Mark Stone out indefinitely, who will Golden Knights target at deadline?

Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone has been ruled out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery earlier this week. The team is expected to place Stone and his $9.5 million cap hit on LTIR soon, which will make them serious players in the upcoming NHL Trade Deadline on March 3.

Stone, 30, had 17 goals and 38 points in 43 games this season prior to the surgery.

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NHL Rumors: Mark Stone surgery impact

Stone’s back has been an issue for awhile and is certainly a concern going forward. This latest injury occurred on January 12 in a 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers. During the rehab process, it was determined he would require a procedure to correct the issue.

Last season, Stone was hampered by injuries that limited him to just 37 games. He finished with nine goals and 21 assists while making four separate trips to the injured reserve list including season-ending back surgery.

While it’s unclear at this point if Stone’s year is done, the Golden Knights could now be in the market for a big fish at the deadline.

After making a blockbuster deal to acquire Jack Eichel only to miss the playoffs last year, Vegas sits third in the Pacific Division with 62 points. They are precariously close to falling out of the playoffs with the Edmonton Oilers heating up with 60 points and holding the first wild card spot. Meanwhile, the Calgary Flames are outside looking in, just 5 points behind Vegas with a game in hand.

The urgency for a trade to replace Stone and give Eichel a top winger is critical. Fortunately for GM Kelly McCrimmon there’s a few options out there. Patrick Kane, Vladimir Tarasenko, and James van Riemsdyk are perfect candidates to replace Stone.

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Dec 17, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Jaroslav Halak (41) makes a save as Philadelphia Flyers left wing James van Riemsdyk (25) screens him during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

There’s genuine concern when it comes to Kane as he’s dealing with a lower-body injury this season and has a full no-move clause. Tarasenko has a no-trade clause but would likely be willing to play in Vegas before hitting free agency.

However, when I think of van Riemsdyk on line with Eichel it seems like a perfect fit. The Flyers winger is a power forward that will compliment Eichel’s game perfectly. This season, he has just 8 goals and 21 points in 31 games but his production would jump on a line with Eichel.

Of the three, van Riemsdyk is probably going to cost the least to acquire with a first-round pick likely heading back to the Flyers.