Formal training camps resumed on Monday for the NHL teams hoping to win a Stanley Cup as they prepare for August 1st and the beginning of an extended playoff format. Round Robin and Play in games will begin in the hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto with between five and six games played each day until the first round is over.
Most teams will carry an extended roster with the NHL allowing 28 skaters and 31 players in total per team during the playoffs, up from the usual 21 skaters and 23 players in total used during the regular season. This has seen a number of teams bring prospects up from the AHL and Major Junior, including Bowen Byram for the Colorado Avalanche. Whether the 2019 fourth overall draft pick sees any ice time could depend on injuries, but with the four-month layoff due to COVID-19, most players should be healthy starting the playoffs leaving Byram as a backup option. Either way, the experience will hold the youngster in good stead for the future, which the Avalanche sees him as a big part of.
In Toronto, the Maple Leafs also took the ice and had young superstar Auston Matthews in attendance. Matthews reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus in May but had been quarantined in Arizona and joined his teammates for the first time on Monday. Matthews had scored a career-best 47 goals and 80 points in 70 games during the shortened 2019-20 season, leading the Leafs in both categories and will be a vital component in helping his team progress against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Round One.
Back at training camp ? pic.twitter.com/iWeMXOHpMe— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) July 13, 2020
The Pittsburgh Penguins sidelined nine players from their first day due to possible contact “with a person that has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.” The penguins released the following statement through twitter earlier in the morning:
“The Pittsburgh Penguins will be voluntarily sidelining nine players from their training camp roster due to potential secondary exposure to an individual who had contact with a person that has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.”
“The team learned of the possible secondary exposure on Sunday, July 12. The decision to isolate this group of players was made out of an abundance of caution in an effort to avoid exposure to anyone else within the organization.”
“The nine players will not participate until they are deemed safe in accordance with NHL protocol and further test results.”
No names were released as per NHL guidelines but to put Penguins fans at ease both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both participated. Plus knowing the Penguins luck they’d get eliminated in the first round and end up with the number one draft pick and Alexis Lafrenière.
And to keep Trey happy the Boston Bruins took to the ice with an almost full roster. Steven Kampfer opted out earlier in the week due to personal reasons. His wife and child both have a congenital heart disease and the defenseman made the hard (but ultimately right) decision to opt-out. The Bruins were also without Rocket Richard winner David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase who both should return within the next couple of days after completing international quarantine protocols. Both players had returned to Europe during the stoppage.