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AHL Proves Strong Breeding Ground for VGK

Chicago Wolves Currently Competing in Calder Cup Western Conference Finals

by Gary Lawless @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

Nine hundred and ninety nine players skated in an at least one NHL game this past regular season and 88 percent of those players claimed AHL service time on their stats sheets.

The AHL is the breeding ground for the NHL and it's not just on the ice. The Vegas Golden Knights have 55 people in the organization with AHL ties including 23 players and 32 staffers.

From No. 1 goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to graphic designer Brady Hackmeister to head coach Gerard Gallant to president and chief operating officer Kerry Bubolz - the AHL and its many lessons has its fingerprints all over the Golden Knights.

Vegas has an affiliation agreement with the AHL's Chicago Wolves who are tied 1-1 with the San Diego Gulls in a Calder Cup best-of-seven Western Conference Finals.

Games 3, 4 and 5 are scheduled for San Diego. Game 3 goes Wednesday night and can be heard here in Vegas on Fox Sports 98.5 FM and 1340 AM.

For Golden Knights GM George McPhee having his prospects go deep in the Calder Cup playoffs is a huge plus.

"It expedites their development and they are even better players when they come to training camp next year," said McPhee, who played for the Utica Devils and New Haven Nighthawks in the AHL. "In a lot of ways it allows management to sort out, just exactly where these players fit in the future."

McPhee oversaw the AHL's Hershey Bears during his time with the Washington Capitals and those teams captured three Calder Cups during his tenure.

Some organizations like to go heavy on prospects and focus on development alone. McPhee has always preferred a blend of veterans and youth.

"You really try to find what would be the right chemistry on the team. Get the right veterans in the right positions, and have an environment that young players can still, if they are playing well, bubble up to the top," said McPhee. "Winning and developing can be done. It's not easy, but it can be done. With this particular club in Chicago, it's been done well this year. These young players have really taken on prominent roles and played a lot. They've earned their ice time and really developed well as a result."

Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson is a Golden Knights employee and has been instrumental in winning games as well as developing the likes of Reid Duke, Cody Glass, Keegan Kolesar, Zach Whitecloud, Nic Hague, Jake Bischoff and Dylan Coghlan.

"Rocky has motivated all our players in Chicago and got the most out of the roster," said McPhee. "The ideal is to have the players in a winning environment and developing at the same time and he's done that. He doesn't favor the veterans. He seems to have the right touch with the amount that people play."

McPhee promoted players from Hershey to Washington on a regular basis and some of his early draft picks in Vegas are on the cusp of earning jobs in the NHL. The Golden Knights model is to draft players and then season them in the AHL before giving them work with the big club. Going through those early pro lessons in the AHL can be an excellent bonding experience for players.

"It's a great frame of reference to have," said McPhee "Absolutely, a player or a group of players can rely on what they've learned going through the hurdles of pro hockey. If there's a time where you're struggling individually or as a team, you know you can work your way out of it."

With the Golden Knights eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, the competitive focus for the organization now falls on the Wolves. McPhee has been watching from afar and will likely take in games live, as well. Will he be cheering on the Wolves?

"Yeah, we want them to win the Cup," he stated. "That is a great thing for young men. We did it in Hershey and now we're hopefully going to

 

 

AHL Connections

VGK Players

Ryan Carpenter - Worcester Sharks and San Jose Barracuda

William Carrier - Rochester Americans

Cody Eakin - Hershey Bears and Texas Stars

Deryk Engelland - Lowell Devils, Hershey Bears and Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins

Marc-Andre Fleury - Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins

Erik Haula - Houston Aeros, Iowa Wild

Nick Holden - Syracuse Crunch, Springfield Falcons

William Karlsson - Norfolk Admirals, Springfield Falcons

Jonathan Marchessault - Connecticut Whale, Springfield Falcons and Syracuse Crunch

Brayden McNabb - Rochester Americans, Manchester Monarchs

Jon Merrill - Albany Devils

Colin Miller - Manchester Monarchs, Providence Bruins

Tomas Nosek - Grand Rapid Griffins

Max Pacioretty - Hamilton Bulldogs

Ryan Reaves - Peoria Rivermen

Nate Schmidt - Hershey Bears

Reilly Smith - Texas Stars

Malcolm Subban - Providence Bruins

Shea Theodore - Norfolk Admirals, San Diego Gulls, Chicago Wolves

Alex Tuch - Iowa Wild, Chicago Wolves

Mark Stone - Binghamton Senators

Valentin Zykov - Charlotte Checkers, Ontario Reign

VGK Coaches

Gerard Gallant - Assistant coach for Louisville Panthers, player for Adirondack Red Wings

Mike Kelly- Assistant coach for Manitoba Moose

Ryan McGill - Head coach of Hartford Wolfpack, Omaha Knights and player for Hershey Bears and Halifax Citadels

Ryan Craig - Player for Cleveland Monsters, Lake Erie Monsters, Springfield Falcons, Scranton Penguins, Norfolk Admirals, Hersey Bears

VGK Scouts

Scott Luce - player with Rochester Americans

Vojtech Kucera - Player for Fredericton Express

Vince Williams - player with Lowell Lock Monsters

Kent Hawley - player for Hershey Bears, New Haven Senators

Peter Ahola - player for Saint John Flames

Yan Stastny - player with Iowa Stars, Providence Bruins, Manitoba Moose and Peoria Riverman

Peter Ward - Bridgeport Sound Tigers

VGK Hockey Ops

George McPhee - player with the Utica Devils and New Haven Nighthawks

Keith Veronesi - Business Operations for Utica Comets

VGK Medical and Equipment Staff

Kyle Moore -Athletic Trainer for Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins

Mike Muir - Athletic Trainer/ Strength coach for Manchester Monarchs

Doug Davidson - Strength and Conditioning Coach for Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins

Chris Davidson-Adams - Equipment manager for Grand Rapids Griffins, Worchester Sharks and San Jose Barracuda

J.W. Aiken - Equipment manager for Syracuse Crunch, Norfolk Admirals, Providence Bruins

Pat Maino - Assistant Equipment Manager for Ontario Reign

VGK Broadcasters

Dan D'Uva - broadcaster Syracuse Crunch

Gary Lawless - writer on Manitoba Moose beat

Dave Goucher - broadcaster Providence Bruins

Shane Hnidy - player for Saint John Flames, Adirondack Red Wings and Cincinnati Mighty Ducks

VGK Management

Kerry Bubolz - President, Lake Erie Monsters

Jonny Greco - Management Lake Erie Monsters

Darren Eliot - player for Rochester Americans, New Haven Nighthawks, Adirondack Red Wings

VGK Front Office

Andrew Abrams - video coordinator Manchester Monarchs

Dillon Garofolo - intern Lake Erie Monsters

Alyssa Girardi - intern Grand Rapids Griffins

Brady Hackmeister - graphic designer San Antonio Rampage

Matt McElroy - graphic designer Ontario Reign

Brittany Usmail - Sponsorship/CR/Foundation for Utica Comets

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