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Warm heats up in Vegas

Whistler defenceman hits the ice with Golden Knights

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No matter where his hockey career takes him, how many years he plays professionally, Will Warm will always be a part of NHL history.

The Whistler defenceman was one of the first to officially take the ice as a member of the league's newest franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights, when he participated at the team's development camp last week.

The 18-year-old, who played with the Western Hockey League's Edmonton Oil Kings last season, went undrafted at the NHL Entry Draft on June 23 and 24. However, shortly after selections ended, he received a call from the Golden Knights inviting him to skate with their other young players beginning on June 27.

With only a couple of days to get ready, Warm acknowledged it was a wild few days as he got his first taste of professional hockey.

"I was not really sure what to expect (with the draft), whether my name would be called or not. I didn't end up getting drafted, but then I got a call from the Golden Knights," Warm said. "They asked me if I wanted to come to their camp with all their draft picks and be a part of the development camp.

"I was obviously super excited about that."

Skating alongside high draft picks like Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom, who were all among the first 15 players taken in this year's event, Warm got the chance to pull on the Golden Knights colours for the first time.

On the ice, Warm explained none of the drills were overly complicated, though he gained some perspective about how to continue to improve over the summer.

"We're going back to basics with our skating and working with the skills coach here. I'm trying to take as much of that in as possible," he said. "We're practicing flow drills and doing scrimmages.

"It's been pretty hectic but I think I've been able to take a lot in from it."

Though the team itself is brand new, the organization has brought in a veteran collection of off-ice personnel from general manager George McPhee to head coach Gerard Gallant. As a result, the week went smoothly, said Warm.

"It's been really professional the whole way the team has approached the camp. The way they've treated the players has been pretty amazing to see," he said.

The club has been embraced by the city, Warm said, as the Golden Knights were the first professional team to officially break into the gambling mecca, though the NFL's Oakland Raiders later announced an intention to move to Las Vegas for the 2019 season. Though ice hockey seems like an odd option to be the torchbearer in the desert, the Las Vegas Ice Center's stands were filled up for all scrimmages and even outside the arena, the enthusiasm is palpable, Warm said.

"It seems like in Vegas, there's been lots of excitement in the city. Everywhere you walk around, there are people wearing Golden Knights T-shirts, hats. At the scrimmages, the rink has been packed. It's been awesome," he said. "It's cool to see."

And right from his arrival, in the middle of summer, it was clear to Warm the extent to which Las Vegas is not exactly a traditional market.

"It's really hot here. When I pulled in on Monday, it was about 43 degrees or something like that," he said.

And the ice?

"It's been pretty good. It's not amazing, but it's better than you'd think it would be in this temperature," he said.

Though he was busy for much of the week, Warm said he planned to go get some sightseeing in before heading home, with intentions to check out the famed Las Vegas Strip. He and several other teammates had tickets to see Cirque du Soleil as well.

And once he returns to Canada, Warm plans to keep working hard in the gym before returning to Nevada for rookie camp in September.

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