Golden Knights News & Rumors: Eichel, Fleury, COVID & More

In this edition of Vegas Golden Knights News & Rumors, Jack Eichel skated for the first time with his new teammates on Tuesday, indicating his health is trending in the right direction. Meanwhile, former Golden Knight Marc-Andre Fleury returned to the T-Mobile Arena for the first time since getting traded to the Chicago Blackhawks and was given a very warm reception. In other news, the team is having a bit of a COVID outbreak right now, as three skaters entered COVID protocol prior to Tuesday’s game. Last but not least, prospect Lucas Elvenes was claimed off waivers by the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.

Eichel Back Skating With Team

Since undergoing his neck procedure in mid-November, Eichel had been away from the Golden Knights while rehabbing. The hope at the time of his surgery was that he would be able to return at some point in February, and that seems to be pretty likely at this time.

Jack Eichel Buffalo Sabres
Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The 25-year-old was spotted practicing with his Golden Knights teammates on Tuesday for the first time since being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres. With how long he has had to go without playing, he was quite emotional when discussing with the media how much it means to be getting closer and closer to a return.

“A bit of an emotional moment for me,” Eichel said. “Just another step in the process. This was like a kid at Christmas getting out there with the guys.”

At this point, Eichel has not yet been cleared for contact, but he’s clearly progressing. When he is ready to return, the Golden Knights will have to make some tough roster decisions in order to fit in his $10 million salary, but it should be more than worth it given how elite of a player Eichel is.

Fleury Brilliant in Return

On Sunday, Golden Knights fans were able to welcome back a franchise icon in Fleury. The 37-year-old netminder, who spent four seasons in Vegas, was traded to the Blackhawks this summer in order to free up cap space. He had been a fan favorite since the second the Golden Knights selected him in the 2017 expansion draft, and fans made sure to give him a warm reception prior to the start of the game, something the 2020-21 Vezina Trophy winner was very appreciative of.

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“I just wanted to say thank you to the fans,” Fleury said postgame. “It was an amazing four years, and again tonight they were awesome. I’m glad I got to say thanks.”

As for the game itself, Fleury was outstanding once again, like he has been so many times in the T-Mobile Arena over the years. He allowed just one goal on 31 shots in what ended up being a 2-1 win for his Blackhawks squad.

3 Players Added to COVID Protocol

Many teams have been hit hard by COVID this season, and the Golden Knights are experiencing it yet again. Before Tuesday’s game versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, they announced that Shea Theodore, Nicolas Roy and Nolan Patrick had all entered NHL COVID protocols. Losing all three certainly played a role in the outcome, as the Golden Knights fell by a final score of 4-3.

Shea Theodore, Vegas Golden Knights (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The good news here for the Golden Knights is that they do not play again until Monday, meaning that there is a chance all three are cleared and able to go by then. In the meantime, they recalled Jake Leschyshyn, Jonas Rondbjerg and Daniil Miromanov from the Henderson Silver Knights, and all three were able to suit up against the Leafs.

Elvenes Headed to San Diego

On Monday, the Golden Knights announced that they had placed Elvenes on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract. This decision was somewhat of a surprise, but one that the player and management group agreed on. He reportedly wanted a new opportunity after failing to get a shot with the big club, but had planned on finishing the 2021-22 season in his home country of Sweden. That will not be the case, however, as he was claimed by the Anaheim Ducks and will now report to their American Hockey League affiliate in San Diego.

It is a disappointing update given the fact Elvenes appeared to be a solid prospect. The 22-year-old had some notable moments in the Golden Knights organization, particularly during his rookie season in the AHL in 2019-20 when he led the Chicago Wolves with 48 points in 59 games. It will be interesting to see how he fares in a new organization.

Up Next for the Golden Knights

As mentioned, the Golden Knights won’t hit the ice again until Monday, where they will take on one of the league’s hottest teams in the Pittsburgh Penguins. They will face off against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday in what will be the final game of their week. Both games will be crucial for them to hold onto the top spot in the Pacific Division, as the Ducks currently trail them by just three points.

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