The New York Islanders had some good news on Wednesday when Noah Dobson was removed from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. The bad news was that he’s still a little ways away from rejoining the team.
Dobson missed his sixth consecutive game on Thursday when the Islanders battled the Boston Bruins in Beantown and he isn’t expected to rejoin the team until after their four-game road trip. The Islanders defenseman, while sidelined for 11 days, did test positive for COVID-19, but didn’t suffer from severe symptoms, Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said on Thursday.
“He didn’t have massive symptoms or anything,” Trotz told reporters before Thursday’s clash with Boston. “He was pretty well symptom-free for the most part.”
The Islanders aren’t in a rush to put Noah Dobson back in the lineup, and with the efforts from Sebastian Aho and Thomas Hickey, there isn’t any reason to do so. The two have done an admirable job in Dobson’s place, with Hickey adding the biggest jolt to the lineup considering the emotional meaning behind his return to the lineup.
So while the Islanders finish up their four-game trip with the final two stops in Boston, the team will work to get Dobson back in game shape. The team will put Dobson through all the necessary protocols and then work to ramp him up to where he needs to be.
“Following all the traditional protocols, get him on ice then and get the heart rate ramped up over the course of protocols,” Trotz said. “Get him ready to play. Hopefully, he’ll be very close to being ready to go when we get back from this trip.”
That means the Islanders will have at least two more games with Hickey or Aho on the blue line. Chances are that Hickey continues to fill in while Noah Dobson works his way back to being ready to play.