Mark Stone ready to lead in first full season with Vegas

LAS VEGAS — The first time Mark Stone ever skated onto the ice for an NHL game, he was 19 years old and his Ottawa Senators were facing the New York Rangers in the playoffs.

Erik Karlsson was his teammate then and he remembers it well. ”I’ve been with Stoney since he played his first game,” said Karlsson, now a San Jose Sharks defenseman. ”I’ve seen him kind of evolve into the guy he is today. He’s taken the right steps from day one. He was very fortunate to be around some of the guys in Ottawa that were still there.”

Today, Stone is 27 and one of the best forwards in the league, and Karlsson said things have come full circle for his friend in Las Vegas, where Stone has emerged as a mentor and leader for the Golden Knights.

Stone’s arrival in Vegas in February via trade after six-plus years in Ottawa solidified the third-year franchise as a contender as the big-bodied defensive forward makes things happen in both zones.

Though they now play for heated rivals who will open the season facing each other Wednesday, Karlsson said he is happy for his friend, whom he believes is in a good place with Vegas, where many young players can benefit from his leadership on and off the ice.

”He’s a fantastic man and a good hockey player, I think we all know that,” said Karlsson, who reunited with Stone in Ottawa this summer for several offseason workouts. ”He has the right values and he knows what needs to be done to be the best that you can be.

”I think that he’s always realized what his attributes are on the ice and he’s used that as an example over the course of the years and I think he’s learned his own way of leading and I think he does that by example. As of lately, I think that he’s evolved in helping others reach their potential. He’s taken the long hard road and he’s turned himself into the player that he is today by the dedication and the love of the game that he has, and I know he’s gonna be great for the guys here.”

Stone’s talent is no secret.

He positions himself on offense to make things happen, whether for himself or his teammates. His sturdy 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame allows him to hold the puck a second or two longer in the offensive zone and tends to draw an added defender. The tactic generally leaves one of his linemates open, allowing him to find someone in the crease.

”The minute you think he’s gonna pass it, he shoots; he’s not afraid to do both,” Golden Knights center Paul Stastny said.

On defense, Stone has a knack for disrupting opposing forwards by pickpocketing pucks, intercepting passes, or singlehandedly shutting down another team’s offensive attack before it even starts.

”He’s able to clean up other people’s mistakes and turn them into quick offense,” wing Reilly Smith said. ”He’s a mainstay in this league, he’s one of the best players, so we’re happy to have him for sure.”

Where he’s been just as valuable has been in blending perfectly into a system that has relied on locker-room chemistry. Now the Golden Knights benefit from having him for an entire season, being the type of mentor he once relied on in Ottawa.

”You add Mark in for the whole year this year and he’s such a presence for our group,” defenseman Nate Schmidt said. ”He makes a lot of guys better around him.”

Stone said he has no problem taking on a leadership role with a team that became his number one choice when he knew things would no longer work in Ottawa.

”I heard awesome things about the organization, the ownership, the management, the coaches and, ultimately, the players in this room and it hasn’t disappointed,” said Stone, who had 11 points in 18 regular-season games and 12 points in seven playoff games for Vegas last season. ”This is a group of guys that I love to come to the rink with and work with every day and going and competing with every day.”

Rangers’ Kreider fractures foot vs. Flyers

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New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider suffered a fractured foot against the Philadelphia Flyers Friday.

The alternate captain blocked a shot from Philippe Myers with 7:40 remaining in the opening period. He played one more shift for 10 seconds before heading to the locker room. The Rangers have not provided a timeline for the injury.

New York signed Chris Kreider to a $45.5 million, seven-year extension prior to the trade deadline. The 28-year-old power forward has 24 goals and 21 assists in 63 games this season.


Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Robin Lehner to make Golden Knights debut; Mark Stone injured

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The Vegas Golden Knights have been one of the league’s hottest teams over the past month and will be looking to extend their current winning streak to eight games on Friday night when they host the Buffalo Sabres.

Coach Pete DeBoer had some significant lineup news ahead of the game on Friday afternoon, including a potentially significant injury.

First, is the news that big trade deadline acquisition Robin Lehner will be making his first start in goal for the team. The Golden Knights acquired Lehner from the Chicago Blackhawks just ahead of the NHL trade deadline on Monday for a draft pick and a prospect. Lehner has been one of the league’s best goalies for the past two years and alongside Marc-Andre Fleury should give them one of the league’s best goaltending duos.

The far more serious news, though, was the announcement that forward Mark Stone will not play on Friday due to a lower-body injury.

DeBoer had no immediate information on how long Stone could be out, only to say that he is still being evaluated.

When asked if it could potentially be a long-term injury DeBoer said “There’s always fear. We don’t know, but we’ll see,” via NHL.com.

Stone is one of the league’s best all-around forwards and has not only been a point-per-game player for the past three seasons, he is also one of the best defensive forwards in the league. He finished the 2018-19 season as the top runner-up for the Selke Trophy, something that has become almost unheard of for a winger.

The Golden Knights enter Friday’s game in first place in the Pacific Division, four points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks.

Related: Blackhawks trade Robin Lehner to Golden Knights

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

 

Oilers’ Mike Green to miss 3-4 weeks with sprained MCL

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Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland was busy at the NHL trade deadline adding Mike Green, Andreas Athanasiou, and Tyler Ennis to his roster in an effort to improve its depth. But just two games later his team has already lost one of those new players to injury.

The Oilers announced on Friday that Green, acquired from the Detroit Red Wings for Kyle Brodziak and a draft pick, will be sidelined for the next 3-4 weeks due to an MCL sprain.

That is the way things seem to be going for the Oilers right now as injuries keep adding up throughout their roster.

Green joins an injury list that already includes the team’s top defenseman (Oscar Klefbom), as well as James Neal, Kailer Yamamoto, and Kris Russell.

Green played 19 minutes in the Oilers’ 3-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday.

Athanasiou was also injured in that game, but is expected to play on Saturday when the Oilers host the Winnipeg Jets.

The Oilers enter the weekend in third place in the Pacific Division with 74 points, four points back of Vegas and only two points ahead of the non-playoff teams in the Western Conference.

Related: Red Wings send Mike Green to Oilers

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Report: Islanders will play all home games at Nassau Coliseum in 2020-21

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March 22 will be the final Islanders’ game at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, according to Newsday.

Randi Marshall reports that New York governor Andrew Cuomo will announce on Saturday that the Islanders will play any home playoff games this season and all of their 2020-21 home schedule at Nassau Coliseum.

The Islanders are currently building a new arena by Belmont Park race track which is expected to be ready in time for the 2021-22 NHL season. The franchise played all of its home games at the Coliseum from 1972-2015 before moving to Brooklyn full-time in 2015. That lasted until 2018 when they split home games at both arenas, with Nassau Coliseum playing host to their Round 1 matchup against the Penguins and Barclays for their second round series against the Hurricanes.

While Barclays Center helped keep the Islanders in New York, it has not been the easiest arena to travel to for fans. The ability to get there via mass transit was a positive that the Coliseum doesn’t have. Yet when the Islanders returned back to Long Island last season, there was plenty nostalgia over the building that was home for the franchise’s glory days.

In September the Islanders broke ground on the new 19,000-seat arena by Belmont Park which is less than 10 miles from Nassau Coliseum.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.