The Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs will be missing a pair of depth defenders for the next little while, as Gavin Bayreuther and Timothy Liljegren have been placed in the COVID protocols. For both teams this is something of a setback, given they’ve activated several players over the last few days and are preparing to resume their seasons in the coming days.
Bayreuther, 27, joins Oliver Bjorkstrand, Eric Robinson, and Joonas Korpisalo in the protocol for Columbus as the Blue Jackets get ready to take on the Nashville Predators tomorrow night. The veteran minor league defenseman has played 17 games this season, nearly matching his previous career total with five assists. Even though he’s been in the lineup, he’s not playing much, averaging just over 14 minutes a night on the year and just 12 in his last five matches.
Liljegren meanwhile joins William Nylander, Ilya Mikheyev, David Kampf, Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin, and Petr Mrazek in the protocol for the Maple Leafs, a team that saw almost the entire roster go on over the holidays. Toronto hasn’t played a single game since December 14 and won’t hit the ice until Saturday against the Ottawa Senators.
The 22-year-old Liljegren has played in 19 games for the team this season, even logging more than 21 minutes in the team’s last game. A first-round pick in 2017, he’s barely played in the NHL to this point, totaling just 32 contests over parts of three years.
Notably, Liljegren and Bayreuther could now be facing different protocol rules after the NHL slightly changed their isolation periods for U.S.-based teams. Neither player has been listed as a confirmed positive by his team and no details on symptoms have been revealed.