The Vegas Golden Knights reported that Jack Eichel had successful lower-body surgery on Tuesday and is out week-to-week.
UPDATE: Jack Eichel had successful lower-body surgery and will be out week-to-week. #VegasBorn
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) January 16, 2024
Eichel was injured on Thursday’s play against the Boston Bruins when he tried to fight through a check and his blade popped out of his skate.
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights & News (@HockeyDaily365) January 12, 2024
The Golden Knights IR and LTIR list now includes Eichel, William Karlsson, Adin Hill, William Carrier, Ben Hutton, Tobias Bjornfot, Shea Theodore, Robin Lehner, and Daniil Miromanov. All of the players on IR and LTIR have unknown return dates at this time.
There is never a good time for injuries to star players to hit. But this is the worst possible time for the Golden Knights to get bad news about their top-line center. The Golden Knights trail the Vancouver Canucks by seven points in the Pacific Division and are holding on to a playoff spot by eight points.
The Edmonton Oilers and Seattle Kraken have combined for a 19-1-0 record in each of the team’s last 10 games. The Golden Knights are 5-9-0 in their last 14 games. Can the Golden Knights handle pressure of injuries and teams catching up with them in the standings?
Salary Cap Situation
The Golden Knights are utilizing 22 of their 23 available roster spots and have $1.1 million of available salary cap space. Shea Theodore is on LTIR and his $5.2 million salary cap hit does not count against the team until he comes back. Once, or if, Theodore comes back, the team will have to send a few players back to the Henderson Silver Knights to make room for his salary cap.
The length of time Eichel, Karlsson, Hill, Carrier, Hutton, Bjornfot, and Theodore will be out is unknown. Could one or more of them not be ready until after the regular season ends? It is a possibility. Mark Stone suffered a season ending injury right around this time last year and the team used its available salary cap space to acquire Ivan Barbashev, Jonathan Quick, and Teddy Bluegar.
Eichel, Karlsson, Hill, Hutton, Bjornfot, and Theodore account of $29 million of salary cap space. General manager Kelly McCrimmon might have some salary cap space to work with depending on when these players come back.
Timing is Key
The trade deadline is Fri, Mar. 8. McCrimmon will need to make a decision as to if the Golden Knights are buyers, sellers, or standing pat at the trade deadline. When the injured players return will ultimately determine McCrimmon’s path. McCrimmon will not be able to make a splashy trade, unless one of the higher dollar valued players mentioned above has suffered a season ending injury. Generally a week-to-week designation does not turn into two or three months of missed games.
If the injured players are able to return by mid-February, most of them at least, the Golden Knights should be able to make the playoffs.
The worst case scenario is the injured players not returning until after the trade deadline. McCrimmon would not be able to make any trades to improve the team and the Golden Knights could have too big of a hill to climb to qualify for the playoffs.