Golden Knights News & Rumors: Pacioretty, Eichel, Reaves & More

In this edition of Vegas Golden Knights News & Rumors, Max Pacioretty will be out of the lineup indefinitely after undergoing wrist surgery last week. Many are beginning to discuss what moves the team may need to make in order to fit in Jack Eichel, who is slated to make his season and Golden Knights debut next month. In other news, with the New York Rangers slated to play in Vegas on Thursday night, both Ryan Reaves and Gerard Gallant spoke on returning to play in their former home building.

Pacioretty Out Indefinitely

The Golden Knights received some tough news last week after it was revealed that Pacioretty was forced to undergo wrist surgery and will be out of the lineup indefinitely. This is unfortunate for both the team and Pacioretty himself, as he has been great when healthy this season with 12 goals and 21 points in 16 games.

Max Pacioretty #67, Vegas Golden Knights
Max Pacioretty (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While an exact timeline has yet to be laid out, he is expected to miss at least a month. Thankfully, the Golden Knights have improved their play as of late and currently sit first in the Pacific Division, meaning they should be okay without him. If he is able to return 100 per cent healthy, this team, who is also expecting Eichel to return in the near future, will be one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup this season.

Scenarios to Fit Eichel’s Cap

The Golden Knights made the biggest deal of the year earlier this season, when they acquired Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres. After the trade, the 25-year-old was able to undergo the neck procedure he had wanted, and is progressing as hoped in his recovery. From all accounts, he is expected to be ready to go at some point in February, though the team will need to figure out a way to fit in his $10 million cap hit.

Recently, Jesse Granger of The Athletic took a look at what general manager Kelly McCrimmon could do to make this happen. He mentions Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and Evgenii Dadonov, all of whom have cap hits of $5 million, as players who could be moved prior to the trade deadline. He also mentioned Dadonov as the most preferred option, while stating Marchessault is the least likely of the three. (from: Jesse Granger ‘Exploring the Golden Knights’ trade options to become cap-compliant when Jack Eichel Returns’, The Athletic ,12/31/21)

Related: 3 Golden Knights Who Probably Won’t Return Next Season

It goes without saying, but losing Smith would be a blow, as the 30-year-old has been with the team since its inaugural season in 2017-18 and has been a great two-way forward for them that entire time. However, with him set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and little to no chance of being able to re-sign him, moving him makes sense for this Golden Knights squad.

Reaves & Gallant Excited for Return to Vegas

Both Gallant and Reaves, who are set to return to the T-Mobile Arena on Thursday night, were a part of the Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup Final run back in 2018. For Reaves, this game has been one that he had checked off on his calendar this year, and he admitted there would be extra emotion in returning to the Golden Knights for the first time since being traded to the Rangers this summer. (from: Mollie Walker ‘Rangers’ Ryan Reaves, Gerard Gallant gearing up for Vegas homecoming’, New York Post, 01/05/22)

“I guess a little bit,” Reaves said. “You’re out in the community with the fans and with the city, you know, I have ties to the city. I’ve got a beer company. I think it’s gonna be a little extra something there. We’ll see how it goes.”

Reaves played a total of 209 games with the Golden Knights, and was always commended for being a physical presence, one who wasn’t afraid to drop the gloves in defence of a teammate. He also chipped in with 18 goals and 42 points during his tenure.

Ryan Reaves Vegas Golden Knights
Ryan Reaves as a member of the Vegas Golden Knights (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Gallant’s return, on the other hand, is slightly different. The well-respected head coach was fired somewhat surprisingly by the Golden Knights after a bit of a slow start to the 2019-20 season. Despite his dismissal, he appears to have no ill will toward the organization, and seemed excited himself to be heading back.

“I think [Thursday] night will be a little interesting,” he admitted to media. “Seeing that building, the national anthem, and the Knight thing comes up. Good memories obviously from that building. It was good that we played the first game against this team in New York a couple weeks ago. [Thursday] night will probably be a little tough, but it’ll be fun, I’m looking forward to it.”

Things for Reaves and Gallant have been excellent this year, as the Rangers are one of the best teams in the NHL with an impressive 22-8-4 record. In their first meetup of the season less than a month ago, the Golden Knights walked away with a 3-2 shootout victory. It should come as no surprise if Thursday nights game is just as close.

Up Next for the Golden Knights

As mentioned, the Golden Knights will take on the Rangers Thursday. From there, they will take on the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday in the final game of their week. Both are huge games for them given that the Anaheim Ducks sit just two points shy of them for the division lead.

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