Reid Duke becomes Vegas Golden Knights' first signing: Three odd facts to know
Vegas' first-ever roster addition originally drafted by the Wild and arrives with rich history of WHL scoring
Lots to go.
The Vegas Golden Knights, officially part of the NHL since the start of the month, made things even more official Monday with the signing of Reid Duke, from the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings -- a move that marks the true beginning of a Golden Knights team.
Aside from the fact that Duke is best known for his time with a team that’s called the Wheat Kings and, well, the fact that his name is Reid Duke, here are three other odd things to know as Vegas kicks off its presence in the NHL:
Duke was originally drafted by the Minnesota Wild and supposed to be used as trade bait
A native of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, “The Duke” was a sixth-round choice of the Wild in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. After two seasons in the WHL with the Wheat Kings, Minnesota apparently intended to sell Duke’s rights in exchange for another draft pick.
In June 2016, a Star Tribune report indicated the Wild would not be signing Duke, allowing him to enter the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, in which he was not chosen by any team.
Duke’s old Wheat Kings coach is now the Golden Knights’ assistant GM
This is more an observation of Duke’s ties to the new Vegas organization than it is an oddity, but it’s no wonder the Wheat Kings forward was targeted by the Golden Knights when ex-Brandon coach Kelly McCrimmon holds quite a bit of power in Vegas’ front office.
McCrimmon, named assistant Golden Knights general manager in the fall, spent nearly three decades with the Wheat Kings, including two separate stints as head coach (2004-11 and 2013-16). Duke, meanwhile, has been skating for the WHL club for much of the last three seasons.
Duke is a king of scoring and a celebrated vet of the WHL
Let’s not go overboard in crowning Vegas’ first addition as the next top scorer, but Duke was honored for all kinds of reasons after requesting -- and getting -- a trade from the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the 2014-15 season, which he began in Wild training camp.
Part of the Wheat Kings’ championship team in 2015-16, he leads Brandon in points as he wraps up his second straight year with at least 30 goals, outscoring projected top NHL draft pick Nolan Patrick. And just this month, he was honored for playing in his 300th career WHL contest:
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