Brayden Pachal failed to earn a roster spot with the Vegas Golden Knights in training camp, but he came away with the next best thing. The standout defenseman from the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders has signed his entry-level contract with Vegas. The team announced a three-year deal with Pachal, who came into camp on an Amateur Tryout Agreement after performing well at the Knights’ rookie camp earlier this summer, and he made the most of it.
Pachal, 20, was never selected in the NHL Draft but had emerged as a top defender in the WHL over the past few years. 2018-19 in particular was a breakout year for the righty rearguard. Pachal recorded 51 points in 66 games for Prince Albert, more than double his scoring pace from the year prior, while his 15 goals was also more than twice the previous season. His whopping +76 rating was also tops on the team. Pachal was not only a statistical leader among WHL defenseman, he was the leader in the Raiders locker room as captain and on the ice as well, sticking up for teammates consistently, as evidence by 113 penalty minutes. Pachal plays a balanced game with a fair amount of skill and puck-handling, but also plenty of aggression and defensive IQ. He could turn into a very solid NHLer down the road, which would be a major boost for a team with a lacking pipeline on the blue line in Vegas.
While Pachal has been sent down to minor league camp with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, there is still a good chance that he will be back in Prince Albert this season. With the departure of Brett Leason, Pachal’s presence will be even more important for the Raiders and the young defenseman will benefit more from big minutes in the WHL. The Knights could opt to place him right into the AHL, but it seems like the less likely outcome. However, while Pachal accomplished his goal of earning a contract in camp this year, he will be back with an eye on a Golden Knights roster spot next year, if not sooner.