Free agents participating in the Golden Knights’ development camp at City National Arena this week don’t have to look far to find a success story to try to replicate.
Dylan Coghlan is right there on the ice with them.
The 21-year-old defenseman just finished a season in which he had 40 regular-season points in 66 games during his first professional season and appeared in seven postseason games for the Knights’ American Hockey League affiliate in Chicago.
Two years ago, he attended development camp as a free agent hoping to be noticed.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Coghlan said after practicing Tuesday. “Me and Jimmy (Schuldt) both signed as free agents. The opportunity is definitely there for the young guys coming in looking for a contract. If they just work hard, they’ll have a chance.”
Coghlan quickly adjusted after making the jump from the Western Hockey League to the AHL this season.
“I knew it was going to be tough coming from juniors,” he said. “But as I got some games under my feet, I started to get more comfortable and more confident to make stronger plays. It was definitely hard at times, but I wouldn’t change anything.”
The British Columbia native also got a lesson in the business when good friend Erik Brannstrom was traded from the organization in February as part of the Mark Stone deal.
“It kind of sucks,” Coghlan said. “But it did open up doors for other people, and it opened up a huge door for me to kind of take on more of that offensive role that he had.”
Coghlan hopes to show his leadership ability in his third development camp with the Knights and continue to work on his defensive skills to catch up with his offensive prowess on the blue line.
Free-agent forward Keenan Suthers stood out on the ice on the first day of camp.
It’s the case just about everywhere the 21-year-old goes.
Suthers is 6 feet 8 inches tall and coming off a season in which he scored five goals and had 14 points in 30 games for St. Lawrence University.
Both his parents played basketball collegiately, and he was getting pretty good at the sport when he decided to give it up and focus on hockey after receiving an invitation to the United States National Team Development Program at 15.
“Eventually I had to pick,” Suthers said. “I was in 10th grade, and I had to make the decision. It was play another year of high school basketball or go play for your country. It kind of made it easier, but it definitely wasn’t the easiest decision I ever made.
“If I knew I was going to grow to 6-8, maybe it would have been more difficult.”
Love me tender
The deadline for NHL teams to tender qualifying offers to restricted free agents was 2 p.m. Tuesday.
William Karlsson avoided the process by signing an eight-year deal for $5.9 million per season. Incoming president of hockey operations George McPhee said the team tendered qualifying offers to the remaining eight RFAs in the organization.
Forwards Nikita Gusev and Tomas Nosek and goaltender Malcolm Subban were the most prominent of the group.
Defensemen Jake Bischoff and Jimmy Schuldt, who made his NHL debut in the final game of last season, forward Alex Gallant and goaltender Zach Fucale also were tendered.
So was forward Tomas Hyka, who signed in the Kontinental Hockey League. The team will retain his rights if he returns to the NHL.
Any player who wasn’t tendered would have become an unrestricted free agent July 1. By tendering those players, the Knights retain right of first refusal should another team try to sign any of them to an offer sheet, though no offer sheets have been signed in the NHL since 2013.
Tendered players can accept the offer or continue negotiating.