Speaking to reporters, including Jesse Granger of The Athletic, Vegas Golden Knights basic supervisor Kelly McCrimmon confirmed what was reported in current days: Mark Stone is headed to long-term injured reserve with a again harm. This is notable not solely as a result of the Golden Knights will likely be with out their captain for the subsequent whereas, but it surely additionally opens up sufficient wage cap area to activate Jack Eichel to make his season debut on Wednesday towards the Colorado Avalanche.
McCrimmon defined that the crew’s medical employees and the quite a few specialists he has met with haven’t been capable of decide precisely what’s inflicting Stone’s harm and didn’t have a concrete timeline for his return. That reply will definitely draw some curious glances from across the league because the Knights escape the cap crunch they have been going through with out buying and selling away any property.
Still, shedding Stone isn’t any small factor. The 29-year-old ahead is among the many greatest two-way gamers within the recreation as a two-time Selke Trophy finalist and point-per-game producer. In 28 video games this season — damaged up by a number of absences as a result of his again issues — Stone has scored eight objectives and 28 factors whereas taking part in a little bit over 18 minutes an evening. Taking him out of the lineup for an prolonged time period will definitely not be a super scenario for the Golden Knights, particularly as they’re in no certain place within the Pacific Division
While they’re in first at the moment, the Calgary Flames are nipping at their heels with a greater factors proportion, and the Los Angeles Kings, Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks are all above .500 and inside hanging distance. With a lot time left, it’s not even a certain factor that the Golden Knights make the playoffs, not to mention safe the division crown.
One manner to assist your case is so as to add a $10M middle into the lineup. Eichel hasn’t performed an NHL recreation since March 7, 2021, however is now totally wholesome and able to resume what has been a powerful profession up to now, at the least when it comes to particular person manufacturing. The second-overall choose in 2015, he has recorded 355 factors in 375 video games and scored a career-high 36 objectives in 2019-20. That put him eighth in Hart Trophy voting, that means this can be a potential MVP candidate the Golden Knights are sliding into the lineup. Sure, there will likely be some rust for the 25-year-old pivot, however Vegas has additionally by no means had a middle like this to construct round.
If the crew is to carry Stone again earlier than the playoffs, it’ll have to discover a approach to shed some wage. That would presumably have to be accomplished earlier than the March 21 deadline, so if the Knights don’t, anticipate the captain to overlook the remainder of the common season. Alec Martinez, the opposite key participant on LTIR, is getting nearer, however there may be additionally no clear timeline for his return simply but. Robin Lehner, who missed apply Monday, is out with an upper-body harm, however his standing for Wednesday isn’t but decided.