A decision has been made by Vegas Golden Knights Kelly McCrimmon and a very important one at that. On Monday the Golden Knights general manager announced two major statements regarding the team.
“Today the hockey club has two announcements to make. The first is that Mark Stone will be going on LTIR effective today… the second piece of news here today is that Jack Eichel will make his Vegas Golden Knights debut on Wednesday against Colorado,” McCrimmon announced.
So the Golden Knights, for the time being, have taken the “Nikita Kucherov” route in circumventing the NHL’s salary cap by placing Stone’s $9 million contract on long-term injured reserve. This allows them to active Eichel and his $10 million contract.
Despite how it may look, Stone is injured and has been dealing with a back injury since before the start of the season. McCrimmon stated that Stone has been dealing with this specific injury since last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs and that Stone has been to six specialists to try and get it healed.
He also confirmed that the Golden Knights had planned to purposely not play Stone in back-to-back games and that head coach Peter DeBoer had also been cutting his ice time due to this injury.
“When we look at it objectively our number one priority is Mark Stone’s health and it clearly isn’t in a place that it needs to be for him to be successful,” said McCrimmon.
The timetable for Stone is unknown but given that he has landed on LTIR that means he will be out for a minimum of ten games or 24 days.
McCrimmon also stated that goaltender Robin Lehner is out with an upper-body injury. Lehner was absent from practice Monday and Logan Thompson has been recalled from the Henderson Silver Knights as a result.
On the bright side of things, the Golden Knights will finally get to see the debut of Jack Eichel Wednesday against the Avalanche at home. Eichel was acquired by the Golden Knights on November 4th and had artificial disk replacement surgery on November 12th.
It has been a long road for Eichel, who last played a game of hockey at the NHL level in March of 2021.
“When you make a trade you are usually anxious for that next game that you play to see what that new player looks like in your lineup. In this case, it has been a long wait but well worth it. We are excited to bring Jack back Wednesday night,” said McCrimmon.
You can watch the full press conference from McCrimmon on Knight Time at Noon below.
Now one last thing to clarify before I go. Just because Stone has been placed on LTIR this does not mean that he will sit out until the playoffs as Kucherov did. Stone can come back during the regular season but the Golden Knights will obviously need a trade or two to free up cap space.
The Calgary Flames made headlines Monday by acquiring Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens. But they just got one-upped by the Golden Knights who are adding John Robert Eichel.
“I have a lot to prove. To myself, to the rest of the league, and to the organization,” said Eichel.