Deryk Engelland

Golden Knights win emotional, historic home opener

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The evening started with an emotional tribute to the victims and first responders in the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas earlier this month.

It ended with fans inside T-Mobile Arena coming together to celebrate a thrilling and historic 5-2 home victory for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights over the visiting Arizona Coyotes.

The Golden Knights improve their record to 3-0-0.

Tomas Nosek got things started with the first Golden Knights regular season home goal in franchise history.

By the midway point of the first period, Vegas had built up a four-goal lead, with Deryk Engelland and James Neal also scoring for the home team, which resulted in Arizona’s starting goalie Antti Raanta getting the hook after three goals allowed on five shots.

It was, for the Golden Knights, a perfect start in their highly anticipated home opener almost a year and a half since getting awarded an NHL franchise, and they continued from there to the delight of the crowd.

This night, however, wasn’t solely about a hockey game.

This was about a community continuing to come together, and its professional sports team hoping to be part of the healing after what occurred on Oct. 1.

Before the puck dropped to begin this chapter in the Golden Knights’ history, the organization paid tribute to Las Vegas first responders by introducing them to the crowd and bringing them onto the ice where they were accompanied by a member of the Golden Knights during the ceremony.

The Golden Knights then held a 58-second moment of silence for the 58 victims that lost their lives in the tragedy.

Engelland also addressed the crowd.

“Like all of you, I’m proud to call Las Vegas home,” he said. “I met my wife here and my kids were born here and I know how special this city is. To all the brave first responders that have worked timelessly and courageously throughout this whole tragedy, we thank you. To the families and friends of the victims, know that we’ll do everything we can to help you and our city heal.

“We are Vegas strong.”

Video: Tomas Nosek scores first Golden Knights home goal

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It didn’t take long for the Vegas Golden Knights to score their first regular season goal on home ice at T-Mobile Arena.

After a tremendously well done pre-game ceremony, in which the Golden Knights honored first responders and victims and their families in the wake of the deadly mass shooting earlier this month, Vegas jumped out to a quick lead on the Arizona Coyotes.

Tomas Nosek scored the historic franchise goal, beating Antti Raanta with a wrist shot to the glove side just 2:31 into the game.

The first period wasn’t even seven minutes old by the time the Golden Knights had a 3-0 advantage, leading to a frenzied celebration.

Deryk Engelland and James Neal also scored to give Vegas that three-goal lead.

Related: More than anything, Vegas Golden Knights’ home debut is chance to heal

‘We’re a part of Las Vegas’: Golden Knights trying to boost community after shooting

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LAS VEGAS (AP) The NHL’s fledgling Golden Knights understand Las Vegas is in need of inspiration and hope after last weekend’s deadly shooting and they’re trying to provide some.

Golden Knights players have visited the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department headquarters, United Blood Services, and the Las Vegas Convention Center, where a family assistance center has been set up. The team will also acknowledge the victims of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history and their families at the inaugural home opener, though the franchise is still finalizing details.

“Sports are a great thing, it can help take people’s minds off of things,” defenseman Nate Schmidt said during a media day Wednesday. “As much as the city has embraced us, we’re a part of Las Vegas.”

Center Jonathan Marchessault said the players were honored to meet with officers when the team visited police headquarters earlier this week.

“We’re nothing compared to those guys,” Marchessault said. “What they’ve done and what they do for our community and our country, it’s amazing. If you think about it we’re just entertainers, that’s it. They save lives, they make sure everything goes properly around us. They’re survivors, they’re warriors.”

The expansion Golden Knights are the city’s first major sports franchise and they’ve generated a lot of excitement before playing a single game. They open the season on Friday in Dallas and they play their first home game next Tuesday.

Defenseman Deryk Engelland has lived in the city since 2003, however, and the shooting has left his family shaken.

“My wife is still shaken up, she’s almost scared to go to the games, take the kids to the home opener,” said Engelland. “It hits hard and it hits in a lot of different ways. You see these things happen all over the world and no one ever thinks it’s going to happen in their backyard. For it to happen here, it’s horrific.”

Vegas GM doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to move extra d-men

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The Vegas Golden Knights currently have 10 defensemen under contract — and that is without Nate Schmidt signed.

Schmidt and the Golden Knights have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 3, so there is still plenty of time for them to negotiate a new deal for the restricted free agent blue liner without having a neutral third party decide the matter.

Schmidt’s agent, Matt Keator, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that talks with the Golden Knights have been positive, which lends to optimism that perhaps the club and player will avoid this whole process with a deal.

A new contract between Schmidt — left unprotected by Washington in the expansion draft — and Vegas would put the Golden Knights at 11 d-men less than two months before training camp opens.

Granted, that number is considerably less than what Vegas had following the expansion draft, when they stockpiled 15 defensemen and eventually moved players like David Schlemko, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Marc Methot.

While it seems more moves are likely on the back end for Vegas, general manager George McPhee doesn’t seem to be in any particular hurry right now, per the Vegas Review Journal.

“We’re at a manageable number right now,” said McPhee. “We’re pretty close to where we want to be and we’re comfortable with the roster we have.”

Their blue line also includes five players — Jason Garrison, Luca Sbisa, Clayton Stoner, Brayden McNabb and Deryk Engelland — that are pending unrestricted free agents at the end of next season. As far as Vegas’ defensive group is concerned, this could mean future trades during the season as other clubs, perhaps playoff bound, look to possibly add a rental late in the year.

One thing McPhee has made clear in the past: He planned on keeping Schmidt and fellow d-man Shea Theodore (only 21 years old). Now, they just have to get Schmidt under contract.

Related: Vegas has more ticket revenue than Boston, Philly and Pittsburgh, says Foley

Golden Knights might just be best expansion team in NHL history

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LAS VEGAS (AP) Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley has repeatedly said he wants to win the Stanley Cup within the first six years of his new team’s existence.

After Vegas came away with a jackpot from the expansion draft, Foley’s franchise goalie is even bolder.

“Let’s do it earlier,” Marc-Andre Fleury said Thursday. “Why wait six years? I don’t know where I’ll be in six years. Right away our goal has to be to get good, to improve and to go out there.”

Vegas shouldn’t start blocking off the Strip for the parade just yet, but Sin City’s new team is holding a remarkable hand after general manager George McPhee’s 37-player haul from the expansion draft and several subsequent trades.

Nashville general manager David Poile is among many hockey observers who think the Golden Knights have the ingredients for the most competitive expansion team in league history. From Fleury on out, Vegas already has a solid NHL roster with a sturdy blue line and four lines of capable forwards.

What they don’t have is the game-changing playmakers and goal-scorers that separate decent teams from great ones, but they’ve got a plan for that, too: Vegas will add even more top-shelf talent Friday in the draft in Chicago, where McPhee holds three first-round picks, including the sixth overall.

The players who have already arrived in Vegas realize that although they’re starting over, they aren’t starting from scratch.

“They put a great group together,” said forward Reid Duke, who became the Golden Knights’ first player when he signed as a free agent in March. “You never really know what to expect, but they made some big splashes. Got a lot of good players, a lot of good picks. It’s nice to see that they are not only building for right now, but the future, too. They’ve got some smart guys up there, and they know exactly what they are doing.”

McPhee continued his moves Thursday, swinging two trades to add draft picks in place of claimed players who might not have made the Golden Knights’ roster. Vegas shipped defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk and a seventh-round pick next year to Carolina for Pittsburgh’s second-round pick this year, and then traded David Schlemko to Montreal for a fifth-round pick in 2019.

After Foley paid $500 million to the league as an expansion fee, the Golden Knights were given favorable franchise-building terms explicitly designed to give them a better chance to be competitive more quickly than the new teams of the previous 25 years.

Instead of forcing Vegas fans to watch several years of plodding franchise-building, the NHL wants the Golden Knights to be decent from the start.

Can they be the best expansion team ever? It’s quite possible.

The NHL added nine franchises between 1991 and 2001, and no team did better than the Florida Panthers, who went 33-34-17 and racked up an expansion team-record 83 points in the 1993-94 season. The NHL still had ties in 1994, so teams didn’t pick up extra points through shootout wins.

All but four teams in the Western Conference recorded more than 83 points last season. An 84-point season would have put the Golden Knights in sixth place in an eight-team Pacific Division last season, ahead of Arizona and Vancouver.

The Golden Knights aren’t ready to make any predictions yet, but once they get together in Vegas for the first time under coach Gerard Gallant, they’ll start to figure out just how good they can be.

That transition to the desert will be easier for some Golden Knights: Deryk Engelland has lived in Las Vegas in the offseason for a decade.

“We’ll get our numbers out there for guys to reach out if they need anything, if it’s a place to crash, to see outside the Strip and come look for places (to live) or whatnot,” Engelland said. “Definitely ready for that part of it.”

The milestones will keep coming for the Golden Knights throughout the summer while they build toward the first game in franchise history in Dallas on Oct. 6, followed by their home debut Oct. 10 against the Coyotes.

Vegas’ first player development camp starts Tuesday.

“It’s a different situation for everybody in here to come into a team where there is no team,” said defenseman Jason Garrison, claimed from Tampa Bay. “It’s the first team. You just want to establish a friendship and a culture right away, and it starts right now and leads into training camp and continues forward to the first game.”