Phase 2 of the NHL’s return to play initiative is well underway, but the rest of the timeline is still being finalized. Phase 3, originally planned for July 10, is being pushed back a couple of days to July 13th, per Greg Joyce of the New York Post. Teams already are looking into cutting the number of exhibition games from 2 to 1 given the shortened timetable and increased risk with each passing day, per Louis Jean of TVA Sports. Phase 3 marks the official start to training camp for the 24-team playoff that will determine the Stanley Cup winner for the 2019-2020 season. Team facilities have largely opened up as players have begun to arrive early to get into game shape. But that’s not all that’s happening in the NHL…
- The Boston Bruins and goaltender Tuukka Rask are close to embarking on a classic game of free agent chicken. Both Rask and his partner between the pipes Jaroslav Halak will be free agents at the end of the 2020-2021 season. We chronicled earlier today the deal that brought Task to Boston fourteen years ago, but if the Bruins are going to lock up their 33-year-old goalie, it’s likely going to cost – Rask’s current $7MM price tag makes him the fifth highest-paid goaltender this season, behind Carey Price, Sergei Bobrovsky, Henrik Lundqvist, and Marc-Andre Fleury, writes Joe Haggerty of NBC Sports. Rask has a legitimate shot at winning his second Vezina Trophy, and the tandem of Rask and Halak already secured the Jennings Trophy for the year. On the other hand, depending on how next season goes, Rask could take a pay cut, given that he’ll be entering his age-35 season.
- The 2020 Young Stars Classic has officially been postponed because of coronavirus, per Mark Scheig of The Hockey Writers. The four-team, round-robin tournament would have featured prospects from four of the NHL’s Canadian franchises: Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg. The tournament had been scheduled for mid-September, but it’s now officially postponed. There’s no telling at this stage if the tournament will ultimately be canceled or just pushed back.
- In a bit of good news: Philadelphia Flyers’ winger Oskar Lindblom recently underwent radiation treatments to treat Ewing’s sarcoma, per Dan Gelston of The Associated Press. The rare form of bone cancer ended Lindblom’s season early and put his life in danger, but the treatments went as planned and he appears to be on the road to recovery. Not only that, but he’s already targeting a return to the NHL, tweets The Athletic’s Charlie O’Connor. Lindblom, 23, looked to build on his strong rookie season when he posted 33 points with 13:45 ATOI for the Flyers in 2018-2019. He potted 11 goals with 7 assists in just 30 games before his life-threatening diagnosis. There is zero chance that Lindblom returns this season, but that he’s already eyeing a return to the ice at all is a big win for Lindblom and the Flyers.