The NHL is targeting July 13 for a return to training camp, with the league's 24-team playoff beginning on Aug. 1.

That's according to hockey insider Bob McKenzie of TSN, who also said that, under the plan, teams would report to their assigned hub cities on July 26. While the NHL has not made an official announcement, McKenzie said that those cities are expected to be Edmonton and Toronto.

While several U.S. cities were in the mix to be a hub, the Canadian cities are the likely choice, in part because of the low rate of coronavirus cases in Canada compared to the United States. Play in the NHL was halted on March 12 because of the pandemic.

McKenzie said the play-in qualifying series, which will be a best-of-five event, should end in the second week of August, with a Stanley Cup champion crowned in early October.

As for the NHL draft, McKenzie said the second part of the NHL draft lottery -- when the team with the No. 1 overall pick will be announced -- would occur after the qualifying series. The draft would follow soon after the conclusion of the playoffs.

Before any of these dates can be locked in, the league and the NHL Players' Association must reach an agreement on several key issues, including additional return-to-play protocols and an extension of the collective bargaining agreement. Once that is reached, the board of governors and players must ratify the deal.

--Field Level Media

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