The NHL is officially back, which means everything is back to business when it comes to hockey. The new CBA was ratified by the players on Saturday, which means while we won’t have a full season of hockey, there will be an abbreviated 48 game schedule not too unlike the shorten season the NBS experience last season after their lockout. While the NBA played 66 games rather than the NHL’s 48, the condensed feeling when it comes to key dates is just the same.
Trade will begin at midnight on Sunday, meaning there will be no moratorium when it comes to the NHL’s “offseason”. Both the NFL and NBA took at least a week to let things settle before any moves could be made but the NHL starts their season in a week, so there’s little time to twiddle our thumbs any longer than we have to.
Just like the NBA, the Stanley Cup Playoffs will start a few days after the season ends, with the official start date of the playoffs being April 30th. The last possible date for the Stanley Cup Finals will be on June 28th.
Where things get really interesting (and clogged up) is the NHL Entry Draft drawing, which will be held two days after the regular season ends and the day before the playoffs begin. Unlike previous seasons, all non-playoff teams will have a shot at getting the No. 1 overall pick. This means if the Chicago Blackhawks miss out on a playoff berth on the final day of the season, they’ll be right in the thick of things when it comes to their chances of getting the top pick int he draft.
Here’s a quick rundown of all the key dates for this upcoming 48-game NHL season, via Yahoo! Sports:
• Trades and signings can begin starting at midnight ET.
• The 2013 trade deadline is April 3
• The final day of the regular season is April 27 with the Stanley Cup playoffs beginning April 30.
• Free agency will open for business on July 5. That date is set only for this season. It will return to July in 2014.
• The 9-game limit for underage junior players that exists in an 82-game format, is now only 6 games. Any player in that category who plays more than six games this season burns a year of their entry level deal.
• The 2013 NHL Draft Lottery will be held April 29. Remember, this year all non-playoff teams will vie for No. 1 overall.