After a lengthened holiday break because of the Omicron variant going HAM on most NHL rosters, the Leafs are set to return against the Ottawa Senators tomorrow evening. The more days pass, the more Leafs players are being removed from COVID protocol. Here is the updated list of players at practice, as of yesterday:
Players practicing Dec. 30:— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) December 30, 2021
Forwards: Bunting, Engvall, Kämpf, Kaše, Kerfoot, Marner, Matthews, Mikheyev, Ritchie, Simmonds, Spezza, Tavares
Defencemen: Biega, Brodie, Dermott, Holl, Kivihalme, Krys, Sandin (& Ryerson's Gregory DiTomaso)
Goalies: Campbell, Hutchinson, Mrazek
So the Leafs thankfully have almost all of their goalies back. Including Joseph Woll, who played for the Marlies yesterday against Belleville and stopped 45 of 47 shots for the win. The Marlies even more players affected by COVID than the Leafs did, so that’s a good sign.
However, we may see the Leafs — and other Canadian teams — have more postponements and a much more condensed schedule down the line. As more provinces and the federal government announce updated and more strict COVID protocols, the amount of people who can attend games has dropped to 1,000 people at most. Katya covered this in more detail here.
Statement from MLSE and the Toronto Maple Leafs following the provincial announcement today: pic.twitter.com/MDpKmOsJzq— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) December 31, 2021
The above statement was also issued by the Toronto Raptors and the Toronto Marlies.
This is reportedly resulting in the Canadian teams wanting to push back more home games as much as possible, so when they have their home games later in the year these restrictions may be eased and they can have the most gate revenue possible. The NHL was reported to be looking at re-doing their schedules already, due to the holiday postponements, so we may see a road-trip heavy schedule for the Leafs coming up.
News from the Rink: Rasmus Sandin, Petr Mrázek, and others return to Maple Leafs practice, Saturday game vs. Ottawa in jeopardy | by Nick Barden at TLN
Sheldon Keefe: “We’re going to do all we can to keep things safe… With Liljegren testing positive yesterday, it’s a reminder that we’re not out of the woods yet” | transcript by MLHS
Twenty-two reasons to be optimistic about the Maple Leafs in 2022 | by The Athletic
After ‘eternity’ away, Maple Leafs gain healthy players for return to action | by Luke Fox at Sportsnet
QMJHL announces extension of league’s holiday break; schedule to resume Jan. 17 | by Daily Faceoff. This will affect Leafs’ prospect William Villeneuve, who had been on a very strong run before COVID shut their games down.
Two Leafs’ prospects who have started playing again had good games recently. Joe Miller had two goals and an assist in yesterday’s win for the Chicago Steel.
#LeafsForever prospect Joe Miller finds a soft spot in coverage on the PP, and is wide open for the easy tap in. Nice passing play by the Steel to set it up.pic.twitter.com/z3minTQZOx— Mr. Knies Guy (@brigstew86) December 31, 2021
#LeafsForever prospect Joe Miller with his second PP goal of the night, in much the same fashion: go to the net, tap in a good pass in front.— Mr. Knies Guy (@brigstew86) December 31, 2021
Miller finished with a 3 point night, giving him a total of 37 points in 28 games. That puts him 5th in the USHL.pic.twitter.com/jk3aodxsiY
Braeden Kressler had a goal and an assist the night before, and his goal was a last-minute tying goal to send it to overtime.
#LeafsForever prospect Braeden Kressler scored a last minute, game tying goal. He drove to the net, fought off a defender trying to tie him up, and got his stick on a pass to redirect it in the net. pic.twitter.com/2Hpg2HmXW7— Mr. Knies Guy (@brigstew86) December 30, 2021
As anyone except Jim Matheson apparently expected, because this is how COVID cases have worked since the very beginning, a bunch more of the WJC teams had positive tests:
IIHF confirms additional positives among players including two from Sweden, one from each of Germany, Slovakia, Russia, and Canada. IIHF confirms players must remain in 10-day isolation before returning home. https://t.co/7IgxfwTV80— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) December 30, 2021
In other not surprising at all news, the Boston Bruins are reportedly close to signing Tuukka Rask to a new contract.
Hearing that Tuukka Rask and the #NHLBruins have reached an agreement that will see him back in black and gold and will come down to timing to register it with the league.— Dominic Tiano (@dominictiano) December 30, 2021
This was a fun story amid the chaos that Omicron is causing various professional hockey rosters.
Unreal EBUG story in the ECHL last night: 19-year-old Rapid City native Brady Devries was home on winter break from Grand Canyon U, where he plays ACHA DIII. Utah Grizzlies needed a goalie. He STARTED vs. Rapid City Rush with lent equipment... and won. https://t.co/IKHbEOQM3H— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) December 30, 2021
Poor Max Pacioretty... he was having a career best season, with 12 goals and 21 points in only 16 games, but he’s already missed time this year and now will miss a lot more.
Max Pacioretty out indefinitely after undergoing successful wrist surgery | by Knights on Ice