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January 30, 2023

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Golden Knights captain Stone to miss time with upper-body injury

Golden Knights Take On Panthers at T-Mobile

Steve Marcus

Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) falls in front of Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (16) while chasing the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game at T-Mobile Arena Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023.

Golden Knights captain Mark Stone sustained an upper-body injury in the first period of Thursday's game against Florida and is labeled week-to-week, coach Bruce Cassidy said today.

Stone played just 3:57 against the Panthers before exiting around the eight-minute mark of the first period. It was not known when the injury occurred. Stone's final shift lasted 1:20 before heading to the locker room.

The immediate concern turned to Stone's surgically repaired back. Stone missed 45 games last season due to the ongoing ailments with his back. After having the procedure done in May, Stone was a full-go from training camp and had 38 points in 43 games.

Cassidy would not say whether Thursday's injury involved Stone's back.

"He was in this morning," Cassidy said. "They're still going through some different things. I'd like to give you more information, but I can't."

The Golden Knights, coming off that 4-2 win on Thursday, sit at 58 points through 43 games — one point ahead of the Dallas Stars for first place in the Western Conference, two points clear of the Los Angeles Kings (with two games in hand) for the Pacific Division lead.

That success was due in part to the Golden Knights' clean bill of health through the first month and a half of the season. But injuries to Jack Eichel, Shea Theodore, Zach Whitecloud, Paul Cotter and Jonathan Marchessault over the past month have forced Vegas to resort to utilizing its depth in key areas.

A large portion of the team's success has been attributed to Stone, on pace to have the best statistical season of his career with 17 goals, second-best on the team.

It's Stone's all-around play that the Golden Knights will miss. He's their best defensive forward, ranking second in the league among forwards with 47 takeaways. The two-time Selke Trophy finalist (the award given to the best defensive forward in the league) was playing his way toward that status again this season.

With Stone out, Vegas faces a gap at first-line right wing.

Stone skated with Chandler Stephenson and Michael Amadio for the past nine games while Eichel was nursing a lower-body injury. Cotter could be an option should Cassidy keep Reilly Smith, Eichel and Marchessault together. That line was created to keep the chemistry between Amadio, Stephenson and Stone.

Amadio had a seven-game point streak from Dec. 19 to Jan. 2 but has not registered a point in the last three games.

With the Golden Knights losing 2017 second-round pick Jake Leschyshyn to the New York Rangers via waivers on Wednesday, they are down to 11 active forwards, meaning a call-up from AHL Henderson is likely looming.

Jonas Rondbjerg is the first option that comes to mind, as he's played nine games at the NHL level this season. But that's the problem: He's played nine games. That's the maximum allowable for a player before they are forced to go through waivers if sent back to the AHL.

Rondbjerg could be claimed when attempted to be sent down by Vegas again, much like Leschyshyn.

Another option could be top prospect Brendan Brisson. Though he has had a disappointing first full season with the Silver Knights to this point (13 points through 27 games), this could be a chance to give Brisson a look, and he would fit on the right side.

Between now and the All-Star break, that would be eight games for Brisson before he's sent back to Henderson.

Stone will likely miss those eight games before the Golden Knights' mandatory bye week from Jan. 29 to Feb. 5, before resuming play Feb. 7 in Nashville — four weeks from the injury and a potential return.

Nevertheless, the Golden Knights are going to be without their captain for the foreseeable future.

Danny Webster can be reached at 702-259-8814 or [email protected]. Follow Danny on Twitter at twitter.com/DannyWebster21.