Jack Eichel Skates with Golden Knights Teammates for the First Time

Source: Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP

Jack Eichel made a big step towards returning to the ice on Tuesday, skating with his Vegas Golden Knights teammates for the first time since being acquired in a trade back in early November.

Though the 25-year-old is still not ready to return to game action yet due to his neck operation, this is a positive sign and shows that he is progressing as everyone had hoped. At this point, his original timeline of a February return seems very realistic.

“Things are getting back to normal for me,” Eichel said after his ice session. “That’s what I’ve wanted all along. It felt really good to be here and really feel like you’re a part of the group.”

“The recovery to be honest was pretty smooth. I was very fortunate to be in the hands of Dr. Mark Lindsay and kind of just let him do what he does best. We had a good plan all along… It felt like the first few weeks I was sort of getting used to how I felt, then the next few weeks it was sort of ‘Now I’m starting to feel better.’ These past few weeks it’s been ‘Wow, I feel really good now, I almost feel back to normal.’”

This has to be music to manager Peter DeBoer’s ears, as even without Eichel his team has looked very dangerous, especially as of late. Through 38 games this season, they own a 23-14-1 record which is good enough for first in the Pacific Division.

Adding Eichel back, a player who at his best is one of the game’s truly elite forwards, is a scary thought for opposing teams. That, on top of how motivated Eichel will be to play after being off for so long, makes the Golden Knights a heavy favorite when it comes to Stanley Cup odds.

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