Golden Knights' Mark Stone out indefinitely after back surgery

Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone will be out indefinitely after having back surgery, the team said Wednesday.

The left winger is expected to make a full recovery.

Stone was injured Jan. 12, after playing less than four minutes of the Golden Knights' 4-2 win over the visiting Florida Panthers. He began his rehab shortly afterward, but a setback resulted in the determination that surgery was needed.

It marks the second time in the past 12 months that Stone has needed back surgery. He went through the 2021-22 season with back issues before having a lumbar discectomy in May.

Figuring out how Stone would fare following surgery coupled with missing the playoffs for the first time were among the talking points facing the Golden Knights entering this season.

Still, they opened the season 17-7-1, a record largely powered by a nine-game winning streak in November. Between their overall scoring depth (seven players have scored more than 10 goals), the emergence of rookie goaltender and All-Star Logan Thompson and new coach Bruce Cassidy's tactics, Vegas was able to establish itself as a Western Conference favorite that could challenge for the Stanley Cup.

But the Golden Knights have gone 2-6-2 over their past 10 games, and they entered Wednesday third in the Pacific Division and just two points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers for the first of two Western Conference wild-card spots. (They've also played more games than the two teams ahead of them in the standings, the Los Angeles Kings and the Seattle Kraken.)

Losing Stone now creates more questions amid the difficult stretch, as his 17 goals and 38 points are both tied for second on the team. It leaves the Golden Knights potentially looking for a top-six option to supplement what they already have beyond Jack Eichel, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith and Chandler Stephenson, among others, ahead of the March 3 trade deadline.