Vegas signs first player in franchise history

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Reid Duke will forever be a part of history.

On Monday, the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights announced that Duke — a former Minnesota Wild draft pick — has signed a three-year, entry-level deal with the club, marking the first player transaction in Vegas Golden Knights history.

“I think what’s impressive with Reid is a real high skill level and yet a guy that’s able to play a big, strong, heavy game,” Golden Knights assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon said, per the club website. “When we project Reid, we think his game will evolve as he becomes a pro. We believe he’s going to be an NHL player.

“It’s real exciting for us to be bringing Reid into the Golden Knights organization.”

McCrimmon coached Duke in Brandon prior to taking his post with Las Vegas.

Duke, 21, is enjoying good offensive success this year, with 35 goals and 67 points through 54 games. The 6-foot, 190-pound forward was originally taken in the sixth round of the ’14 draft by Minnesota but, when last year’s July 1 deadline came to sign him, the Wild passed.

“We just didn’t know if there was really an opportunity for him,” Wild assistant GM Brent Flahr said, per the Star-Tribune.

Vegas GM George McPhee is currently in Boca Raton for the league’s annual GMs meetings, and was unavailable for comment. The club has indicated he’ll address this signing later today.

Once Duke finishes his junior campaign, he’s expected to join the Golden Knights for their inaugural Development Camp this summer.