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5 questions facing the Golden Knights entering training camp

It’s probably just an error in the coding.

Or, maybe the programmers are obsessed with the book “Ready Player One” and it’s an elaborate Golden Knights’ Easter egg.

Regardless, when EA Sports released the trailer last month for its “NHL 18” video game, the Knights’ computer-generated players were wearing black gloves.

And when the expansion team unveiled its jersey numbers Wednesday in a video produced by EA Sports, the black gloves were back.

What the heck happened to the white gloves?

Both videos showed the Golden Knights in their dark uniforms, so maybe the white gloves only come out for games away from T-Mobile Arena.

The mystery of the Knights’ multicolored mitts will be solved soon, as training camp gets underway Thursday when rookies report to City National Arena. The main camp officially begins Sept. 14.

Here are five (slightly more important) questions facing the Golden Knights heading into their inaugural camp:

1. Which defensemen will the team keep?

News flash: the Knights have a logjam of players along the blue line.

The team’s roster lists 13 defensemen, 11 of whom are under NHL contracts, according to CapFriendly.com. (Six or seven defensemen dress each game.)

Three players have more than 400 career NHL games played; three additional players have logged more than 200 NHL games.

That doesn’t include promising 22-year-old Shea Theodore. Or 24-year-old Colin Miller. Or Clayton Stoner and his $3.25 million cap hit.

Expect Golden Knights general manager George McPhee to try to move one or two players prior to the start of the regular season.

2. How quickly can Vadim Shipachyov adjust to the NHL?

The Knights will rely heavily on the 30-year-old Russian, who signed a two-year, $9 million free-agent contract in May.

Shipachyov was third in scoring last season in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League with 26 goals and 50 assists, and he led SKA St. Petersburg to the KHL title.

The Knights have proven goal scorers up front with James Neal, Jonathan Marchessault, David Perron and Reilly Smith, and Shipachyov gives them the first-line playmaker they’re otherwise lacking.

If Shipachyov puts together a 70-point season like ex-KHL player Artemi Panarin did with Chicago in 2015-16, the Knights’ offense could be surprisingly productive.

3. Will Calvin Pickard challenge Marc-Andre Fleury for playing time in net?

Fleury was selected from Pittsburgh in the expansion draft to be the Knights’ No. 1 goaltender and face of the franchise in its infancy.

But the three-time Stanley Cup winner also turns 33 in November, and last season he finished with his highest goals-against average (3.02) since his second year in the league.

Pickard, 25, was Colorado’s second-round pick in 2010 (No. 49 overall) and the first player selected by the Knights in June’s expansion draft.

He posted a 2.98 GAA in 50 appearances last season for the woeful Avalanche, who had a league-worst 48 points.

4. Who will wear the captain’s ‘C’?

NHL rules prohibit goaltenders from being designated an on-ice captain. So, Fleury is out.

Defenseman Deryk Engelland is a longtime valley resident. At 35, he is the Knights’ oldest player and a valuable resource for teammates adjusting to life in a new city.

Neal was an alternate captain for three seasons in Nashville. And Smith wore an ‘A’ for the Panthers late in the 2015-16 season when current Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant was in charge in Florida.

5. Do any first-year players (aside from Shipachyov) have a shot to make the team?

Not likely.

Top draft picks Cody Glass and Nick Suzuki are almost certain to return to their major junior teams this season.

Erik Brannstrom would have gotten a long look considering the Knights’ lack offensive-minded defensemen, but he already is with his professional team in Sweden.

One youngster to watch is 6-foot-4-inch, 222-pound forward Alex Tuch. The 21-year-old was a first-round pick in 2014 and had 18 goals and 37 points in 57 games with Iowa (AHL) last season.

More Golden Knights: Follow all of our Golden Knights coverage online at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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