With the Vegas Golden Knight’s season at yet another pause due to the strange rescheduling month of February in the NHL, all eyes are on general manager Kelly McCrimmon. On Monday, newly acquired forward for the Golden Knights Jack Eichel shed his no-contact jersey and participated in a full-contact practice for the first time since joining his new team.
Eichel, as well as Jake Bischoff and Alec Martinez, are currently on long-term injured reserve for the Golden Knights. But as soon as Eichel is cleared to play and his salary comes off LTIR, the Golden Knights will be in cap-hell. With the team off until next Wednesday, it is likely that we see McCrimmon make a move as Eichel nears his Golden Knight’s debut.
According to CapFriendly, the Golden Knights will need to free up around $4.3 million for Eichel to join the team and the Golden Knights to be cap-compliant. There are really only three ways in which the team can go about this. They can 1) buyout a player 2) trade players or 3) place players on LTIR.
Today at Vegas Hockey Now we will be looking at the latter two for the Golden Knights and which options make the most sense for the team’s Stanley Cup odds. This is part two of a two-part series that will be released today. Part two is all about LTIR and part one discussed trade candidates.
Vegas currently has 5,738,333 available in LTI Salary. They need at least $10M to activate jack Eichel off LTIR.
There are only a few ways to do that.
1- Trade away +/- $4.3M in cap hit
2- Place another +/- $4.3M in cap hit on LTIR
3- Terminate +/- $4.3M in cap hit (unlikely) pic.twitter.com/b8itOMZDtZ
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) February 7, 2022
Potential Players On LTIR For the Golden Knights
On Tuesday, NHL insider Elliotte Freidman appeared on the Jeff Marek Show to discuss the Golden Knight’s cap situation. Friedman stated that the Golden Knights may not have to make any trades if they remain patient and someone gets hurt in the meantime.
“One of the things that Vegas had made clear is that they don’t rush into anything because people get hurt. They have had Pacioretty get hurt, they have other guys get hurt, and they’re not going to do anything until they know that Eichel is 100% ready,” said Friedman.
This would allow the Golden Knights to put said player, whoever it may be, on long-term injured reserve and have their salary cap be temporarily removed against the team’s overall cap. We saw the Tampa Bay Lightning utilize this strategy in 2021 when Nikita Kucherov sat out the entire season before returning in the playoffs, where teams can exceed the Salary Cap.
So with this “Kucherov” strategy in mind, the Golden Knights announced Wednesday just an hour before puck drop that captain Mark Stone would miss the game with an upper-body injury. Stone’s injury, according to head coach Peter DeBoer, is one that has been bugging him for a while now and they decided that keeping Stone out Wednesday against the Flames would be the best option.
With Eichel now in the mix, Stone carries the second-highest salary cap on the team at $9 million. The Golden Knights need to free up $4.3 million for Eichel as well as an additional $5-ish million for Alec Martinez. Stone has missed 19 games this season with various injuries.
There certainly is an injury there, but the extent is something that only Mark Stone knows. If Stone decides to take one for the team and “Kucherov” the rest of the season, the Golden Knights would be cap-compliant for Jack Eichel.
Another veteran player on the Golden Knights roster that has dealt with some injury woes this season is Max Pacioretty. At $7 million, placing Pacioretty’s contract on LTIR would give the Golden Knights a lot of breathing room. But similar to Stone, Pacioretty would have to be willing to miss the rest of the season.
At 33-years old Pacioretty has missed two significant periods of time this season due to injury. In just game two of the season, Pacioretty went down with a _ injury and then missed _ games. Most recently, he underwent _ surgery and missed games.
But the player that has missed the most amount of games this season for the Golden Knights is defensemen Alec Martinez. After taking Minnesota Wild forward Brandon Duhaime’s skate to the face on November 11th, Martinez has not played since.
With a cap hit of $5.25 million keeping Martinez on LTIR would not fix all of the Golden Knights cap issues. They would likely have to make another move to free up additional space.
Martinez is both the oldest player on the Golden Knights at 34 years of age and also the player that has made it furthest in the playoffs (twice) with two Stanley Cups to his name.
So Who Will It Be?
Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon may have his work cut out for him in trying to maneuver Eichel under the salary cap. But that doesn’t mean he does not have little options to chose from in his endeavors. Stone, Pacioretty, Martinez, or another player with a sudden injury (god forbid) could all be placed on LTIR. Reilly Smith, Evgenii Dadonov, Lauren Brossoit, Nolan Patrick, William Carrier, and Mattias Janmark could all be traded as well.