DALLAS — Valentin Zykov remains the odd-man out among the Golden Knights’ forwards.
The 23-year-old winger sat out his 14th straight game Friday when he was scratched against the Dallas Stars. And with the Knights battling for a playoff spot, Zykov isn’t likely to crack the lineup anytime soon.
“I’m putting a team in that’s trying to win,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “He played fine when he was in there, it’s just he’s a young player. The best way to explain it is, he’ll be ready when we need him and we’ll see where it goes. But it’s tough for him.
“He’s a good kid, and he’s worked hard. It’s just that he hasn’t had a lot of experience in the NHL, and we’re in the winning business right now. It’s getting down to the nitty-gritty.”
Zykov was claimed on waivers from Edmonton on Dec. 29 and made one appearance with the Knights prior to the All-Star break.
He was given a look on the first line with William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault for parts of four games last month and scored the tying goal in the third period of the Knights’ 3-2 shootout victory at Tampa Bay on Feb. 5.
But he has not played since being demoted to the third line and logging 7:52 of ice time vs. Columbus on Feb. 9.
Gallant has opted to use wingers Tomas Nosek and Brandon Pirri ahead of Zykov on the third line, and Ryan Carpenter is holding down a spot on the fourth line. When William Carrier returns, it will be even more difficult for Zykov to get into a game.
Zykov has one goal and three assists in 24 games with Carolina, Edmonton and the Knights.
His long-term future with the Knights also remains in doubt, though Zykov is signed through the 2019-20 season at a $675,000 salary cap hit.
“We haven’t made the playoffs or clinched any playoff spot. So we’re going to play our team and try to get as many points as we can,” Gallant said. “If it gets down to the last three or four games and things look real good for us, then we’ll see what we can do.”
The Knights, who had four days off this week, arrived in Dallas on Thursday afternoon and took advantage of their free time with a team-bonding activity.
It was an opportunity for newly acquired Mark Stone to learn about his teammates away from the rink.
“Don’t really know a ton of guys’ background, so coming here and only knowing one guy (Cody Eakin), I’m starting to really get comfortable with the guys,” Stone said. “To go out in that type of environment, you kind of learn little things about guys that you wouldn’t find out usually at the rink. Those things are always fun. We got to see a different team in a different setting, which is pretty cool.”
Knights prospect Cody Glass remains sidelined with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day on the Western Hockey League’s weekly report.
A spokesperson for the Portland Winterhawks, Glass’ major-junior team, said Friday there is “no update on Cody Glass at this time.”
Glass suffered a left knee injury Jan. 26 and returned Feb. 16, playing four of the Winterhawks’ next five games. The No. 6 overall pick in the 2017 draft has not played since Feb. 23.