Updates on Wild, Sabres, and Capitals COVID-19 situations

[UPDATE: NHL announces additional postponements for Devils, Sabres, Wild]

The Sabres added two more players to their COVID-19 list since Sunday evening with forward Casey Mittlestadt and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin entering the protocol. That brings their total number to nine players, as they join Taylor Hall, Tobias Rieder, Dylan Cozens, Curtis Lazar, Rasmus Ristolainen, Brandon Montour and Jake McCabe.

Head coach Ralph Krueger is also in the COVID protocol following a positive test result last week.

The Sabres’ outbreak started more than a week ago following a game against the Devils. That was the last game Buffalo played (same for the Devils) as they have continued to have players enter the protocol. On Saturday the NHL announced that 12 adjustments have been made to the Sabres’ schedule due to game postponements.

Their next scheduled game is on Thursday when they are supposed to host the Capitals.

Guerin offers update on Wild

The Wild is one of the other teams currently shut down, and on Monday GM Bill Guerin offered an update on their situation.

He said that they have nine players and one staff member have tested positive, and that it seems possible that more positive tests could be coming.

[Related: NHL announces schedule changes for 27 games]

The Wild’s facility has been shut down all week due to their outbreak, while the team has not played since Feb. 2. Their next scheduled game is Feb. 11 against the Blues, but that seems to be in jeopardy given the fact they could still have more positives.

Guerin said on Monday that he has a conference call with the league scheduled to discuss their options, and that they will “resume playing hockey when it’s safe to do so.”

Even before this outbreak the Wild was impacted by a COVID issue involving top draft pick Marco Rossi. He tested positive for the virus in November and will not play this season due to complications that came from it.

Guerin said that some of the players are currently dealing with symptoms that include aches and a loss of taste and smell.

Kuznetsov and Samsonov skate with Capitals

In Washington, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Samsonov were back on the ice on Monday after they missed nearly three weeks following their positive tests.

Kuznetsov skated on the fourth line during the practice session and it is not yet known if he will be able to play in Tuesday’s game against the Flyers.

Samsonov, meanwhile, said through an interpretor (via the Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir) that he had days where he had trouble walking and breathing, but that he is feeling better now.

[Related: NHL making changes to in-arena protocols]

Kuznetsov said he also had symptoms and admitted they were not easy days. When asked if he was scared, he responded with “No, I’m from Russia there is not a lot that can scare me.”

Both players have missed the Capitals’ past eight games.

Along with the Sabres and Wild, the Devils and Avalanche have also been dealing with game postponements, while the Golden Knights went through a similar issue earlier this season.

For the season the NHL has had nearly 100 players enter the COVID protocol for one reason or another (positive test, close contact, quarantine with new team, etc.). The league claims less than half of those situations have been because of a positive test.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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    Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

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    Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

    The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

    Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

    “We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

    Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

    “I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

    Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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    OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

    The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

    Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

    The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

    Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

    Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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    CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

    The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

    The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

    The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

    Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

    The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

    The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

    Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

    The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.