Most of you probably haven’t heard of 16 year-old Defenseman Max Gildon. You will. In my eyes he’s the ideal player for Las Vegas to select in the 2017 NHL draft. Building a team around talent is necessary, but talent that connects with fans can be just as important. Not only is the blue liner big, and skilled but he’s also an American.
Let’s be serious, most high draft picks come out of Canada. Of course Canada’s Nolan Patrick or Finland’s Juuso Välimäki would be fine in Las Vegas. However, having a highly ranked American skater could add to the city’s excitement.
The evidence is the Buffalo Sabres first round draft pick Jack Eichel. The buzz in Buffalo right now is reminiscent of the Miraslov Satan and Matthew Barnaby days. Eichel is the next big star in Buffalo. Already visiting hospitals, holding meet and greets with fans. He’s become the darling of the Nickel City and he hasn’t played in one regular season game. The resurgence has already begun in upstate NY, which is good for the league. It’s been a while since Brett Hull’s goal/no goal. I feel for you Sabres fans.
I’m not against Canadian skaters, most of my favorite players to watch are Canadian. However, Ryan Getzlaf, Jamie Benn and Drew Doughty were drafted by teams with an established fan base. Connecting with fans is a way to build when winning might not be an option right away. I’d think Quebec City is planning the same with Nolan Patrick.
Don’t you think Las Vegas would rally around a young superstar defenseman from America? Sure a high Canadian draft pick would be just as good on the ice, but off the ice is just as important. Especially when the new franchise is building from scratch. Can you imagine the Max Gildon t-shirt and jersey sales? Every young Las Vegas kid would want to “Skate Like Max.”
Hockey fans throughout the valley like me don’t need to be hooked. Attracting NBA, NFL, NASCAR and even Opera fans is a must. Zucker’s local connection could attract a different fan, fringe fans. Which is what a young franchise needs to build team support.
Now to get started on that Zucker proposal. Stay tuned…