Are Lehtonen and Barabanov eligible for the NHL’s return to play? The quick answer, probably not.
Alexander Barabanov and Mikko Lehtonen weren’t on the Leafs reserve list, let alone roster at the time of the trade deadline and were signed to contracts set to begin with the 2020-21 season. Odds are they won’t be playing, but that doesn’t mean that we now have reason to question that stance…
Big news if true: NHL will allow new contracted players to join NHL clubs for the RTP, meaning Romanov could be in for the #Habs. This is pending an approved deal between all parties. #GoHabsGo https://t.co/EAygAhTQys
— Andrew Zadarnowski (@AZadarski) June 30, 2020
The Romanov example is one of a player who was on the Canadiens reserve list, and while he didn’t have a contract, there’s more of a case to be made for him to be part of the organization moreso than the two Leafs we’d consider seeing added to the playoff group. There’s also this cold water…
NHL exec says report that it has an agreement with the NHLPA to allow players like Kirill Kaprizov to debut this summer is “not correct,” and the #mnwild has been given no update from the NHL on the situation.
— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) June 30, 2020
So, yeah, that’s not exactly a lot of certainty that any of this is happening.
There is no doubt that Barabanov and Lehtonen would be very appealing training camp invites if they are eligible, but there is still no certainty that either would play. You can likely make a case for Barabanov being a better option than someone like Denis Malgin, and I’m sure a lot of the readers of this site like the idea of Mikko Lehtonen bumping Martin Marincin or Cody Ceci further down the depth chart, but neither are roster locks.
The attempts to add players like this to the return to play rosters has been an interesting development and could change the invite list for the Leafs training camp, so we’ll continue to keep an eye on the developments, but for now we’d settle for knowing the NHL and NHLPA have agreed to play and they know what cities they’ll play in.