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November 17, 2019

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Chasing NHL dreams, Golden Knights newcomers get first taste of rookie camp

2019 VGK Rookie Camp

Steve Marcus

Kaedan Korczak (6) takes a shot on goal during the first day of the Vegas Golden Knights’ rookie camp at City National Arena in Summerlin Friday, Sept. 6, 2019.

There’s a stark difference between development camp and rookie camp.

Development camp in June was a chance for rookies to get into the Golden Knights’ facilities and learn what the organization expects. It’s also the first introduction to the city for recent draft picks.

Rookie camp, which began this week at City National Arena, has a whole different intensity. Here, players are trying to win games against other budding NHL competition and, ultimately, a Golden Knights roster spot. And even if it’s a longshot for the 2019 draft class, they know that this week means business.

“It’s kind of nice coming back and I’m feel more comfortable,” second-rounder Kaedan Korczak said. “Coming back here, there’s a higher tempo and guys are fighting for jobs.”

Korczak and fifth-rounder Mason Primeau are the only members of the Golden Knights’ 2019 draft class in attendance this week. Fellow fifth-rounder Marcus Kallionkieli was scheduled to attend but was injured, and first-rounder Peyton Krebs is recovering from a pre-draft injury.

Click to enlarge photo

Mason Primeau (57) practices during the first day of the Vegas Golden Knights' rookie camp at City National Arena in Summerlin Friday, Sept. 6, 2019.

At development camp, the roster was split into two teams that practiced with and scrimmaged against each other. This time, the Vegas rookies travel to California for games with Colorado, San Jose and Los Angeles rookies.

“I think the cool part is we get to go to Anaheim, and we get to measure up against the other prospects on some of the other teams in the league,” Primeau said. “I think it’s different in a sense that it might be a little more competitive, but I think it’s a little more comfortable this time.”

It’s unlikely that Korczak or Primeau make the Golden Knights roster out of camp. They’re both 18 years old and figure to return to their junior teams in Canada for the upcoming season. It’s almost a rite of passage: Cody Glass has been one of the league’s best prospects since his 2017 draft and he returned to juniors out of rookie camp twice.

That doesn’t mean that the experience isn’t important.

“The competition starts,” said AHL Chicago coach Rocky Thompson, who is an instructor at rookie camp. “That’s why these tournaments are so great because you don’t always have to just compete against each other. … It gets you kind of game-ready in a positive way.”

This rookie camp could be pivotal for some players' careers. Cody Glass, Nicolas Hague and Jimmy Schuldt are among players who are looking to force their way onto the team. Some players are looking for a spot with Thompson in Chicago. Some know they’re headed to junior regardless of how well they play.

Veterans report to camp on Thursday, giving the rookies the full attention of the coaching staff for a week. And it means more now than it did in June.

“Just to show the management, coaching staff how I can play,” Korczak said of his goals for the week. “Open up some eyes hopefully.”

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