It’s full speed ahead for the NHL’s return-to-play plan, despite the proverbial icebergs littered about the voyage.
Let’s take a look at what we know and what we don’t know at the moment.
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The return-to-play agreement still must be ratified by the full membership on both sides. but if nothing else, these last couple of months have shown an encouraging side that the league and the players’ union can get along. Baseball has been a disaster, but hockey has held it together.
Even waiting to announce the hub cities was wise. When the original RTP plan was announced, it was thought that American locations were favored. But as much as the logistics in, say, Las Vegas might have been optimal, the recent surge in coronavirus cases was problematic.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Finishing the 2019-20 season is still tenuous, but restarting in a metropolitan hotspot would have been disconcerting. Good luck to the NBA down in Orlando.
Here are some points to know as the league enters the final two phases in what it hopes will end with Gary Bettman presenting a Stanley Cup in an empty arena sometime in October. At least he won’t get booed.
Phase 3/Training camp
Projecting the Flyers’ roster
Here are the top candidates for 29 of the 31 spots for Phase 4. There could be injuries or illnesses during Phase 3, so some Phantoms players could be summoned. (Correction: a reference to goaltender Jean-Francois Berube being a potential roster candidate has been deleted. He was traded in February.)
This wouldn’t be an ideal place to bring back Nolan Patrick, who missed all of 2019-20 with a migraine disorder. Personally, I’d rather see the kid have a full training camp. Time would not be on his side if he had a setback.
Forwards (18): Andy Andreoff, Nic Aube-Kubel, Connor Bunnaman, Sean Couturier, Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost, Claude Giroux, Derek Grant, Kevin Hayes, Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, Tyler Pitlick. Michael Raffl, Nate Thompson, Carsen Twarynski, James van Riemsdyk, Jake Voracek.
Defensemen (8): Justin Braun, Mark Friedman, Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Phil Myers, Matt Niskanen, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim.
Goaltenders (3): Brian Elliott, Carter Hart, Alex Lyon.
July 13: Start of NHL training camps.
Late July: At least one exhibition game per club
Aug. 1: Play resumes, Flyers in the East round-robin
Early October: Stanley Cup Finals
Mid-October: NHL Draft
Early November: Free agent market opens
July 8: Karl Dykhuis (turns 48).
July 10: Mark LaForest (58), Chico Resch (72), Ilkka Sinisalo (deceased in 2017; would have been 62).
July 11: Bill Barber (68), Todd Bergen (57).