The 2022/23 NHL season gets underway this week with a pair of games between the San Jose Sharks and the Nashville Predators in Prague, Czech Republic.
The league will again consist of 32 teams, 25 in the United States and seven in Canada.
Colorado Avalanche are the defending champions after beating Tampa Bay Lightning in last season's Stanley Cup Final and will be confident in their 17/4 favourites tag to repeat after keeping intact the core of their team over the summer.
It was the Lightning's third straight Final appearance, and having won back-to-back in 2020 and 2021, they have vowed to bounce back and meet their 10/1 odds to retain the title in 2023.
The NHL regular season will run from Friday 7th October until Thursday 13th April and the Stanley Cup Playoffs will follow.
There are four divisions in the regular season, each with eight teams and two Conferences, East and West which are determined by location.
Each team plays three or four games against the seven other teams in their division, three games against the eight teams in the other division in its conference and two games against the 16 teams from the other conference.
Sixteen teams qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs which are the top three from each division (six teams per conference), plus the next two teams in each conference earn a wild-card spot.
The playoffs matchups are determined by seedings from the regular season.
The NHL season begins on Friday (7th October) with the Predators facing the Sharks in the 2022 Global Series in Prague, the NHL's first games in Europe since 2019.
A few weeks later, on 4th and 5th November, the Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets will also travel across the pond to face-off twice in Tampere, Finland.
The North American opening night is on Tuesday, 11th October with a double header of Lightning vs New York Rangers and Vegas Golden Knights vs Los Angeles Kings.
The Buffalo Sabres have not qualified for the playoffs in 11 seasons, which is the longest streak in NHL history while the Toronto Maple Leafs' 55-year stretch without winning the Stanley Cup is the longest championship drought.
Following several years of rebuild, the Sabres head into 2022/23 with more optimism of ending their unwanted run for more than a decade. Led by first overall draft picks Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power on defence and exciting young forwards Tage Thompson, Jack Quinn, Peyton Krebs and Dylan Cozens the future appears a very bright one for the blossoming Sabres.
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For the Leafs the 2022/23 season appears to be make or break for General Manager Kyle Dubas who is in the final year of a five-year contract and hasn't yet been offered a new one.
The 36-year-old Dubas has kept faith with a Leafs core which has yet to win a playoff series under his stewardship, their last first-round progression coming in 2004.
Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, each 25, are already considered among the best Leafs of all-time and each is entering the prime of their career. Matthews led the NHL in goals for a second season by scoring the most ever by a Leaf in a single campaign (60), and he won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player last season.
Marner enjoyed a career best 97 points (35 goals, 62 assists) in 72 games last season, and each will have to better translate their regular season form into the playoffs if they are to help the Leafs over their major post-season hump and meet their 8/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup.
Several blockbuster moves have taken place over summer 2022 which carry intrigue for the new season.
Johnny Gaudreau's decision to end an eight-year stay in Calgary and move to the Columbus Blue Jackets tops the list and is one of the most surprising free agency moves of all-time.
The 29-year-old scored 115 points (40 goals, 75 assists) in 82 regular season games last season which ranked joint-second of all players. The news of his move away from a 15/1 Stanley Cup contender in Calgary to Columbus (66/1) who haven't made the playoffs for three years came as a huge shock and left the Flames in a sticky situation.
Just days later their predicament became even more difficult when Matthew Tkachuk declared his intent to leave.
The Flames acted quickly and in another stunning move, traded the rugged 24-year-old to the Presidents' Trophy winning Florida Panthers in exchange for Jonathan Huberdeau (who was joint second with Gaudreau for points last season) and top four defenceman Mackenzie Weegar.
After later signing Stanley Cup Champion Nazem Kadri from free agency, the Flames believe they kept their cup window and open and the winners and losers of these moves and many more will be proven over the next nine months.
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