We’re three days into the third phase of the NHL’s return-to-play protocol, with 24 clubs preparing to vie for the Stanley Cup later this summer.
As teams continue to hit the ice, we’ve got plenty of news and notes from rinks around the league:
Leafs holding their own best-of-five series
What’s the best way to prepare to play a best-of-five series? Play one.
The Maple Leafs are putting on their own five-game series of scrimmages, beginning today, pitting roommates and besties against each other with Team Matthews vs. Team Andersen:
Ahem, Team Matthews’ offence is looking stacked… and yet:
For some, the best-of-five format of the qualifying round starting in August will be a bit of a throwback — Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas suggested as much during an appearance on Tim & Sid Tuesday evening, saying head coach Sheldon Keefe and several former Marlies will be accustomed to the format as the AHL’s first round is always a best-of-five.
NHL rules Leafs can’t use officials after all
Well, that didn’t last long. The Maple Leafs brought in officials to make Wednesday’s scrimmage as real as possible, but the league quickly ruled against it.
Minnesota finally meets its top prospect (virtually)
Wild fans likely know his name well, but not his face. Well, they finally got a glimpse of their newly signed top prospect Wednesday morning:
Minnesota management announced Monday morning that they’d signed the 23-year-old Russian star to a two-year entry-level deal that includes the 2019-20 season. It’s been a long road to get to this point, with Kaprizov remaining in Russia after being drafted in the fifth round back in 2015. His development in the KHL has been remarkable — he’s coming off back-to-back seasons of leading the league in goals and finished third in overall points this year.
Kaprizov’s path to the NHL isn’t quite complete — he still needs to get over to North America, which will take a bit of juggling. Once here, he’ll be permitted to practise with the Wild but will not be eligible to participate when the Wild resume play against the Vancouver Canucks in August.