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Most of Rangers' European players to return to New York this week

Mika Zibanejad #93 of the Rangers celebrates his

Mika Zibanejad #93 of the Rangers celebrates his third goal of a game against the Washington Capitals with teammate Pavel Buchnevich #89 at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, Mar. 5, 2020. Credit: Jim McIsaac

With Phase 3 of the NHL’s return-to-play plan — training camps — set to begin July 10, the Rangers’ European players are making plans to return to New York this week.

After the NHL paused its season because of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12, players were allowed to leave their team’s cities to go home, or wherever they chose to spend the duration of the shutdown.

Most of the Rangers’ European players returned to Europe, with Artemi Panarin and Igor Shesterkin the only ones who chose to stay in the United States. Panarin stayed in the area and is skating and working out at the Rangers’ practice facility in Greenburgh as part of the NHL’s voluntary small group training. Shesterkin reportedly is in Florida.

Forward Pavel Buchnevich, who has spent the NHL pause in Russia, plans to return to New York on Sunday, according to his agent. The other players who have been in Europe — Henrik Lundqvist, Mika Zibanejad and Jesper Fast in Sweden, Kaapo Kakko and Alexandar Georgiev in Finland, and Filip Chytil in the Czech Republic — likely will follow.

Players returning for training camp from outside the country, or from different parts of the country, are subject to whatever quarantine restrictions are in place. They would need to have their quarantine completed so that they are ready to participate fully when camp starts.

Players will be tested for the coronavirus when they arrive in New York and tested again a week later. If both tests are negative, the player should be cleared to practice.

The NHL announced a plan that will bring back 24 of its 31 teams to play at one of two hub sites, which have yet to be chosen. The top four teams in each of the Eastern and Western Conferences will play each other in a round-robin setup to determine seeding for the top four teams, and teams 5 through 12 in each conference will face off in a best-of-five play-in series to advance to the 16-team playoff field.

The NHL has not announced how many players will be on the rosters for the league’s restart, but it’s been widely reported that it is likely to be 28 skaters and an unlimited number of goaltenders. Teams will be capped at 50 personnel — including players, trainers, equipment managers and executives — at the hub sites. There have been no announcements about how many players can be brought to training camp on July 10.

One player who won’t be at the Rangers’ training camp is former first-round pick Lias Andersson, who declined an invitation. Andersson, the No. 7 overall pick in 2017, will remain in Sweden, where he finished up playing on loan for HV71 of the Swedish Hockey League after bolting from his assignment at the Rangers’ Hartford farm team in December.

New York Sports