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Cap space for Eichel? Golden Knights’ Pacioretty out indefinitely

Cap space for Eichel? Golden Knights' Pacioretty out indefinitely

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 08: Max Pacioretty #67 of the Vegas Golden Knights skates during the third period of a game against the Dallas Stars at T-Mobile Arena on December 08, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

After Thursday, we know that the Golden Knights announced that Max Pacioretty is out indefinitely following wrist surgery. What we don’t yet know is how Pacioretty’s indefinite absence may affect how the Golden Knights might fit Jack Eichel under the salary cap.

Golden Knights announce Max Pacioretty is out indefinitely

No doubt about it, when people heard about Max Pacioretty being out indefinitely, many thought of the salary cap implications for the Golden Knights. How could you not?

After all, while Pacioretty’s cap hit ($7 million) doesn’t totally cancel out that of Eichel ($10M), it would alleviate a lot of potential salary cap stress for the Golden Knights.

But it would be silly to consider Pacioretty missing a ton of time (perhaps the rest of the regular season?) a “good thing.”

While Mark Stone deserves every bit of his hype as an elite NHL winger, people might sleep on Pacioretty’s recent work. Most obviously, “Patches” has been productive, including so far this season (21 points in 16 games).

For all the salary cap/Eichel talk around the Golden Knights, it’s worth noting that Pacioretty has dealt with plenty of health headaches this season. Earlier, he missed significant time with what was believed to be a broken foot.

So, no ... it’s too simple to look at this as a promising development for the Golden Knights. Pacioretty is too effective, and we still don’t know a) when Eichel will be ready and b) how effective he’ll be off the bat, and in general.

But this does simplify things a bit.

A tangled web of a cap situation

Between injuries and COVID absences, there’s some significant confusion regarding every element of the Golden Knights salary cap situation.

According to Cap Friendly’s listings, Eichel and quite a few other Golden Knights currently sit on LTIR:

  • Eichel ($10M cap hit).
  • Alec Martinez ($5.25M).
  • Nolan Patrick ($1.2M).
  • Jake Bischoff ($716,667).

Mark Stone is on (vanilla?) IR, while Robin Lehner is dealing with an injury. It looks like Alex Pietrangelo and Evgenii Dadonov recently left COVID protocol, while Brett Howden (and coach Peter DeBoer) are still on that list.

That’s a lot of money floating around, but again, Pacioretty and his $7M cap hit likely going to LTIR could solve much (if not all) of the Eichel riddle for the Golden Knights.

[PHT Year in Review: Top stories of 2021]

Still, it’s not a perfectly clean situation. Ideally, the Golden Knights would have time to acclimate Eichel with Pacioretty and Stone -- especially, but not only, if they end up forming a super line. That won’t be possible before the postseason if Pacioretty must linger on LTIR. (That lack of familiarity creates at least one wrinkle compared to the Lightning walking the salary cap tightrope with Nikita Kucherov last season.)

Maybe that won’t matter because of the sheer collection of talent on hand. Perhaps the splashy-move-loving Golden Knights have even more swerves planned.

Whatever happens, it will be interesting to watch, although that’s also how you can describe the sensation of watching Stone and Pacioretty make great hockey music together.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.