Golden Knights sign defenseman Jake McLaughlin to AHL contract

The former UMass product becomes the first player to sign a deal with Vegas’ new AHL affiliate.

The Vegas Golden Knights signed their first player to join the new Henderson AHL franchise, agreeing to terms with former UMass defenseman Jake McLaughlin on a one-year deal, the team announced Tuesday.

McLaughlin is the first signing for the Henderson franchise since the Golden Knights purchased the San Antonio Rampage and were approved for relocation on Feb. 28.

The 23-year-old defenseman from Hinsdale, Illinois played in 138 games for the Minutemen over the past four seasons. McLaughlin scored a career-high 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in 34 games last season. He was a member of the 2019 team that reached the NCAA  final, losing 3-0 to Minnesota Duluth.

McLaughlin was also named to the 2020 Hockey East All-Star Third Team for his play this season.

The Golden Knights have been able to find gems in the undrafted free agent pool before. Zach Whitecloud has become a mainstay on the NHL roster after playing a full year with AHL Chicago; Jimmy Schuldt started this season with the Golden Knights before being sent down to the Wolves after a few games.

McLaughlin doesn’t have the offensive prowess those two possess, but he was a presence on a national powerhouse that will get a chance to play for the new AHL franchise.

The Golden Knights’ new AHL affiliate is set to play in the Orleans Arena next season.