Welcome back to Vegas Hockey Now’s season in review series where we look at every player on the Vegas Golden Knights and their 2021-22 season from Michael Amadio to Zach Whitecloud.
You can catch up on the series here: Michael Amadio, Reilly Smith, Jonas Rondbjerg, Keegan Kolesar, Robin Lehner, Alex Pietrangelo, Nolan Patrick, Shea Theodore, Jake Leschyshyn, Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Laurent Brossoit, Mattias Janmark, William Carrier, Jack Eichel, Nicolas Roy, Chandler Stephenson, Jonathan Marchessault, Ben Hutton, Dylan Coghlan, and Nicolas Hague.
Today’s player is Zach Whitecloud
The Golden Knights are lucky. They have one of the deepest defensive corps in the entire National Hockey League. A huge part of this is the fresh batch of young NHL defensemen that are just emerging into the NHL with guys like Nicolas Hague, Dylan Coghlan, and even Daniil Miromanov.
But perhaps the most pleasant surprise has been college free agent signing Zach Whitecloud, who was stellar in 2021-22. I could gush about Whitecloud’s play as a two-way defenseman and emergence into the NHL as a regular in 21-22 all day.
Sensing his potential, Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon signed Whitecloud to a six-year extension in October which only carries an AAV of $2.75 million. If Whitecloud can continue his development into a top-4 defenseman, the Golden Knights have a steal of a contract on their hands.
Whitecloud, like seemingly every member of the Golden Knights this past season, missed games due to injury. He was out with a wrist injury early on in the season but made his glorious return scoring two goals against the Detroit Red Wings.
Confirmed: Zach Whitecloud with more goals than Connor McDavid tonight 😜 pic.twitter.com/UO8LH2cvVF
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) November 19, 2021
Whitecloud led the Golden Knights in plus-minus in 21-22, finishing the season with a +21.
First career shorthanded goal for Zach Whitecloud! ☁️ pic.twitter.com/NdSXT7r9VQ
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) December 2, 2021
His defensive structure, combined with his offensive instincts combine for an all-around veteran presence for the Golden Knights, even though Whitecloud is in just his third true season in the NHL. Even with injuries to his wrist and foot, Whitecloud had a tremendous season for the VGK.
Along with Nicolas Roy and Logan Thompson, Whitecloud played for Team Canada at the 2022 IIHF World Championships in Finland and won a Silver Medal.
Locked up to a six-year extension, the Golden Knights are betting on Whitecloud to be a regular in the lineup for them for many years to come. Whitecloud will only continue to get better and may force out some of the old guard as he continues to develop.
With the Golden Knights deep on defense, new head coach Bruce Cassidy will have the good problem of picking between 8-10 NHL-ready defensemen.