keep eye on:
1. Is Peyton Krebs ready to go? The 2019 first-round selection was on track to perhaps participate in the Stanley Cup Playoffs until he fractured his jaw. Krebs is a virtual lock to go to the Golden Knights training camp so this is an opportunity to get a leg up on things and get some game ice time and try and stay ahead of the curve.
2. First look at the Class of ’21: The Golden Knights had six selections in the NHL Entry Draft in July and all of them are on the rookie camp roster. Center Zach Dean, their first-round pick from Gatineau of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, heads the list. But also keep an eye on Daniil Chayka, a 6-foot-3 defenseman who played in Russia last season after the Ontario Hockey League opted out due to COVID-19 (He was a member of Guelph).
Bob Lowes, the Knights’ assistant director of player personnel, said of Chayka: “We had a really good interview with him. He spoke about how hard of an adjustment it was with different teams, different coaches, different opportunities and lack of opportunities. We were really comfortable where we got him. We like his upside from what we’ve seen in Guelph and various things we’ve seen this year.”
3. Does Jack Dugan move forward?: Dugan, who played at Providence and was Vegas’ fifth-round pick in the 2017 Draft, scored 10 goals and had 33 points in 36 games with Henderson last year. There may not be a spot for him on Opening Night with the Golden Knights, but a good showing in Arizona and a good training camp could boost his status and make him a “Next man up” call-up from the Silver Knights should the Golden Knights sustain injuries to any of their forwards.
4. Is Korczak ready?: Defenseman Kaedan Korczak figures to be banging bodies in Arizona this weekend and his physical play will likely earn him a spot in the Golden Knights’ camp. He skated as a “Black Ace” with the team during the playoffs and if things weren’t already set on the blue line, he’d have a much better shot to make the team. But don’t discount his chances. He is only 20 years old so time is on his side.
“They gave me a call and said they will keep me around for the remainder of the NHL playoffs,” he said. “I was very happy to get that opportunity.
“Brayden McNabb was awesome for me, we talked quite a bit and I just asked for little pointers. I also skated with Alex Pietrangelo, and he has been good at giving me little tips. They have been great at letting me pick their brains.”
5. Speltz gets up to speed: The new Silver Knights GM came from Toronto so this will be his introduction to the Golden Knights franchise and the “Knight Culture” that runs from Vegas through Henderson.
While coach Manny Viveiros s familiar with the guys who played for him last year with the Silver Knights, he will have someone sitting next to him to compare notes with, an extra set of eyes to catch something he might miss and a chance to bond with Speltz. It will also be a chance for Speltz to watch games and practices with VGK President GeorgeMcPhee and Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon. They’ll be a valuable resource for him.
Why is this important? When it times for a player to be called up from Henderson, Speltz can expect a call from McCrimmon or Knights coach Peter DeBoer about a player and he’ll need to be ready to give his input.