Summer hasn't quite ended, but the start of the 2021-22 NHL season is quickly coming upon us.
With the COVID-19 pandemic delaying the start of the previous season, there is a much quicker turnaround than normal for this upcoming season. July saw the entry draft and expansion draft to set the Seattle Kraken’s roster. Free agency is still going on, but most of the big names are off the board.
The development camps have already concluded, meaning training camp and the start of the season are fast approaching. Here are some key dates to look for in the 2021-22 NHL season.
When does NHL training camp start?
With development camp finished, the next thing for NHL teams is training camp.
Not all camps will start at the same time, but it is expected that all will begin at some point in mid-September, with rookies reporting first and then veterans getting to report last. It will be the first time the entire team for each organization gets to skate together.
When is the 2021-22 NHL preseason?
Preseason hockey begins at the end of September for the NHL. Each team will play six preseason games before getting the real games going.
The preseason opens on Saturday, Sept. 25 with two games taking place. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens go head-to-head, as well as the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild. It will conclude on Saturday, Oct. 9.
When does the 2021-22 NHL regular season start?
The 2021-22 NHL regular season kicks off on Tuesday, Oct. 12 with two games. The Tampa Bay Lighting hosts the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7:30 p.m. ET, and the Seattle Kraken makes its NHL debut in a road matchup with the Vegas Golden Knights at 10 p.m. ET.
The NHL is back to its normal 82-game schedule for the now 32 teams in the league. There will be a total of 1,312 regular season games played, with the final day of the regular season set for Friday, April 29.
Who is playing in the 2022 Winter Classic?
The NHL did not hold its usual Winter Classic game last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the New Year’s Day event is back on for 2021-22.
It will be the Minnesota Wild hosting the St. Louis Blues at Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins. It is the first time the Wild will participate in a Winter Classic, having previously played outdoors in the 2016 Stadium Series. The Blues previously hosted the Chicago Blackhawks for the 2017 Winter Classic at Busch Stadium, home to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The 13th installment of the Winter Classic is set for Saturday, Jan. 1, with a time yet to be determined.
When is the 2022 NHL All-Star Weekend?
Las Vegas will host the 2022 All-Star Weekend, which makes its return after being cancelled in the 2020-21 season due to the pandemic.
It is the first in-season event Vegas has hosted since the Golden Knights came into the league in 2016-17.
The All-Star Weekend is set to take place Feb. 4-5.
Is there a break for the 2022 Beijing Olympics?
The NHL and the NHLPA agreed on Friday to send their players to Beijing to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics.
It was a part of the NHL and NHLPA’s recent CBA that the league would allow their players to participate in the international tournament, though it did not seem like it was a guarantee after the decision was so delayed. But after no NHL participation at the 2018 Olympics, the best in the world make the return to Olympic ice.
The Beijing Games are set to begin Friday, Feb. 4, and run until Sunday, Feb. 20. While not official, the CBA stated that the Olympic break would take place from Feb. 7-22, which would fit in the timeline of the Games.
Who is playing in the 2022 NHL Stadium Series?
The Stadium Series is back for the NHL, with the Nashville Predators hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning at Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans.
The Carolina Hurricanes were originally scheduled to host the Stadium Series game in 2021, but requested the league push their date back to 2022-23, with GM Don Waddell wanting the game to take place in a “safe environment.”
Instead, the Predators will host their first outdoor game. Nashville previously participated in the 2020 Winter Classic against the Dallas Stars. It is the first outdoor game for the Tampa Bay Lightning, coming off of their second consecutive Stanley Cup win.
The Stadium Series game is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 26, with a time yet to be announced.
Will there be a Heritage Classic in the 2021-22 NHL season?
The Heritage Classic will take place for the sixth time in the NHL. The outdoor event has featured strictly Canadian teams thus far, but that might be changing this year.
Nothing is official, but there have been reports of a proposed Heritage Classic game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario, home to the Canadian Football League's Hamilton Tiger-Cats. It would be the first time a non-Canadian team participated in the event, and the first time the Maple Leafs played in a Heritage Classic, the only team north of the border that has not.
Gary Bettman had previously announced that the NHL was working on a Heritage Classic game in March, and it is reported that March 13 is the proposed date.
When is the 2021-22 NHL postseason set to take place?
The specific dates of the postseason have yet to be determined, but with the regular season concluding on April 29, it looks like the postseason will start at the very end of April/beginning of May. The NHL Finals won't be played until June, a return to the normal finish rather than the mid-July ending this past season.