Mark Stone is a beloved figure in the Vegas Golden Knights community. As the current captain (and the franchise’s first full-fledged captain), he’s etched his name in the annals of Golden Knight history. That’s a huge honor for one of the NHL’s most successful franchises.
Stone is also 31 years old, which means someone will eventually take the role from him. Considering Stone’s recent injury history, it might be sooner than later. After all, being a solid defense-oriented center in the NHL is never an easy task.
With that, we must name a successor to the role. We’ll need someone with a calm demeanor. That someone must also be respected in the locker room and in the community. We know that Jack Eichel or William Karlsson are in line to be the successor to the title. But I have an underrated choice that would also work.
The Perfect Choice
Many people have raved about this particular Golden Knight as the next captain. They’ve said his level head and great personality make him a good fit for the captaincy. He is also a solid defenseman who’s grown into his role within the team.
Zach Whitecloud is that person. He’s developed into an excellent defenseman for the Golden Knights, becoming a Vegas staple. Leading a quiet life void of any distractions or nuances, Whitecloud looks to be the perfect successor to Mark Stone’s title.
But we must get to know this mysterious man. Who is he and what does he do? What is he like on and off the ice? Let’s explore Zach Whitecloud’s world and see why he should be the next official leader of the Vegas Golden Knights.
Who is Zach Whitecloud?
Zach Whitecloud is a 26-year-old native of Brandon, Manitoba. He’s of Sioux descent and spent most of his time at the nearby Sioux Valley Dakota Nation. Whitecloud was an undrafted pick-up for the Golden Knights.
Before his tenure in Vegas, Whitecloud was a standout star with the Virden Oil Capitals and Bemidji State University. At Bemidji State in 2017-2018, he was the team leader in blocked shots (51) and was named to the WCHA All-Academic Team.
It’s safe to say Whitecloud is the perfect fit for the Golden Knights. After all, Vegas led the NHL in blocked shots by a team with 1,493 last season. But that isn’t just what the Bemidji State alum brings.
Zach Whitecloud’s Best Qualities
When John Anderson made a controversial remark about Whitecloud’s last name, it caused a stir. The defenseman handled the racist remarks with class and dignity, summing it up as “an opportunity to learn.” Such a response proves Whitecloud knows how to handle adversity without pressure.
His tendency to keep to himself and be mild-mannered is also a boost to his leadership credentials. Going back to his response, you could tell there wasn’t any ill will from Whitecloud. He believed in giving Anderson the opportunity to learn about his mistake, which is nearly unforeseen in today’s society.
You can also point to his stats and see how he’s a leader. His takeaways have increased every season from 2020 to 2022 (from nine in 2020 to 24 in 2022-2023). He’s also blocked a sizable 304 shots in his career, showcasing his defensive acumen. He’s even a good player on the attack. Last season, he also had a 10.8% shooting talent, making him an underrated offensive threat.
What Might Go Wrong With This?
First, Whitecloud needs to stay healthy and play a full 82 games. The most he’s played in a season is 59. He’s been hit with numerous injuries and has already gotten surgery for an upper-body injury, which will put him on the injured reserve. Staying healthy is key to getting him the captain role. Otherwise, this discussion will never get off the ground.
Here’s another problem: Mark Stone is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2027-2028. Whitecloud will hit free agency a year later. If the defenseman doesn’t work out and said injuries consume him, what will Vegas do?
He’s also best when focused on keeping the puck out of the net. Nicklas Lidstrom had a natural talent for being at the puck at all times. He made it a habit to read the play before it happened, cutting off every opportunity for an offensive attack. Developing that acumen further is key to making Whitecloud a great NHL defenseman.
Whitecloud’s Impact On The Community
Zach Whitecloud has a major impact on the Las Vegas community. He’s a regular participant in the “Battle For Vegas” softball event at Las Vegas Ballpark. Here, you can watch him and his Golden Knight teammates take on the Raiders.
But did you know that Whitecloud also participated in the UNLV Hockey Rebels charity golf tournament? Since the Golden Knights’ inception, hockey has grown in the state of Nevada. The defenseman has done an incredible job serving as an ambassador in Sin City.
Overall, Whitecloud’s community work and calm demeanor could make him the ultimate successor to Mark Stone’s title of captain. You can count on him to put his head down and get to work, leading the charge for a Vegas victory.
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