As of now, the St. Louis Blues hope to re-open their facilities and allow players to return to the ice on Monday after a report that several Blues’ players tested positive for COVID-19. That report forced the Blues to close their facilities over the weekend. With a similar incident happening to the Tampa Bay Lightning on June 19, forcing the team to close their facilities for five days before re-opening. Regardless, the positive tests isn’t expected to affect the NHL’s plans to start training camps in a week.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly released a statement earlier today (via Fox’s Andy Strickland):
I don’t believe that what we’ve seen to this point is unexpected. We have always anticipated that we were going to encounter positive tests. What we want to avoid is mini-outbreaks. So the focus is taking the necessary precautions to avoid a cluster of positives. We think the enhanced structure and precautions that will be in place once we reach the training camp phase will actually create safer conditions for players and staff. And we think the Hub City Protocol will make it even safer still.
- In The Athletic’s Michael Russo’s Q&A with Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin (subscription required), the GM made it clear that the team will be fully focused on its series with the Vancouver Canucks and not the potential of landing the No. 1 overall pick, if the team falls in the play-in round next month. All eight teams that lose in the play-in game have a 12.5 percent chance to earn the right to draft super prospect Alexis Lafreniere. “I think everybody thinks about it, but our job is to win hockey games, and not to play for a first overall pick,” said Guerin. “We’re going in to win. You can’t do that. You can’t do that. Like I said, these games are going to come fast and furious. We’ve got to be ready and we’re going in there to win, not play for a pick. You can’t do that. You just don’t do that.”
- In his mailbag series, Sportsnet’s Iain MacIntyre writes that defensive prospect Olli Juolevi may have to accept being a third-pairing defenseman down the road. The 2016 fifth-overall pick has yet to make his NHL debut and the only player among the top 17 drafted players that year who has not appeared in an NHL game. The 22-year-old has struggled with both injuries and inconsistency, yet remains close to making his NHL debut and is expected to be on the Canucks roster for the playoffs next month. A third-pairing role might be the most reasonable expectations for Juolevi as it likely isn’t going to get easier to crack the Canucks’ roster over the next few years.