In this edition of Vegas Golden Knights News & Rumors, Jack Eichel appears to be progressing very well from his neck procedure nearly a month ago, and there is ongoing chatter about whether or not he may be able to play in the upcoming Olympics. Meanwhile, his teammate in Robin Lehner took to Twitter this past weekend to announce that he will not be attending the event. In other news, Jonathan Marchessault became the first player in franchise history to play in 300 games as a Golden Knight. Last but not least, Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter had extremely high praise for this team after a game between the two on Sunday.
Olympics Still Possible for Eichel
Prior to his neck procedure on Nov. 12, Eichel had been on record saying that he would be fully recovered in three months. So far, it appears he may have been accurate, as he is already back skating and has been cleared for everything except contact. As a result, some, including TSN’s Chris Johnston, are beginning to question whether or not he could play for Team USA in the 2022 Olympics.
“There’s at least a possibility there,” Johnston revealed to Insider Trading. “The fact that it’s gone quiet is not a reflection of how things are going. In fact, Jack Eichel is right on schedule in terms of his recovery, which leaves the sliver of a possibility that he could be available to Team USA at the Beijing Olympics.”
While Golden Knights fans may prefer he continues to recover and doesn’t play until after the break, this could actually benefit them. If he is good to go by the time of the Olympics, it could give him some time to work the rust out of his game and get back into game shape. There would be no better way to do that than compete against the best players in the world. Expect to hear more on this situation in the next month.
Lehner Out for Team Sweden
Though he hasn’t had the best start to his 2021-22 season, Lehner was a lock for Team Sweden’s roster at the Olympics. However, the 30-year-old, who has been an advocate for mental health and has spoken candidly about his own struggles, took to Twitter on Sunday to announce that he will not be heading to Beijijng.
“Great performance from tonight from our team,” Lehner began. “Have to address I will not go to the Olympics. I’m very disappointed and it tough decision for me as it’s once in life time opportunity. Reality is that what have been said about how it’s going to be is not ideal for my mental health.
“Took long time to make decision with my psychiatrist and family. My well being have too come first and being locked down and not knowing what happens if you test positive is to much of a risk for me. Sweden will have a great team and Markstrom is a beast. Hope people understand.”
This was obviously not an easy decision for Lehner to make, as all athletes take great pride in representing their home country. However, it is very commendable for him to realize that attending the event wasn’t the best decision for him.
Marchessault Hits Significant Milestone
Wednesday night’s game versus the Dallas Stars was a big one for many reasons. Not only were the Golden Knights able to snap the Star’s seven-game win streak, but Marchessault was able to franchises first player to appear in 300 games with them.
Since being selected in the 2017 expansion draft from the Florida Panthers, the 30-year-old Marchessault has become an integral piece to the Golden Knights offence. To the surprise of no one, he contributed a goal in the 5-4 win over the Stars, giving him 11 goals and 16 points in 20 games on the season.
Sutter Believes Golden Knights Are Best in the West
Through the quarter point of the 2021-22 season, the Flames are not only the best team in the Pacific Division, but one of the best in the entire Western Conference. Meanwhile, the Golden Knights have struggled to stay healthy, and as a result sit fourth in the Pacific. Despite this, Sutter, who is the head coach of the Flames, believes the Golden Knights are still the team to beat in the West.
“Well, they’re the best team on paper,” Sutter said after Sunday’s game, one in which his team lost 3-2. “They’re clearly the best team out west, maybe other than the team that owns the Stanley Cup, if you look at it.
“If you want to get out of (the West) you’re going to have to go through here. Or if you want to get in, you’re going to have to beat this team.
“It’s not even that close, to tell you the truth.”
This is extremely high praise from a brilliant hockey mind in Sutter, and goes to show just how much respect the Golden Knights have around the league. Once they are able to get fully healthy, it is hard to argue with the fact they may not only have the best roster in paper in the West, but the entire league.
Up Next for the Golden Knights
The Golden Knights are riding high right now with a three game win streak, and will look to extend it to four when they take on the struggling Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night. After a relatively good start to the season, the Flyers have spiraled out of control and are currently on a ten-game losing streak. After Friday’s game, the Golden Knights will take on the Minnesota Wild on Sunday, a team who currently sits atop the Western Conference.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Oil On Whyte, NHLtradetalk.com, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.