Golden Knights have questions to answer before Eichel debut

The Vegas Golden Knights and Jack Eichel always seemed like a perfect match. It all added up perfectly.

The Golden Knights are the most aggressive team in the league with roster moves, never meeting a blockbuster trade or free agent signing they did not like. They have set the bar at a Stanley Cup and are willing to do whatever they have to do, no matter how cutthroat it is, to get there.

They also needed an impact player at center, probably the one weakness they have had during their first four years in the league.

Eichel, meanwhile, was desperate to get out of Buffalo, get to a contender and a team that would let him have his desired surgery.

On Thursday, after months of rumors and speculation and questions, the Sabres finally moved Eichel to the Golden Knights for Peyton Krebs, Alex Tuch, and two draft picks.

We still do not know when Eichel will make his debut (he still needs to actually have the disk replacement surgery and recover) but there is hope that it could be sometime later this season. Before that can happen the Golden Knights have a few questions to answer.

What do they do about the salary cap when Eichel does return?

This is the elephant in the room here. The thing about blockbuster trades and free agent signings is that those players tend to make a lot of money, and salary cap space will disappear. Quickly. The Golden Knights are able to manage right now because Eichel ($10M cap hit), Mark Stone ($9.5M cap hit), and Max Pacioretty ($7M cap hit) are all on long-term injured reserve and out of the lineup. William Karlsson ($5M cap hit) is also sidelined for a few weeks.

If and when they all return that will put them well over the league’s $81.5M salary cap ceiling (by about $10M), per Cap Friendly, later this season.

That will not exactly work during the regular season.

Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon acknowledged on Thursday after the trade that it is an “ongoing dance” and that sometimes you never return to full health. He added that if the Golden Knights do return to full health they will address it at that time.

[Related: Jack Eichel saga ends as Sabres trade forward to Golden Knights]

So let us be optimistic here and assume Eichel, Stone, Pacioretty, and Karlsson are all back at the same time, and that none of their other big contracts (Alex Pietrangelo, Robin Lehner, Shea Theodore) exit the lineup.

Somebody else is going to have to go.

The obvious candidates for that are forwards Reilly Smith and Evgenii Dadonov, both counting $5M against the cap.

With Eichel in the mix and the return of a healthy Karlsson they would not really have as much of a need for Dadonov, who has not really been the player they hoped yet. He would be expendable.

Smith would be a little more difficult to part with given how big of a role he has played in Vegas from the very beginning, but there are not really any other options that can easily be moved.

That is a lot of moving parts to land one player, but the Golden Knights obviously believe Eichel is the missing piece to their Stanley Cup puzzle.

One thing is for sure here, and we saw this a year ago with the Tampa Bay Lighting: Never let the salary cap play a role in your hypothetical trade discussions or free agent signings. Teams will always — always — find a way to get the player they want.

How do they stay competitive until Eichel returns?

The other big issue here for Vegas is the fact it has to actually remain competitive and put a team on the ice until Eichel makes his debut.

Right now that is a little problematic.

Not only are the Golden Knights dealing with a growing injury situation with Eichel, Stone, Pacioretty, Karlsson, and Nolan Patrick all sidelined, they are also off to a disappointing 4-5-0 start with some ugly underlying numbers. A significant part of that slow start is definitely a result of the injuries. Stone and Pacioretty have only played in two of the nine games, Tuch had not played in a game this season before he was traded, and now Karlsson and Patrick are sidelined on top of that.

Several those injuries are significant and will still result in a lot more time missed.

The remaining lineup right now is a fraction of what the Golden Knights expect it to be.

Adding somebody via trade is always an option, but it would further complicate that salary cap dance. The best hope might be for the players that are still in the lineup to play to their expected level. Theodore, Pietrangelo, Smith, Lehner, and Jonathan Marchessault are all off to slow starts by their standards. That is going to have to change quite rapidly.

Even though a couple of teams have exceeded expectations so far the Golden Knights are still playing in what is probably the weakest division in the NHL. They will also eventually get players back. They should still be considered a threat in the Western Conference. It is just going to be a bit of a complicated — and maybe more difficult — journey to get there than they expected at the start of the season.

Scroll Down For:

    Coyotes minority owner suspended by NHL following arrest

    coyotes suspension
    Donald Page/Getty Images
    1 Comment

    NEW YORK — Arizona Coyotes minority owner Andrew Barroway was suspended indefinitely by the NHL on Friday following his arrest for domestic violence in Colorado.

    Online court records show Barroway was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of second-degree assault strangulation, a felony, and third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. He appeared in court Friday to be advised of the possible charges he is facing and is scheduled to back in court on April 3.

    Barroway spent Thursday night in Pitkin County Jail after police arrested him at an Aspen hotel, according to a police report obtained by the Aspen Daily News.

    “The National Hockey League is aware of the arrest of Arizona Coyotes’ minority owner Andrew Barroway,” the NHL said in a statement. “Pending further information, he has been suspended indefinitely.”

    The 57-year-old Barroway was arrested after a verbal altercation with his wife turned physical, according to the police report. He is prohibited from having contact with his wife, except when it involves their children, and can’t consume alcohol under a court order.

    A prominent hedge fund manager, Barroway owns 5% of the Coyotes.

    “We are aware of the allegation regarding Mr. Barroway and we are working with the League to gather more information,” the Coyotes said in a statement. “When we have enough information, we will have an appropriate response. Until the investigation is complete, we will have no further comment.”

    Blue Jackets’ Patrik Laine out 2-4 weeks with triceps injury

    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
    1 Comment

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine is out 2-4 weeks after straining a triceps muscle in practice, yet another blow to the last-place team in the NHL that has been hampered by injuries all season.

    The Blue Jackets announced Laine’s absence before their home game against the New York Islanders.

    They already have 454 man-games lost to injury, one of the highest numbers in the league, and have a record of 22-41-7.

    Laine missed two separate stints with elbow and ankle injuries in the fall. The 24-year-old Finn is the team’s second-leading scorer with 52 points in 55 games.

    Columbus has been top defenseman Zach Werenski since November because of a torn labrum and separated shoulder. Forward Sean Kuraly recently went on injured reserve with a strained left oblique muscle but is set to return Friday.

    Tortorella earns 700th career win, Flyers top Wild 5-4

    flyers wild
    Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    PHILADELPHIA — John Tortorella needed one word to sum up if 700 career wins meant anything to the Flyers coach.


    OK, then. Good thing the brusque Stanley Cup winner isn’t paid by the word.

    James van Riemsdyk scored the only goal in a shootout, and Philadelphia beat the Minnesota Wild 5-4 on Thursday night for Tortorella’s 700th victory.

    Tortorella is 700-573-181 in 1,454 games as an NHL head coach. His 700 wins rank 12th in NHL history and his career games rank ninth in NHL history. He led Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup in 2004. In his first season coaching the Flyers, Tortorella joined Peter Laviolette as the second American-born coach to win 700 games.

    “I think the culture’s kind of changed around here,” Flyers forward Joel Farabee said. “I think he’s done a really good job of keeping the group together.”

    Farabee, Scott Laughton, Rasmus Ristolainen and Tyson Foerster scored for Philadelphia. The Flyers have two straight games for the first time since Jan. 9-14 when they won three straight. Yeah, it’s been that kind of season.

    “Farabee’s starting to pop, he’s looking real good. Tyson is looking real good,” Flyers defenseman Tony DeAngelo said. “This is all about laying the foundation for next year but we get a lot of money to do this job. It’s something we love, so we’re gonna go out and give it our best every night.”

    Matt Boldy had two goals for the Wild, and Oskar Sundqvist and Marcus Foligno also scored.

    “We weren’t very good. They were good,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “We knew they were playing well, they played well tonight. We were loose. We were not firm, turnovers, it didn’t look like our hockey club.”

    The Flyers and Wild were tied 1-all at the end of the first period, 3-3 at the end of the second and 4-4 headed into OT.

    The rebuilding Flyers have been plucky of late. They had won two of three coming into the game, with the lone loss in overtime. They showed some of that grit in the final two periods, scoring late tying goals.

    “It’s a credit to their group, to their coaching staff, that they’ve got them playing the right way,” Evason said.

    Boldy poked a backhander past Carter Hart with 6:28 left for a 4-3 lead. The Flyers, playing more for the No. 1 pick and for pride, tied the game on Foerster’s second goal of the season.

    Farabee tipped in Cam York’s shot early in the second for a 2-1 lead.

    The Wild got going when Boldy ripped one top shelf past Hart for his 24th goal of the season that tied the game 2-all. Foligno scored his seventh goal for the 3-2 lead.

    Ristolainen buried a hard slapper from the blue line on the power play for the tying goal with 23 seconds left in the second.

    “I think it’s good to try to lay this foundation, kind of get ready for next year. You see guys getting confidence,” DeAngelo said.

    The Flyers only played ahead in the first period.

    Laughton scored off the rush for his 17th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead. Sundqvist celebrated his birthday with a deflection for the tying goal with 3:24 left in the period.

    The Flyers had been one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL until the start of this seven-game homestand (3-2 so far). They have scored at least three goals in every game and at least four in the last four.

    “We have definitely gotten to the net better,” Tortorella said. “We have spent a lot of time on the ice and with tape as far as getting to that area.”


    Wild: Host Chicago on Saturday.

    Flyers: Host Detroit on Saturday.

    Crosby reaches 30-goal mark, Penguins knock off Avalanche 5-2

    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    DENVER – Sidney Crosby wasn’t even aware of reaching yet another milestone. He’s simply locked in on helping the Pittsburgh Penguins make a 17th straight postseason appearance.

    Jeff Carter had a pair of goals, Crosby scored on a nifty backhand shot in the second period to reach the 30-goal mark for an 11th season and the Penguins beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.

    Crosby moved into a tie with Hall-of-Fame center Mario Lemieux for the most 30-goal seasons in Penguins history. Another milestone reached – it came as news to him.

    “I think the most important thing for me is just try to be consistent and if that reflects that great,” said Crosby, who turns 36 in August.

    Even more, Crosby’s the first player in league history to post a 30-goal campaign at 18 years old and again when he was 35-plus, according to NHL Stats.

    “It means I’ve been in the league for a while,” Crosby cracked. “That’s been the thing that’s driven me since since I got into the league – in your first year, you want to prove that you belong. Even at 35, I still think you want to prove you belong, because it is a younger league.”

    Jake Guentzel also scored and Bryan Rust added an empty-net goal for the Penguins, who snapped a four-game slide and moved back into a wild-card spot in the East.

    “It’s definitely a big one for us, for sure,” Guentzel said. “Defending champs, coming to their building, you know how good they are. Top to bottom, we defended hard and that’s what we have to do at this time of the year.”

    Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry stopped 28 shots in improving to 11-4 this season against teams from the Western Conference.

    J.T. Compher and Devon Toews had goals for the Avalanche, whose six-game winning streak was halted. Nathan MacKinnon had an assist to extend his home points streak to 18 games.

    It was a missed opportunity for Colorado, which could’ve pulled into a three-way tie with Dallas and Minnesota in the Central Division with a victory.

    “We knew they were going to play with urgency,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “But I didn’t feel like there was any reason why we couldn’t, either. … We didn’t get it done. Hopefully we get another one.”

    Alexandar Georgiev made 40 saves, including several critical ones in a second period controlled by the Penguins, who outshot the Avalanche by a 21-9 margin. It could’ve been more than a 3-1 deficit heading into the third period.

    Toews’ power-play goal made it 3-2 with 9:32 remaining. But Carter wrapped up the win with his first multigoal game in the regular season since Jan. 11, 2022.

    “I’m thrilled for him. We’re all thrilled,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Carter. “He cares about the Penguins. He wants to win, and he wants to contribute in helping us win so we couldn’t be happier for him.”


    Bednar was appreciative of the three-year extension he signed Tuesday that goes through the 2026-27 season. In his seventh season, he’s the third-longest tenured coach in the NHL behind Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper (March 2013) and Sullivan (December 2015).

    “It’s not a forgiving league or sport, for the most part, but obviously that’s part of the reason why I’m so grateful and thankful,” Bednar said. “Because there were times over my tenure that got a little hairy and management could have made another decision. But obviously they didn’t.”


    Avalanche D Cale Makar missed a second straight game with a lower body injury. “I still have him as day-to-day,” Bednar said. … F Darren Helm returned after missing 64 of 69 games this season with a lower-body injury. … Penguins D Jeff Petry (upper body) skated in the morning but sat out his third straight game. … The Penguins are 11-1 against the Central Division this season. … Penguins standout Evgeni Malkin assisted on Guentzel’s goal to reach the 50-assist mark for a seventh time in his career.


    Penguins: At Dallas on Thursday night.

    Avalanche: Host Arizona on Friday night.