Mark Stone [600x400]
Mark Stone [600x400] (Credit: Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Mavericks take 1-0 lead into game 2 against the Timberwolves

Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone was cleared to practice Saturday as the team continues to monitor his progress ahead of their first-round playoff series Monday against the Dallas Stars.

Stone has been out of the Golden Knights lineup since Feb. 20 when he was diagnosed with a lacerated spleen. It led to Stone being moved to long-term injured reserve for the second year in a row. Last season, the 31-year-old had a second back surgery in a 13-month window that led to him being out of the lineup starting in mid-January before returning ahead of the team's first-round series against the Winnipeg Jets.

Prior to his injury, Stone was having the best season of his career. He scored 16 goals and had 53 points in 56 games. He was on pace to finish with what would have been a career-high 78 points while logging more than 19 minutes in average ice time.

His absence led to the Golden Knights being one of the most active teams at the NHL trade deadline. Moving Stone and his $9.5 million cap hit to LTIR created the necessary cap space for them to get a top-nine forward in Anthony Mantha, a top-pairing defenseman in Noah Hanifin and the shock trade to get a top-six forward in Tomas Hertl within the final hour of the deadline.

With there being no salary cap restrictions in the playoffs, the Golden Knights would be free to activate Stone without needing to worry about a corresponding financial move.

Stone's return would give the Golden Knights another top-six forward who has been one of the most consistent players since he was traded to the club back in the 2018-19 season.

Last year, Stone scored 11 goals and finished with 23 points in 22 games to help the Golden Knights win their first Stanley Cup.

The Golden Knights advanced to the Stanley Cup final after beating the Stars in six games during the Western Conference Finals. This season, the Stars finished with the West's best record a point behind the New York Rangers for the Presidents' Trophy while the Golden Knights secured the second and final Western Conference wild-card spot.

Game 1 is set for 9:30 p.m. ET Monday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.