The NHL released a blank COVID Protocol Related Absences list today as the lone remaining member, Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb, has been removed. McNabb had been in the protocol and in isolation since May 26 following a positive test, but was expected to come off the list when he was spotted skating ahead of Vegas’ morning skate on Sunday.
However, McNabb’s return to the lineup remains on hold. Although he has exited isolation following the required ten days, the NHL’s COVID Protocol states that any player who tests positive for Coronavirus “must refrain from exercise for a total of 14 days from the time of the first positive test” and also must pass cardiac testing. This means that McNabb cannot return to action until Wednesday at the earliest. His morning skate participation likely falls under the “low-grade exercise” permitted if a player has been asymptomatic.
With the Colorado Avalanche up 2-1 in the West Division finals and Games Four and Five scheduled for Sunday and Tuesday, McNabb will need his Knights teammates to force a Game Six on Thursday in order for him to have any chance to return. The irony is that Vegas could desperately use McNabb’s defensive play in order to pick up more wins against a dynamic Avalanche offense.