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Vegas Golden Knights

Mark Stone Miraculously Healing Just in Time for the Playoffs

Mark Stone skated at practice with the Vegas Golden Knights. Even if he’s not ready to play, the timing of his return will raise questions.

Continuing to prove that the NHL absolutely has to do something about the process that includes placing players on LTIR and then allowing them to return for the playoffs when the salary cap magically doesn’t count against the team, the Vegas Golden Knights shared the news that forward Mark Stone was back on the ice for the team in a non-contact jersey on Monday.

Sure, this doesn’t mean that he’s ready to go now, but it certainly appears like he’ll be ready to roll when the postseason begins and as the Golden Knights try to dispatch of whoever their first-round opponent is going to be. And, as the rest of the league tries to deal with an already strong team that is going to get that much stronger with Stone’s return, it won’t be overlooked by anyone — except maybe the NHL itself — that the team spent $7.25 million of Stone’s cap hit when the forward went down. Vegas added players like Jonathan Quick, Ivan Barbashev, and Teddy Blueger at the deadline.

The team is using nearly $14 million in LTIR relief and when the postseason gets underway, Stone will be free to return without any salary repercussions.

Stone’s injury was legitimate, but the timing of his return will certainly be questioned by many. And, if he goes on to be a difference-maker in the series, the fact that he somehow was healthy enough to play just in time for games to matter will pose people to ask why the NHL allows this. Stone wasn’t the only player back either. Logan Thompson and Adin Hill were both on the ice for Vegas at Monday’s practice.

At this point, teams aren’t even hiding the fact that they are blatantly using the rules regarding LTIR to their advantage and seemingly abusing the system put in place so as to ensure injuries don’t crush a team’s chances in the playoffs. Time will tell if Stone actually plays. Perhaps this is just an internal morale booster for the team and he’s not ready to go just 69 days after undergoing his second back surgery in less than nine months.

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