May 19: The Golden Knights have announced that Stone underwent a successful lumbar discectomy this morning and is expected to be ready to play for the start of the 2022-23 season.
May 18: After previously indicating that surgery was the most likely outcome, the Vegas Golden Knights have confirmed through a spokesperson that captain Mark Stone will undergo a procedure on his back tomorrow, according to Danny Webster of the Las Vegas Sun. On Monday, general manager Kelly McCrimmon said that the team still expects Stone to be ready for training camp next season. No timeline has been updated today.
Stone, one of the most impressive two-way players in the entire NHL, and arguably the most important name on the Golden Knights roster, battled injury all season. With four stints on injured reserve, two of those being of the long-term variety, he was limited to just 37 games and recorded his worst offensive season with just nine goals and 30 points.
Those stints on long-term injured reserve were often critiqued because of the salary cap situation the Golden Knights found themselves in, but there was no mistaking Stone’s obvious injury. A shell of himself even when he was on the active roster, he will now have to focus on getting back to full strength in time for next season, when the feeling in Vegas will once again be playoffs-or-bust.
The question now becomes how the Golden Knights will address their current cap issues, as after acquiring Jack Eichel, the team has already eclipsed the $82.5MM ceiling for next season. Names like Reilly Smith and Mattias Janmark are pending unrestricted free agents, but other players are likely going to have to be extracted from the roster in one way or another to make all of the pieces fit. Add in the uncertainty surrounding some key players that will be returning from offseason surgery–Robin Lehner also went under the knife for a shoulder procedure earlier this month–and the Golden Knights are no sure thing to return to the postseason in 2022-23.