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 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.