- With Blues center Tyler Bozak suiting up tonight Anaheim, he triggers a $750K bonus in his contract, notes Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link). Those are supposed to be charged in the year they’re earned but a team can go over the cap with bonuses and take the charge the following season. Considering their current cap situation, the latter could be the case with Bozak, who still has three other bonuses in his deal, per CapFriendly.
- While the Blues were hoping for some cap relief in their current COVID situation, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that they won’t be receiving any: “There is not currently an intention to provide cap relief for Covid-related reasons. No different than having to deal with multiple short-term injuries. St. Louis is not at all unique in having to navigate these waters.” St. Louis has had six different players enter the protocols in recent days and while they’ve managed to carry a minimum-sized roster, any other addition or injury will place them in a situation where they’ll have to play short a player for a game before becoming eligible for a cap-exempt recall.
St. Louis Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly is likely to return to the lineup Sunday night when they take on the Anaheim Ducks, per Blues writer Chris Pinkert. The 30-year-old center missed the team’s last four games while in COVID-19 protocol. He’s likely to return to top-line duties between David Perron as well as Brandon Saad, who’s also missed time while in COVID-19 protocol this season. Prior to departing the lineup, O’Reilly had five points in five games while averaging 19:13 of ice time per game.
Other injury notes from around the league:
- The Minnesota Wild activated both Mats Zuccarello and Rem Pitlick from COVID-19 protocol today, according to a team tweet. Zuccarello is the Wild’s most productive player this season in terms of points per game, notching three goals and four assists for seven points through six games. He returns playing on a unit with Marcus Foligno and Joel Eriksson Ek. Pitlick, who was claimed off waivers from the Nashville Predators earlier in the season, only played one game before entering protocol. However, he did notch an assist in that game and should return to the lineup in a fourth-line role centering Brandon Duhaime and Kyle Rau.
- Rick Dhaliwal of The Athletic reports Vancouver Canucks defenseman Luke Schenn could miss a couple of weeks with what Dhaliwal calls a “knee issue.” Schenn was absent from Vancouver’s practice Sunday. Schenn has two assists through five games this season, often serving as a healthy scratch.
- The Blues could be slow-playing their pending decision on winger Jake Neighbours until Oskar Sundqvist is able to come off LTIR, suggests Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The 19-year-old has played in seven games this season, two away from the decision on whether or not to burn the first year of his entry-level deal. Neighbours has held his own so far with a goal and an assist in those seven contests while averaging nearly 10 minutes a night but more time in the WHL may be best for him in the long run.
The St. Louis Blues will be without the services of another important player, announcing that Torey Krug has been placed in the COVID protocol. The team has recalled Calle Rosen from the AHL, moving Dakota Joshua down in his place. Not only is Krug is unavailable for the time being, but so is Brayden Schenn, who is dealing with an upper-body injury and has returned to St. Louis for further evaluation.
It’s not all bad news for the Blues, who also are getting Ryan O’Reilly back after his own COVID quarantine. General manager Doug Armstrong explained that O’Reilly has rejoined the team on the road trip and is expected to be ready to play on Sunday. The captain’s return comes at the perfect time as the team deals with both injuries and COVID-related absences.
In fact, the Blues could be in a very tricky situation if anyone else is ruled out. Armstrong told reporters including Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic that given they have just 21 players now and could have to play short. St. Louis doesn’t have the cap space to recall anyone else, given they were already using almost all of the flexibility created by placing Oskar Sundqvist on injured reserve. If they do have to play short at any point, the team would be able to make an emergency recall afterward to bring up a player without his cap hit. That would only be until the injured players are ready to return, but would at least keep them from icing a shortened roster.
Losing Krug and Schenn at the same though is a brutal hit for the team given how important they are. Krug averages nearly 21 minutes of ice time and has eight points in his first nine games, while Schenn had been carrying a big part of the load at center with O’Reilly out. The 30-year-old forward’s six points in nine games trails several others, but he is still a huge part of their game plan at both ends of the rink.
With a busy night upcoming on the NHL calendar, it’s a busy night across the rest of the hockey world as well. There’s a fair amount of movement across lower levels of North American hockey today. We’ll keep track of that right here.
- Former top goalie prospect Jon Gillies is once again getting a shot at the AHL level, as the ECHL’s Maine Mariners loaned him to the Providence Bruins today. Gillies hasn’t played an NHL game since 2017-18 with the Calgary Flames, since spending time in the St. Louis Blues and now the Bruins organization. In one start with the Mariners this year, Gillies posted a .920 save percentage in a losing effort.
- The AHL’s Rochester Americans reassigned defenseman Peter Tischke to the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones, per the team’s Twitter account. The 25-year-old undrafted Tischke was a former captain at the University of Wisconsin but has struggled to keep his footing in the AHL during a short professional career so far. He notched two points in 16 games with the Colorado Eagles last year, staying at the AHL level all season. But after just one game in Rochester, he’s heading back to the ECHL where he posted 15 points in 51 games with the Utah Grizzlies in 2019-20.
This page will be updated throughout the day
The St. Louis Blues have placed Kyle Clifford in the COVID protocol, joining Ryan O’Reilly and Ville Husso with the non-roster designation. The team did not reveal any other information about the transaction, or whether Clifford has tested positive.
As a reminder, inclusion in the protocol does not mean that a player has tested positive for Coronavirus or even that they have been confirmed as a close contact to another positive person. Included in the NHL’s list of possible reasons for someone being on the COVID Protocol Related Absences list are the following:
(1) an initial positive test which remains unconfirmed until confirmatory testing is completed pursuant to the Positive Test Protocol; (2) mandated isolation for symptomatic individuals pursuant to the Positive Test Protocol; (3) required quarantine as a high-risk close contact in accordance with the Positive Test Protocol; (4) isolation based on a confirmed positive test result and/or; (5) quarantine for travel or other reasons as outlined in the COVID-19 Protocol.
Clifford is the Blues’ fourth player to be added to the protocol this season, as Brandon Saad previously spent time on the list. While O’Reilly’s absence is a huge blow for the team, Clifford doesn’t represent the same kind of impact player for St. Louis and had only suited up twice this season. The 30-year-old is a physical presence that can chip in some offense here and there but played fewer than 11 minutes in Saturday’s match against the Chicago Blackhawks.
There’s a light schedule on this Halloween Sunday, with only five games on the NHL’s docket. Nevertheless, there should be some action on the recall and reassignment front as teams deal with short-term roster absences. We’ll keep track of those moves here.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning recalled defenseman Cal Foote from his conditioning stint with the Syracuse Crunch today, per a team release. The 22-year-old, who’s arguably Tampa Bay’s top defense prospect, hasn’t played in the NHL yet this season after undergoing finger surgery during training camp. He’ll likely draw into the lineup on the team’s third pairing with Mikhail Sergachev, letting veteran Andrej Sustr, who’s averaged just 10:48 per game in seven contests, return to the press box or minors.
- According to Florida Hockey Now’s George Richards, the Florida Panthers are re-assigning forward Zac Dalpe and defenseman Chase Priskie to the Charlotte Checkers. Dalpe was recalled just yesterday but was forced into action with Sam Bennett unable to go. Priskie’s shuffled up and down multiple times this season due to him not being waiver-eligible but hasn’t gotten into game action yet with the Panthers.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs returned goalie Michael Hutchinson to the Toronto Marlies yesterday. Petr Mrazek is once again healthy and after playing against the Detroit Red Wings last night, Hutchinson’s emergency recall is now over.
- Forward Jack Studnicka has been returned to Providence by the Boston Bruins, according to the AHL’s transactions page. Studnicka, one of their top forward prospects, has one assist in three games with the big club this season.
- The Pittsburgh Penguins have recalled defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, per the team. The move comes after Marcus Pettersson and Chad Ruhwedel were added to the COVID-19 protocol today. Joseph will likely make his season debut during this call-up after notching five points in 16 games with Pittsburgh last year, his first NHL action.
- St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube says that the team will recall goalie Joel Hofer from the Springfield Thunderbirds after Ville Husso entered COVID-19 protocol today. The 21-year-old Hofer was a fourth-round selection by the Blues in 2018 and could make his NHL debut this coming week as the team’s next two games fall on back-to-back nights. A WHL and World Junior champion, Hofer’s started strong with a .936 save percentage and 3-0-1 record in Springfield this year.
- The Anaheim Ducks recalled Sam Carrick from the San Diego Gulls after announcing forward Jakob Silfverberg entered the league’s COVID-19 protocol today, per The Athletic’s Eric Stephens. The news comes after Silfverberg’s mysterious brief disappearance from the Ducks’ public roster yesterday. This is Carrick’s second NHL stint this season, playing 9:51 in his only game with the Ducks in 2021-22.
This page will be updated throughout the day.
The St. Louis Blues didn’t have Ville Husso on the ice at practice this morning, and it’s because he has been added to the COVID protocol. He joins Ryan O’Reilly, who has been unavailable the last several days. Brandon Saad, who had previously been in the protocol, rejoined the team this weekend and was on the ice this morning. Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff tweets that his colleague and former pro goaltender Mike McKenna will strap on the pads again to help out the Blues at practice.
If Husso is a confirmed positive and held out for the next little while, the Blues will need to find a new backup goaltender for their games later this week. The team is off until Wednesday, giving some flexibility for testing, but it seems likely that Charlie Lindgren could be recalled for the first time this season. The 27-year-old Lindgren signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Blues this summer after hitting free agency, and has played in two games for the Springfield Thunderbirds so far.
There have been many players ruled out because of COVID testing this year, but goaltenders, in particular, are obviously a tough situation for any team. This is exactly why some clubs expressed a desire to keep a taxi squad of sorts for that specific position, allowing every team to travel with a third netminder. If the Blues were playing in Los Angeles tonight instead of Wednesday, it may have been difficult to get someone across the country in time–McKenna’s appearance at practice exemplifies that.
St. Louis Blues forward Brandon Saad is skating Saturday after spending the past nine days on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, per Blues reporter Chris Pinkert. Saad is expected to return to the lineup for their Wednesday game against the Los Angeles Kings. He’s ineligible to play in Saturday night’s game versus the Chicago Blackhawks. It appears to be a huge boost for the Blues, who are also without captain Ryan O’Reilly as he was placed on the COVID-19 protocol list on October 26. Saad had two points in three games before being placed in the protocol, but his absence has caused him to miss the last three (that number will be made four tonight). In his absence, younger forwards such as Klim Kostin and Jake Neighbours have gotten extended looks in the lineup.
Other injury notes from around the league on Saturday:
- Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater reports defenseman Samuel Girard will return to the lineup for tonight’s home game against the Minnesota Wild. Expected to play on a pairing with Erik Johnson, it’s another step closer to full health for a Colorado blueline that’s faced injuries to their best two left-shot defensemen early on this season. Girard missed Colorado’s last two games after suffering an injury on a hit from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Steven Stamkos at the end of a game on October 23.
- Seattle Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol issued injury updates today on forward Mason Appleton and goaltender Chris Driedger. Appleton was placed on injured reserve today and is now out indefinitely, while Driedger is now labeled as day-to-day. Kraken reporter Bob Condor relays information that Driedger practiced today, and could potentially work his way into game action as the Kraken have a back-to-back this Sunday and Monday. Appleton was in the midst of a rough start to his Kraken tenure, posting just one assist in seven games and playing just 11:14 per game.
- The Chicago Sun-Times’ Ben Pope reports that Chicago Blackhawks forward Tyler Johnson suffered an apparent arm or wrist injury during the team’s 6-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday and is expected to miss Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Blues, if not more time. Johnson was playing in a top-line role, flanking Kirby Dach along with Dominik Kubalik prior to the injury with Patrick Kane in COVID-19 protocol. Johnson’s scored one goal and two assists in eight games this season. Forward Dylan Strome could draw into the lineup tonight in his place.