The Vegas Golden Knights will be represented well at this weekend’s All-Star Game, with Jonathan Marchessault joining Mark Stone and Alex Pietrangelo at the hometown event. There’s another star player who has stolen the headlines today though, as Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer told reporters including David Schoen of the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Jack Eichel could be cleared for contact after the break.
Eichel, recovering from artificial disk replacement surgery in November, was originally given an aggressive three-month timeline to return to action. When he was spotted on the ice just a few weeks after surgery it appeared as though it would be possible and now it seems his return is right around the corner.
Obviously, there are still the normal caveats that come with any player returning from injury, but Eichel’s Golden Knights debut will likely come with even more caution and patience because of his position as the first NHL player to receive this procedure. Chicago Blackhawks forward Tyler Johnson, who underwent the same surgery in December, is expected back in March according to Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times, which would be along the same three-month timetable.
DeBoer even went so far as to say that Eichel has been the best player on the ice at some recent practices, a dream scenario for the Golden Knights after taking a substantial risk in acquiring him earlier this season. The hope is that Eichel can return to full strength quickly and become a game-changing center at the top of the Vegas lineup, but that certainly is no guarantee after he missed so much time waiting for surgery. The 25-year-old’s last NHL game was played on March 7, 2021.