Zach Whitecloud's dad says he was shocked by 6-year Golden Knights contract extension

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Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Zach Whitecloud skates against the San Jose Sharks during the first period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, March 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press - image credit)
Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Zach Whitecloud skates against the San Jose Sharks during the first period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, March 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press - image credit)

Zach Whitecloud's father Tim says he couldn't be more proud about his son's new agreement with the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team.

Brandon, Man.-born Whitecloud from Sioux Valley Dakota Nation was awarded a six-year contract extension with the team last week.

"It's just an awesome feeling that his team has confidence in him that they would sign him for such a long term," said Tim Whitecloud.

Zach Whitecloud is currently sitting out due to an upper-body injury.

The 24-year-old defenceman will earn an average salary of $2,750,000 until the 2027-28 season, according to a news release from the Vegas Golden Knights. Whitecloud was drafted with the team in 2018, after playing with Bemidji State University in Minnesota.

Tim Whitecloud said he was extra surprised because his son's contract was not due until March, "so I was quite shocked when he informed me," he said.

So far, Zach Whitecloud has played 72 career games with the Golden Knights, including two goals and 12 assists this season.

Cree player making moves overseas

Not only are Indigenous hockey players doing well in the NHL, but in professional teams in Europe as well.

Chiwetin Blacksmith, 24, from Waswanipi, Que., is playing for the Grums IK Division 2 team in Grums, Sweden.

He is the only Cree hockey player on his new team.

Marc La Fleur
Marc La Fleur

The former Carleton Ravens left wing arrived in Sweden last week, and is waiting to play his first game. He said he hopes to continue for the next few years.

"If I enjoy it, obviously I would like to keep playing as much as I can, maybe higher leagues over time. I'm 24 now, but I could still potentially go to higher leagues if I have a good year, or even a good summer," he said.

If he had the chance to join the NHL, Blacksmith said he would embrace it.

"I would like to play pro, the highest pro league I could," he said.

"If I could make money with that, I would love to do that for a living, until I'm 30, probably. From there, we'll see."

Blacksmith's former coach echoes those sentiments.

"He could play in Europe for a long time and have a very successful life over there," said Shaun Van Allen, Carleton Ravens head coach and a retired NHL player.

"Any time that you can play a game for a living, I think you're pretty lucky."

Van Allen said Blacksmith was fifth in the league in scoring when he was acquired by the Ravens.

"We saw so much potential in him," he said.

"You can't be any more happy for guys when things are going to work out."

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