When Vegas Golden Knights forward Erik Haula went down after absorbing a hit from Patrick Marleau of the Toronto Maple Leafs, it immediately looked as though he was facing serious injury. Haula shouted in pain as he clutched his leg, which had been caught underneath him as he fell. A stretcher was brought onto the ice to get him to safety, and today Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant described the injury as “month-to-month.” Haula is on injured reserve, and is facing a long recovery period.
The Golden Knights have gotten off to a rough start in their second season, currently sitting at 7-10-1 and only ahead of the hapless Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division. That at least is in part due to the injury troubles they’ve had up front, missing players like Paul Stastny, Alex Tuch and now Haula for long stretches. Add that to Nate Schmidt’s absence from his PED suspension and the team hasn’t been able find the same magic it had all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals last season. That’s a tough position for a team that invested heavily this offseason in their core and went out to acquire players like Stastny and Max Pacioretty at great cost. Every team deals with injury, but they’ll need to find a way around these quickly or risk being left behind in the Western Conference playoff race.
For Haula, it’s a tough break for a player right in his prime. The 27-year old forward scored 29 goals last season after being given a bigger role in Vegas, and was off to a fine start with seven points in his first 15 games. After signing a three-year, $8.25MM deal with the Golden Knights during the expansion draft process, he was setting himself up for a huge contract in the summer of 2020 when he would be an unrestricted free agent still under the age of 30. Now he’ll have to try and work through this injury recovery and rediscover that scoring touch or risk being left out in the cold by a Golden Knights salary structure that is getting more and more crowded.