Nic Hague looked at the reporter and flatlined his statement: "I'm here to make the team." About an hour later after his first skate of the week, Cody Glass said the same thing.
The handy saying about development camp is that a player can't make the NHL club against a roster of prospects. Only until main camp where the peer group is made up of NHL players can a player fully be judged. Fair enough. But for Hague and Glass, every skate under the watchful eyes of George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon is an opportunity to impress the decision makers and is not to be wasted.
Glass was selected in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft and Hague was chosen in the second. They were among the first group of players VGK director of player development Wil Nichol brought to Vegas for the team's inaugural development camp.And have they developed.
Hague just completed a full season in the AHL and was a key piece on the blue line of a Chicago Wolves team which went all the way to the Calder Cup final. He's filled out and his skating is far ahead of when he first stepped on the ice wearing a VGK practice jersey.
Glass joined the Wolves for the playoffs and was a rookie standout. He tied for the team lead in playoff scoring with seven goals and 15 points in 22 games. He's become more confident on and off the ice and he's starting to fill out his frame.
Both have done enough for their statements about making the Golden Knights out of training camp to ring true. They're going to be in the mix. And if they don't qualify for the roster for the beginning of the regular season, there's a good chance they'll be near the top of the list if and when Vegas needs to recall players from the AHL. This is likely the end of their time at VGK development camp and the road to the NHL is now wide open for both. They just have to show with their play they're ready to drive down it.
McPhee says cash is king: Golden Knights GM George McPhee took some time to chat with the media on Tuesday and touched on a number of subjects including how attractive a place Vegas is for players based on a number of factors including the lack of state income tax.
"Realistically, our situation in Vegas is really attractive to a lot of players. They really like playing here and the tax implications and the cost of living here matters and the players are really savvy," said McPhee. "They understand what they have to make somewhere else to net what they take home here. I think (William Karlsson's) contract in most markets you'd have to make $7.5 million to net what he's making here ($5.9 million)."
Locked up core: The recent signing of Karlsson gives Vegas a plethora of young players who are locked up for five years or more. Jonathan Marchessault, Karlsson, Shea Theodore, Nate Schmidt and Alex Tuch now form a core of Golden Knights who will be with the club well into the future and all with a cap hit under $6 million.
"We believe we're making the right decisions on these players and it's not easy to put a good team together and keep it together but this was a major step in doing that and again you have players that really like playing here and we like them as people, we like them as players and the good news is we're not going to have to run after free agents in the summer," said McPhee. "We're not big game hunting this summer or next summer. We've got a good group, we'll work around the edges a little bit. Typically like every other year there are four or five changes on your roster but for the most part we're going to keep this group that's done so well here together. And they're at the right ages. We don't have any bad contracts on the books now. We hope we don't have that issue in the future but we think we've sort of timed it well with the duration of some of these deals and with current ages."
Tip of the cap: McPhee acknowledged the Golden Knights were above the salary cap and would need to trim prior to the season.
"We are going to have to make a few moves, we planned for that and we are going through that exercise right now. We will talk about it and explain it when, the (David Clarkson) contract really isn't the issue that people think that it is because and you can just replace that salary at the right time. It can get cumbersome for some teams over the summer, but typically it doesn't matter once you get to the season," said McPhee. "So, again the plan was to build the team as best as we could, every once in a while you get tight on the cap in this business, we are there now and we will manage it and we will hopefully be in a much better place moving forward with lots of cap space, if we were to need it."