The Vegas Golden Knights have once again kicked up a stir regarding their injury situation. Captain Mark Stone has fully returned to practice and appears likely to play in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. His potential return against the Dallas Stars has caused some controversy. Especially considering the team reportedly had concerns over his availability in the playoffs.

Stone has not played since February after he lacerated his spleen. The Golden Knights captain missed the final 26 games of the regular season, as a result. If he plays in Game 1 on Monday, it'll mark the second consecutive season that he missed extended time to end the season before returning for the first game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

General manager Kelly McCrimmon has heard all of the speculation around the true nature of the Mark Stone injury. And he hears the perception around his team regarding salary cap circumvention. On Saturday, he took time to address this matter before their practice ahead of facing the Stars in Game 1.

“The NHL is 100 percent involved in any of these (long-term injured reserve) situations involving teams. Their chief medical director speaks to the surgeon, speaks to our medical team, speaks to our athletic therapist, has access to every document that is filed and every diagnostic test that is given. They have access to all of that information,” the Golden Knights general manager said, via The Athletic.

A repeat performance

Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Minnesota Wild during the third period at T-Mobile Arena.
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Stone has struggled with injuries in the past. He was limited to just 37 games during the 2021-22 NHL season. And last year, he played in only 43 games for the Golden Knights. However, he returned for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Winnipeg Jets.

His return created controversy at the time. Especially given the circumstances around his injuries from a year ago. Stone missed extended time during the regular season after undergoing two back surgeries in the span of nine months. He played 22 games during the playoffs as the Golden Knights won the Stanley Cup.

The concern regards the salary cap. Vegas has little available cap space during the regular season. However, these injuries allowed the Golden Knights to clear his $10.5 million cap hit through long-term injured reserve. This season, Vegas took advantage. They added Anthony Mantha, Tomas Hertl, and Noah Hanifin in early March.

Kelly McCrimmon continues to talk Mark Stone injury

Golden Knights general manager continued to speak on the Mark Stone injury. He reiterated that the NHL is involved at every stage when injuries such as these occur. He went on to compare this situation to a scenario where a player dealt with an injury elsewhere on the body.

“The NHL are involved in everything that we do,” McCrimmon said, via The Athletic. “Our dealings aren’t with the NHL, our dealings are with the medical people that are overseeing Mark’s care. They look in on that.

“This isn’t a situation where a player is coming off a shoulder injury or knee injury, where you might be able to play at 80 percent. His spleen has to be 100 percent healed for him to be able to play, and that’s exactly how it played out.”

The Mark Stone injury will certainly be a topic of discussion the Golden Knights will have to deal with. Especially if they go on a deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In any event, it appears as if Vegas will have their captain on the ice Monday night against the Dallas Stars.