It’s go time. The Edmonton Oilers, and 23 other teams from around the NHL, are set to open training camp on Monday in advance of the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifying Round. The Oilers are one of 12 teams that will converge on Edmonton starting July 26th.
The Oilers, and the rest of the returning teams, will begin Phase 3 of the NHL’s ‘Return to Play’ plan on Monday. Phase 3 is the official start of training camps in advance of Phase 4. Phase 4, of course, is the return of actual games.
On Friday night, the NHL and NHLPA officially ratified the ‘Return to Play’ protocols and an important CBA extension that ensures labor peace through at least the 2025-26 season.
“Today (Friday), the NHL and the NHLPA announced a significant agreement that addresses the uncertainty everyone is dealing with, the framework for the completion of the 2019-20 season, and the foundation for the continued long-term growth of our league,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, via NHL.com. “I thank NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr and Special Assistant to the Executive Director Mathieu Schneider, the more than 700 NHL players — particularly those who worked on our Return to Play Committee — and the NHL’s Board of Governors for coming together under extraordinary circumstances for the good of our game.
“While we have all worked very hard to try to address the risks of COVID-19, we know that health and safety are and will continue to be our priorities,” Bettman continued. “We know that all of our fans are excited about our return to the ice next month, and that has been our goal since we paused our season on March 12.”
As part of the agreed to CBA, the NHL’s salary cap will remain flat at $81.5 million for the 2020-21 season. In addition, it appears the NHL will once again be sending players to the Olympics in both 2022 and 2026. Full CBA details can be found here.
Training camp officially opens for the Oilers at Rogers Place on Monday. Clubs will be limited to having 30 skaters in camp, but can carry unlimited goaltenders.
Once Phase 4 opens up, however, teams can only have 31 TOTAL players. Teams are allowed to bring a total of 52 team personnel, including players, into the bubble.
13 days after camp opens on July 13th, teams will head to the hub cities. All 24 teams are expected to report to Edmonton (Western Conference) and Toronto (Eastern Conference) on July 26th.
Two days later, starting on July 28th and running through July 30th, all the teams in the bubble will play one exhibition game in preparation for the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifying Round and round-robin.
On Saturday, August 1st, the games officially begin. The Oilers are slated to play at Rogers Place on opening day against their Qualifying Round opponent, the Chicago Blackhawks. It will be a best-of-five series.
The Oilers and Blackhawks will also play on August 3rd (Monday) and August 5th (Wednesday). If the series needs to go beyond three games, the sides will play Game 4 on August 7th (Friday) and Game 5 on August 8th (Saturday).
Every team in both hubs will be off on August 10th. On that day, the eight teams who were eliminated in the Qualifying Round will enter Phase 2 of the NHL Draft Lottery. All eight teams will have an equal 12.5% chance to win the first overall pick in October’s Entry Draft.
The First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs begins the next day, August 11th. The Second Round opens two weeks later, starting on August 25th.
Following the second round, the two teams playing in the Eastern Conference Final will fly to Edmonton. There, the final four teams playing will be joined in the bubble by their families.
Edmonton will host both Conference Final series and the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.
The Conference Finals are slated to begin on September 8th. The Stanley Cup Final starts September 22nd, with a potential Game 7 slated for early October.
The 2020 NHL Entry Draft will be held on October 9th and 10th. It’s not yet confirmed, but it will almost certainly be held virtually like the NFL Draft was in April.
Free Agency will occur on either October 9th or seven days following the conclussion of the Stanley Cup Final. It will be on the later of the two dates.