AHL teammates reunite, battle for Golden Knights roster spot

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Jack Dempsey / AP

Golden Knights center Nicolas Roy skates during warm-ups before the start of a preseason NHL hockey game between the Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Denver.

Sat, Sep 21, 2019 (2 a.m.)

Nicolas Roy and Patrick Brown didn’t expect to be teammates again.

They won the Calder Cup together with Carolina’s AHL team last year, weeks before Roy was traded and Brown was set to be a free agent.

By sheer coincidence, they are back together, ending up with the Golden Knights and in the same position they were last year: fighting for a roster spot with the big club.

“It’s a bit weird,” said Roy, who was dealt to Vegas with a conditional fifth-round pick for Erik Haula on June 27.

Brown signed a two-year free agent contract four days later.

Neither is guaranteed a roster spot, and regular ice time is even less certain.

Roy, 22, is still on the entry-level contract he signed with the Hurricanes, and Brown, 27, signed for the league minimum. Neither would carry cap implications if they were sent to AHL Chicago, though Brown would need to clear waivers to be sent down.

Brown has been with the Carolina organization since he signed as a free agent out of Boston College. He has appeared in 21 NHL games since 2014 and has been a mainstay with AHL Charlotte, serving as captain the last three years.

He reached free agency for the first time this summer, and though it wasn’t by design that he signed with the team that had traded for Roy (and also had Valentin Zykov, who played parts of four seasons in Charlotte), it eased the transition.

“Definitely makes it easier,” Brown said. “You have someone to socialize with the first couple days. The guys have been great welcoming me in and talking to me. The day you step into this locker room, you feel like you’re one of the guys.”

Roy most likely features heavier in Vegas’ long-term plans. He’s younger, bigger and has produced about the same number of points as Brown in the AHL.

That Roy plays center, wins faceoffs and kills penalties as well he does helps too.

Roy appears to be in a position battle with Tomas Nosek for the fourth-line pivot job and even if Nosek wins the job, it’s easy to see Roy making the 23-man roster.

Roy and Brown have each played two of Vegas’ first three preseason games.

Roy has a goal and leads all Golden Knights forwards in short-handed ice time, strengthening his case as a center and penalty-killer at the NHL level.

Brown has the advantage of being subject to waivers, and if he plays well enough, Vegas may not want to risk losing him for nothing to send him to the AHL.

Then there’s always a chance they are teammates in the AHL again.

They defeated Vegas’ AHL affiliate in the Calder Cup Final and could join a reloaded Wolves squad for another run at the title. That’s not their focus, of course, and both came to Vegas looking to make the Golden Knights, not the Wolves.

“I want to be part of this team,” Roy said. “There’s going to be good competition for those spots, and it’s going to be fun.”

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