Phase 3 of the NHL’s return-to-play plan begins Monday with the opening of training camp for the 24 teams that will be resuming the 2019-20 season.
Players have until 5 p.m. Monday to opt out of the return, and the Rangers’ players are expected to be all-in as they prepare for their best-of-five play-in series against the Carolina Hurricanes beginning Aug. 1 in Toronto.
Almost all of the Rangers who were on the roster March 12 — when the league halted play because of the coronavirus — reported to New York during the past month for voluntary small-group training. All are expected to be at practice at 11 a.m. Monday.
Teams are permitted to bring 30 skaters and an unlimited number of goaltenders to camp and will be able to bring a maximum of 31 players when they report to the hub cities of Toronto (Eastern Conference) and Edmonton (Western Conference) on July 26.
The Rangers chose not to announce their training camp roster on Sunday, but it’s a good bet that all 23 players who were with the club when play halted will be there — the one question mark being rugged forward Micheal Haley, who had abdominal surgery in February and whose status has not been disclosed. Everyone except Haley has skated during the voluntary workouts, along with defenseman Libor Hajek and winger Vitali Kravtsov from AHL Hartford.
It’s a safe bet that Vinni Lettieri, the leading scorer at Hartford this season (25 goals, 22 assists in 61 games) and righthanded-shooting Darren Raddysh, the Wolf Pack’s top-scoring defenseman (six goals, 22 assists in 62 games) will be invited to camp.
It’s also likely that Steven Fogarty, who played seven games with the Rangers this season, will be there. Boo Nieves and Tim Gettinger also played for the Rangers earlier this season.
Players who signed contracts during the NHL pause — such as defenseman K’Andre Miller and goaltender Tyler Wall — are not eligible, per the collective bargaining agreement ratified by the players and owners on Friday.
The biggest question for coach David Quinn during this camp: Who will be the No. 1 goaltender against Carolina? Rookie Igor Shesterkin (10-2, 2.52 goals-against average, .932 save percentage) had taken over as the first choice by the time play was halted, but franchise icon Henrik Lundqvist’s domination of the Hurricanes in his career (33-12-1, 2.00 GAA, .934 save percentage, including 3-0 with a 2.33 GAA and .947 save percentage this season) make him a legitimate consideration.
Left wing Brendan Lemieux is suspended for an unannounced number of games for his illegal hit on Colorado’s Joonas Donskoi in the last game before the pause. That means there’s a forward spot in the lineup to be decided.