Training camps are now underway for all 31 NHL teams. The seven teams that did not make the playoffs last season opened camp on December 31, with the remaining 24 teams that participated in the last postseason opening up camps on Sunday.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused issues for a few players trying to participate in those training camps.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Kapanen, 24, is in Finland as he works through immigration issues that have been complicated due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A visa meeting in his home country is not scheduled until later this week. The hope is he’ll be on a plane to the United States shortly thereafter.
However, even in this best-case scenario, Kapanen would need to quarantine for seven days, as per NHL rules, once he arrives in the U.S. That almost will certainly span the entire training camp and at least the opener in Philadelphia. The Penguins’ season continues against the Flyers on Jan. 15. They return to PPG Paints Arena for the home opener against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 17 and 19.
According to the Poat-Gazette, Coach Mike Sullivan initially planned to start training camp with Kapanen skating next to Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. Now, Sullivan will need to find a replacement for at least the start of the season.
The Penguins acquired Kapanen this offseason from Toronto in exchange for a package that included their 2020 first-round pick and prospect Filip Hallander. The expectation was that he would solidify the top-six, giving the Penguins another right winger to go along with Bryan Rust on the scoring lines.
The Penguins and Capitals will do battle a total of eight times in the shortened 56-game season, with the first games coming at Capital One Arena on February 23 and and 25.
By Jon Sorensen