FOX5 EXCLUSIVE: 1-on-1 with Golden Knights forwards Jake Leschyshyn, Paul Cotter
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The Golden Knights continue to solidify their roster for the upcoming season, signing forwards Jake Leschyshyn and Paul Cotter to three-year contract, each worth the NHL league minimum of $750,000.
“Very excited to have signed that deal,” smiled Leschyshyn. “I’ve been thinking about it all summer, it’s good to have that done before camp and prepare for this upcoming season, I’m excited.”
“It’s awesome, it’s great to know where you’re going to be working, for the next couple years,” said Cotter. “In this line of work, it doesn’t happen often, so I’m pretty excited, I’m pretty pumped up. It’s the team that drafted me, so they’ve always had value in me, so I’m excited to try and give back.”
Cotter made his NHL debut during the 2021-22 season, playing seven games in total, scoring two goals, including his first NHL goal at T-Mobile Arena in just his second game played.
“The next step is to be a full-time NHL player so, they expressed in the exit interview that they have a lot of faith in my play, it’s kind of up to me to show up to camp and show what I can do,” explained Cotter. “I think they definitely believe in me based on this past contract and they reiterated the fact that I need to be in perfect shape and be ready to go. That last spot is up to me to take, so I’ll be ready to come into camp and that’s my goal is to take the spot.”
“On ice they know what I can do. I’ve proven I can score goals; I can be an impact player throughout the lineup. I think I’m a pretty versatile player, I can play lines 1-4, I have no problem being physical, I just have to make sure the little things are on point, so I have to be pretty perfectly shutting down defensively. I think defense is one of the things that I’ve gotten a lot better at the last few years. I think I need to maintain that and production and making sure I’m playing my game, every night, every shift, so I think consistency is a big thing for me.”
Leschyshyn was the fifth draft pick ever selected by the Golden Knights organization, a second round pick in 2017, the 23-year-old also made his NHL debut this past season, playing in 41 games.
“I feel like I can step into games now and not have that sense of, ‘What’s it going to be like?’ I kind of know what to expect and what I need to do to be successful. There is confidence in that and I feel like that can only be a good thing.”
“First thing they said is come back and it starts at camp, make a good impression,” said Leschyshyn.” For me I think they are looking at me kind of being that fourth line guy and being able to contribute, maybe a bit more offensively. Whether it’s penalty killing or being better defensively there are a lot of areas in all aspects of the game that just need to be elevated for me to be more successful this upcoming year.”
Both Leschyshyn and Cotter are looking to elevate their game and expand their roles with the big club in 2022-23, and with the Golden Knights once again being a salary cap team, the opportunity is there.
“The past few years I’ve done everything I can, worked the hardest I can, there hasn’t really been a real feel, ‘hey I can make the team this year, I’m going to make the team this year.’ I think this is the first year where that could become a reality,” said Cotter. “Same with Jake, I think we’re going to both come into camp and make it hard for them to pick. We’re all good players, there are a lot of guys on that bubble there that could make that spot and each and every one of us is going to be pushing to make that decision the hardest. I’ll be ready to go. Those spots come, you only get so many opportunities, so I’ll be ready. I’m excited to come into camp and show them what I got.”
After missing the postseason for the first time in franchise history, Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon said this offseason that the team was going to use the summer to heal and create a mentality of ‘having something to prove.’
“There is fuel,” said Leschyshyn. “You talk to any guy, and they are there to win. You see the previous years and the success they’ve had, the guys they brought in, this is not a team that is just okay with making playoffs, they want to win the Stanley Cup every single year. Everyone has that same mindset, where there is no room for error, room to lose in this organization, I think everyone is playing for their job, each other and playing to win.”
“Both (the Silver Knights and Golden Knights) need to have a bounce back season and if there is anybody that can do it, it’s the Vegas organization,” said Cotter. “I think every year we’re had contending teams on both sides. We’ll be ready to go and I’m sure the messaging into camp will be the same as that.”
That messaging will start with new head coach Bruce Cassidy, who also mentioned during his introductory press conference this summer, that he too has a chip on his shoulder after getting fired by the Boston Bruins.
“Those guys came into Vegas and they have something to prove too. It’s a new spot for them, a lot of new faces and to be able to make an impact and show them who I am as quick as I can is a big thing,” explained Cotter. “I’m looking forward to it, I know Cassidy has had a big reputation for wanting results pretty quickly, I’m ready to show him. I’m ready to go, I’m chomping at the bit, I’ll be ready right off the get-go for sure.”
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