The Vegas Golden Knights are seeing a great deal of success during the 2020-21 season. However, even though they currently hold the best record in the NHL in terms of point percentage, they have suffered injuries to some of their biggest names. Players like Brayden McNabb, Mark Stone and Robin Lehner have found their names in the headlines regarding their health recently.
McNabb has been away from the Golden Knights for some time now. He suffered a lower-body injury in a 5-4 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues. The next day, he was placed on the long-term injured reserve (LTIR) list. At the time of his injury, he was among the league leaders in hits. Although he had no points and a plus/minus rating of minus-one, he was an integral part of the Vegas penalty kill.
McNabb’s absence allowed some of the younger Golden Knights defensemen to step up and prove themselves. Zach Whitecloud and Nicolas Hague have been impressive in their expanded roles. Both defensemen have combined for 14 points and a plus-12 rating during this season.
However, things are starting to look better for McNabb. Head coach Pete DeBoer mentioned that he was traveling with the team and he will be a game-time decision for the March 8 game against the Minnesota Wild. This is a good indication that he will be back in the lineup sooner rather than later. The Golden Knights should be thrilled to have one of their best defenders back as it should help keep some pressure off of Marc-Andre Fleury. This will most likely mean that Nick Holden will have to move through waivers again as he will most likely be placed back on the taxi squad following the return.
Stone has been on fire recently as the captain has recorded 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in four games this month. His performance has been highlighted by his five-point game against the Wild where he recorded five primary assists. He has consistently been the best player in the Golden Knights lineup throughout the 2020-21 season. Unfortunately for Vegas, he suffered an injury late in the second period during the March 6 game against the San Jose Sharks.
Stone did not return for the third period of that game as a precaution according to DeBoer. This led to Alex Tuch filling in for him on the top line. Tuch was able to record a goal while acting as the replacement winger on the top unit. This goal was his second of the game and his seventh in seven games. If Stone is unable to play, the Golden Knights are in good hands heading forward without their captain.
Currently, Stone is listed as a game-time decision for Vegas prior to their contest against the Wild on March 8. So far this season, the captain has not missed a game and currently leads the team in points, assists and plus/minus.
It has been no secret that Lehner has not had the best start to the 2020-21 season. Coming off a large contract extension in the offseason, he has struggled heavily. To add to this he suffered an injury during a morning skate before his scheduled start against the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 11. He has not practiced or traveled with the team since he suffered this upper-body injury.
Recently, Lehner was placed on the LTIR list. This move was made retroactively to Feb. 11 and has now seen the Golden Knights gain an additional $5 million in cap space. As of right now, it seems that it is going to be Fleury’s net for the next few series.
Fortunately for the Golden Knights, it seems that Lehner may be close to returning. Deboer said there is a good chance that he will rejoin the team on the six-game road trip. There has been no indication on if he will suit up for a game, but it will be good to have him back around his teammates following his absence.
The Golden Knights are playing well despite some injuries to key contributors on the team. Even with a lessened roster, the team has plenty of depth to keep them on top of not only their division, but the entire league. Fortunately for Vegas, it seems like their roster is almost back to being 100% healthy and they can continue their impressive level of play.
I am a former Jr. A hockey player that is currently attending school at San Diego State University. At SDSU, I study Journalism and Public Relations while also playing on the school’s rugby team. Hockey has been a big part of my life, as I have been playing since I was three years old. Other than hockey, I enjoy watching and playing all kinds of sports.