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Mika Zibanejad was out with COVID, won’t commit to playing Thursday

Zibanejad missing part of training camp with COVID

2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers - Player Arrivals Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

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.

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.

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.

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.