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The extended holiday break didn’t do much to prevent the spread of COVID throughout Montreal’s players as the Habs announced that five players have been added to COVID protocol.  They are as follows:

G Jake Allen
D Ben Chiarot
D Joel Edmundson (currently injured)
D Jeff Petry
D Chris Wideman

Those five join Laurent Dauphin, Mike Hoffman, Artturi Lehkonen, and Tyler Toffoli (also currently injured) as players in COVID protocol per the team.  That means that defenceman Sami Niku and winger Brendan Gallagher have officially cleared.  All five of today’s placements – which also includes goalie coach Eric Raymond – will be out for at least the next ten days.

Montreal has recalled goaltender Cayden Primeau along with defenceman Corey Schueneman on an emergency basis and both will likely be in uniform tomorrow in Tampa Bay against a Lightning team that won’t have either of their NHL goaltenders or former Hab prospect Mikhail Sergachev due to COVID protocol as well.

On Sunday, the NHL and NHLPA agreed to a short-term return of the taxi squad and with Laval off for another week, the Habs have pulled up four players onto that list – goalie Michael McNiven, defenceman Gianni Fairbrother, and forwards Brandon Baddock and Cam Hillis.  They’ll travel with the team on the road trip and if injuries or more COVID-positive tests arise, those will be the players that slot in.  They’ll receive their AHL salary plus a $500 USD daily stipend for each day on recall.

If you’re wondering just how many players aren’t up with the Habs now that are on NHL contracts, it’s a short list.  Among players that aren’t back in junior or are currently injured, centre J-S Dea and defenceman Louie Belpedio are the only healthy players to choose from should further absences arise.

The lines at the morning skate are as follows:

Drouin – Suzuki – Gallagher
Belzile – Evans – Ylonen
Harvey-Pinard – Poehling – Caufield
Paquette – Pezzetta – Vejdemo
Byron – Hillis – Baddock

Romanov – Savard
Kulak – Clague
Schueneman – Niku

Byron is skating as he continues to rehab his hip injury but isn’t yet ready to return.  With the state of Montreal’s forward group right now, he’s probably going to play in the top six when he’s able to return.