From players fit and unfit to some teams’ questions in net, we’ve rounded up news and notes from around the league as 24 clubs’ training camps continued on Day 9.
Romanov is Toronto-bound
The first member of the Montreal Canadiens to land in the NHL’s Eastern Conference hub city ahead of Phase 4 will also be the newest member of the Canadiens, as Russian defenceman Alexander Romanov is Toronto-bound after signing his entry-level deal with the Habs on July 13.
It makes sense that Romanov is bypassing Montreal for now, as this way he’ll get a head start on the NHL’s mandatory quarantine and testing protocols and be able to join the Canadiens sooner once they landed in the NHL bubble, too.
Though he’s not eligible to actually play when the Canadiens resume competition in August against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 20-year-old will gain valuable experience being around and practising with the NHL club.
Romanov was flying alongside Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin, who signed his entry-level pact with New York the same day Romanov inked his. It’s unclear, however, if Sorokin is also headed straight to Toronto or if he’ll land in New York first.
We’re learning more about Toronto’s “secure zone”
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston has been sharing some updates about Toronto’s bubble set-up and how the hub city might look from the outside and within.
Pastrnak, Kase, McAvoy still out for Bruins
The Bruins saw a lot of players return to the ice on Monday after several were deemed unfit to play over the weekend, but they were still without forwards David Pastrnak, Ondrej Kase and defenceman Charlie McAvoy Tuesday.
Pastrnak made his Phase 3 debut last Wednesday, but hasn’t appeared since. McAvoy was absent for the first time Monday, and remained “unfit” on Tuesday.
Hart exits practice early
Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart exited Tuesday’s practice a little early — a bit of a concerning development for the Metropolitan club, who saw their young netminder seize the starter’s gig this season.
Hart left partway through the first half of Tuesday morning’s scrimmage, and didn’t return for the second.
Because of the NHL’s strict protocols about commenting on players’ health, it’s likely we won’t learn much about Hart’s status.
The Flyers have a reliable backup in veteran netminder Brian Elliott. The team also brought two other goalies into camp: Alex Lyon and Kirill Ustimenko.
Hyman returns to Leafs’ lineup
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman returned to practice on Tuesday after a brief absence from on-ice activities with the club. Hyman skated over the weekend, but was deemed “unfit” to practice with the team.
He’s back in Tuesday after the team’s off-day Monday, suiting up alongside Auston Matthews — with a new winger opposite him.
Matthews and Mitch Marner don’t often play on the same line — Matthews has gelled well with William Nylander, while John Tavares often centres Marner — but when they do it’s seriously fun to watch. The two stars have been quick to strike chemistry, and have spoken about how fun it is to play alongside each other.
It’s clear head coach Sheldon Keefe has been toying with possible line changes, preparing players for all situations. We saw him ice a dream trio of Marner, Matthews and Tavares over the weekend — a not-so-secret weapon he can bring out if the team needs a jump-start in competition.
Freddie looks ready
One more note from Leafs camp: This save from goalie Frederik Andersen is just one of the billion reasons we can’t wait for NHL action to return in August:
That’s just ridiculous, Freddie pic.twitter.com/iCdu0dUZvz
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) July 21, 2020
Bouwmeester won’t be with Blues in Edmonton
When the St. Louis Blues land in the Western Conference hub city of Edmonton, they won’t have veteran defenceman Jay Bouwmeester with them.
Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac episode during the first period of a game on Feb. 11 against the Anaheim Ducks. Early in his recovery, he announced that he wouldn’t be suiting up for the remainder of the season or playoffs — a decision that applies to the return-to-play, too.
Bouwmeester is actually from Edmonton, but he’ll remain outside the bubble. While he’ll be watching from a distance like the rest of us, the team will no doubt be playing hard for him as it attempts to repeat as champs.
Rask says finger splint is nothing to worry about
A few eagle-eyed reporters noticed a small splint binding Rask’s middle and ring fingers of his left hand during his virtual media availability upon being named a Vezina Trophy finalist last week.
Asked about it on Tuesday, Rask said he fractured the finger while doing box jumps a few weeks ago but had no concerns about it.
“I’m not worried about it,” he told reporters. “It’ll be all set once we start playing.”
Wild ready to show up in… well, they’ll be matching
No suits required in the summer hockey bubble means we could see some pretty awesome outfits as players are free to show off their own personal style while reporting to the rink for games.
Or, in the case of the Minnesota Wild, we could see a lot of polos.
Toews “unfit” for Tuesday’s practice
Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was ruled “unfit to participate” in Tuesday’s practice.
The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus pointed out that Toews left yesterday’s practice early:
Crawford sidelined, but Chicago’s not ruling him out just yet
The biggest storyline throughout the Blackhawks’ camp so far has been the absence of starting goalie Corey Crawford. The veteran has yet to suit up this training camp, and didn’t participate in the team’s voluntary skates or workouts as part of Phase 2 last month.
But that doesn’t mean he won’t still be able to hit the crease when the Blackhawks take on the Edmonton Oilers in August.
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said Tuesday that the team is still “hopeful” Crawford will be able to join the team before it takes off for Edmonton this Sunday.
“We’ll be able to give you a better idea toward the weekend,” Bowman told reporters. “It’s something we’re still shooting for, but I don’t have any definitive comment. We’re still hoping that’s the case.”
He said “nothing’s been ruled out” at this point, and that the organization is taking a day-to-day approach when it comes to who’s available.
“We still have a fair amount of time until Aug. 1 and the first game. We’re not thinking that far ahead right now. We’re really here day to day,” Bowman said. “Right now he’s not here, so we’re focused on the other four goalies. If and when Corey’s ready, we’ll have that conversation. I think it’s best to stick with where we are today and not jump too far ahead.”
Without Crawford, Chicago has four goalies vying for the starter’s gig: Malcolm Subban, Collin Delia, Kevin Lankinen and Matt Tomkins.
Because of strict safety measures in place in the NHL “bubble” site, it won’t be easy for players to join teams mid-competition, making it all the more important to determine Crawford’s status before the club heads north to Edmonton.
“My understanding is, players who go to Edmonton when you leave this Sunday, that’s your group,” Bowman said. “The big issue is bringing players in who are not in the bubble. You try to make as many strides as we can to keep the environment closed, so you don’t want players coming in from outside. If you have 10 guys get hurt in the first round, six weeks into the playoffs, they’ll probably have to revisit that. But that’s not the plan right now.”