Updated October 10, 2022 - 8:28 pm
The Golden Knights were filtering back into the City National Arena locker room when they heard.
Captain Mark Stone learned the news from a group of reporters. Then it slowly started to spread from teammate to teammate as guys trickled in after leaving the ice.
The Knights’ final piece of offseason business got done Monday, one day before their season opener in Los Angeles. Defenseman Nic Hague is back after signing a three-year extension with an average annual value of $2.294 million.
General manager Kelly McCrimmon said talks were “slower than all of us would’ve liked” between the team and Hague, who is expected to join the Knights on Tuesday but not play against the Kings.
“Good for us,” defenseman Brayden McNabb said. “Good for him. I’m sure he was a little stressed the last couple weeks.”
Hague, 23, missed training camp while waiting for a new contract. He was a restricted free agent without arbitration rights. Those deals often take longer because there are no firm deadlines over the summer.
Defenseman Shea Theodore missed 11 days of camp in the same situation in 2018. Hague was one of five players who didn’t report to their teams immediately, but he was one of two still unsigned before Monday.
The drawn-out talks mean Hague will need time to learn first-year coach Bruce Cassidy’s system, especially in the defensive zone, and get into playing shape. He skated with two junior teams during negotiations, so Cassidy said he doesn’t think that will be “a long process.”
McCrimmon said he believes Hague is “still just scratching the surface” of his potential. The Knights picked him in the second round in 2017, and he’s scored 42 points in 142 games. The 6-foot-6-inch defenseman has a long reach with his stick defensively, and his shot is a weapon on offense.
Hague’s return rounds out a blue line that goes seven deep in experienced NHL players, with 2019 second-round pick Kaedan Korczak waiting in the wings. It should be one of the Knights’ main strengths.
“I’ve felt all along it’s among the best in the NHL,” McCrimmon said. “You’ve got everything you need.”
Left wing William Carrier practiced Monday for the first time since suffering a midbody injury in the preseason opener Sept. 25.
Carrier said he felt close to being ready to play but needed to be cleared medically. Cassidy said the plan is for rookie left wing Paul Cotter to take Carrier’s spot on the fourth line for the opener. That could change after conversations with trainers.
Cotter was one of the Knights’ preseason standouts with two goals and three assists in six games.
“He showed well,” Cassidy said. “He’s played a physical game, he’s added some offense, contributed a little bit on special teams, but a lot of it’s been five-on-five. Good for him.”
Goaltender Laurent Brossoit continues to skate on his own after undergoing offseason hip surgery, and McCrimmon said he could rejoin the main group soon.
Brossoit is scheduled to meet with his surgeon this month to see if he can be cleared for team activities. The 29-year-old was 10-9-3 with a .895 save percentage and 2.90 goals-against average last season.
Foley close to buying EPL team
Knights owner Bill Foley’s talks to buy the English Premier League club Bournemouth are reportedly close to completion, according to The Associated Press.
Foley watched the team’s 2-1 win over Leicester City on Saturday at Vitality Stadium, located by the English south coast. He was back at City National Arena for the Knights’ practice Monday.
Bournemouth is in its first season back in the Premier League after spending the previous two years in the second-tier Championship. Foley’s deal to buy the club is expected to be $133 million.