NHL Buzz: Panarin could play for Rangers after clearing COVID-19 protocol


Welcome to the NHL Buzz. Throughout the 2021-22 season, NHL.com will have you covered with the latest news.


New York Rangers

Artemi Panarin could return when the Rangers visit the Los Angeles Kings on Monday (10:30 p.m. ET; SN, BSW, MSG+, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

The forward cleared NHL COVID-19 protocol and practiced Sunday after missing four games. He skated in his usual left wing position on the second line with center Ryan Strome and right wing Barclay Goodrow.

“We’re not sure,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant told USA Today. “Today was just about flow drills, so no line combinations. They made their own lines, but as a coaching staff, we’ll talk about it later. We want to make sure we have everyone ready to go.”

Panarin also returned to the first power-play unit with Strome, Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Adam Fox. He said he symptoms for the first couple of days in protocol. 

“For sure, I’m ready,” Panarin said. “I hope for long term I don’t have any problems with conditioning.

Panarin’s 36 points are tied with Fox for the Rangers lead.

Gallant entered protocol Sunday. Kris Knoblauch, coach of the Rangers’ American Hockey League affiliate in Hartford, will replace Gallant in his absence.

Patrik Nemeth also practiced after he was added back to the roster. The defenseman missed four games for personal reasons.


Minnesota Wild

Joel Eriksson Ek was activated from injured reserve and could play against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.

The forward has missed three games with an upper-body injury. He’s scored 20 points (11 goals, nine assists) in 30 games this season.

Forwards Marco Rossi and Kyle Rau, and goalie Hunter Jones, were reassigned to Iowa of the American Hockey League, and forward Matt Boldy and goalie Andrew Hammond to the taxi squad. Rossi and Boldy each made his NHL debut Jan. 6, with the latter scoring his first NHL goal in a 3-2 win at the Boston Bruins.


Toronto Maple Leafs

Mitchell Marner and Pierre Engvall were placed in NHL COVID-19 protocol by the Maple Leafs and did not play at the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.

The forwards each played in a 4-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

“In terms of timelines, Mitch was positive yesterday,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said Friday. “Pierre, not sure if his was today or yesterday, not sure about that. And I would say both have minor symptoms from what I’ve been told.”

Marner is fourth on the Maple Leafs with 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) in 26 games; Engvall has scored 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 32 games.

“It’s unfortunate but everyone’s going through it,” Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly said. “So I think we have to focus on the guys who are available.”

Forwards Joey Anderson and Brett Seney were assigned to the taxi squad from Toronto of the American Hockey League.


Nashville Predators

Filip Forsberg was placed in NHL COVID-19 protocol by the Predators prior to a 4-2 win at the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.

The forward has scored 29 points in 26 games this season, including a Nashville-high 18 goals. He missed nine games in November because of an upper-body injury.

The Predators (23-11-2) have won four straight. They’re first in the Central Division, three points ahead of the second-place St. Louis Blues.

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