For the first time this season, a North Division game has been postponed due to COVID protocols as Montreal’s Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia are both on the COVID-Protocol Related Absences list.
It’s important to note that their presence on the list doesn’t definitively mean that they have contracted the virus as there have been a handful of false positives in recent weeks. Subsequent testing will be done to determine whether or not that is the case. The two are Montreal’s first players to be on the list. Oddly enough, earlier this season, Edmonton’s Jesse Puljujarvi was on the list just in advance of a game between the Oilers and Canadiens although that one went on as scheduled.
The Habs have two available forwards on the taxi squad beyond Paul Byron who was sent back down on Sunday in Michael Frolik and Laurent Dauphin who were sent to play had the game not been postponed. Adding more to that group could be a bit tricky in that Laval is on the road which means that there would be a quarantine period upon recall.
From a salary cap perspective, Montreal has some banked space to use if needed although there is a mechanism in place to allow for cap-exempt recalls (for low-salaried players) if the Habs were to be in a situation where they wouldn’t be able to ice a full roster and stay cap compliant while someone is on the CPRA list. In the meantime, the taxi squad can remain as is.
In the NHL’s announcement regarding the cancellation, they indicated that a further update will be provided on Tuesday. That will largely be dictated by the results of follow-up testing as well as contact tracing which could result in other Habs being added to the list. That will ultimately dictate whether the other two games of this series will go on as scheduled or if further postponements will need to be made.