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Golden Knights place Zach Whitecloud on long-term injured reserve as injuries mount

The Vegas Golden Knights have placed Zach Whitecloud on long-term injured reserve, according to CapFriendly.

It is the latest blow to the Golden Knights, who already were without Jack Eichel, Shea Theodore and Alex Pietrangelo, responsible for 72 combined points this season.

The LTIR designation means that Whitecloud will miss at least the next 10 games and won’t be eligible to return until Jan. 5 against Pittsburgh. However, he could miss additional time.

Whitecloud was injured in the second period of Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins.

His right leg bent awkwardly when Bruins winger Taylor Hall fell on his skate in the crease. Whitecloud needed help getting off the ice and did not put any weight on the leg as he made his way down the tunnel to the locker room.

Vegas also put Eichel  — who leads the team in goals (13) and points (29) — on injured reserve, which means he will miss at least seven days retroactive to his last game (Dec. 9).

Eichel will be out of action for the Golden Knights’ upcoming two-game road trip against the Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks and will be eligible to return Dec. 17 against the New York Islanders.

Eichel sustained the lower-body injury Dec. 3 against Detroit. He didn’t put weight on his right leg as he headed straight to the locker room at the end of the shift.

Eichel missed the next two games against the Bruins and Rangers but returned for Vegas’ 2-1 overtime win against Philadelphia on Friday in which he led all Vegas forwards in ice time (20:15). However, he was out of the lineup once again Sunday against the Bruins.

Theodore sustained an injury during that overtime period against Philadelphia after colliding with Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim.

He was down on the ice in visible pain and was scratched in Sunday’s game against the Bruins.

Theodore is still listed on the active roster and is considered day-to-day, but an update on the severity of his injury has yet to be disclosed.

Pietrangelo remains out of the lineup indefinitely as he tends to a personal matter. He last played Nov. 26 against Vancouver.

With Whitecloud, Theodore and Pietrangelo out of commission, the Golden Knights are not only without three top defensemen but are missing their entire right side on the blue line. That leaves Vegas particularly vulnerable on the back end, as Daniil Miromanov was the only other right-shot defenseman in the lineup on Sunday.

However, Vegas addressed the matter by bringing up two right-shot defensemen from the Golden Knights’ AHL affiliate.

The club announced Monday that three players — forward Jonas Rondbjerg as well as defensemen Brayden Pachal and Kaedan Korczak — have been recalled from the Henderson Silver Knights.

Even so, the Golden Knights will have to decide between playing multiple defensemen on their off side or using some combination of Ben Hutton, Miromanov, Pachal and Korczak on the right side. Pachal and Korczak have a combined three games of NHL experience.

Nicolas Hague has been playing on his off side on the top pairing with Alec Martinez in Pietrangelo’s absence; that’s a duo Bruce Cassidy could leave untouched, but he may shuffle the other pairs to find something that works until Theodore is able to return.

Pachal appeared in two games for the Golden Knights last season, taking 29 shifts and recording one shot and a minus-two rating while averaging 9:46 per game. He has two goals and seven points in 25 games this season with Henderson.

Korczak was a second-round pick (No. 41 overall) in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and played one game with Vegas last season; he finished the game with a plus-one rating in 16:37. Korczak has one goal and six points in 24 games with Henderson this season after recording two goals and 14 points in 47 games last year.

Rondbjerg, originally drafted in the third round (No. 65 overall) of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, played one game with the Golden Knights this season (Dec. 7 against the Rangers) after appearing in 30 games in the 2021-22 campaign. He has two goals and six points in 31 career NHL games.

Rondbjerg is fourth on the Silver Knights in scoring with 15 points in 23 contests this season and leads the team with a plus-six rating.

This is an ongoing story.

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