With Paul Stastny already sidelined with an injury, the Vegas Golden Knights were dealt a major blow tonight, with another center suffering what looks to be a serious injury. Erik Haula was stretchered off the ice in Toronto following a collision with Maple Leafs forward Patrick Marleau (video). Haula was immediately clutching his right leg and shouting in pain, with the optics and immediate reaction pointing toward a torn ACL. Haula is likely to miss a substantial period of time – perhaps the remainder of the season – if this is the case.
The incident occurred early in the third period on a rather innocuous play. As Haula was exiting the defensive zone, Marleau came in for a light hip check against the boards near the red line. As Haula fell awkwardly backward, his skate appeared to become jammed in the boards, twisting his knee as he fell. The pain was evident from his response and an injury of that magnitude in the knee area is almost certainly torn ligaments, likely the ACL. A stretcher was immediately brought out. While Haula was able to wave to the crowd, this was anything but a positive moment for the Golden Knights and their fans.
Haula, 27, has been a fixture in Vegas’ top-six so far this year and has seven points to his credit, third-best for the struggling club. Haula has also been very effective at the face-off dot and has the best possession numbers of any Knights forward. His injury and likely prolonged absence is no small matter. An ACL tear is generally a 6+ month recovery, putting Haula’s return this season in doubt if that is indeed the case. The Golden Knights await further clarification on the injury, but it’s not good news for a team who somehow need to turn things around this year, now down two top forwards.