While no one in hockey is happy about the current pause on the league season, a few teams may get lucky if a delayed postseason occurs, as it allows players who were injured back in March to be not only healthy but fully recovered by the time play resumes. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s Steven Stamkos and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Jake Guentzel are among that group and now another star forward joins the list. The Vegas Golden Knights’ Mark Stone tells beat writer Gary Lawless that he is “healing up” and “excited to be getting healthy and feeling at a 100 percent.”
Stone initially suffered the lower-body injury back on March 1 and had missed six games for the Knights prior to the season being put on hold. At the time of the league’s suspension on March 12, Stone speculates that he still had about four weeks left of recovery, which would have cut into the beginning of the playoffs. Even if he had rushed back in time for the start of the postseason, Stone would not have been at full strength through at least the first round, if not longer had Vegas advanced. Now ten weeks later, he expects to be totally ready for a possible return.
As Lawless points out, there is no player whose absence hurts the Golden Knights more than Stone. In the first season of an eight-year extension signed with Vegas following his trade from the Ottawa Senators last year, Stone had a team-leading 63 points in 65 games prior to his injury. Stone still leads the team in assists by a wide margin even after missing a number of games. Knowing that Stone will be back for a potential NHL return has to boost the chances of the Knights, who hold the top spot in the Pacific Division and are looking to avenge a first-round exit last season.