When does the 2021-22 NHL season start?

Nikita Kucherov celebrates with fans after the Lightning won the Stanley Cup

The 2021-22 NHL season is nearly upon us, providing a fresh slate for 31 teams to attempt unseating the Tampa Bay Lightning as the reigning two-time Stanley Cup champions.

That's right, there are now an even 32 teams this year after the Seattle Kraken joined the fold over the offseason. The Kraken will compete in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference as the NHL returns to its normal four-division setup after the coronavirus pandemic forced some shuffling around last season.

Here's the latest on when the 2021-22 season will start. 

When will the 2021-22 NHL season begin?

Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021

Who will play on the first day of the 2021-22 NHL season?

The Lightning will raise their 2021 Stanley Cup banner at Amalie Arena before hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7:30 p.m. ET. That game will be followed by the first official contest to include the Kraken, who take on the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena with puck drop scheduled for 10 p.m. ET. Both games will be broadcast on ESPN with streaming available via the ESPN+ service.

When do the Capitals play their first game?

The Capitals open their season Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. ET, when they will play host to the New York Rangers in a Metropolitan Division matchup that saw plenty of fireworks last year. Capitals-Rangers will be one of five games scheduled for that Wednesday before the rest of the NHL kicks off its respective schedules the following day.

Other key dates for the 2021-22 NHL season

NHL Winter Classic: Jan. 1, 2022 at Target Field in Minneapolis, MN (Wild vs. Blues)

NHL All-Star Game: Date TBD, hosted by the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena


Winter Olympic Break: Feb. 7-22, 2022 pending NHL player involvement

NHL Stadium Series game: Feb. 26, 2002 at at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN

Final day of regular season: April 29, 2022

NHL Draft: June 24-25, 2022