Welcome back to Vegas Hockey Now’s season in review series where we look at every player on the Vegas Golden Knights and their 2021-22 season from Michael Amadio to Zach Whitecloud.
Today we will go over both Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty, two of the biggest Golden Knights.
Yikes. What a rough season for the captain.
Injuries ravaged the Mark Stone’s season and him not being 100% greatly damaged the team’s overall success in 2021-22. Stone had two major injuries with a few other minor injuries sprinkled in here and there. Still, the Golden Knights captain put up 30 points in a limited 37 games of play.
In just the second game of the season, both Stone and Max Pacioretty were injured against the Los Angeles Kings and the VGK hoovered around .500 in the early season as a result. We will get to Pacioretty later today, but in short, the Golden Knights struggled without two of their top players.
Stone missed 12 games with a lower-body injury in the fall, a December 19th game with an upper-body injury, four more games in December and early January with an undisclosed injury, two due to COVID-19, and then 27 games late in the season with a major back injury which Stone just received surgery for on May 20th.
Kelly McCrimmon has stated that the Golden Knights looked at all options on how to manage their captain back, reaching out to other professional athletes with similar back issues for advice. Stone’s status for 2022-23 will play a heavy role in what the team will look like next season.
When Stone did play, he was effective and the team was far better. However, there was a stretch late in the season with the team trying to make the playoffs where Stone returned from LTIR and was not himself. He put up just two points in his final nine games and was clearly playing through an injury.
We all know the two-way style that Stone plays where, if he is healthy, he is a constant candidate for the Selke Trophy. Stone’s success in 2021-22 came mostly alongside Pacioretty and Chandler Stephenson. The Golden Knights instantly become a better team in 2022-23 if Stone is back to his normal self.
In most of the games he did play, Stone was still a threat, meshing well on whatever line Peter DeBoer put him on. His peak performance came when he was with Pacioretty and Stephenson. We only got a little taste of what the speculated Max Pacioretty- Jack Eichel- Mark Stone looked like last season as Eichel and Stone played only a handful of games together.
The biggest goal Stone scored this past season was in the shootout against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Stone has historically bad shootout statistics but in the _th round against the Lightning, found a way to beat Andrei Vasilevisky to score the shootout game-winner. #ExpressiveMarkStone was activated.
“I F#%^*$& SCORED IN A SHOOTOUT!!!!!” 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/3DXKEBCWi4
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) January 30, 2022
Stone also was healthy during the 2022 NHL All-Star Game and represented the Golden Knights in the Fountain Faceoff, which was a thing that happened.
Remembering this event feels like a fever dream honestly.
So many questions surround Mark Stone heading into next season.
First and foremost is if he will be healthy and capable of having a bounce-back season. Can he get back to the 60+ points a season, Selke Candidate, and the two-way forward he has been his entire career?
If he fails to do this, even more questions arise such as whether or not he is overpaid or the Golden Knights gave up too much to acquire him from the Ottawa Senators. Heck, should he even be the captain with Alex Pietrangelo, Jonathan Marchessault, and Alec Martinez all on the team?
Right now the focus from the Golden Knights regarding Stone seems to be to rest and regroup this offseason. A lot happened in 2021-22 that was out of the team’s control. This offseason McCrimmon is likely to focus on resetting his roster by getting everyone healthy and freeing up cap space.
I fully believe Stone is capable of returning to the player that he once was. At 30 years old, he still has a few years left in him before his body starts to shut down for good. I can easily see Stone returning as one of the top players in the NHL next season and the Golden Knights being a better team as a result.