The 2019-20 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff tournament hasn't started yet, but the 2020-21 regular season already has a tentative start date. According to TSN's Frank Seravalli, Dec. 1 is being marked as the first night of play next season. If that date remains unchanged, training camps would begin on Nov. 17.
To go along with that start date, TSN is also reporting that the last possible date for this year's Stanley Cup Finals is Oct. 2. Free agency would then open a full week after the Stanley Cup is awarded. The NHL is set on ending the Finals by Oct. 2 because the draft is scheduled for Oct. 6 and it must be after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals and before the start of free agency.
Earlier this week, the NHL and NHLPA finalized the protocols for Phases 3 and 4 of the league's return-to-play plan.
Phase 3, which features the start of training camps, was originally scheduled to begin on July 10. However, the league pushed the date back until at least July 13 in order for the two sides to come to an agreement about both the protocols for the rest of the return-to-play plan and the Collective Bargaining Agreement extension. The two sides did come to terms on a four-year extension of the CBA.
According to ESPN, "all individuals shall maintain physical distancing (a minimum of 6-foot distance) at all times throughout Phase 4, to the extent possible." Players will also be expected to wear face masks except when they're exercising. Coaches don't have to wear face masks while on the bench.
Once the league does return, it's expected that teams will head to their respective hub cities around July 25 or 26 and games could begin as early as Aug. 1. Eastern Conference teams will be in Toronto while Western Conference teams will play in Edmonton.