Jul. 27—The Spokane Chiefs look to improve this season on their 15-43-4-6 record and last-place finish in the Western Hockey League in 2022-23.
After adding Conner Roulette in an offseason trade, the Chiefs are building for success. Chiefs veterans Ty Cheveldayoff and Saige Weinstein participated in NHL development camps in early July after going undrafted in June.
Chiefs left wing Cheveldayoff is entering his 20-year-old season and learned in December that he would have the opportunity to attend the Las Vegas Golden Knights‘ development camp if he went undrafted this summer. Cheveldayoff had high praise for the reigning Stanley Cup champions.
“When I first got to Vegas, you could tell right away how professional the organization was,” Cheveldayoff said. “They hold themselves to a high standard in everything they do. The accountability these pros have, they’ve built a no-excuses culture.”
Weinstein is only 18 and is entering his third season for the Chiefs. He attended Colorado Avalanche camp around the same time Cheveldayoff was in Vegas.
Weinstein was appreciative of the opportunity to grow.
“Going out there and seeing everyone’s work ethic made me love hockey even more and made me want to be there even more,” Weinstein said. “The culture they have built there is honestly unreal for my learning. Going there is going to help me this year and in the future.”
The young defenseman was the Chiefs’ rookie of the year in 2021 after being selected in the first round in 2020. Last year, Weinstein helped Team Canada win a gold medal at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Weinstein said it was important to be open to learning during his time with an NHL franchise.
“Going in there as an undrafted 18-year-old, all you can do is ask questions,” Weinstein said. “I just kind of went out there and did what I could. They’re all there to help make you a better hockey player, so all you can really do is be a sponge.”
NHL development camps are opportunities for players who are not quite at the top level to receive professional experience. Players see it as an opportunity to improve and be seen.
“Getting the call that I would be invited to a development camp regardless if I was drafted was a big load off my chest,” Weinstein said. “When I first got to the facility, I was like, ‘Wow, this is real life here.’ Confidence is a big thing. After going to camp, you’ve gained some self-confidence, and we will definitely be bringing habits we learned at these camps to the Chiefs this year.”
While Weinstein and Cheveldayoff will need breakout seasons to be selected in the next NHL draft, the work that they put in at professional camps will likely be beneficial to their performance in the 2023-24 WHL season.
Cheveldayoff posted career highs in all categories last season, including 20 goals and 23 assists. He believes his time in Vegas will not only increase his personal potential but the Chiefs’ potential as a whole.
“I tried to ask as many questions as I could and be a sponge, soak in everything I possibly could,” Cheveldayoff said. “I got to experience firsthand what it takes to be a pro. It’s a lot more than just being on the ice; it’s a whole lifestyle.”
The Chiefs have plenty of room for improvement after a down 2022-23 season. The new season begins with a road game against the Kamloops Blazers on Sept. 22.
“I’m looking forward to this year, and we’re going to play with a little bit of a chip on our shoulder,” Cheveldayoff said. “Last season is in the past now, and it’s time for us to work on getting better. Everyone wants to have a good year and bounce back, and I know we’re capable of doing it.”
Liam Bradford’s reporting is part of the Teen Journalism Institute, funded by Bank of America with support from the Innovia Foundation.