Taxi Squad, Saml !: Dunne, Sikura called up to Columbus as Omicron variant rises

Some new faces for the Columbus Blue Jackets series may be coming soon as a result of COVID-19.

Strikers Josh Dunne and Tyler Sikura have been called up from the American Hockey League’s Cleveland Monsters to the Blue Jackets’ taxi team, which the league and its Players Association agreed to temporarily bring back as a result of the recent rise in the case of COVID-19.

Dunne made his NHL debut last season with the Blue Jackets, where he skated in six games. The 23-year-old winger has eight points in 24 games so far this season with Cleveland. Sikura, a 29-year-old center, has a total of 17 goals and 15 assists with the Monsters over the last two seasons, a total of 53 games.

Details about the temporary taxi team are as follows:

  • Clubs will be allowed to form Taxi Squads on a temporary basis beginning December 26, 2021 and last until the date of their last match prior to the scheduled dates for the 2022 All-Star Break. After each club’s final match before the All-Star Break, its Taxi Squad will disband. Clubs can then recall or reassign the players assigned to the taxi team.
  • Clubs are allowed to assign a maximum of six (6) players to their taxi team. All such transfers will be subject to waiver requirements, as applicable. No individual player may spend more than twenty (20) cumulative days on the Taxi Squad during the temporary formation period.

Each team in the NHL has had at least two games postponed as a result of COVID-19’s omicron variant, and several teams – including Columbus – have had at least five games to rearrange.

Seven Blue Jackets have been placed in the NHL’s COVID protocol within the last ten days. Boone Jenner, Jack Roslovic and Gabriel Carlsson entered the minutes on 19 December, while Eric Robinson, Andrew Peeke and Joonas Korpisalo joined a day later, on 20 December. The seventh, Oliver Bjorkstrand, entered the minutes on Monday, as reported by the club.

Three of those players – Roslovic, Peeke and Carlsson – have cleared the league’s COVID protocol and were back for training on Monday. Jenner, Robinson and Korpisalo would be eligible to return at Thursday’s match, but nothing has been announced about their status. Patrik Laine, who has missed almost two months with an oblique strain, is also ready to return.

When (and if) the Columbus Blue Jackets play Thursday, it will be their first game in two weeks. Matches against Calgary on December 18 and Buffalo on the 20th, the last two of a road trip of five matches, were postponed, just as a home game with Buffalo was set for December 23.

The postponements continued over the planned holiday break, as the league announced that Monday’s home game against Toronto and Tuesday’s game against Chicago had also been postponed.

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