We are starting to see signs that the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs might be shifting from the hypothetical to the realistic.
First there was the most detailed look yet at what the postseason format could look like, courtesy of Elliotte Friedman.
Then there was the virtual town hall with Bruins prospect Trent Frederic Thursday afternoon that contained a couple notable revelations.
The first was that Frederic has actually gotten back on the ice and started skating again. The forward has spent this quarantine period back home in St. Louis, and Missouri is one of the states that has reopened quicker than most, meaning some rinks are now open for small groups.
So, last week Frederic was able to lace up his skates and play hockey on ice for the first time since mid-March. Throughout this break, players have talked about the difficulty of simulating ice skating in any other environment, even rollerblading, and now Frederic knows just what it feels like to try to shake off the rust after such a long layoff.
"I've been playing roller hockey, but it's just not the same," Frederic said. "When I got back on the ice, I was definitely rusty just with the weight and all that stuff. ... We had eight skaters, two goalies, so we were doing some 2-on-2, 3-on-3 drills. Hands weren't too bad. Mostly my skating, turning, edges was what I needed to focus on."
Later in the call, Frederic was asked if he's been in touch with the Bruins about staying ready for a possible "Black Aces" call-up, and he revealed that he was on a call that included some dates for a possible return being thrown around... although he didn't reveal said dates.
"We had a Zoom call yesterday with the group, and there were some dates thrown around," Frederic said. "It sounds like there's going to be some hockey."
While Frederic skating and hearing about some possible dates isn't earth-shattering news, they are at least signs that we're getting closer.
If Frederic does get that Black Aces call-up, or any other call-up, he said he's looking forward to having another opportunity at the NHL level. The 22-year-old got 15 games with the big club last season and two more this year, but hasn't been able to stick for good yet.
Frederic said he definitely thinks he's a better player now than he was for either of those stints.
"I think from year one (as a pro), which was two years ago, to this year, I think I've made a huge jump," Frederic said. "Even from when I played my first game in the NHL, which was over a year ago now, I think I'm a way better player and more of a complete player than I was then. For me when I'm playing my best is when I'm playing physical and having a positive impact on the game, and that doesn't have to be scoring or having an assist. It's just having a positive impact on the game, and I'm learning to do that with more repetitions of games."