Nick Suzuki of London had tame but productive intro to Vegas Golden Knights

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No, the Vegas Golden Knights didn’t plop down their prized prospects in the heart of the city’s action during their historic first development camp.

“We stayed at Red Rock Hotel, 10 minutes off the Strip,” Londoner Nick Suzuki, one of the NHL expansion club’s three first-round picks, said of his first Sin City experience three weeks ago. “I liked seeing the new rink (T-Mobile Arena). The new practice facility isn’t done yet, but it looks like an amazing spot.

“There were concerts (at T-Mobile), so we skated at the Vegas Ice Center, a local rink.”

Suzuki was picked by Vegas 13th overall June 23 in Chicago. The next day, a Saturday, he and his family drove home to London, then he flew to Vegas Monday and was on the ice by Tuesday. It was a whirlwind week.

And since he’s still only 17, his Vegas experience was a tad more subdued than the script from The Hangover movie.

“We went to see Cirque du Soleil, the Beatles LOVE (show at The Mirage),” the former Jr. Knights centre said. “After the show, we took a bus and toured down the Strip at night before going back to our hotel. That was one of the coolest parts.”

Suzuki, one of the OHL’s most dangerous scorers, has two options this fall — crack the Golden Knights roster or return to Owen Sound for a third season.

“It’s definitely my goal (to make the Golden Knights),” he said, “and with the new franchise, we’ll be given some good opportunities. I’d love to get in some games. They really don’t want to rush us to play in the NHL if we’re not ready, so if I have to go back to Owen Sound, I’m happy to go there.”

He would have a new coach at the Bayshore. Former Leaf and ex-Kingston bench boss Todd Gill was hired by the Attack Friday to replace Ryan McGill, who was hired by the Golden Knights.

“It’s going to be a little different,” Suzuki said. “He (Gill) played a lot of games in the NHL and he coached, so I’m looking forward to hearing from him and meeting him at camp.”

Because of all these camps and chair-shuffling, the month of July is an interesting one in the hockey business.

London Knights star Max Jones made it clear in his latest California visit that his intention is to crack the Mighty Ducks lineup and become a teammate of ex-Knight Corey Perry rather than return to the Budweiser Gardens for a third year.

“This is a summer where I need to kick it up a notch,” the burly 19-year-old first-rounder said, “because I’m really not looking to go back to London this year. I’m really looking to step into the lineup.”

Jones is in a good position because he doesn’t have to score — the way Mitch Marner had to in Toronto — to stick in the NHL. He has the build and mentality to take on a checking-line job, too.

The Knights still own Vancouver first-rounder Olli Juolevi’s major rights, but it’s clear he would be best served to play against men now. It’s difficult to see a situation where he returns to London for a third season.

With Brandon Crawley selected by the New York Rangers and Mitch Vande Sompel vying for a pro job in the Islanders system, there’s a good chance London’s first defensive pairing will be Victor Mete (Canadiens) and Nicolas Mattinen (Maple Leafs).

That’s a nice Montreal-Toronto connection.

Besides the drafted players, rowdy Cole Tymkin earned an audition with the Dallas Stars, potential over-agers Adrian Carbonara (Rangers) and Sam Miletic (Penguins) got a look and ex-London Memorial Cup champ Aiden Jamieson skated with Juolevi and the Canucks.

AROUND THE RINKS: Ex-Knights Matt and Ryan Rupert will re-unite with the ECHL’s Indy Fuel this season. The twins last played together briefly two years ago with Orlando in the Leafs’ farm system . . . The Sarnia Sting hired former OHL goalie Mark Packwood, a Western grad who assisted the Knights while working at Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic, as their athletic therapist this week. They also added Spencer Stehouwer from the London Nationals and Western to be their new equipment manager . . . This week, the Knights bolstered their scouting staff with the addition of Brendan Ross, an area teacher who has spent a lot of time in Southwestern Ontario rinks.

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