Knights happy to have Stone ahead of Canucks matchup
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It did not take long for Mark Stone to make his presence felt with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Stone has two points in the past three games as the Golden Knights prepare to visit the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Golden Knights have gone unbeaten in the five games since Stone was acquired from the Ottawa Senators in a blockbuster deal at the NHL's trade deadline.
"I just think he brings a lot to our group," defenseman Nate Schmidt told reporters recently. "You see his passion on the ice, his ability to make plays in situations and have confidence. I think that's something that we've missed, having confidence to make plays. He comes in and he's got that ability to do it and the confidence to do it, and I think he elevates the level of our players. So far so good for him. He's a big part of our team already ..."
After a slow start, Golden Knights are starting to resemble the expansion squad that reached the Stanley Cup finals last spring. The Golden Knights are coming off a home win Wednesday night over the Calgary Flames, a Pacific Division rival and fellow contender.
The Golden Knights acquired Stone, the 26-year-old Winnipeg native, in exchange for Erik Brannstrom, Oscar Lindberg and a 2020 second-round draft pick.
The two assists in his last three games are his lone points with the Knights. But, according to coach Gerard Gallant, Stone has elevated the entire team's play.
"The trade deadline was huge for us," said Gallant. "We get a guy like Stone, I mean, you look at your players, you look at your team, when you can add a guy like that to your lineup, I think it just brought all the players up."
Stone was a pending unrestricted free agent before the trade, but the Golden Knights did not waste any time locking him into a new contract. The club confirmed Friday that he has signed an eight-year deal that will average $9.5 million annually.
Meanwhile, another pending UFA, defenseman Alex Edler, is getting credit for lifting the Canucks' level of play lately. Edler has stood out in four games since returning from a concussion that sidelined him for most of February.
He has two goals in the past two games. His goal Thursday helped the Canucks rally from a 3-0 deficit in Edmonton, although they bowed 3-2 to Edmonton. On Wednesday, he scored the overtime winner as the Canucks came back from a 2-0 deficit to post a 3-2 home-ice win over Toronto.
The 32-year-old Swede has played all of his 13 NHL seasons with the Canucks -- and makes no secret of his desire to stay with the Canucks. General manager Jim Benning, who has clearly stated the team's intention to keep Edler, if possible, indicated Friday that he expects an extension to get done.
Canucks head coach Travis Green gives the impression that he can't wait for Edler to re-sign.
"I've talked to Eddy a lot," Green told reporters. "I'm the coach, not the GM and I understand the dynamics. Eddy knows what we think about him. It's obvious in how much we play him and how we treat him as one of our main leaders. I like having him on our team. You hope it works out."
Edler's offense has been a bonus in the last two games, considering that he is mainly relied upon for defense. The Canucks, goal-starved at the best of times, will look for other players to pick up the scoring slack against Vegas.
Green's crew will also try -- again -- to stop giving up early leads like they have in their past five straight games.
"We have a lot of resiliency and a lot of heart and have a lot of guys who don't quit," center Jay Beagle told reporters after the loss in Edmonton. "But when you go down by three it is tough ..."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 8, 2019