3 July 2019
Part of this summer’s recruitment strategy has revolved around unearthing the overlooked talents to be found in the minor leagues. And new signing Tyler Wong arrives with a unique distinction in his short career: he scored the first ever goal for the Vegas Golden Knights when the NHL’s newest club started out in 2017. Wong, now 23, joined the fledgling organization on the back of a stellar season in the WHL, in which he plundered an incredible 109 (51+58) points in 69 games for Lethbridge Hurricanes. He took that form into pre-season in Vegas, scoring a hat-trick as the Golden Knights began life with an impressive 9-4 victory over Vancouver in the team’s first official game. An NHL breakthrough seemed imminent.
However, that never happened. Wong was never given a chance in the first team and struggled to find his scoring form in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves. The issue, perhaps, was one of size: at 175 cm and 78 kg, he’s never going to be the most physically intimidating of presences on the right wing. However, his scoring record in major junior hockey suggests a real talent ready to launch in the senior game – and the KHL has a good track record of helping smaller guys make a bigger impact as the larger ice in Europe puts a premium on speed and skating rather than brute force. Not that Wong lacks any willingness to do the hard yards and join in a physical battle; scouts have noted his enthusiasm to mix it in tough areas of the ice.
Tyler’s surname offers another clue about this move. That’s right, Wong is another Chinese heritage player eager for the chance to bring hockey to China and stake a claim for an Olympic place. It’s a trade with a big potential upside for player and club alike – just the kind of deal we like. Welcome to the Dragons’ Den, Tyler Wong!