Now it is clear why the Vegas Golden Knights sent three young forwards back to the AHL this morning. Jonathan Marchessault and Brett Howden, who had been in the league’s COVID protocol, have joined the regular group at practice today according to David Schoen of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Marchessault spent ten days in the protocol, meaning he hasn’t played since November 13. That was a huge blow to the Golden Knights attack, given the veteran forward was off to a great start with nine goals and 13 points in 15 games. When combined with some of the other injuries the team was dealing with, it was nearly the entire top two lines out at once.
Howden meanwhile never did test positive but had been held out as a close contact the last few days. The 23-year-old last played on November 20 against Columbus. He’s obviously a much less important player for Vegas, averaging just 9:45 of ice time.
Incredibly, even with massive absences, the Golden Knights have fought their way back to a Pacific Division playoff spot with a 7-3 run in their last ten. They’re not just five points behind the Calgary Flames for first place and are getting closer to full health. With William Karlsson, Alec Martinez, Nolan Patrick, and Jack Eichel still out, they’re not there yet, but Marchessault’s return will certainly be a welcome one.