LAS VEGAS (FOX5) It was all smiles Friday afternoon as the Golden Knights prospects reunited at City National Arena for the start of rookie camp. Both General Manager George McPhee and Head Coach Gerard Gallant were in the stands watching to see who could make the jump.
“I’m not here to settle for anything less than my best hockey,” Golden Knights defensive prospect Zach Whitecloud said. “I’m here to push for a spot and make that roster.”
Whitecloud is one of the favorites to push for an opening night roster spot for the Golden Knights. He, along with 2017 draftees Erik Brannstrom and Nic Hague, have a bigger opportunity with Nate Schmidt’s 20-game suspension and Shea Theodore still unsigned.
“Whether they were here or not doesn’t really change my mindset,” Hague said. “I’m just coming in trying to make the team regardless. I think either way, I’m going to have to steal a spot from someone; doesn’t really change too much for me.”
“(I'll) take it day after day, so my best out there, play my hockey and see after that,” Brannstrom said.
The three blue liners along with the rest of the prospects will get their chance to show they belong over the next four days during the Vegas Rookie Face-off, where five other teams will bring their rookies and go head-to-head, tournament style.
“Yeah, you want them to win, this is a tournament, that’s part of this process. We’re playing for keeps. Development camp is about educating the kids and this is about being a pro. This is the first step for these kids,” Golden Knights Director of Player Development Will Nichol said.
“I don’t want to go out and just blend in. I want to go out there and be one of the best 'd' on the ice and have standout games. I think that’s what I need to do to show Vegas and the management that I deserve a spot (on) the team,” Hague said.
“It will be fun to see what team can gel at this tournament and see what kind of guys they have. I think this group guys are getting comfortable with each other, practices have been crisp and I think you’re going to see some good hockey this weekend,” Whitecloud said.
The Golden Knights rookies play Colorado Saturday night at 7 p.m.