Reid Duke

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Reid Duke, Golden Knights’ first player, excited for start of training camp

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One of the more intriguing training camps to watch this month is going to be the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, simply because as the NHL’s newest team they are the ultimate unknown.

Starting with a blank slate and building an organization literally from the ground up it is going to be fascinating to see how the first roster unfolds and where they go in their growth of a franchise.

The player that is perhaps most looking forward to the opportunity is 21-year-old forward Reid Duke, who was signed to an entry-level contract back on March 6 to become the first player in the history of the franchise.

He talked to NHL.com this past week about the rare opportunity to be the starting point for a franchise.

“It’s amazing just being able to be there right from the beginning and watch everything unfold,” the 21-year-old said before a training session in his hometown Friday. “It’s so exciting. It really just makes you a fan of the game again. It’s incredible to see the reaction they’ve got, the acceptance from people that aren’t even really involved with hockey yet … just the ability to take a city that’s not exactly known for that and to change their perspective on what life can be like in Las Vegas. It’s really cool to be a part of that.

“I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited to go there and be a go-to guy and really prove to them why they chose me.”

Before he gets to training camp, Duke will also be taking part in the team’s prospect camp this upcoming Thursday.

Duke was originally drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the sixth-round of the 2014 draft. He is an intriguing prospect for the Golden Knights because he has been a productive player in the Western Hockey League in recent seasons, and is coming off of a 37-goal, 71-point season in 2016-17 for the Brandon Wheat Kings.

He has no pro hockey experience and even though the Golden Knights are an expansion team with a bare bones roster he probably won’t make the team directly out of camp. But given the organizations lack of depth it seems reasonable to assume that we will see him at the NHL level at some point this season when injuries strike or veteran players on expiring contracts (the Golden Knights have a lot of them, especially at forward including James Neal, David Perron and Jonathan Marchessault) get traded.

Poll: Nico Hischier vs. Nolan Patrick

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This post is a part of Devils day at PHT…

To some extent, the New Jersey Devils probably don’t care that much if Nolan Patrick ends up being slightly more effective, overall, than Nico Hischier.

As Taylor Hall can attest, the Devils lucked into the top pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, so GM Ray Shero was probably delighted that he would be able to pick between the two prospects. Rather than choosing Patrick or finding a trade, he made Hischier the first Swiss-born number one pick in NHL history.

Sports are about competition and comparisons, so it should be fun to measure the two forwards’ accomplishments and development as time goes along.

We might as well take hockey fans’ temperature now, though. Before we do, a quick “tale of the tape” – and an apology to the other prospects in the 2017 NHL Draft. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll be keeping this poll to Hischier vs. Patrick. Feel free to make a case for Miro Heiskanen (pictured, chosen third by Dallas) or any number of other candidates in the comments, though.

Hischier (draft profile): Scored 86 points in 57 games for the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads in 2016-17. Broadly speaking, Hischier seems to rate as the most creative player and has already impressed the Devils with his skating ability.

Apparently his favorite movie is “Happy Gilmore.”

Patrick (draft profile): The Winnipeg native was on the radar a bit longer than Hischier, in part because he managed 102 points in 71 games in the WHL in 2015-16. Last season hurt his stock quite a bit; while he was able to score well over a point-per-game (46 in 33), injuries limited him in 2016-17. Those issues might have limited more than people even realized, as it turns out he needed two hernia surgeries instead of one.

Generally speaking, Patrick is praised for his two-way play, which could help him be a quick fit for Philly. Both forwards are listed as centers.

Oh yeah, and Reid Duke gave him the nickname “Doctor Pat.”

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OK, so with all of that information, let’s get after it: did the Devils make the right call or should they have selected Patrick at No. 1 instead?