Zach Whitecloud close to return for Golden Knights

Zach Whitecloud was cleared to resume skating with the Golden Knights on Friday.

The defenseman participated in morning skate at City National Arena but was a scratch for the game against the Arizona Coyotes.

Coach Pete DeBoer said Whitecloud may return for the finale of the two-game series on Sunday before the Knights embark on a four-game Southern California road trip.

“He’s very close,” DeBoer said. “He was out there today with us for the first time back integrated with the group. That’s the next step. I would say depending on how he reacts to everything he’s doing, he could be an option for Sunday.”

Whitecloud did not travel with the team for its two-game series at St. Louis and missed the past four games with an upper-body injury after appearing in every game up to that point.

He was hurt in the third period against Los Angeles on March 31 after getting hauled down by Kings defenseman Matt Roy. Whitecloud got up from the pile with blood coming from his face and went straight to the locker room.

The Knights have rarely had their full complement of defensemen available, with Alex Pietrangelo and Brayden McNabb missing significant time because of injury. Shea Theodore also was out for a brief spell. Alec Martinez was a game-time decision against Arizona on Friday after missing Wednesday’s loss at St. Louis.

Whitecloud has two goals and eight points in 34 games and is…

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