Here are Saskatchewan's connections to the 2023 Stanley Cup Final
The Vegas Golden Knights and the Florida Panthers will compete for the NHL’s top prize beginning this week and both teams have ties to Saskatchewan on their respective rosters.
Brayden McNabb – Vegas Golden Knights
Davidson, Sask. born defenseman Brayden McNabb has been a member of the Vegas Golden Knights since their inception, joining the team in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft.
McNabb played in all 82 regular season games for Vegas in 2022-23, scoring one goal. Over 16 games in the 2023 NHL Playoffs, he has two assists.
Chandler Stephenson – Vegas Golden Knights
Golden Knights forward Chandler Stephenson is in pursuit of his second Stanley Cup championship. His first came in 2018 with the Washington Capitals, a win he followed by taking the trophy to Humboldt as the community came to terms with the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.
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Prior to his NHL career, the Saskatoon product spent four seasons as a member of the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Regina Pats, capped off by an 89-point season in 2013-14.
Stephenson was traded to the Golden Knights by the Capitals for a fifth-round draft pick in 2019 and has remained with the team since.
During the 2022-23 NHL season, he played in 81 games and led the team in assists with 49.
Brett Howden – Vegas Golden Knights
While he wasn’t born in Saskatchewan, Vegas centre Brett Howden spent four full seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors in the WHL, including two years as the team’s captain.
Following his time in Moose Jaw, Howden made his NHL debut with the New York Rangers in 2018, later joining the Golden Knights via a trade in 2021.
So far in the playoffs, Howden has three goals including an overtime winner in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final against the Dallas Stars.
Brayden Pachal – Vegas Golden Knights
Brayden Pachal’s time with the Golden Knights has been limited in 2022-23, appearing in 10 games for Vegas during the regular season.
Pachal did appear in his first career NHL playoff game on April 27 against the Winnipeg Jets in the first round.
Originally from Estevan, Pachal spent most of the season with the team’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Henderson Silver Knights.
Prior to playing in the NHL and AHL, Pachal captained the Prince Albert Raiders to a WHL Championship in 2019.
Kelly McCrimmon – General Manager – Vegas Golden Knights
Despite spending much of his pre-NHL career in Manitoba, Vegas General Manager Kelly McCrimmon originally hails from Plenty, Sask. near Kindersley.
McCrimmon followed his playing career by becoming a head coach and general manager in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, before making the jump to the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, where he had spent time as a player in the late 1970s.
In the years following, McCrimmon became the head coach, general manager and owner of the Wheat Kings until joining the Vegas Golden Knights organization following his second WHL Championship in 2016.
McCrimmon is in pursuit of his first Stanley Cup in any capacity, after being an assistant general manager during the debut season for Vegas.
Josh Mahura – Florida Panthers
Alberta-born defenseman Josh Mahura capped off his WHL career by playing a season and a half with the Regina Pats, playing in the 2018 Memorial Cup.
Mahura was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in 2016 and joined the Florida Panthers via a waiver pickup in October of 2022.
This season marks Mahura’s first NHL playoff run. He’s played in 16 games, picking up two assists.
Aleksi Heponiemi – Florida Panthers
Born in Finland, Aleksi Heponiemi has yet to make his first appearance in the playoffs.
The 24-year-old was taken by the Panthers in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and appeared in 10 games for the team over the course of the regular season.
Heponiemi spent his time in the WHL with the Swift Current Broncos.
Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals is set for Saturday in Las Vegas.
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