Since undergoing a neck procedure back in mid-November, Jack Eichel has been adamant that he would return at some point in February, and that is appearing more and more likely each passing day.
Roughly a week ago, Eichel practiced with his teammates for the first time, indicating he was closing in on a return. According to Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley, Eichel’s debut with his new team may come even sooner than some are expecting.
“You saw him today, he’s not that far off,” Foley said on the SinBin.vegas Podcast this past Friday. “He’s a few weeks and he’s going to be ready to play.”
This is extremely exciting news for Golden Knights fans, as they will be getting a player on their team who, if fully healthy, is a top-10, if not top-five centerman in the entire league. In his career to this point the 25-year-old has played in 375 games while amassing 139 goals and 355 points.
One thing that has been discussed plenty is Eichel’s cap hit of $10 million. It won’t be easy for the Golden Knights to fit in given the fact they only have roughly $5.7 million in cap space. To make matters even worse, they also have to fit in Alec Martinez’ $5.25 million salary when he is good to go, as he too is currently on long term injured reserve. However, while admitting that the team will need to make some moves, Foley didn’t seem overly concerned about the entire process.
“We’re going to have to make some adjustments, but we do have a lot of guys who are hurt,” Foley said. “We are kind of looking at that and making sure we don’t do something prematurely. We’ve had bad luck this year in terms of people getting injured. So, we do have a plan, some alternatives, but we’re trying to hold off until we see how the injuries sort out over the next 20, 25, 30 days.”
It makes sense the Golden Knights would want to wait a while longer, but in all reality they don’t have a ton of time. If Foley is correct and Eichel is good to go in just a few weeks, general manager Kelly McCrimmon will have to deal at least one, if not multiple players on his roster to make room. While it remains to be seen who that could be, many are speculating players like Evgenii Dadonov, Reilly Smith, and perhaps even Jonathan Marchessault may be the ones up for grabs.
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