Earlier this week, Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy stated that he was hopeful that Zach Whitecloud’s upper-body injury wouldn’t be a long-term concern. However, it won’t be a short-term one either as Cassidy told reporters today including Jesse Granger of The Athletic (Twitter link) that the blueliner has been ruled out for the rest of the preseason with an update on his status to come once the exhibition campaign has come to an end.
The 26-year-old has been one of the more successful undrafted college free agent signings over the past few years. Whitecloud has become a reliable third-pairing blueliner for Vegas, earning himself a six-year, $16.5MM contract back in 2021.
Last season, he suited up in 59 games, picking up a dozen points while recording 97 blocks and 90 hits in a little over 17 minutes a night. He followed that up with a good showing in the playoffs, playing in all 22 games, recording two goals and six assists while seeing his ATOI jump slightly to 18:42 per contest.
Fortunately for Vegas, they do have several candidates that could legitimately push for Whitecloud’s opening should he miss any regular season. Kaedan Korczak, Brayden Pachal, and Dysin Mayo all have seen NHL action already while prospect Lukas Cormier should also be in the mix so if Whitecloud isn’t ready to start the year, they shouldn’t have to look outside the organization for a short-term replacement.