Important NHL dates and what they mean for the Caps


UPDATE: The NHL, NHLPA came to an agreement to start the season. Read more here.

Mark your calendars. The NHL and NHLPA reached a tentative agreement for the 2021 season on Friday. As part of that agreement, several important dates were set.

All of these dates are subject to change, but here is a tentative calendar for key NHL dates and what they mean for the Capitals.

Dec. 27: Opt-out deadline

Players who are considered to be high-risk or who have immediate family members who are high-risk will have the option of opting out for the season. Players on teams who did not reach the playoffs must decide by Dec. 24. All other players, including players on the Capitals, will have a Dec. 27 deadline.

None of the Caps players opted out of the postseason when given the option. That does not mean that none will for 2021, just that we have no indication to think anyone will as of now.

Jan. 3: Training camp opens

Teams that did not reach the postseason will open training camp prior to the new year, but Washington's training camp will open on Jan. 3.

Jan. 13: Regular season begins

The 2021 season is set to start a little over three months later than the typical early October open.

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March 12: Players on one-year deals can re-sign

In a typical year, this date is on Jan. 1. In 2021, this has been pushed back to March.

The Capitals currently have two players playing on one-year contracts now with the departure of goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Those players are Trevor van Riemsdyk and Jonas Siegenthaler.


Even if both players are great, we may not see them sign a new deal considering the expansion draft is looming at the end of the season. Locking these players in long-term after good seasons will only increase their value to Seattle. Siegenthaler may be a candidate to be protected from the expansion draft in which case re-signing him won't' be an issue.

This date is just for players on one-year deals, not players on the final year of their contracts. Players who are on the final year of their contracts, such as Alex Ovechkin, are already eligible to re-sign.

May 8: End of the regular season

A condensed regular season will end about one month later than a normal season.

First week of July: Stanley Cup awarded

This does not leave the NHL much wiggle room in case the schedule needs to be pushed back because of any COVID outbreaks or delays. The Tokyo Olympics are set to start on July 23. The NHL season must be over by then to avoid competing with the Olympics both for ratings and for air-time as NBC is the broadcast partner for both the NHL and the Olympics.

July 28: Free agency begins

The start of free agency also marks the expiration of contracts on their final year. For Washington, that includes unrestricted free agents Ovechkin and van Riemsdyk as well as restricted free agents Siegenthaler, Jakub Vrana and Ilya Samsonov.