The 2019-20 NHL schedule has arrived and the 1,271-game regular season journey to the Stanley Cup Playoffs begins Oct. 2 and ends April 4. We’ll have banners being raised, old friends being reacquainted, outdoor games, games in Europe and CBA fun to deal with.
Here’s a look at some notable dates on the 2019-20 season’s schedule:
Sept. 1, 2019 – As the Collective Bargaining Agreement expiration date approaches in 2022, the NHL has the first crack to terminate the agreement as of Sept. 15, 2020.
Sept. 19, 2019 – Should the NHL pass, the NHLPA can choose to end the agreement early on Sept. 15, 2020.
OPENING NIGHT WITH A BANNER RAISING
Oct. 2, 2019 – Washington Capitals at St. Louis Blues
The defending champion Blues open their season with a Stanley Cup banner-raising party at Enterprise Center. This will be the fourth straight year that the Capitals (2016, 2018) or Blues (2017, 2019) will have been involved in a banner raising celebration.
Opening night will also feature the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Ottawa Senators, the Vancouver Canucks visiting Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers, and a playoff rematch as the Vegas Golden Knights host the San Jose Sharks.
Oct. 26, 2019 – St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins
The last time these two met was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. They’ll meet for the first time next season back at TD Garden in late October.
TOP PICKS DEBUT AND MEET
Oct. 3, 2019 – Winnipeg Jets at New York Rangers
Kaapo Kakko makes his NHL debut at Madison Square Garden against fellow Finn Patrik Laine.
Oct. 4, 2019 – Winnipeg Jets at New Jersey Devils
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft will make his debut as Jack Hughes plays his first regular season game for the Devils. Also debuting that night with his new team will be P.K. Subban, who will also make his return to Nashville on Dec. 7.
Oct. 17, 2019 – New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils
Jack vs. Kakko for the first time in their NHL careers.
Oct. 26, 2019 – Calgary Flames vs. Winnipeg Jets
The Western Conference division rivals meet at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan in the Heritage Classic.
Jan. 1, 2020 – Nashville Predators at Dallas Stars
The Winter Classic will take place at the Cotton Bowl in Texas featuring a rematch of Round 1 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Feb. 15, 2020 – Los Angeles Kings vs. Colorado Avalanche
For the second time, the NHL brings a Stadium Series game to a U.S. Service Academy as the Kings and Avalanche meet at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
NHL GLOBAL SERIES
Oct. 4, 2019 – Chicago Blackhawks vs. Philadelphia Flyers.
Jakub Voracek and David Kampf will get the opportunity to play in front of their fellow Czechs with the game taking place at O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic.
Feb. 8, 2020 – Ottawa Senators vs. Winnipeg Jets; Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens; Nashville Predators at Edmonton Oilers; Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks
Hockey Day in Canada will feature all seven Canadian teams in action.
Feb. 16, 2020 – Detroit Red Wings at Pittsburgh Penguins; Boston Bruins at New York Rangers; St. Louis Blues at Nashville Predators; Chicago Blackhawks at Winnipeg Jets
Hockey Day in America (on NBC and NBCSN) will see nine games beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET and the last game starting at 8:30 p.m. ET.
ALMOST SUPER SATURDAY
We need to wait until Seattle joins the NHL for every team to be in action in one day, but the 2019-20 season will end on April 4 with 30 of the league’s teams in action. Hopefully there will be some drama left on the final day.
The San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights will exchange pleasantries in the first two games of the season on Oct. 2 and Oct. 4. Their playoff series was intense and epic, so there should be plenty of fun to be had in these two games.
Jack Hughes visits older brother Quinn and the Vancouver Canucks for the first time when the New Jersey Devils head west on Oct. 19.
Dave Tippett visits his old team for the first time when the Arizona Coyotes host the Edmonton Oilers on Nov. 24, 2019.
It might be a better reception in Edmonton when well-liked Ralph Krueger leads his Buffalo Sabres against the Oilers on Dec. 8, 2019. Same goes for Dallas Eakins when the Anaheim Ducks visit on March 23.
There’ll be shotskis and Stanley Cup memories when Joel Quenneville and the Florida Panthers visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 21, 2020.
Jacob Trouba, if he does indeed end up signing in New York, makes his first trip back to Winnipeg to see his old friends on the Jets on Feb. 11, 2020.
The reception will be an interesting one when Alain Vigneault goes back to Madison Square Garden as Philadelphia Flyers head coach on March 1, 2020.
SALUTE TO THE SEDINS
The Vancouver Canucks will retire the jerseys of Henrik and Daniel on Feb. 12, 2020 before their game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Jan. 24-26, 2020 – NHL All-Star Game, St. Louis
The best of the best will head to St. Louis for All-Star Weekend, which will once again feature the divisional three-on-three tournament on Sunday afternoon following the NHL Skills event on Saturday night.
(UPDATE: Guy Carbonneau, Vaclav Nedomansky, Hayley Wickenheiser, Sergei Zubov will be inducted in the “player” category, while Jim Rutherford and Jerry York will go in as “builders.” Read more about the Class of 2019 here.)
The 2019 Hockey Hall of Fame class will be announced on Tuesday afternoon and following a year where there were two locks in Martin Brodeur and Martin St. Louis, it’s pretty wide open for 2019 outside of Hayley Wickenheiser. There are a few first-year candidates like Dan Boyle, Patrik Elias, Vincent Lecavalier, and Brad Richards who might have some support, but will it be enough for induction?
Per the Hockey Hall of Fame, eligible players “must have not played in a professional or international hockey game during any of the three (3) playing seasons prior to his or her election.” A maximum of four male and two female inductees can be elected in the player category a year.
Let’s take a look at who Hall of Fame chairman Lanny MacDonald might be calling on Tuesday to give them the great news.
Hayley Wickenheiser – Where do we begin? The hockey legend owns four Olympic gold medals representing Canada, plus seven more golds from the IIHF World Championship. She was the Olympic tournament MVP in 2002 and 2006 and is Canada’s women’s leader in goals (168), assists (211) and points (379) after playing 276 games internationally.
While playing professionally in Finland, she became the first women to record a point in a men’s league. Wickenheiser also participated in two rookie camps with the Philadelphia Flyers and acted as a guest coach in camps with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers. She’s currently the Assistant Director of Player Development for the Leafs.
Wickenheiser will no-doubt become the seventh woman in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Daniel Alfredsson – 444 goals, 1,157 points, Olympic gold and silver medals, 1996 Calder Trophy, six-time NHL All-Star, 2012 King Clancy Trophy. Alfie could be the beneficiary of no strong men’s player headlining the class. A veteran of 18 NHL seasons, the longtime Ottawa Senators captain has an impressive resume and strong international credentials to make the cut. He’s also known for scoring the first shootout goal in league history, and sported Hall of Fame worthy hairstyles over his career.
Curtis Joseph – 454 wins, 51 shutouts, Olympic gold medal, three-time All-Star. A three-time Vezina Trophy finalist, Joseph had himself a fine career, but unlike Osgood didn’t win a Cup. Is he in the Hall of Fame class or Hall of Very Good class? Only five goalies have been inducted into the Hall since 1973. Is it time we see more?
Boris Mikhailov – The man Herb Brooks loved to remind his “Miracle on Ice” team looked like Stan Laurel had a decorated career playing for CSKA Moscow and representing the Soviet Union internationally. Domestically, Mikhailov scored 429 goals for CSKA and recorded 653 points, leading them to 11 Soviet League titles. On the international scene, the long time captain captured two Olympic gold medals and eight World Championships. And remember that it’s not the NHL Hall of Fame, it’s the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Alex Mogilny – He was the first Soviet player to defect west and when he arrived he quickly made his mark. His 76-goal season in 1992-93 tied him for the NHL’s goal scoring lead with Teemu Selanne. He would finish with a 127 points that season. A year later he was named the first European captain in NHL history by the Buffalo Sabres. When it was all said and done, the six-time All-Star scored 473 goals and recorded 1,032 points. He’s a member of the IIHF’s Triple Gold Club, which means you’re a winner of the Stanley Cup, Olympics and World Championship.
Jeremy Roenick – 513 goals, 1,216 points, nine-time All-Star, silver medals at Canada Cup and Olympic Games.JR’s elite level status only lasted for a few seasons in the early 1990s. After three-straight 100-point and 45-plus goal seasons, his production settled into the “very good” range in the mid-90s. He certainly has the “fame” part down with the personality he’s shown during and after his NHL career, as well as his influential role in the 1996 movie “Swingers.”
Doug Wilson – 237 goals, 827 points, 1982 Norris Trophy winner, eight-time All-Star, Canada Cup gold. You don’t hear the San Jose Sharks general manager’s name much when these discussions come up. He played during an era dominated by Paul Coffey and Ray Bourque, but examine his career and it was a pretty solid one. Top 20 in points by a deenseman, top 10 in points per game. Like Dave Andreychuk in 2017, there are always some surprise inclusions every few years. And here’s a good note from Sean McIndoe of The Athletic: “Here’s the complete list of players who both won a Norris Trophy (peak) and finished in the top 25 all-time in defenseman scoring (longevity), but haven’t been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame: Doug Wilson, and that’s it.”
Sergei Zubov – His 771 points puts him in the top 20 all-time among defensemen, as does his 0.72 points per game average. He has the 12th-most playoff points for defensemen with 112. Only Sergei Gonchar has more goals and points than Zubov among Russian blue liners. He’s a two-time Stanley Cup winner, four-time All-Star, and gold medalist at the Olympics and World Junior Championship. If Nicklas Lidstrom hadn’t dominated so much, how much more love would Zubov have received?
Tom Barrasso – 369 wins, 38 shutouts, 1984 Calder Trophy, 1984 Vezina Trophy, 1985 Jennings Trophy, 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup titles, 2002 Olympic silver medal.
Peter Bondra – 503 goals, 892 points, World Championship gold, five-time NHL All-Star, two-time 50-goal scorer.
Dan Boyle – 163 goals, 605 points, 1,093 games, Olympic gold, World Championships silver, one Stanley Cup, six seasons of 50-plus points.
Rod Brind’Amour – 452 goals, 1,184 points, 2006 Stanley Cup champion, 1994 World Championship gold, two-time Selke Trophy winner.
Patrik Elias – 408 goals, 1,025 points, Olympic bronze, two World Championships bronze medals, two-time Stanley Cup winner, nine 20-plus goal seasons.
Theo Fleury – 455 goals, 1,088 points, seven-time All-Star, gold at the World Junior Championship, Canada Cup and Olympics, silver at the World Championship and World Cup of Hockey, 1989 Stanley Cup winner.
Sergei Gonchar – 220 goals, 811 points, five-time All-Star, 2009 Stanley Cup title (two more as a coach), silver and bronze medals from the Olympics and World Championships, eight 50-plus point seasons, five straight seasons with at least 18 goals.
Tomas Kaberle – 87 goals, 563 points, 2011 Stanley Cup, 2005 World Championship gold, 2006 Olympic bronze, four-time NHL All-Star.
Steve Larmer – 441 goals, 1,012 points, 1983 Calder Trophy, two-time All-Star, 1991 Canada Cup gold, 1994 Stanley Cup title, owns third-longest consecutive games streak in NHL history.
Vincent Lecavalier – 421 goals, 949 points, 2004 World Cup of Hockey gold and MVP, 2004 Stanley Cup, 2007 Rocket Richard Trophy, 2008 King Clancy Trophy, four-time NHL All-Star. It’s not quite the trophy case of 2018 inductee Martin St. Louis, so that could probably leave Lecavalier stuck in the Hall of Very Good.
Kevin Lowe – 84 goals, 431 points, six-time Stanley Cup winner, seven-time NHL All-Star, King Clancy Memorial Trophy winner.
Kent Nilsson – 262 goals, 686 points, two-time NHL All-Star, 1987 Stanley Cup title, 1978 WHA rookie of the year, IIHF Hockey Hall of Fame, Canada Cup and World Championship silver medals. The man who inspired Peter Forsberg:
Chris Osgood – 401 wins, 50 shutouts, three-time Stanley Cup champion, two-time Jennings Trophy winner. A good goalie on some great Detroit Red Wings teams for a long time. How much has that hurt his candidacy?
Brad Richards – 298 goals, 932 points, two-time Stanley Cup champion, Conn Smythe and Lady Byng Trophy winner, 2004 World Cup of Hockey winner, Memorial Cup champion.
Keith Tkachuk – 538 goals, 1,065 points, 1996 World Cup of Hockey champion, Olympic silver medal.Like Roenick, Tkachuk’s numbers are good, but he’s in a range where there are a handful of players with similar stats. While Joe Mullen’s inclusion may help Tkachuk or Roenick at some point in time, right now, he’s just on the outside.
Pierre Turgeon – 515 goals, 1,327 points, Lady Byng Trophy, five-time All-Star. A very good player for a very long time. But other than a Byng, no other individual honors to help him standout from the rest.
Mike Vernon – 385 wins, 27 shutouts, 1996 Jennings Trophy, 1989 and 1997 Stanley Cup titles and 1997 Conn Smythe Trophy, five-time All-Star. Also, key player in one of the league’s most memorable brawls:
The number, $81.5 million, came down shortly after the conclusion of the final round of Saturday’s seventh round and was $1.5 million shy of what was expected to be around $83 million since December.
For some, they leave Vancouver unperturbed by the news. Not every team is experiencing a cap crunch this season. But for others, the flight home may have been slightly sweatier, and not because of any in-flight turbulence, but rather the increased instability on the balance sheet heading into next season.
Let’s take a look at a few teams who are feeling the squeeze the most with the news.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs
For a team that still has a player hoping to make $11 million at least, it’s not ideal that even with the trade of Patrick Marleau, there’s only $13.5 million to play with and roughly $7 million of that expected to go to Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen as soon as Sunday. Toronto’s price to shed Marleau came in a future first-round pick, which came along with Marleau to Carolina. That means Kyle Dubas needs to trim even more fat off his roster to make way to accommodate Marner’s Auston Matthews-like cap hit.
2. Vegas Golden Knights
As of Sunday, the Golden Knights have $0 in cap space. In fact, they’re over the limit. And they still have William Karlsson, a restricted free agent, to pay, and perhaps Brendan Pirri, and unrestricted free agent, too. Someone’s got to go.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
The sell-off began on Saturday when J.T. Miller and his $5.25 million contract was shipped to Vancouver. The Lightning must make room for Brayden Point, who is going to command a pretty penny. With Miller’s departure, they have just over $10 million to spend, with most, if not all, going to Point. And it gets worse for Tampa next season when Andrei Vasilevskiy‘s time as a very underpaid Vezina winner comes to an end.
4. Winnipeg Jets
Perhaps the best example of building through the draft and then having to consider parting ways with players they’ve pumped all sorts of development into, the Jets have been forced into making decisions such as trading Nikolaj Ehlers (along with trading Jacob Trouba, although in a much different scenario).
The Jets have to sign Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor this offseason, two deals that could combine for $18 million or somewhere in that region. Winnipeg has $23 million to throw around at the moment, but Laine and Connor are just two players on a roster that only has 14 signed so far for next season. Like it has in the past, the Jets will employ the services of players they’ve developed after drafting them.
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It’s hard not to sympathize with teams who draft well, develop better and then have to sell off those players or others as a punishment for doing a good job as an organization.
But the realities of a capless world means teams with owners that have the deepest pockets would most likely reign supreme.
Perhaps there’s a compromise? What about teams not having to count players they draft and develop against the cap? Or perhaps only a portion of their salary, so they don’t have to sell off those players down the road because they’re forced to be cap compliant?
For now, every team dealing in the upper limits is forced to adapt.
We saw that on Saturday with the trade of P.K. Subban out of Nashville to the New Jersey Devils. We saw it with the aforementioned Lightning and Miller. And we will see more of it in the days and weeks to come with other teams plastered to the ceiling.
“I know we’ve taken a good player off our team so I can’t sit here and say we’re a better team for doing that,” Preds GM David Poile told the media in Vancouver on Saturday.
“We had to make a business decision. With an aim at strengthening our forward corps this offseason, and the continued strength of our defensive group, we felt it was necessary to clear up salary cap space this way.”
Parity in the NHL comes at a cost, but one has to wonder if that cost won’t become a point of contention somewhere down the line.
Being penalized for drafting well or pulling off a shrewd move or two shouldn’t sit well for teams in an uber-competitive league, where every advantage is needed to get ahead.
At the moment, it’s a feeding frenzy for bottom-feeding teams who can absorb large contracts and get immediately better — see: New Jersey. The Devils could go from a terrible team in 2018-19 to a playoff contender with Jack Hughes and P.K. Subban. Meanwhile, a team like the Predators — a legitimate Stanley Cup contender — perhaps ceases to be that caliber of a team, at least for now.