Knights' Mark Stone to practice after spleen injury

Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone has been cleared to practice while he continues to recover from a lacerated spleen, the team said Friday.

Stone, who has 16 goals and 53 points in 56 games, hasn't played since Feb. 20 when he was initially ruled out with what was then designated as an upper-body injury. He's expected to participate in morning skate while wearing a noncontact sweater.

There was no timetable given by the defending Stanley Cup champions for when Stone could return to the lineup.

Entering Friday, the Golden Knights were in the final Western Conference wild-card spot. They held a three-point lead over the St. Louis Blues despite having played one fewer game.

His absence led to the team moving him to long-term injured reserve in a move that allowed them to create the necessary cap space to be one of, if not the, most active team ahead of the NHL trade deadline.

It led to the Golden Knights acquiring forward Anthony Mantha from the Washington Capitals, defenseman Noah Hanifin from the Calgary Flames and forward Tomas Hertl from the San Jose Sharks, with the latter coming in the final hour before the deadline.

Mantha, a pending UFA, also has nine points in 16 games while Hanifin, who has nine points in 16 games, signed an eight-year extension with the Golden Knights on Thursday worth $7.35 million annually. As for Hertl, who has six years left on his contract, he made his debut Monday after recovering from left knee surgery.

If Stone continues his recovery efforts, it's possible he could be ready to play in the first round of the playoffs. Last year, Stone had his second back surgery in 12 months that led to him missing the final three months of the regular season before returning for the playoffs.

Stone finished with 11 goals and 24 points during the postseason to help the Golden Knights win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.