The NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights have signed former Brandon Wheat Kings goaltender Jiri Patera to a three-year, entry-level contract.
Patera, a 21-year-old product of Praha, Czech Republic, was recognized as the WHL Eastern Conference Goaltender of the Year for 2019-20 after appearing in 41 regular season contests, earning a record of 24-12-2-2 with a 2.55 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and five shutouts. Patera’s GAA, SV% and shutout marks all served as career highs, as did his 24 wins.
Prior to the premature cancellation of the 2019-20 WHL season, Patera and the Wheat Kings found themselves in a tight race towards the WHL Playoffs, sitting 35-22-4-2 in third place in the WHL’s East Division. Having accounted for 24 of his Club’s 35 victories in 2019-20, it is safe to say Patera was a key contributor to the Wheat Kings success this past season.
Originally selected in the second round of the 2018 CHL Import Draft, Patera was with the Wheat Kings for two WHL seasons. In 89 career appearances, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound puckstopper went 46-32-5-4 with a 2.95 GAA, .913 SV% and six shutouts.
The Golden Knights selected Patera in the sixth round (161st) of the 2017 NHL Draft.
In Vegas, Patera joins a familiar WHL connection in Kelly McCrimmon. The Golden Knights’ General Manager – who was the longtime General Manager and Head Coach of the Wheat Kings – remains closely tied to the WHL as the Owner / Governor of the Wheat Kings.
McCrimmon, 59, originally left his Hockey Operations positions with the Wheat Kings in 2016-17 when he was named Assistant General Manager of the Vegas Golden Knights. Prior to 2019-20, he was promoted to General Manager of the Golden Knights.