3:28: Puckpedia reports that the deal is a one-way deal, meaning that he will be paid the $725K regardless of whether he’s in the NHL or AHL next season.
1:11 pm: The Vegas Golden Knights announced they have signed defenseman Zach Whitecloud to a two-year, $1.45MM extension ($725K AAV), giving the team some significant flexibility for next season as the team is expected to be right up against the cap once again. It’s actually a pay cut as Whitecloud was making $925K on his entry-level deal.
“We really have seen in his time with the NHL team that he has developed into a real good NHL defenseman,” said Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon. “He has earned the extension. It was a real good free-agent signing by us to be able to put him on our organization.”
Whitecloud, who was heading for restricted free agency this offseason, had taken on a key role with the Golden Knights after the team recalled him on Feb. 1. He has since played in 16 games, offering Vegas a solid defensive-minded third-pairing option and saw his playing time increase over the past five games before the season was suspended. He has one assist in those 16 games, but is averaging 14:19 of ATOI.
The Golden Knights looked to have picked up a big victory in 2018 when they beat out several teams to sign Whitecloud, who was considered to be one of the prize unsigned college free-agents after two impressive seasons at Bemidji State University. Whitecloud has worked on his game with the Chicago Wolves in the AHL where he even showed a little offensive prowess. He had six goals and 28 points that season. Those offensive numbers dipped this year as Chicago has struggled more with just seven points in 35 games. However, it was believed he was ready to take on an NHL role when he swapped places with Vegas rookie defenseman Nicolas Hague.
Whitecloud’s role is likely to increase with both Jonathon Merrill and veteran Deryk Engelland both expected to hit unrestricted free agency. And with salary cap at a premium, the team is likely going to depend more on their young blueliners, including Whitecloud, Hague and Jimmy Schuldt.