There has been a, uh, lot going on in the NHL in recent weeks, to say the least. After a sizeable chunk of the schedule was postponed the weekend before Christmas, the league decided to start the holiday break a couple days early and sent everyone home after last Tuesday’s games finished. At the time, over 100 players — around a sixth of the league’s rosters — were in Covid protocol.
The Seattle Kraken are at the end of a 10-day stretch of no hockey games. Their last outing was a 5-3 loss to the Oilers that feels like happened a lifetime ago. In the time since, they’ve placed 5 new faces on the league’s Covid protocol:
- Carson Soucy (D)
- Adam Larsson (D)
- Vince Dunn (D)
- Ryan Donato (F)
- Mason Appleton (F)
Fortunately for Seattle, Soucy has able to exit the protocol on Tuesday along with fellow defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, who was placed there prior to the Oilers game. That’s great news for the depleted Kraken blue line. Seattle has been carrying 8 defensemen on the roster all season long, but at one point over the break they were missing half of them — putting them on the brink of calling up a Connor Carrick or Cale Fleury from Charlotte. But with Soucy and Oleksiak back, that no longer should be necessary. Seattle now has 6 active defensemen available for tomorrow night’s game against Philadelphia. The real issue left is that they haven’t been able to play a game or even practice fully in over a week. That could make it difficult to stay in game-shape, but Oleksiak at least isn’t too concerned about that.
“If today’s practice was any indication, I felt fine”, said Oleksiak after Tuesday’s practice. “The lungs felt good, the legs felt good. I felt pretty good that I can handle it. I’m ready to go tomorrow. You still wanna be careful but overall I think I’m ready to go.”
The Kraken are still shorthanded, but overall they haven’t been hit by the omicron spread as significantly as some other NHL teams. They’ve still already taken advantage of the NHL bringing back taxi squads though, having recalled goaltender Joey Daccord and forward Kole Lind to serve as ready-to-go replacements in case of sudden additions to the Covid list.
Here’s an updated look at who’s in and who’s out for Seattle as their return to the ice approaches. Lines are based on Tuesday’s practice.
Jaden Schwartz / Jared McCann / Jordan Eberle
Calle Järnkrok / Yanni Gourde / Colin Blackwell
Marcus Johansson / Alex Wennberg / Joonas Donskoi
Max McCormick / Riley Sheahan / Morgan Geekie
Mark Giordano / Jamie Oleksiak
Jeremy Lauzon / Carson Soucy
Haydn Fleury / Will Borgen
Kole Lind, Joey Daccord
Adam Larsson, Vince Dunn, Ryan Donato, Mason Appleton
As always, things can change quickly this season, but don’t expect any games to get fully cancelled. The NHL has been consistent in calling each missed game “postponed,” meaning they intend to make it up. The league decided that players would not be going to the Olympics this year, and the scheduled Olympic break will now be used to make up the litany of postponed games. The NHL already made the Canucks and Flames play meaningless regular season games last year after the playoffs had already begun, so don’t expect them to shorten the season this year unless they are absolutely forced to.
The Kraken will be back in action tomorrow night against Philadelphia, and are currently scheduled for five more games in the 10 days after that. It should be noted that four of those games are against Canadian teams, which could complicate matters moving forward as Canada has their own set of rules regarding travel and quarantine procedures.
The game in Winnipeg on January 8th seems most up-in-the-air as of now. UPDATE: The Jets game on January 8th has officially been postponed.
Until then, we’ll take it day by day and enjoy any amount of hockey we get to watch.