The Nashville Predators kick-started the 2022/23 NHL season with two wins over the San Jose Sharks in Prague, Czech Republic as part of the NHL Global Series on Friday and Saturday.
Action gets underway in North America from Tuesday, with games every week-day including the banner raising for Stanley Cup Champions Colorado Avalanche against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.
The Avalanche ended a 21-year wait for their third Stanley Cup last season and will celebrate their major success ahead of their home opener against the Blackhawks on Wednesday.
While Colorado weren't able to keep hold of all their cup-winning heroes over the off-season, they made sure that their world-class core and strong depth remained in place, making them +425 favorites to retain the famous trophy.
Most notably, goalie Darcy Kuemper and productive forward Nazem Kadri departed to Washington Capitals and Calgary Flames respectively, but long-term extensions were confirmed for superstar Nathan MacKinnon and high-scoring forward Valeri Nichushkin.
Alexandar Georgiyev was acquired from the New York Rangers to replace Kuemper and his ability to take on number one duties will be heavily scrutinised in the early going of the season.
In complete contrast to the expectations of the Avalanche, the Blackhawks have signalled their intent to undergo a fully-fledged rebuild, not least by allowing top-scorer Alex DeBrincat to leave (to Ottawa Senators) among others.
While three-time cup winners Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane remain for now, Chicago's hopes of ruining Colorado's cup celebration with a roster full of unfamiliar names is extremely slim.
The Calgary Flames (+1500 to win the Stanley Cup in 2022/23) were stunned to lose their two top forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk within a matter of days over summer.
But General Manager Brad Treliving refused to allow the departures to close the Flames' cup window, and following some widely praised moves, they head into their opener against the Avalanche on Thursday, feeling they may actually be in a better position to challenge the champions.
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Tkachuk was traded to Florida Panthers for Jonathan Huberdeau who, like the departing pair, scored over 100 points last season, and top-four defenceman MacKenzie Weegar. Later, centre Kadri was added from the Avalanche with many feeling the trio better balance the Flames.
With Florida (+900 to win the Stanley Cup in 2022/23) also opening up their season on Thursday against the New York Islanders, it will be a first opportunity to weigh up the winner and loser of the blockbuster trade.
Toronto Maple Leafs' General Manager Kyle Dubas made one of the more intriguing decisions of the off-season choosing to totally change his side's goalie options with Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov replacing Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek.
Murray was acquired following two difficult seasons with Ottawa Senators and Samsonov signed as a free agent from the Washington Capitals. Campbell moved to the Edmonton Oilers via free agency and Mrazek traded to the Blackhawks.
Much debate has followed, particularly questioning whether Murray can regain the form and most importantly the fitness which helped him win two Stanley Cup rings with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017.
The Leafs (+800 to win the Stanley Cup in 2022/23) open their season on the road against rivals Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday with Murray expected to start, before Samsonov is likely to get the nod against his former employees, the Capitals at home on Thursday.
All eyes will be between the pipes, and quick judgements will be made, and that includes at the opposite end of the ice where the Canadiens will again have to make do without Carey Price (long-term injured reserve) and the Capitals will begin life with cup winner Kuemper.
The aforementioned Johnny Gaudreau shocked the hockey world when he chose to end his eight-year stay with the Flames, and sign a seven-year, $68.25million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Gaudreau scored a career-high 115 points (40 goals, 75 assists) last season which ranked joint-second with Huberdeau (30 goals, 85 assists).
His decision to leave a team with championship aspirations for a Blue Jackets side that haven't made the playoffs for two years and are +6600 to win the Stanley Cup in 2022/23, wasn't just the most surprising free agency move this summer, but was one of the most jaw-dropping of all time.
His competitive debut in the Columbus uniform comes on Wednesday in Carolina against the Hurricanes before the Blue Jackets faithful get the chance to properly welcome the superstar to their city on Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
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