The last thing that the Nashville Predators need right now is to be without Ryan Johansen. Despite an off-season shake-up that many thought would hurt the Predators’ playoff chances this season, the team currently sits fourth in the competitive Central Division and would be the first wild card team in the Western Conference if the postseason started today. Nashville is one a four-game winning streak and 10-5-0 over the past month. A big contributor to their success thus far has been Johansen, who has finally re-discovered his scoring touch after a pair of very disappointing seasons. The $8MM center has already surpassed his 2020-21 point total with 24 points in 27 games, putting him on pace for a career-best 73 points.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 does not discriminate by skill level or hot streak. The virus continues to wreak havoc on NHL rosters and Johansen is the latest victim. The Predators have announced the Johansen has been added to the league’s COVID Protocol and will not play tonight against the New York Rangers. As usual, no cause was given for Johansen’s placement and the hope is that he may be able to exit the protocol after just one game, especially with a tough slate of games approaching against the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, and Carolina Hurricanes over the next week. The absence of Johansen’s fellow resurgent scorer Matt Duchene with an upper-body injury makes Johansen’s unexpected unavailability even more concerning.
In Johansen’s place, the Predators have recalled Michael McCarron from the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. Though a first-round pick in 2013, McCarron is not a player capable of filling a scoring role in Johansen’s place. The 26-year-old has been held scoreless in six games so far this season, which is his same stat line from last season. McCarron has eight points, a -14 rating, and 10 minutes of average ice time in 81 career NHL games.