NHL reports 27 COVID-19 cases during camps, including 17 from Dallas

The NHL says 27 players returned positive COVID-19 tests during training camps as the league prepares to open its season.

Canucks ink ex-Flame Travis Hamonic to 1-year deal

Dallas' Jamie Benn, left, playfully grabs Miro Heiskanen to make a point during training camp earlier in January. The NHL said Tuesday 27 positive COVID-19 tests were recorded during camps, including 17 from the Stars. (LM Otero/The Associated Press)

The NHL says 27 players returned positive COVID-19 tests during training camps as the league prepares to open its season.

The league said in a release Tuesday that it conducted approximately 12,000 tests administered to more than 1,200 players over the period from Dec. 30 to Monday.

The league said the positive tests are from nine teams, including 17 positive results from the Dallas Stars, who have had their opening game postponed.

The NHL said most of the Stars players who tested positive are asymptomatic, and all are recovering without complication.

The 2020-21 regular season starts Wednesday with five games.

WATCH | NHL prepares for season amid pandemic:

NHL says it will be flexible with COVID-19 season

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The puck drops on the NHL’s new season and the all-Canadian division this week and though there are concerns about playing and travelling during the COVID-19 pandemic, the league says it’s prepared to be flexible to the circumstances. 2:00

Canucks sign ex-Flame Travis Hamonic

Playing for the Calgary Flames, defenceman Travis Hamonic got a close-up view of the Vancouver Canucks' skilled, young talent.

Going up against the likes of Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Bo Horvat wasn't easy, he said.

After signing a one-year, $1.25-million US deal with the Canucks Tuesday, Hamonic will only have to worry about defending against the Canucks' young guns in practice.

"It's certainly a lot nicer to be on this side of things," he said on a video call Tuesday.

Being around that kind of talent has benefits, added Hamonic, who was drafted 53rd overall by the New York Islanders in 2008.

"As a player, you want that opportunity and I think that's a pretty intriguing aspect of your career and your playing ability, to be surrounded by people who have different skills than you have and can maybe help you along the way as well," he said.

Hamonic heads to Vancouver as a veteran on the blue line, having played 637 NHL games while collecting 188 points (37 goals, 151 assists) and 591 penalty minutes.

He spent the last three seasons in Calgary, and in 2019-20 averaged 21:12 minutes per game with three goals and nine assists. He opted out of the playoffs citing family considerations.

The 30-year-old native of St. Malo, Man., entered free agency in October and said he had talks with a number of teams.

"We felt the most excited by the conversations we had with the Canucks," he said.

Once he finally got on the ice in Vancouver, Hamonic skated with Hughes, who was runner up for the NHL's rookie of the year award last season.

Whether the duo will be play together when the season starts remains to be seen, but Hamonic sees the potential pairing as an exciting opportunity.

"He's a pretty special player, a pretty dynamic player. So if that's how it's going to go, I'll just put the puck in his hands and let him do the work and I'll just be there to back him up," he said.

While he hasn't played an NHL game since Feb. 8, Hamonic travelled with the Canucks to Edmonton where they're set to open the season against the Oilers on Wednesday.

Vancouver's newest player said he'll speak with coach Travis Green about playing, but he feels ready to jump in.

"I'm healthy, I'm ready to go, I'm certainly eager as I could ever be to play," Hamonic said. "I feel like I can get up to speed pretty quickly here."

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