News is starting to come in more frequently as the draft dates loom.
Two big things to come out of this week:
- Knights sign third player in franchise history– Czech Forward Tomas Hyka to a one-year deal. The 24-year old was drafted by the Kings in 2012, but never signed. He spent time playing junior in Quebec and was in the Czech league the past three years. He’s listed at 5’11” and 174 lbs—so not a huge guy, but from some of the video I watched on him, he looks like he’s pretty quick/shifty. My guess is that he and Reid Duke start in the minors and stay there awhile in order to develop more.
- More good news for the Chicagoland area…if you remember a couple weeks back, the Knights agreed to terms with the Chicago Wolves—making them their AHL affiliate. This week, Vegas confirmed that the Quad City Mallards (Moline, IL) will be their ECHL affiliate. So, if you’re following the flow chart (which is kind of like the animal kingdom), the Mallards will feed into the Wolves, who will feed into the Knights. It’s really cool to see the Chicago hockey scene playing a part in the Vegas expansion. Hell yeah!
Speaking of the Windy City…
I reported last week that one of the rumors was Blackhawk Defenseman, Trveor van Riemsdyk (TVR), was most likely heading to Vegas—with Center Marcus Kruger packaged with him. This sounds like it has the potential to be a done deal with the news that Vegas is willing to take on bad contracts in exchange for draft picks or top prospects. This would certainly be the case for the Hawks. I’d hate to see TVR and Kruger leave Chicago, but the cap-strapped Blackhawks need to (and will) make a lot of moves this offseason to get to a better place in terms of money/contracts. Kruger will most likely be a casualty of this cap cleanse.
Last year, Kruger signed a three-year, $9.25 million extension. It looks like the Hawks are trying to take advantage of Vegas’ bad contract offer by sending TVR to them with the agreement that they’ll have to take Kruger and his (just over) $3 million annual cap hit with them.
What would the Knights gain in these two players?
Personally, I’m a fan of both. Hawks fans are kind of split on TVR, but he’s a young/developing Defenseman. Of all the positions, it usually takes Defensemen the longest to develop at the NHL level. He’s made his mistakes, but what young player doesn’t? To me, he has tremendous upside. While I like more stay-at-home Defensemen, TVR is kind of a hybrid. He’s a good puck-mover and this past year showed a real knack for joining the rush late and becoming a fourth Forward of sorts—often creeping in to the goal mouth to score on centering passes when the opposing defense has left the area to pursue attacking Forwards. But, perhaps the biggest part of his game and the one I really respect the mnost, is his willingness to block shots and put his body on the line. It’s sort of a lost art and nice to see there’s guys out there who will sell out to help their goalie and their team.
Kruger is split amongst fans, too. Again, I like him. With Kruger, you’re getting a very solid, defensive-minded Center and penalty kill specialist. He’s a complete two-way player—although, his offensive ability to put pucks in the back of the net proves difficult for him. So, don’t expect him to light up the scoreboard. What he does is more of the things that aren’t measured by metrics and scoresheets. He’s perfect for a lower line (3 or 4). He forechecks, backchecks and goes to the tough places (corners) and is good along the boards. I think he’s a good steal for the price he’s at, it’s just that the Hawks need to shed money wherever they can.
All for now,
Second City Knight