The Ottawa Senators canceled practice today for precautionary reasons, suggesting that there was more bad COVID news coming down the pipe. The team has now announced that Connor Brown and Dylan Gambrell have both been placed in the COVID protocol and are unavailable. In their place, the team has recalled Scott Sabourin and Egor Sokolov from the AHL.
The two Senators forwards join teammates Austin Watson, Nick Holden, and coach Jack Capuano in the protocol, though the team has not confirmed any additional positive results. Ottawa is set to take on the Boston Bruins tomorrow, and though that game is still scheduled for the moment, it’s unclear who will actually be available for the Senators.
For Sokolov, it would be his NHL debut should he enter the lineup tomorrow. The 21-year-old forward was a second-round pick in 2020, picked after going undrafted in previous years. He quickly showed that his combination of size and scoring ability was good enough to make up for any skating concerns at the AHL level, scoring 15 goals and 25 points in his rookie season. This year he’s been even better for the Belleville Senators, getting off to a strong start with six points in nine games.
Meanwhile, losing Brown for any length of time is a big hit for the Senators, given how big a role he plays for the team. Averaging more than 20 minutes a night, the 27-year-old forward actually sees more short-handed ice time than even any of the team’s defensemen. He’s also a regular contributor on the powerplay and one of the group’s most reliable offensive players. In 11 games, he has seven points on the year.
The concern now is how widespread these breakthrough infections will be, and how many other players will be affected. After games tomorrow and Thursday, the Senators have a back-to-back over the weekend, games that hopefully they will have some good news for.