The Henderson Silver Knights take center stage this week with the unveiling of their jerseys today, the opening of Lifeguard Arena tomorrow, and an open house at The Orleans on Friday and Saturday.
The current plan is for the AHL season to start on February 5th with the Silver Knights playing in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference (the Wolves were in the Central).
There’s still a lot to be determined as to exactly how the Henderson roster will look when they play their first game at Orleans Arena, but here are five lesser-known Silver Knights to keep an eye on.
Rondbjerg was impressive in Development Camp in 2019 and followed it up by playing well early in training camp before being re-assigned. The Danish forward only played one game in the AHL before breaking his arm and missing the rest of the year. This year, he’ll look to rebound and put up the season that was expected from him last year. He’s a two-way forward who is an excellent forechecker and has enough finishing ability to turn defensive errors into goals. As long as he’s not a different player following the injury, he should push to become the yo-yo player this year at the bottom of the VGK depth-chart.
Returning from a season in Russia, the former 1st round pick (12th overall in 2011) boasts an NHL resume matched by no one on the projected Silver Knights roster. Murphy has played 175 NHL games, just 20 short of his 195 AHL games. He was an alternate captain and played nearly 20 minutes per night for Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk. He’ll have a lot of younger defensemen to hold off for playing time in Henderson, but there’s no way Manny Viveiros will be able to keep Murphy out of his lineup. He was a sneaky good signing by the Golden/Silver Knights, and it’s not out of the question he comes into VGK camp and pushes for a spot on the big club.
Now that the AHL team is in town and more Golden Knights fans will be attending, the outcomes of the games will be a bit more important. Sikura is going to be one of the players who helps the Silver Knights win games because he’s a point producer. His size, coupled with the crowded top-six of the Golden Knights will probably keep him out of the NHL this season, but he should be expected to make an impact for the Silver Knights. It wouldn’t be surprising if Sikura pushes a point per game pace in his first season with Henderson.
The German-born O’Regan is another guy like Sikura that will rack up points at the AHL level. In 244 AHL games, O’Regan has scored 67 goals and amassed 154 points. His best season came with the San Jose Barracuda in 2016-17 where he led the team in points. This was a DeBoer-system team including players such as Barclay Goodrow, Marcus Sorenson, Tim Heed, Joakim Ryan, and Ryan Carpenter. Similar to players like Daniel Carr, T.J. Tynan, Paul Thompson, and Curtis McKenzie, O’Regan will likely put up solid numbers at the AHL level helping the Silver Knights win games at the Orleans.
Normally when we talk about the group of young defensemen in the Golden Knights system, Pachal’s name is left out. The main reason for that previously was age, he’s at least one year younger than each of Zach Whitecloud, Jimmy Schuldt, Jake Bischoff, and Dylan Coghlan. Pachal’s first season in the AHL was solid for a rookie and many players take major steps in their second professional season. Pachal is a right-hand shot who plays the game with an edge. His offensive game is not his calling card, but I think with more live viewings fans will appreciate his game a lot more.