NANAIMO — A pair of Nanaimo Minor Hockey grads skating in the Western Hockey League have returned from Las Vegas with momentum in their quest for NHL contracts.
Defenceman Dylan Coghlan, 19, of the Tri-City Americans and forward Patrick Bajkov, 19, of the Everett Silvertips, spent four days in Las Vegas in a bid to impress the expansion team's coaching staff and management.
Bajkov told NanaimoNewsNOW he felt he performed well at the fast-paced evaluation camp, involving a series of practices and scrimmages, which wrapped up Saturday.
“Pretty smooth sailing out there because of how great all of the other players are. (With) better players around you it's going to help you. It's a great confidence builder to be able to come out of a weekend that positive,” Bajkov said.
Following the camp, Bajkov and Coghlan were both invited to participate in the Golden Knights prospects tournament in Los Angeles later this summer.
Bajkov said this is a key time in his hockey career.
“I have to keep progressing and make sure that my play goes up and just keeping working hard,” he said. “Hopefully I'll come back for that tournament and put myself in a position to earn that contract.”
Bajkov, who led the Western Hockey League's Silvertips in scoring last season (29.49.78 in 71 games), was undrafted and is scheduled to return to Everett for his fifth and final junior season.
Coghlan is a veteran of the development camp routine having laced up for Detroit Red Wings brass last summer. He said he felt much more comfortable this time around.
“I think this year with more maturity and more confidence I felt way better on the ice. I think this year was way better for me,” Coghlan said.
Coghlan put up impressive numbers while patrolling the Americans' blue line last season. He compiled 15 goals and 38 assists in 71 games for the southeast Washington State-based club.
Like Bajkov, Coghlan said he also hopes to get his pro hockey career started in Sin City.
“That's the goal. I'll be working hard this summer for that. We'll see what happens.”
Coghlan, who has two years of junior eligibility remaining, is slated to return to the Americans for his fourth WHL season.
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