Golden Knights Set to Exploit Loophole Following Exciting Injury News

Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights will return for the playoffs

Getty Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights will return for the playoffs

The Vegas Golden Knights won twice on Friday, April 12.

Just a few hours before the reigning Stanley Cup champions demolished the Minnesota Wild 7-2 to clinch a postseason berth, the franchise welcomed team captain Mark Stone back to the ice.

Wearing a red non-contact jersey, Stone skated with the rest of the Golden Knights players on April 12 (h/t and for the first time since suffering a lacerated spleen on February 20.

Golden Knights’ head coach Bruce Cassidy spoke to the media after practice on Friday and ahead to the postseason-clinching win against the Wild.

“It’s good to see him out there,” Cassidy told reporters on April 12. “He’s in a red jersey, which means he’s progressing from what his return to play would be.

“I’m not sure what’s left on that (comeback timeline). Obviously, he’s got to get clearance for his injury. We’ll see how it plays out down the road.”

Mark Stone‘s Return Will Have to Wait for the Playoffs

Stone is not expected to play during the remainder of the regular-season schedule. In fact, Stone couldn’t play even if he wanted to. Stone is still placed on Long-Term Injured Reserve and Vegas doesn’t have the necesary cap space ($1,6 million, per PuckPedia) to activate him and allocate his salary ($9.5 million).

Of course, there is a glaring loophole in the NHL rulebook that Vegas know very well after their already exploited it, bizarrely because of another Stone injury, last season.

In the NHL, salaries count against the franchise’s salary cap trhoughout the regular season but not once the postseason puck drops. That means that teams can go over the cap without penalties, which is what the Golden Knights plan to do by bringing Stone back from LTIR once the playoffs get going on April 20.

Stone, while not a member of the original Vegas Misfits that entered the league in 2017, arrived in town shortly after in the 2018-19 season. The veteran has a history of healthy issues, including last year’s back injury that forced him to miss 39 games between mid-season and the start of the playoffs.

“It has been a few years in a row he has had to sit part of [the regular season] out,” Cassidy said. “It can be tough for a guy mentally. It’s great for him to be back.

“He’s the captain–the leader of our team. To be around his teammates is s terrific for everybody.”

Mark Stone Has A Tough Injury History

Stone has missed all games played by Vegas since he was fisrt sidelined on February 22 following a lacerated spleen injury suffered two days earlier.

Golden Knights’ GM Kelly McCrimmon announced on March 10 that Stone would be “out at least for the rest of the regular season.” In 56 games played this campaign, Stone scored 16 goals and logged 37 assists for 53 points. Last season, in 43 games, Stone finished with 17 goals and 21 assists for 38 points.

Stone’s biggest impact, however, was felt in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the Vegas Golden Knights brought him back in time for Game 1 and then proceeded to win the first championship in franchise history while playing above the salary cap.

The captain scored 24 points in 22 playoff games following his recovery from a back injury.

This time, however, things are a bit different as Stone’s injury is internal and uncommon among NHL players, which might call for some more precaution than last year.

“There’s doubt with that type of injury,” Cassidy said. “You don’t know when he was coming back. There’s scans and all these things he has to go through with an internal injury. You just don’t know what’s going on there.

“I’m not sure he did inside, to be honest. Now, he’s at least been cleared to get out and be around people, just not in the heat of the battle. So that bodes well, for him and us.”

Vegas, Officially a 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs Team

The Golden Knights can be doubly happy after welcoming Stone back on Friday morning and then clinching a spot in the 2024 Playoffs for the second season in a row.

Vegas destroyed Minnesota beating them 7-2. All seven goals were scored by a different Golden Knight while Logan Thompson stopped 25 shots on net and Chandler Stephenson  recorded his third four-assist game of his career, tying Stone for the most such-outings in franchise history.

The Golden Knights can now start thinking about repeating as Stanley Cup champions after defeating the Florida Panthers 4-1 in five game last summer.

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