The National Hockey League’s COVID-19 list got a little longer as Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The news came out on Thursday afternoon, just hours before the Oilers were slated to play against the Montreal Canadiens.
TSN’s Frank Seravalli added that the Oilers were conducting additional tests to find out of it spread beyond Puljujarvi.
This season is Puljujarvi’s first season back in Edmonton since playing two seasons in the SM-liiga over in Finland. Since returning to the Oilers, he’s spent time playing on the team’s top line with Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
As of right now, it looks like veteran winger James Neal will take his place on that line since that’s who he was seen practising with on Thursday.
There’s no telling how long Puljujarvi will be out of the lineup or how many games he’ll miss. He’ll be unable to practice or play with the Oilers until he tests negative three times and is cleared from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.
Aside from Puljujarvi, multiple players were added to the league’s COVID-19 protocol list, including Anthony Duclair (FLA) and Jakub Voracek (PHI).
The first thing that the NHL did upon learning about Puljujarvi’s positive COVID-19 test was delaying the Oilers game against the Canadiens by one hour, from 7 pm ET to 8 pm ET.
In a tweet, the league said that the move was to allow Oilers management to have more time to receive test results back in case anyone else on the time contracted the coronavirus.
According to hockey analyst Pierre LeBrun, the Oilers also contacted the company that provided the tests, asking them to expedite the results before tonight’s game.
While American NHL teams have access to rapid testing, the Canadian teams do not, so this call had to be made.
LeBrun added that Edmonton’s main priority was testing people who were close to Puljujarvi, whether that means sitting with him on a bus or generally spending time with him.
LeBrun later appeared on TSN’s “That’s Hockey” pregame program and said that Oilers players were seen arriving at the Bell Centre in Montreal around 6 pm ET, giving the idea that they more than likely produced negative tests.
If this game or any other Oilers game is postponed, it would just add to the league’s growing list of delayed contests.
As of Thursday evening, 35 NHL games have needed to be postponed due to COVID-19-related reasons and have impacted NHL regular season odds.
It would also be the first time that a North Division game would be postponed if the game against the Canadiens needs it.
Another piece of growing concern is that the Oilers just played back-to-back games against the Ottawa Senators earlier this week. If Puljujarvi had COVID-19 at the time, it’s possible that the Senators were exposed.
If that’s the case, things could get even messier for the NHL and they may have to consider pushing back the playoffs.