The Vegas Golden Knights have signed the first player in the history of their franchise on Monday, as they inked Reid Duke to a three-year entry-level contract.
Duke, 21, put up 35 goals and 32 assists in 54 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League this season. Duke will finish the season with the Wheat Kings before participating in the Golden Knights Development Camp this summer.
Golden Knights Assistant General Manager, Kelly McCrimmon said, “I think what is impressive with Reid is a real high skill level and yet a guy that is able to play a big, strong, heavy game.”
McCrimmon, who prior to being hired by the Golden Knights, was the Owner, General Manager and Head Coach of the Wheat Kings added, “When we project Reid, we think his game will evolve as he becomes a pro. We believe he is going to be a National Hockey League player. It is real exciting for us to be bringing Reid into the Golden Knights organization.”
Duke was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the sixth round, 189th overall of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. He never signed with the Wild and became an unrestricted free agent.
McCrimmon said that the Golden Knights have been following the progress of Duke ever since he played with the New York Rangers during the Traverse City Tournament. Duke was also invited last summer to the Montreal Canadiens prospect development camp.
McCrimmon added, “Obviously, I have a connection to Reid, an affiliation with Reid, but Reid is a player that was identified by [Director of Player Development] Wil Nichol. Wil was really the guy that was eager to continue to evaluate Reid over the course of the season.”
The Golden Knights made their final payment and were approved to begin operations in acquiring players on March 1.
The expansion draft will take place from June 18 to June 20 as the Golden Knights will select one player from each of the other 30 teams unprotected list. Vegas must choose 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders for their roster.
The other teams have the option of protecting seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie or eight skaters and one goaltender.