With dates set now for training camp (July 10) and playoff start (July 30), pending an official agreement, many players currently residing in Europe will have to eventually make their way back to North American soil to prepare for the playoffs. While it might be too early for some to begin that process, Newsday’s Colin Stephenson writes that several New York Rangers’ players are preparing to start that process soon.
Forward Pavel Buchnevich will be the first to cross the ocean with his agent confirming that the 25-year-old, who has spent the pause in Russia, is expected to be in New York on Sunday. Other Rangers’ players are expected to follow, including Henrik Lundqvist, Mika Zibanejad and Jesper Fast, who are currently in Sweden; Kaapo Kakko and Alexandar Georgiev in Finland; and Filip Chytil from the Czech Republic. Artemi Panarin and Igor Shesterkin both opted to stay in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Players are expected to be tested for the coronavirus when they arrive in New York and then tested again in a week. If both tests are negative, they will then be cleared to practice.
- Matt Larkin of the Hockey News writes that former New Jersey Devils’ goaltender Martin Brodeur is not interested in becoming general manager of the New Jersey Devils at this time. The longtime Devils goaltender moved from a hockey business position to a hockey operations role on Jan. 12 after the team fired Ray Shero as their general manager and replaced him with Tom Fitzgerald on an “interim basis.” However, Brodeur said that while that role interests him down the role, he’s not ready to take on that challenge yet. The 48-year-old currently lives in St. Louis and made it clear he might not be ready to take on a rigorous role as a general manager. “I’m not saying that one day, I won’t say, ‘You know what? This is the time for me to do it, maybe,’ Brodeur said. “But right now, I value my time off too much to get myself involved. Not that I’m not involved, as in my role I need to be pretty much present, but I’m able to kind of make my own schedule and not rely on the general manager setup.”
- Sportsnet’s Luke Fox writes that while many people still envision goaltender Braden Holtby to be the Washington Capitals starting netminder when the playoffs resume, it will be critical for the upcoming unrestricted free agent to perform well. With the salary cap not likely to go up this year due to COVID-19, many UFA’s aren’t likely to score big free agent contracts. Holtby, who was outplayed by rookie Ilya Samsonov and posted poor regular season numbers with a career-low .897 save percentage, could benefit if he dominated in the playoffs.