The Vegas Golden Knights acquired forward Chandler Stephenson from the Washington Capitals for a 2021 fifth round pick on Monday night.
Stephenson, 25, donned his new jersey in New Jersey as he made his Golden Knights debut against the Devils on Tuesday at Prudential Center. The forward scored Vegas' first goal in a 4-3 win and seemed to find chemistry with linemates Tomas Nosek and Ryan Reaves.
Before the game, Stephenson spoke to the media for the first time with his new club about the process of being traded and his excitement for this new chapter.
"I'm excited. It happened so fast, I haven't had much time to sit and think about anything," Stephenson said. "I'm happy to be here and get things going right off the bat."
Stephenson and the Capitals had just arrived in San Jose where Washington was set to face the Sharks on Tuesday night. The newest Golden Knight took a red eye flight Monday to meet his club in time to face New Jersey.
When he joined the team, Stephenson said there were a few familiar faces there to welcome him. He played with Nate Schmidt in Washington before Schmidt became a Golden Knight for the 2017-18 season and he spends his summers working out with Brayden McNabb.
"It's nice having those two guys," said Stephenson. "I work out with Nabber in the summer, so I see a lot of him. Nothing but the best things to say about those guys. I'm thankful for the opportunity."
General Manager Kelly McCrimmon said that the team had its eyes on Stephenson for some time. McCrimmon had seen him play for the Regina Pats during his days in the Western Hockey League and President of Hockey Operations George McPhee drafted the forward 77th overall in 2012 when he was in Washington.
"He's just a guy that we've had a lot of respect for his game for some time," McCrimmon said. "He's a player that we've talked about in the past and when we had the opportunity to acquire him, we thought it was the right move for us."
McCrimmon said he was impressed with Stephenson's speed and that was put on display when he sped into the offensive zone to one-time a pass from Alex Tuch passed Mackenzie Blackwood for his first goal in gold.
Stephenson and the Golden Knights return to the ice Thursday against the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. He said he just wants to keep building on the foundation he's built as a player to help the Golden Knights.
"I just want to show them everything I can and hopefully have a really good season here," said Stephenson. "Vegas has an awesome franchise. There's nothing bad to say about them."