The Seattle Kraken have officially submitted their opening night roster to the NHL and conspicuously absent from the lineup are forwards Jared McCann, Joonas Donskoi and Marcus Johansson as well as defenseman Jamie Oleksiak. All four players were placed on the NHL's COVID-19 protocol yesterday, while forward Calle Jarnkrok has been in the protocol since late last week.
It's worth noting that all five players were missing from yesterday's final practice before the team departed for Las Vegas for its first official regular season NHL game against the Vegas Golden Knights this evening.
NHL insider Frank Seravalli reports that while Johansson has cleared protocol and will be available for tonight's game but that McCann, Donskoi and Oleksiak are all still question marks. Frankly, I don't know what the latest is on Jarnkrok.
It's worth noting that the entire Kraken roster has been vaccinated.
“Things happen quickly and sometimes at inopportune times,” Kraken head coach Hakstol said yesterday in response to the news. “There’s different challenges as you go throughout the season and this is one of them for us early on.”
Any way you look at it, this is a crushing blow for the Kraken in their NHL debut. McCann had been centering the team's top line between snipers Jordan Eberle and Jaden Schwartz. Donskoi and Johansson seemed to make a good duo on the third line and Oleksiak is a top pairing defenseman on this team. Add in the fact that Yanni Gourde is out of the lineup after offseason surgery and this is a very, very, VERY undermanned group going into its debut performance.
For a team that has depth scoring issues even with a full lineup, removing guys like McCann, Donskoi, Jarnkrok and Johanssen could be the nail in the coffin. Eberle can't score every single goal for this team this season and if they're going to compete like the Vegas Golden Knights did in their first NHL season, they'll have to do it with a "scoring by committee" approach.
Here's hoping though that these players who have been placed into protocol will provide negative tests today and will in fact be cleared to hit the ice this evening when the NHL finally... releases the Kraken. Sorry... I had to.