The COVID announcements just won’t stop. After the Oilers and Bruins will be without Cody Ceci and Bruce Cassidy respectively, the St. Louis Blues are following suit by adding Tyler Bozak to the COVID protocol.
Bozak, 35, has played in all 21 of the Blues games this year and wasn’t one of the players held out because of positive COVID tests earlier in the season. He has just one goal so far, but has contributed seven points in limited minutes. Among regulars, Bozak sees nearly the lowest amount of even-strength time on the team, averaging just over 11 minutes at 5-on-5. His value to the team is more noticeable on the penalty kill, where his faceoff prowess comes in handy (though, he’s currently at the lowest win percentage of his career).
If he has tested positive, which is not confirmed at this point, and is experiencing any symptoms, Bozak will miss a minimum of ten games for the Blues. Normally that would mean a simple recall from the AHL, but St. Louis is actually too close to the cap for that. The team has just over $100K in long-term relief left, not enough for a regular recall. Should they play tonight with one less skater than normal, they would be able to recall a player without his cap being added.
That may not be necessary, as the team was already carrying 13 forwards and eight defensemen, but like earlier in the season the Blues will be in a difficult situation should anyone else be added to the protocol. The team petitioned the league for salary cap relief in cases like this, but the NHL decided not to go down that route at the time.