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Official key dates for 2020-21 NHL season: Jan. 13 start, free agency, more

Stanley Cup

REGINA, SK - OCTOBER 26: The Stanley Cup on display in The PreGame in advance of the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic as the Calgary Flames take on the Winnipeg Jets at Mosaic Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

When it comes to a Jan. 13 start to the 2020-21 NHL season, hockey fans have had some idea of key dates for a while now. Still, some details were more tentative than others, so each confirmation from the NHL adds more pieces to the puzzle. On Tuesday, the NHL confirmed and clarified key dates for the 2020-21 season.

Beyond confirming key dates, the NHL also announced COVID protocols and an offside rule change for the 2020-21 NHL season. Read more about that here.

For the most part, reports and early rumblings were accurate. Still, there are a few changes, so it’s worth updating information.

Official key dates for 2020-21 NHL season: Jan. 13 start, free agency, more

Here are the official dates. Interestingly, the league noted some 2020-21 NHL season dates that are “subject to adjustment.” (With COVID, aren’t they all, really?)

Dec. 31 - Training camps open for seven teams that did not participate in the resumption of play for the 2019-20 season (Anaheim, Buffalo, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Ottawa, San Jose)

Jan. 3 - Training camps open for the remaining 24 teams

Jan. 13 - 2020-21 regular season begins

April 12 - Trade deadline (3 p.m. ET)

May 8 - Last day of regular season

*May 11 - Stanley Cup Playoffs begin

*July 9 - Last possible day of Stanley Cup Final

July 17 - Deadline for Protection Lists for Expansion Draft (5 p.m. ET)

July 21 - Expansion Draft for Seattle Kraken (8 p.m. ET)

July 23 - Round 1 of NHL Draft

July 24 - Rounds 2-7 of NHL Draft

July 28 - Restricted Free Agent/Unrestricted Free Agent signing period begins (12 p.m. ET)

*subject to adjustment

Again, most of those dates ended up as expected. The NHL did clarify that July 9 stands as the final possible date for the 2021 Stanley Cup Final to be settled, which was a tiny bit earlier than reports indicated.

More to come ...

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.