DENVER – Five more Wild players have been placed in the NHL's COVID protocols, and the team's games will be postponed through at least Tuesday.
That means Thursday's game at Colorado, a weekend series at Xcel Energy Center against Arizona, and Tuesday's home game with St. Louis will not be played as scheduled.
Nick Bjugstad, Nick Bonino, Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Johansson and Jared Spurgeon joined Marcus Foligno on the NHL's list of players unavailable due to COVID protocols when the league provided an update Wednesday evening.
A COVID protocols absence can be the result of several factors including a positive test, unconfirmed positive test and contact tracing. While in the protocols, players can't practice, play or travel with the team.
Until further notice, the Wild's facilities are closed, and the NHL is reviewing and revising the team's remaining schedule.
A source said the Wild will fly back to Minnesota on Thursday, with the players on the NHL's list traveling separately.
Before its season was stalled, the Wild was quarantining in Denver where it played Tuesday, falling 2-1 to the Avalanche at Ball Arena to carry a 6-5 record 11 games into the season. The game was the third in a row played between the West Division rivals.
Colorado also added one player, Tyson Jost, to the COVID protocols on Wednesday.
Johansson didn't travel to Colorado, staying behind because of an upper-body injury suffered Saturday. But Bjugstad, Bonino, Eriksson Ek and Spurgeon played Tuesday against the Avalanche. Spurgeon left the game early with an upper-body injury. Foligno has been in the protocols since Sunday.
The Wild is the sixth team to be shut down by the NHL only three weeks into the season.
Dallas was the first to get shuttered, having the start of its season delayed after six players and two staff members tested positive during training camp.
Since then, Carolina, Vegas, New Jersey and Buffalo have also had their facilities closed. The Devils had a season-high 17 players listed in the league's COVID protocols on Wednesday.
Only five teams (Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and St. Louis) have yet to have players unavailable due to the protocols.
Overall, the NHL has postponed 22 games. The league is testing players daily and planned to do so for the first four weeks of the season before reevaluating the frequency.
According to the NHL's policy for handling a positive test, a player immediately isolates after testing positive and contract tracing begins.
If that initial test is confirmed negative, the player must test negative twice more over a 48-hour span before exiting isolation.
But if the case is confirmed positive, the player remains isolated.
An asymptomatic player can exit isolation after 10 days since testing positive.
Someone who was symptomatic at the time of testing, or who developed symptoms later, can stop isolating if at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and symptoms have improved, or if the player has tested negative test while improving.
All players must be cleared by a cardiologist and team physician before returning to game action. The Wild's first round draft pick, Marco Rossi, had COVID-19 in the fall and has been sent home to Austria to recuperate after failing a team physical.
Close contacts who test positive will follow these protocols, while those who test negative are monitored daily for two weeks. They won't have to quarantine if they remain asymptomatic and continue to test negative.
The NHL returned with a shortened, 56-game season on Jan. 13 that limits play to within four realigned divisions to cut back on travel and respect the border restrictions between the U.S. and Canada.
After the league was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic last March, the NHL finished the 2019-20 season by hosting the playoffs in a bubble but felt the setup wasn't feasible for an entire season and opted to have teams play out of their own arenas in 2021.
Still, the NHL anticipated needing to be flexible with the season and the Wild does have some lulls in its schedule, including at the end of February and March and the middle of April.