On Wednesday, Jack Eichel made his highly anticipated debut with the Golden Knights, immediately stepping in as the No. 1 center — and featuring on the top power-play unit — in a 2-0 loss to the Avalanche.
Eichel, one of the NHL’s top young stars, was acquired in a trade with the Sabres on Nov. 4 while recovering from a neck injury — but Vegas used some creative cap circumvention to make room for the 25-year-old on the roster, placing captain Mark Stone on LTIR.
The Knights could follow the formula of last season’s Lightning, who kept Nikita Kucherov on LTIR for the entire regular season before activating him for the postseason — when there’s no cap limit.
- Eichel signed an eight-year, $80M contract extension with the Sabres in 2017, which carries an AAV of $10 million (T11th in the NHL).
- Stone ($9.5M AAV) has been playing with a back injury.
- Vegas can keep Stone on LTIR until the postseason, or use the March 21 trade deadline to free space elsewhere under the $81.5M cap.
Eichel can provide an immediate boost: Vegas is the NHL’s 10th scoring offense (3.22 goals per game) but ranks just 20th on the power play (19.2%).
And ultimately, saving Stone for the playoffs could be as inspiring a move as Tampa’s — the Bolts rode Kucherov to a second consecutive Stanley Cup.
The Knights are three points back of the first-place Flames in the Pacific but are currently tied with the Maple Leafs for the fourth-best title odds (+800*).