You can add Max Pacioretty to the long list of the Vegas Golden Knights’ walking wounded.
The veteran forward suffered a fractured left foot Thursday in the Knights’ 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings and Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.ca reported Saturday Pacioretty could miss as many as six weeks.
Coach Peter DeBoer confirmed Pacioretty is out with a fracture in his lower body (he wouldn’t specify it was his foot) and said the team’s leading goal scorer of a year ago with 24, is week-to-week after what he described as a freak play that put Pacioretty on the shelf.
Pacioretty’s linemate Mark Stone was characterized as day-to-day by DeBoer as he was visiting the doctor Saturday. Stone was injured in the second period against the Kings on a non-contact play and did not return.
There was plenty of open ice to work with as the team returned to practice Saturday. With Nicolas Roy, William Carrier and Brett Howden still out along with Mattias Janmark, who is in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol and Evgenii Dadonov getting a maintenance day, there were only six available forwards to participate as the Golden Knights had more defensemen (seven) than forwards.
“I don’t recall that ever happening,”said Keegan Kolesar, one of the six forwards who skated Saturday. “It was pretty funny but it is what it is. But we had fun out there.”
DeBoer did provide a little good news as Roy, Carrier and Howden all skated on their own Saturday prior to practice. The Knights don’t play again until Wednesday so there’s a chance one or more of the trio could be cleared to play when the Knights host the St. Louis Blues at T-Mobile Arena. It also gives general manager Kelly McCrimmon time to figure out how to handle the salary cap compliance issue as it pertains to the injured payers. Roy and Howden are already on injured reserve but are eligible to return at any time. Forward Alex Tuch, who is recovering from shoulder surgery the offseason and isn’t expected back until January, is on LTIR.
With players missing from the lineup, Kolesar figures to benefit and so may Nolan Patrick. With Pacioretty and Stone out for the foreseeable future and the return of Roy, Carrier and Howden still up in the air, Kolesar and Patrick figure to play more.
“I think everyone will get more of an opportunity to play,” Kolesar said. “We’ll just take it day by day. We don’t play again until Wednesday.”
Kolesar and Patrick are both from Winnipeg and they train together in the offseason.
“We’re from God’s country,” Kolesar said. “I’ve played with Patty before.”
Pacioretty had two goals in the season-opening 4-3 win over Seattle Tuesday and it appeared he was going to get off to a fast start. Now, he is sidelined for the next several weeks and it’s going to force DeBoer to shuffle things around after the “Misfit Line” of Reilly Smith, William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault becomes Vegas’ top line.
When asked if there’s anyone who can surprise and step in and fill the breech given the team’s top two scorers are out, DeBoer said: “I don’t want to put a ceiling on anyone. I don’t think we are going to exclude anyone.”
That may include several of the young players, particularly forward Peyton Krebs, who found himself skating in the AHL Friday for the Henderson Silver Knights against the Colorado Eagles after playing for the Golden Knights 24 hours before.
“Yeah, it was kinda strange,” said Krebs, who had a pair of assists and scored the game-winner in the shootout as the Silver Knights beat the Eagles 5-4 on opening night at Orleans Arena. “One night, you’re playing against (Anze) Kopitar, the next night, you’re here. But you’re still playing hockey and you’re still trying to do your best to win the game.”
Defenseman Brayden McNabb, who had his own injury issue during the preseason but has since returned to the lineup, said if you’re going to suffer a rash of injuries, better to have it happen early rather than late in the season.
“The good thing is it’s early and there’s time for the guys to heal up,” he said.