For fans that plan to go down to the LV Ice Center this week, here’s what we’re watching for at Development Camp.
The first Golden Knight
It’s pretty clear Reid Duke is a fan favorite already. After a week of signing autographs and snapping fan selfies, the first Golden Knight will take the ice. This week, look for Duke’s all-around skill that got the attention of the Vegas scouts. It could be beneficial for fans to compare the skill of Duke with like Alex Tuch, Cody Glass and Nick Suzuki.
Alex “The Great” Tuch
Minnesota didn’t enjoy giving up Alex Tuch. And why would they? The Wild invested a first-round pick on him and waited while he developed in the NCAA. The New York native has the size and skill to be an effective NHL power-forward. Hockey Future’s highlights Tuch’s stick-handling, shot, speed and hockey IQ. McPhee passed on a known commodity, hopefully, doubtful fans will get to see why this week.
Three in the top 15
I’m most excited to see the first-round talents drafted by Vegas, Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki, and Erik Brannstrom. All three are highly-regarded so their skill should be obvious to an idiot scout like myself. They’re young, incredibly talented but underdeveloped. It’ll be fun to watch them mature over the next few years.
It should be the first chance we have to take a look Gerard Gallant’s coaching style. We aren’t sure how much it will be him taking the reigns or if he’ll let Rocky Thompson (Wolves), Phil Axtell (Mallards), or any of the other developmental coaches take control, but either way, the coaching is on display as much as the players are.
The Lone Wolf
We already know Tyler Wong will be playing for the Chicago Wolves since he is technically their property. The 21-year-old was signed by the Wolves to an AHL contract. If Wong impresses Vegas they can sign him to a two-way contract under their own control. After a tryout in Toronto, reporters described Wong as a tenacious, fast, high-character player. This week will be a good time for the AHL’er to showcase his skills.
Jack Dugan, the fifth-round draft pick is young and offensively gifted. It could be a few years before he hits the NHL ice as he heads to Providence College for Hockey East play. Dugan likes to model himself after an all-around star like Jamie Benn. At 6’2, 185lbs the future Friar is the ideal offensive prospect for the Golden Knights pipeline. Nic Hague, the 34th overall selection has the size that makes GMs lick their chops. On top of his skill and stature, the defenseman has an attitude. Hague was suspended by the OHL for a late punch in March. The young giant has the demeanor of an NHL player. Watch for his unique talents this week.
Michael Kim/Josh Melnick
Two under the radar prospects that are both strong club leaders. Kim will wear the “C” at Boston College and Melnick will wear the “A” in Miami (OH). Both went undrafted but could possess the leadership, skill and hockey IQ to make the NHL. Low expectations but high reward for both of these camp invitees.
Kenny Brooks, born and raised in Las Vegas and coming off a Kelly Cup victory, Brooks is one of the best stories of this week. The 25-year-old will be one of the older skaters at camp but will fight for a pro contract. With the odds stacked against him, Brooks deserves support all week from local fans.