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Golden Knights center undergoes surgery, out week to week

Updated January 16, 2024 - 6:11 pm

The Golden Knights will be without their leading scorer for the foreseeable future.

Center Jack Eichel underwent surgery for a lower-body injury and is considered week to week, the team announced Tuesday.

Eichel, who shares the team lead in scoring with captain Mark Stone, is just the latest name on a growing list of missing players for coach Bruce Cassidy’s club.

The defending Stanley Cup champions have been particularly decimated at center. In addition to Eichel, center William Karlsson hasn’t played since Jan. 1 because of a lower-body injury.

Cassidy said the Knights will need some of their other forwards to step up with two of their top three options in the middle out.

“We feel it’s one of the biggest strengths of our team, so when you’re taking 50 percent of it out, it’s no longer a strength until the next guys go in there and make it that way,” Cassidy said Saturday. “So we’re going to find that out depending on the length of time for Jack.”

Eichel left Thursday’s game against the Boston Bruins in the second period with a lower-body injury, but later returned. He scored a goal and got an assist on defenseman Alex Pietrangelo’s winning tally in overtime.

Eichel missed practice two days later and Cassidy said more evaluation on Eichel’s injury was needed. Now the Knights know he’ll be gone for an extended period of time.

Center Nic Roy will be counted on to move up the lineup in the absence of Eichel, who has a team-high 19 goals and 44 points in 42 games. Forwards Brett Howden and Michael Amadio could take on added responsibilities. Center Byron Froese may get an opportunity to play more after getting called up for Saturday’s game against Calgary.

“When you take any team’s two of their top three out, it’s going to affect the team,” Cassidy said. “Our defensive zone system and structure revolves a lot around our centermens’ ability to read and close off plays. So that’s a challenge for guys to go in and do that. (Eichel and Karlsson) both play a big part on both special teams. So I believe it will impact our team. So where do we make up the difference?”

It might be an easier question for the Knights to answer if they didn’t have so many other injuries.

Left wing William Carrier is considered week-to-week after undergoing shoulder surgery. He last played Jan. 4.

Defenseman Shea Theodore hasn’t appeared since Nov. 22 after undergoing surgery because of an upper-body injury. Cassidy has given no indication that Theodore is close to a return.

Defensemen Tobias Bjornfot and Ben Hutton are also out.

Bjornfot played just two games for the Knights after being claimed off waivers before suffering an undisclosed injury. Hutton suffered a hand injury Dec. 28 and has begun skating on his own. He has yet to join the rest of the Knights for practice.

Goaltender Adin Hill is working his way back from a lower-body injury as well. Hill was hurt Nov. 30. He made a brief return Dec. 17, but left in the first period after appearing to aggravate his injury.

Hill was then announced as the Knights’ starter Jan. 10, but he did not feel 100 percent and did not appear in the team’s loss to Colorado. Goaltender Jiri Patera stepped in on short notice against the Avalanche. Patera has not dressed since after feeling sore following that start, but he appears close to returning to action.

There is at least some positive injury news for the Knights.

Defenseman Daniil Miromanov has been participating in practice in a red no-contact jersey and could be approaching a return. He suffered a torn ACL last year and has not played at all this season.

The Knights took Tuesday off and will return to practice Wednesday. They host the Rangers at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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