Prospects Rambling – NHL Preseason and the Knights Begin

Kevin Wickersham

2017-09-21

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No more writing about hockey without NHL action!

Thus far we’ve seen Vegas start with a bang, blowing out Vancouver 9-4 thanks much to Tyler Wong’s hat trick and franchise-first goal and assists. It had to be a satisfying day for the smallish, undrafted right wing who led last year’s Lethbridge Hurricanes with 109 points, third best in the WHL. His historic goal, including a nice feed from fellow WHLer Cody Glass is well worth watching.

 

Tyler Wong First Goal in Vegas Golden Knights History

 

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New teams interest me, so I’ve particularly enjoyed watching Brad Hunt, Tomas Hyka (with three goals of his own), Alex Tuch and other bubble players that, when the real games begin will probably start with AHL Chicago, coalescing into a team. Blue Jacket castoff Oscar Dansk also looked good fending off all 18 Avalanche shots he faced in 20 minutes of play.

Presumed regular campaign staples Jonathan Marchessault and Oscar Lindberg joined the scoring in defeating Colorado 4-1 with a goal each Tuesday night, while blue line vet Jason Garrison contributed assists for each of them along with 6:07 on the penalty kill. Jon Merrill impressed in his own zone Tuesday with six blocks in slightly over 21 minutes.

Results may not be the best this year, but first year clubs like Vegas present rare opportunities to watch a team build from the bottom up. In spite of their expansion draft defenseman-collecting strategy, they seem very aggressive on offense as 13 goals in two games can attest.  

While the Knights’ opener was tough for the Canucks, they fared better in their preseason kickoff in LA the previous day ended by a Brock Boeser game-winner early in OT after Sven Baertschi had tied the contest 3-3 late in the third. Perhaps that was a preview of good things to come from two forecasted to form the Vancouver top line along with newly-resigned Bo Horvat. Boeser looks particularly comfortable in the early going as the Calder candidate looks to continue his hot 2016-17 start.  

Our tour around the opening strains of 2017-18 has provided glimpses of high-profile prospects in their first go arounds as pros. Nick Suzuki with the Knights, Nolan Patrick on Philly ice, Alexander Kerfoot skating with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, and Nico Hischier’s first goal after stripping the Capitals of the puck in their zone.

 

Number one pick Hischier gets first NHL goal.

 

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Not to be outdone, Kailer Yamamoto in his first NHL game (a split squad affair versus Calgary Monday evening) landed an impressive and ultimate game-winning goal after likewise stealing the puck from vet Mark Giordano. Lining up with vet Chris Kelly and big Jujhar Khaira he flashed his quick game and, while opponents got a bit physical with the 5-08, barely over 150-pound rookie, he was as intuitive, cerebral and opportunistic on the ice as he showed in the WHL. His goal on Jon Gillies featured some really slick stickhandling.

 

Opening night is just a few short weeks away. Hopefully we’ll have another good year of prospects making the leap from juniors and college and starting to build solid NHL careers.

 

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