Well, that’s not what you wanted to see for the final stretch of the regular season.
On Monday afternoon, the Minnesota Wild announced that forward Marcus Foligno has entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol and in turn, have recalled youngster Mitchell Chaffee.
This was essentially caused by the Wild’s first trip north of the border since Feb. 26, to play the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday and doing the required COVID tests before entering Canada.
Minnesota is having a busy four-game week ahead of them, so maybe it is best just to have Foligno out of action and rest up for the playoffs no matter what — we are actively trying to find the silver lining of this news immediately.
Foligno isn’t the only forward that is off the roster; regular linemate Jordan Greenway is battling through an injury and Tyson Jost has missed the last two games as well. On the blue line, Matt Dumba and Jon Merrill are more absences that the Wild have had to deal with recently.
If none of these players come back, then it is obviously a significant blow to the entire Wild system, as these are some of the most physical skaters that have available to them and are key forces for their north-south style of play.
At least there is one positive. Mitchell Chaffee will get a very deserved look in the NHL and will hopefully make his big-league debut this week. The 24-year-old college free agent has just 73 AHL games under his belt, but has seen his product skyrocket just this season. Through 45 games, Chaffee has scored a team-leading 22 goals and 37 points.
With Nick Bjugstad playing on the third line in Greenway’s spot on Sunday, one would assume that that stays in-tact and then it’s Brandon Duhaime’s chance to play up the lineup with the fourth line consisting of Chaffee, Connor Dewar, and Nicolas Deslauriers. But we won’t know until they hit the ice in Montreal.
After the Canadiens, the Wild are heading straight back home to face the Vancouver Canucks and Seattle Kraken in a back-to-back starting Thursday.
Normally, it would not matter so much since the Wild have already clinched a playoff spot, but they are in an extremely tight battle with the St. Louis Blues to determine who gets home ice advantage in the likely first-round matchup. Every point still matters, so we will still be on the edge of our seat with these significant absences.
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