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Tomas Hyka hopes to impress in Golden Knights’ preseason opener

Updated September 16, 2017 - 6:55 pm

Of all the free-agent signings made by the Golden Knights this summer, Tomas Hyka’s may have garnered the least attention.

But it’s starting to look like a shrewd move by general manager George McPhee.

“It’s a quiet signing,” McPhee said Saturday at City National Arena, “but he’s done very, very well.”

Hyka scored the first goal in Golden Knights history — granted, it was in a rookie game — and added his second in as many games against Los Angeles on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old from the Czech Republic will be one of several youngsters suiting up for the Knights on Sunday when they open the NHL preseason at 2 p.m. on the road against the Vancouver Canucks.

“I like what I see from the guy,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “We’re going to watch him through camp because he continues to get better, from development camp right till now. He’s been really good.”

Hyka (pronounced HEE-kuh) went undrafted in 2011 and was invited to training camp with Philadelphia. He scored a goal in his lone preseason game, complete with a Hulk Hogan-style, hand-to-the-ear celebration, before the Flyers learned they could not sign him because of a rule in the collective bargaining agreement.

Hyka went back to his junior team in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and was drafted by the Kings in the sixth round (No. 171 overall) in 2012, but he didn’t sign and eventually returned to Europe.

After one season in Sweden, Hyka spent the past three seasons with BK Mlada Boleslav in the Czech league, producing 36 goals and 42 assists in 117 games.

He signed a one-year, entry-level deal with the Golden Knights in June, becoming the team’s third player, and the 5-foot-11-inch, 160-pound right wing impressed during development camp this summer.

“The last four years … it’s shown me that I’m improved in hockey things, that I’m more skilled,” Hyka said. “I’m more powerful now, a lot stronger, faster, so that’s why I decided to come back here and try it again and show myself that I can play with the best in the world.”

Added McPhee: “Really happy with that signing. He’s a real good guy. I like his personality and like the way he plays the game. He played very well in L.A. and has had a couple of good days here.”

Hyka scored a nifty backhand goal on the Knights’ first shot against Los Angeles in the first rookie game Tuesday.

He opened the scoring early in Wednesday’s 4-0 victory with a power-play goal after a nice cross-ice feed from first-round draft pick Cody Glass.

“I’m just going out there having fun, working hard and playing for the team, playing for the win,” Hyka said. “I’m trying to use my speed. That’s probably the best part of my hockey, and that’s what I’m trying to use all the time.”

Hyka spent the first two days of training camp skating on an all-European line with Russian center Vadim Shipachyov and Swedish wing Oscar Lindberg.

Hyka will be with new linemates Sunday against the Canucks, as neither Shipachyov nor Lindberg traveled to Vancouver.

“I can’t wait to play,” Hyka said. “It’s going to be my first away game, preseason game, in the NHL, so I’m really excited for everything.”

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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