News.These are the 10 most intriguing dates on the 2016-17 NHL schedule

The week leading up to the NHL Entry Draft is always chock-full with trade rumors, actual trades, buyouts and wild speculation.

So, naturally, the league always throws the official schedule for the new season into the mix. On Wednesday, the NHL released the 2016-17 schedules for all 30 teams. You could try to navigate to find them, but you really should just head on over to our NHL team blogs for team-specific schedules.

In the meantime, we picked out the top 10 games, matchups and events of the upcoming season to mark on your calendars. NHL Coins

10. Any time your favorite team's bye week happens

Favorite Team vs. Not Favorite Team, Sometime In The Spring

Per a new rule, every NHL team will get a random week off in the second half of the season. We are so afraid can't wait to see how you all cope without hockey for seven days.

9. Sidney Crosby vs. Connor McDavid

Edmonton Oilers at Pittsburgh Penguins, November 8

Through a stroke of bad luck and unfortunate injuries to both players, we didn't get to see the "Next Great One" face the "Next Next Great One" last season. Luckily we won't have to wait long to settle that debate. Whoever scores the least points that night is probably overrated and needs to be traded.

8. Flyers-Capitals rematch

Washington Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers, December 21

The first round series between these two Eastern Conference foes was perhaps the most heated and controversial of the playoffs. Some faces will come and go as the offseason wears on, but the bad blood should still remain.

7. Centennial Classic

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Detroit Red Wings, January 1

Leafs games are going to be spectacles all season as the franchise celebrates its 100th year of existence. But it will culminate in a special way when they host the Red Wings outdoors on New Year's Day for the Centennial Classic. Leafs greats from the past will show up in droves. Speaking of ...

6. Phil Kessel in Toronto again as a champion

Pittsburgh Penguins at Toronto Maple Leafs, December 17

Kessel received a chorus of boos when he returned to the Air Canada Centre for the first time as an ex-Leaf. Now that he's won a Stanley Cup and quashed whatever can't-win narratives followed him out of Toronto, how will Maple Leafs fans greet him this time around? Something tells us adding a wave of exciting young players like Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner will temper their ire and Phil will be more well-received.

5. Patrik Laine vs. Jesse Puljujarvi

Columbus Blue Jackets at Winnipeg Jets (unless the Leafs do something crazy), December 29

Much like the over-hyped first game between Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel last year, the top three prospects in the upcoming draft are talented enough to warrant an exciting first matchup of their own. Only this time, the second and third overall picks make for the better drama. Laine and Puljujarvi are Team Finland teammates, and have exchanged words through the media (perhaps jokingly) about who is the better player. They'll get a chance to prove it when the Blue Jackets and Jets first meet up.

And yes, we are assuming the Leafs draft Matthews first overall and Laine and Puljujarvi get picked right after him. This seems like a safe bet!

4. Jaromir Jagr's last game?

Florida Panthers at Washington Capitals, April 9 (or sometime in 2028, because it's Jagr)

Jaromir Jagr hasn't annouced the 2016-17 season will be his last. But by the time the Panthers' final regular season game comes around, he'll be 45 years old. Whether this is actually his last game depends on a lot of factors. But if he's healthy, the Panthers miss the playoffs and he's shown signs of slowing down, this date could be the last time we see the legend on NHL ice.

3. Lightning versus Steven Stamkos' new team

Either October 25 in Toronto or Nov. 17 in Buffalo

Stamkos still hasn't signed with Tampa Bay with a little over a week left before free agency starts. He could be traded in the next few days. So let's assume this is the end of his captaincy with the Bolts. His return with the Sabres or Maple Leafs (c'mon, where else would he go?) will be must-watch TV.

2. Last regular season game at "The Joe"

Red Wings vs. New Jersey Devils, April 9

Joe Louis Arena has stood in Detroit since 1979. The Red Wings have brought four Stanley Cups back to The Joe, and in the meantime it's become notorious as one of the hardest buildings to play in. When the Wings play one last regular season game there in April, expect a ton of octopi corpses to litter the ice. And then prepare yourselves for something called the Little Caesars Arena next year.

1. Penguins raise the Stanley Cup banner in front of the Capitals

Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins, October 13

We actually knew this date a few days ago when the home openers were announced. Fate (or evil schedule-makers) has decreed Sidney Crosby and the Penguins will raise their 2016 Stanley Cup banner in front of Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. The sad Ovi memes will be in full force (the poor guy), and no doubt a Twitter war will erupt between snarky Penguins fans and defensive Caps fans. We can't think of a more appropriate way for the NHL season to start




Friday, June 24, 2016

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