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Golden Knights Use LTIR To Their Full Advantage

How teams use the Long-Term Injured Reserve to increase salary cap space is always a fire starter for fan debates, podcast rants and sportswriters looking for a hot take.

The Vegas Golden Knights, mostly because of Mark Stone’s injury history, are often in the middle of the conversation. They use the LTIR rules to their advantage, like they did this year when they used Stone’s LTIR cap relieve to acquire Tomas Hertl, Noah Hanifin and Anthony Mantha before the NHL trade deadline. If Stone isn’t hurt, they wouldn’t have been able to fit all three of those players under the cap.

Stone suffered a lacerated play in a game against Nashville on Feb. 20. He hasn’t played since. When the regular season was completed, the Golden Knights announced Stone was cleared for practice. He appeared at practice, first wearing a non-contact jersey. Now, he’s participating fully in practice.

NHL Reviews All LTIR Transactions

Stone is returning to the lineup in the playoff series against the Dallas Stars — and the Golden Knights still have the added players. They are well over the salary cap ceiling, but that’s fine because the salary cap is not enforced in the postseason.

This is all within the rules. But that hasn’t stopped the memes and social media posts from suggesting Golden Knights are getting away with something. The Golden Knights clearly believe it’s been unfair because they are following the rules.

That’s why Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon defended his team this week.

“There has been a lot of speculation and a lot of innuendo about (Stone’s) injury,” McCrimmon said. “The NHL is 100 percent involved in any of these (LTIR) situations involving teams. Their chief medical director speaks to the surgeon, speaks to our medical team, speaks to our athletic therapist, has access to every document that is filed and every diagnostic test that is given. They have access to all of that information. That’s what keeps the system legitimate. They are the people that are fully involved in this. So, I don’t know that maybe the fans or the media understand the degree to which these injuries are scrutinized.”

Stone’s Bad Luck

One reason why the situation raised eyebrows is that Stone had a similar situation last season.

“Ironically it’s the same player,” Stone said. “We have talked openly about what his surgery was a year ago. This year it was a freak accident. When you watch the replay of the check…you wouldn’t anticipate that it would be an injury like that come out of a collision he had with the Nashville player.”

McCrimmon said doctors told him “there’s a stack of literature saying that injury is going to take three to six mouth.”

There was a small stick of literature, McCrimmon said, saying the injury might take less than that.”

“The information we had was that it would take three or four months,” McCrimmon said.