Will Mark Stone Allow The Golden Knights To Cheese The Salary Cap?
What are the Golden Knights going to do when Jack Eichel is healthy? That’s been the million dollar question since Vegas made the trade. A fully healthy Vegas team is over the salary cap. It’s a dilemma that Kelly McCrimmon has been aware of. While there hasn’t been a set in stone plan once Eichel is activated, Mark Stone might alleviate the need to even worry about it.
The magic fairy might give the Knights their best possible scenario. All signs pointed to Max Pacioretty being that sacrificial lamb once he underwent wrist surgery. Turns out, Patches returned to the ice way sooner than anybody anticipated and seems healthy again (for now). If the Knights are fully healthy, there is almost no way around being forced to trade Reilly Smith and or Evgenii Dadonov. That might not be the case anymore.
Obviously, this isn’t a great thing for the Knights but Mark Stone is suffering from degenerative back issues. Back injuries are no joke. Stone has already missed 20 games and appears to be out long term with this new injury.
Frank Seravalli has already started talking about the elephant in the room. The Knights probably won’t have to make a trade to get under the cap. Stone is already going to take care of that problem for them:
“Seravalli: “It is possible, and I don’t know what the Vegas Golden Knights are going to do, but I can tell you from talking to people around the league that there were a lot of eyebrows that perked up on Wednesday night when Mark Stone missed the game and Pete DeBoer confirmed afterwards that this is a reoccurrence of the back injury that caused him to miss 29 days earlier in the season.
And immediately, rival general managers from around the league have begun to talk. Is this the opportunity, is this the option that the Vegas Golden Knights are going to take in order to activate Jack Eichel, and have him return to the lineup?
The belief is, and again, we’ll see how the Golden Knights play this in the coming days, is that Stone is suffering from a degenerative back condition that may keep him out long term. Maybe until the playoffs? That’s the big question mark. And Stone, if his $9.5 million salary is moved to the long term injured reserve, that would open up enough space not just for the Vegas Golden Knights to activate Jack Eichel, but the other big part of the equation that hasn’t been talked about nearly as much is defenseman Alec Martinez, who continues to work his way back from a facial injury that he suffered earlier in the season.”
How serious is this back injury for Stone? How concerned should we be long term considering that Stone carries a $9.5 million cap hit and is under contract through the 2026-2027 season? We don’t have the answers to either of those things right now. The only positive is that Stone likely whips any concern of having to make a panic trade.
For Vegas, there is no reason to rush Stone back. They’re in first place in the Pacific division. Rest Stone up for the playoffs and activate him when there is no salary cap. Especially given the nature of how tricky back injuries are (trust me, the guy writing this post deals with several on a daily basis).
The Knights are a very good team but they’re not winning a cup without Mark Stone. That’s just a fact. A top line of Pacioretty, Eichel, and Stone is a scary one but now it’s also one filled with injury red flags everywhere. For now, maybe the Knights can have some relief knowing they may not be forced to part ways with a valuable piece like Reilly Smith and will enter the playoffs with a monster team.