It was announced today that three players have been added to the NHL COVID protocol list. The New Jersey Devils have placed goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood on the protocol list ahead of their game tonight. The Detroit Red Wings have also added two players, centre Sam Gagner and defenceman Jon Merrill.
Three Players to NHL COVID Protocol List
Mackenzie Blackwood has played lights out in his three games with the Devils. He’s been able to maintain a sub-two goals against average with a .948 save percentage. He’s allowed six goals on 115 shots against in this short time frame. Blackwood is in his third year in the league. The past three seasons he has been a spark of positivity in a Devils organization that has seen minimal success during the regular season. However, losing him tonight against the New York Islanders will be a situation they will need to quickly adapt to on the ice.
For the Red Wings losing both of their players isn’t too bothersome. Gagner has been playing just over 12 minutes a night and is yet to put up a point. Merrill, on the other hand, is playing top-four defence minutes this season with the team. Even though they aren’t expected to make the playoffs, they lose a significant competitive edge that Merrill brings every night.
What This Means for the Future
This does not mean any of the players have a positive case of the virus. Being put on this list simply means they are being isolated for protective measures, likely due to exposure of some kind. For the Devils this likely means Scott Wedgewood will start in net for the team. This will be his first appearance in net for the Devils this season, and it will be a major test. Playing the Islanders is no easy task, especially for your first game of NHL action this season. With the way the team infant of him has been playing, however, this likely won’t cause too much of an issue.
Gagner will be replaced by the next man up, but Merrill is a tougher player to fill a hole for. He’s been a hard-nosed player thus far and not a lot of players within Detroit’s system can play the kind of game he does. Christian Djoos will likely be the player called up to the main roster to fill his place.