Golden Knights’ Rookies Soar in Scrimmage

Close to 15 months after the league approved it’s newest expansion franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights took to the ice in an actual game. Albeit, it was two rookie scrimmages against the Los Angeles Kings over a two-day period at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California.

I’m not going to lie to you, I was a little bit giddy about attending the second rookie scrimmage game, and giddy is a word that is rarely part of my vocabulary.

Vegas Golden Knights rookie center Cody Glass Dayna Fjord/Portland Winterhawks

The Golden Knights Came to Play

After six periods of play, the Knights were split with the Kings, but more importantly, their rookies came out strong and played only one bad period of hockey. You could make the case that the youngsters came out flat in the third period of the first scrimmage because they exerted too much energy trying to make a good first impression, and the Kings took full advantage to extend their lead and win the game.

Here is a brief synopsis of the two days: The rookies showed the ability to generate quality scoring chances in the offensive zone while playing smart in their own end of the ice; yes, there are some areas of concern as the penalty-killers had trouble clearing the puck out of the zone and this unit needs to become more active in cutting down the passing lanes by keeping their sticks on the ice. All of this is fixable in training camp.

Couple Of “Firsts” Added to the Record Book

The first goal in Vegas Golden Knights history was scored by Thomas Hyka, who made a beautiful move to the inside before slipping the puck past the netminder on his glove side. What’s more astonishing is that the goal took place 75 seconds into the first scrimmage.

Hyka played three seasons in the Czech Republic before making the trek to North America in pursuit of an NHL roster spot. He was in training camp as an undrafted free agent with the Philadelphia Flyers before being drafted in the sixth round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Los Angeles Kings, who eventually forfeited his rights after the two sides couldn’t agree on a contract. It was a wise decision by the Golden Knights to sign Hyka and bring him to training camp.

Despite his experience, Hyka is eligible to skate with the rookies because he has never played in an NHL contest. The odds are high that he begins the season with the Chicago Wolves, but if he continues to put the puck in the net during the preseason, you could see him on the opening night roster as an extra forward.

The second “first” was goaltender Dylan Ferguson recording the first shutout in team history with a 4-0 whitewash of the Kings. He was outstanding in limiting second chance scoring opportunities by the opposition after their initial shot.

Ferguson was drafted in the seventh round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in June by the Dallas Stars, who immediately packaged his rights along with a 2020 second-round pick to acquire defenseman Marc Methot from the Golden Knights. He’s an upright goaltender that does a terrific job of tracking the puck in heavy traffic around the net. Ferguson is expected to return to the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL for another year.

Cody Glass Is a Terrific Playmaker

The playmaking skills of Knights young center, Cody Glass, stood out in the second scrimmage win. He was on the ice for three (1 goal and 2 assists) of Vegas’ four goals. Glass did a great job of running the power play by setting up his teammates with terrific lead passes towards the net.

Glass was the sixth overall pick in last June’s NHL Entry Draft, and is expected to be a top-six forward in the not too distant future. There’s no question that he is an impressive point producer as Glass scored 94 points with the Portland Winterhawks last season.

Vegas coach Gerard Gallant will have a tough decision on whether or not to keep Glass in the NHL or send him back to the WHL for another year of seasoning. His interaction with the veterans in training camp will dictate where Glass will start the regular season.

Who is Logan Thompson and Why Should We Care

Logan Thompson is a free agent goalie that was flawless in shutting out the Kings for half of the first scrimmage. Thompson could become a candidate for a role with the Wolves. It’s early in training camp, but he has a quick glove hand and the ability to stop the puck, which should open some eyes. Plus, it’s always fun to root for the longest of long shots in the preseason.

Let’s not forget this is a work in progress, but the foundation is in place after an impressive first draft by Golden Knights GM George McPhee and his staff. They have executed the perfect recipe for success by selecting quality young players with multiple early round draft picks that were acquired in shrewd trades. Now, it’s time to marinate the talent before exposing it to the NHL.