With an entry-level contract, Reid Duke immediately entered the NHL history books.
The Vegas Golden Knights signed Duke, currently with the Brandon Wheat Kings, to a three-year entry-level deal. The former Minnesota Wild draft pick becomes the first player ever to sign with the Golden Knights.
The Vegas Golden Knights have their first player. They've signed Brandon Wheat Kings forward Reid Duke to a 3-year entry-level contract.
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) March 6, 2017
Duke is having a strong enough season in Brandon with 35 goals and 67 points, but aside from potential, he’s the perfect choice for the Golden Knights.
“Obviously, I have a connection to Reid, an affiliation with Reid,” said Wheat Kings owner and Vegas assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon. “But Reid’s a player that was identified by (Director of Player Development) Wil Nichol. Wil was really the guy that was eager to continue evaluating Reid over the course of the season.”
First of all, his last name is Duke. For the last three seasons, he’s played with the Wheat Kings. Before joining Brandon, he was a member of the Calgary Royals. Now, he’ll join the Knights. There’s no player in junior hockey or the free agent market who has as many regal connections.
While it’s doubtful the Golden Knights signed Duke exclusively for his namesake and hockey lineage, it’s an undeniable fact he’s the most appropriate first player for a team in NHL history. It had to be at least a small reason why Vegas signed Duke – even if it was 0.01%. It’s simply good marketing.
Vegas has a tough job ahead of them. Assembling a team from scratch is extremely difficult. George McPhee was only officially allowed by the league to make deals starting earlier last week. He’s got work to do.
Unfortunately, expansion teams are nearly guaranteed to suck immediately, which can present a challenge when trying to open a new market to new fans. Duke likely won’t move the needle in building a contender, but on an entry-level deal, there’s virtually no risk in signing him. At the very least, he’s a great trivia answer.