Vegas Golden Knights: NHL Training Camps on the cusp of opening

The Vegas Golden Knights are on the verge of opening up Training Camp.

Things are beginning to move quickly in hockey’s bid to return this year and the Vegas Golden Knights will be reunited all together sooner rather than later.

After activating Phase 2 of their Return To Play Plan on Monday, which saw team facilities opened to small groups, the NHL announced on Thursday that Phase 3 of their masterplan would commence on July 10.

From that date onwards, formal Training Camps will be given the green light to get underway which means that the Golden Knights will begin to really put in the hard work prior to the Stanley Cup Playoffs getting underway.

Granted, there are still a number of hurdles to clear and, as per the NHL statement which you can read below, the opening of formal Training Camps are dependent on medical and safety conditions being met.

But, let’s be absolutely clear, this is another huge step forward for the NHL and the 24 teams who will all get a chance to finish what they started in 2019-20.

And July 10 isn’t that far away, either, which means that we are inching closer and closer to actual hockey games being played.

Training Camps will be crucial too given that top seeds, including the Golden Knights, will be involved in a three-game round-robin tournament that will dictate seeding for the actual Playoffs, while the other 16 teams will contest a best-of-five Play-In series in order to punch their Stanley Cup Playoffs ticket.

There’s still work for the NHL and the NHLPA to be done, including thrashing out an exact start date for the formal resumption of play (Phase 4) and the length of Training Camp, but we at least have a solid date in the books for when entire teams can hit the ice together.

And that’s huge right now.

What it means for the Golden Knights

We saw on Monday that the first group of six skaters hit the ice for the Vegas Golden Knights, including Marc-Andre Fleury, Deryk Engelland, Nick Holden, Paul Stastny, Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty.

The Knights will continue to allow groups of six skaters to get some vital work in before Training Camps can officially open.

The good news for Vegas is that the majority of players, if not all of them, are currently in Nevada so there will be limited headaches when it comes to trying to get players back to the United States while dealing with travelling restrictions.

What the front office will have to worry about, however, is expanded rosters which hasn’t officially been decided yet.

It is expected that rosters will swell to at least 30 players, so General Manager Kelly McCrimmon will need to decide which players to bring up from the American Hockey League, which has cancelled its season.

Alex Tuch #89 and Deryk Engelland #5 of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrate.

Alex Tuch #89 and Deryk Engelland #5 of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrate. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

July 10 is just a target date and could be pushed back if there is a COVID-19 spike, but it is a date nonetheless.

What it does allow is the fact that the coaching staff, led by Head Coach Pete DeBoer, can now start to formulate plans and systems for the round-robin tournament and the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Players, who don’t have to partake in Phase 2 of the Return To Play Plan, can now start to get prepared mentally and physically for jumping straight back in and prepare for a gruelling postseason run.

Each team is also expected to be given a couple of exhibition games before the serious stuff starts, so Training Camp will also be used to experiment with different line combinations and systems for the warm-up contests.

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Overall, we now have a date to look forward to when it comes to the opening of Training Camps and, once that happens, it will be another huge step forward when it comes to the Vegas Golden Knights returning this year.

The Golden Knights are on the cusp of coming back. Time to start getting excited.