The Vegas Golden Knights raised more than a few eyebrows when they placed Mark Stone on the long-term injured reserve. The timing was a little too perfect with Jack Eichel about to be activated and make his Golden Knights debut for cash-strapped Vegas. It’s almost as if the Golden Knights took a lesson from the playbook of the Nikita Kucherov school of cap manipulation.
If there is something that shouldn’t be questioned about the Golden Knights, it’s their integrity when it comes to player medical issues. This was the team that allowed Eichel to get the surgery he felt was best after being denied by his old team the Buffalo Sabres.
They allowed Eichel to get the disc fusion surgery with little to no insurance it would work out in the end. If they say Stone’s back problem is bad enough that he cannot play, we should give them the benefit of the doubt.
When the Vegas Golden Knights placed Mark Stone on long-term injured reserve, was he really injured? Or was it a cap move to welcome Jack Eichel?
As for cap manipulation, the Golden Knights have a clean track record. Remember that this was the team that played down one member last season just to remain cap compliant. That decision might have cost them the President’s Trophy. Actions speak louder than words, and Vegas’s actions seem as innocent as a boy scout.
When discussing mark Stone’s injury, there was one thing that added to the speculation. Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon said he has no timetable for Stone’s return and went on to add that they and the various doctors Stone has gone to, have yet to pinpoint an exact problem.
Assuming Stone only serves the minimum time on the LTIR, 10 games or 24 days, he could return as early as the March 10th game against the Buffalo Sabres. That would leave a month and a half of games before the playoffs start and Vegas can shelf their cap concerns. If Stone needs a little more time on the LTIR, it sounds like McKrimmon has the perfect excuse.
Moving Stone to the LTIR isn’t going to solve Vegas’s cap problems. It does give them a little bit of extra time to deal with the issue. There’s just over a month before the March 21st trade deadline, and offloading players and cap beforehand should be Vegas’s main solution to this problem. Mark Stone’s back may have bought them some time, but it certainly didn’t solve it.
So let’s revisit this issue in about a month. By then, expect Vegas to send off some players, Dan Rosen speculated Reilly Smith and Evgenii Dadonov as main targets to be traded away. Vegas is fighting with the Calgary Flames for first in the Pacific Division. Having Stone and Eichel on the ice as much as possible during the regular season can help them get that all-important top seed.