The Vegas Golden Knights put Zach Whitecloud on IR Sunday. That was not a surprise to anyone. Alec Martinez’s addition to the IR was a surprise. The Golden Knights have been down playing the injury that Martinez suffered all week.
Difference between IR and LTIR
When placed on IR, a player must not play for at least seven calendar days. A team can replace the player on IR and the player’s salary still counts against the team’s salary cap. When placed on LTIR, a player must not play for 24 calendar days and 10 NHL games. A team can replace the player on LTIR and the player’s salary does not count against the team’s salary cap.
Golden Knights Roster and Salary Cap Situation
The Golden Knights have one spot available on the NHL roster, including the spot currently taken by Grigori Denisenko. The Golden Knights have six defensemen on the NHL roster; Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Theodore, Brayden McNabb, Nicolas Hague, Ben Hutton, and Brayden Pachal. The Golden Knights will need to free up salary-cap space if they wish to bring up a seventh defenseman as there is only $76,000 available.
Will injuries be a larger concern than last year?
Injuries are a concern every year. The reigning Stanley Cup champions have a target on their back. Teams have not been afraid to take runs at the veterans and scrums between whistles have been frequent during the preseason.
William Karlsson has appeared in just one preseason game and missed a lot of practice time. Martinez is out for at least a week, guessing it could be longer. Whitecloud theoretically could return next week, but when the Golden Knights label a player “week-to-week,” it usually is a month or more.
Back to the question. Yes, injuries will be a larger concern than last year. We are talking about a team that had a short summer and a roster that did not get much younger.
Martinez appeared in 77 games last season. That number is almost certain to go down. Pietrangelo appeared in 73 games last season and plays heavy minutes night after night. Some level of regression is expected for the 33-year-old.
William Carrier, Logan Thompson, Adin Hill, Jack Eichel, Whitecloud, and Mark Stone missed large chunks of last season.
Can Brayden McNabb, Chandler Stephenson, and Jonathan Marchessault continue to be reliable as they get older?
The positive side
Pavel Dorofeyev, Paul Cotter, Brendan Brisson, and Kaedan Korczak had strong camps and may be ready to take the next step. Brayden Pachal was serviceable last season. Hutton can pair with any defensemen while chipping in on special teams.
The Golden Knights can manage small to medium pockets of injuries. Hopefully injuries stay limited to just one or two notable players at a time throughout the season.