Training Camp is right around the corner. Trust me, it actually is, the long wait is so close to being over. With it a number of questions will begin to be answered for the Golden Knights. From lineup to systems to personnel to health, much of the picture will start to clear up every day we get closer to October 11th.
Until then, we must rely on snippets of information from the most important people in the organization, and recently we got some from the general manager. Speaking on the VGK Insider Show on Fox Sports Radio, Kelly McCrimmon dipped into the latest on Mark Stone’s health, contract negotiations with Nic Hague, and the goalie picture.
First, on Stone. A few days prior to Stone’s surgery at a press conference McCrimmon shared the news of what they expected the offseason to look like for the captain.
Mark Stone has been seeing consultants and meeting with doctors and it appears quite likely he’ll have back surgery on Wednesday. He would be available for Training Camp and rehab over that period of time. That’s not 100% for certain but it’s certainly the most likely outcome at this time. -McCrimmon on May 16th
Three days later, following the surgery, the team released this statement via Twitter.
Mark Stone underwent a successful lumbar discectomy with Dr. Robert Watkins, IV at Cedars Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital. He is expected to be ready to play for the regular season. -Golden Knights Official Statement
McCrimmon has spoken a few times and reiterated the expected timeline of Stone returning to the team for the first game of the season. In the interview with Fox Sports Radio, McCrimmon continued along the same path.
No different than what we’ve been saying all along. Mark’s in town, he’s skating. Our expectation is that he’s going to be available for the opening of the season. What that means exactly with respect to training camp, we’ll see. When you have these offseason surgeries, Laurent Brossoit is another one, really you don’t have that definitive timeline until the players get here, they get with the medical team, you see how they respond to certain treatments to certain levels of intensity. There’s a reason that teams at times appear to be vague with respect to timelines on injuries because it’s hard to pinpoint. My answers I’m giving here today are exactly I think as what we’ve said throughout the offseason and that’s the information we’re working with and the expectations we have. So that’s how we’ll play it out and once we get on the ice and see how players react that are coming off injuries or surgeries or lengthy rehabs we’ll know more at that time. –McCrimmon on VGK Insider Show
So, it still appears Stone is on track to be in uniform with the team on October 11th, but his availability to start Training Camp on September 24th remains in doubt.
On to the next order of business, restricted free agent Nic Hague.
We expect we’ll get that done prior to Training Camp. We like Nic a lot and we’ve seen a lot of growth in his game since we drafted him. He’s 6’6″ 240 pounds and I think he’s going to continue to improve for a long time. Guys that size, their development curve is a little bit longer and a little bit slower to arrive and I think that’s one of the really exciting things about Nic and his potential. –McCrimmon on VGK Insider Show
Hague is only required to be offered a one-year contract worth around $900,000. It’s assumed that Hague and his agent believe the defenseman is worth much more, and their only negotiating leverage is to hold out of training camp (and potentially regular season games).
The Golden Knights have a bit of cap space available to offer Hague slightly more than the qualifying offer, and it’s clear both sides would benefit from the 23-year-old participating in all of Training Camp.
Typically, the Golden Knights shut down anything contract-related when asked about a pending free agent, but this time McCrimmon gave a bit more of an optimistic answer. This is certainly good news that the wait is nearly up and Hague will be under contract sooner rather than later.
Finally, McCrimmon dove into the goalie situation a bit further.
We’re going to watch and see how it unfolds. We like Laurent Brossoit and I thought he played a lot of really good goal for us. Logan Thompson is a really talented goaltender and guy we’re really excited about and Adin Hill, we like Adin Hill. That gives us more confidence in the position that we’ll have people emerge. They are all going to get an opportunity to make first impressions on goaltending coach Sean Burke and Bruce Cassidy. That’ll be a really interesting position to monitor for our staff. –McCrimmon on VGK Insider Show
Cassidy has said on multiple occasions it’s Thompson’s job to lose, which clearly gives him a leg up heading into camp. Meanwhile, Brossoit remains unlikely to participate in camp and may be out a bit into the regular season.
The split between Thompson and Hill will be intriquing, and telling, both in preseason games and to start the regular season.
**McCrimmon’s full interview with Ryan Wallis and Daren Millard on the VGK Insider Show is available here.**