Center Mika Zibanejad is back on the ice with the rest of the New York Rangers after missing part of training camp. Today we learned why he was late to arrive — he tested positive for COVID-19. Per league protocols, players who are placed on non-roster status due to COVID don’t need to be identified during training camp. That is not the case during the regular season.
Per NHLPA: Players who are placed on non-roster status due to COVID-19 protocols will be identified during the season but those testing positive or otherwise unfit to play re protocols during training camp will not be named.— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) December 21, 2020
The Rangers’ star center told members of the media he feels good now but is taking things day-by-day. He was on the ice with familiar linemates Pavel Buchnevich and Chris Kreider. The Blueshirts are scheduled to have a full scrimmage tonight.
#NYR Mika Zibanejad says he tested positive for COVID-19 and that's why he missed the start of camp— Mollie Walker (@MollieeWalkerr) January 11, 2021
Furthermore, there are no guarantees that Zibanejad will play in the Rangers season-opener this Thursday against the New York Islanders. This is hardly surprising given his late arrival and the news about his condition.
Zibanejad won’t commit to playing Thursday #NYR— Rick Carpiniello (@RickCarpiniello) January 11, 2021
At the moment, Zibanejad appears penciled-in to center a line with Kreider and Buchnevich — the “KZB” line — on his wings for Thursday but the coaching staff will monitor Zibanejad’s progress and conditioning before making a decision. If the Swedish center is ruled out due to conditioning — or any other reason — for Thursday we could see Kevin Rooney make his Rangers debut. He was practicing with “Group B” which all signs point to being the team’s opening night roster.
Per Vince Mercogliano, we also learned that defenseman Jacob Trouba missed three weeks of training heading into camp because he, too, had COVID.
We’ll keep you posted on any other major stories that emerge from Rangers training camp.