Photo courtesy of CBC.ca
Exciting times are ahead. NHL teams and players are now stepping into Phase-3 of the NHL’s ‘Return to Play’ protocol. Training camps will now be used by the 24 remaining NHL teams that are included in the play-in and playoff rounds set to begin on August 1. Each team will begin its training camp on July 13 while they try to safely get players up to game-speed before traveling to hub cities (Toronto and Edmonton) on July 26.
Rosters will be capped at 31 players including goalies (although I have also read that teams may bring an unlimited number of goalies). That is where things get interesting from a prospect perspective. The guidelines set forth by the NHL’s head office in the 48-page document allow teams to have the ability to include a set of players usually classed as ‘Black Aces’ under normal playoff procedures. It will give a glimpse into each team’s valuation of the top players that are inside of its organization, which may be different depending on how legitimate a team feels their shot is at winning the ultimate prize: Lord Stanley’s Cup.
A team like the Boston Bruins – who were in first place in the regular season standings prior to play being suspended and ultimately canceled – will want to make sure the extra players brought with them are all players the Bruins’ management feels can contribute if they are forced into action. While, on the flip side, the Montreal Canadiens may decide to give playoff exposure to players that would not otherwise have had a chance this season considering they were a .500 team and sold off several players at the deadline. No matter how irregular the likes of this playoff season are compared to seasons past, the experience gained can oftentimes pay off in the future as teams take the next step in terms of their development.
As fans and fantasy general managers, the roster compilation can give us something that we rarely get to see; an indication of which prospects are valued more inside the org