Nick Holden wants to be part of the fun.
While a Boston Bruin last season, the defenseman would see how much the Vegas Golden Knights would have as they shocked the NHL and made their Stanley Cup Final run during their inaugural season. As Holden became a free agent this offseason, he was drawn to the camaraderie of the locker room.
"The whole year was pretty neat and you just start to see the pregame shows and the fan base and with how well the team was playing, the building was rocking," Holden said. "The players all just seemed like they were having a blast. Obviously the excitement and buzz around the city of Las Vegas and how well the team did was a big factor for me."
Along with the enticing factor of how well the roster gelled was the relative proximity to his hometown in Alberta, Canada. The 31-year-old has spent the last two seasons in the Eastern Conference, with the New York Rangers and Bruins.
Holden is a solid fundamental defenseman and isn't caught out of position too often, and said Golden Knight fans won't see many crazy plays out of him.
Still, Holden can light the lamp. While with the Colorado Avalanche in 2013-14, he scored 10 goals and added 15 assists, and in a game against the Nashville Predators he showcased his scoring with 2 goals, an assist and 9 hits. He also played a game as a forward, showing off his versatility.
With the Rangers in 2016-17, he found the back of the net 11 times, with 23 assists. He has 112 points in 374 games, including 36 goals and 76 assists. Holden also has 5 goals and 4 assists in 20 playoff games, including 2 goals and 2 assists in 11 games for the Rangers during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"I'm by no means a flashy player," Holden said. "I'm kind of simple, play physical where I can and work from the defense out and give a little offense where I can. Fortunately, you won't notice me a ton, I've made a niche for myself."
Holden said the style of play was also an enticing factor of joining the Golden Knights.
"I'm really excited to play with them," he said. "It's such a fast pace they played with and I'm excited to join that and the group up front, even in the back end, such an elite team. Fun to join that and try to contribute and bring my personality to the team and be a positive contribution to the team."
The Vegas blueline is a bit crowded with a load of defenseman currently in the system, but Holden won't be discouraged if his minutes aren't top pairing. He's a veteran presence in a fairly young clubhouse, and he'll embrace that role as well, he said.
"You go in with an attitude of not thinking you're better or higher than anyone else and want to contribute in any way you can," he said. "Obviously, I'm at the point in my career, you hope you get the opportunity to play the most. You go into every situation starting from the bottom and work to get everything you get. You don't have an expectation of what you should be getting and I'll work for what I get.
"Luckily, I've had coaches that use me in every situation, PK, power play, top line matching. I just try, whatever is needed of me, try to help."
Off the ice, Holden is excited to explore what Las Vegas and Nevada as a whole have to offer. He and his wife will be in town in the next couple weeks to find a home for their family and find a school for their oldest child. They'll be back in the middle of August for the season.They already know the positives of the community.
"Who doesn't like hanging out by the pool?" Holden said. "I'm not really a hot weather person, but my wife loves it and there's air conditioning everywhere. It's great. I do like to hike and get outside as much as possible. Three kids and one on the way, we like to get out and enjoy the outdoors and play outside."
In Edmonton, Holden is part of Sport Central, which gives equipment to children who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford to play the game. He also tries to donate tickets to children-oriented nonprofits wherever he plays.
"I try to get involved outside of hockey," he said. "The world is a little bit bigger than yourself and keeps you grounded. It's something I try to do wherever I am."Honestly, I'm just really excited about this opportunity and creating new relationships with people around town."