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Knights defenseman undergoes surgery, considered week to week

Updated October 5, 2023 - 6:59 pm

The Golden Knights will begin the season short-handed on the blue line.

Defenseman Zach Whitecloud underwent a “successful” surgery due to the upper-body injury he suffered Sept. 25 against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced Thursday.

The Knights said Whitecloud is considered week to week. He absorbed a hit from Avalanche left wing Kurtis MacDermid his fourth shift of the preseason and didn’t return.

Whitecloud is a key member of one of the best defense corps in the NHL. The 26-year-old had eight points in 22 games during the Knights’ Stanley Cup championship run, and he and partner Nic Hague were trusted to play difficult minutes against some of the best forwards the league has to offer.

Whitecloud’s injury opens up a roster spot for one of the team’s younger defensemen.

Brayden Pachal, 24, played 10 regular-season games for the Knights last year and also appeared in Game 5 of the first round against Winnipeg. He was in the lineup for Thursday’s preseason game against Colorado, which the team was hoping to use as a dress rehearsal for the regular season.

The Knights still have 2019 second-round pick Kaedan Korczak in camp as well. The 21-year-old played 10 games in the regular season last year and is similar in style to Whitecloud. One thing that could keep Korczak from getting the first look is the fact he doesn’t have to go through waivers to be sent to the American Hockey League, while Pachal does.

Another option is moving the team’s veteran seventh defenseman, Ben Hutton, to the right side.

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on X.

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