There will be plenty of former Red Deer Rebels talent sprinkled across NHL lineups as the league gets back into training camps this week.
After the NHL season was put on pause in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a lot of uncertainty about whether it could or would be finished.
Earlier this month, the league and the players hammered out a deal that meant the season will officially start on Aug. 1, with players returning to abbreviated training camps this week.
With the crunch, a group of 12 former Rebels are among attendees at NHL camps.
In the NHL’s Eastern Conference, Jake DeBrusk is with the Boston Bruins, while defencemen Haydn Fleury and Alex Alexeyev are with the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals respectively. Former Rebel goalie James Reimer is also with the Hurricanes.
Not far removed from their WHL careers, Brandon Hagel and Reese Johnson are up with the Chicago Blackhawks for camp.
Brandon Sutter is on the ice with the Vancouver Canucks, while Byron Froese is skating with Calgary and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has joined the Oilers’ group in Edmonton. Defenceman Matt Dumba is back with the Minnesota Wild and Nelson Nogier has joined the Winnipeg Jets. Former Rebels netminder Darcy Kuemper is in net for the Arizona Coyotes.
The NHL exhibition schedule starts on July 28, with the Oilers and Flames squaring off, as well as the Leafs and Canadiens and Penguins and Flyers. Six games will follow on July 29, before another three on July 30.
The Aug. 1 best-of-five series will feature the Rangers vs. the Hurricanes; Panthers vs. Islanders; Canadiens vs. Penguins; Blackhawks vs. Oilers and Jets vs. Flames.
In the other three qualifications series, it is Wild vs. Canucks; Coyotes vs. Predators and Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs. The round robin mini-tournament will feature the top four teams in each division, Bruins vs. Flyers; Blues vs. Avalanche; Lightning vs. Capitals and Golden Knights vs. Stars.
Half of the early round NHL games will be played in Edmonton and half will be played in Toronto. The Stanley Cup Conference finals and Final will be played in Edmonton.