It’s going to be a busy few days in the NHL with the season awards given out, the expansion draft results, the 2017-18 schedule and the draft. We do know some important games already, however.
On Wednesday, ahead of Thursday’s full schedule release, the NHL announced the home openers for every team. There are clearly two to circle: Pittsburgh’s on Oct. 4 against the St. Louis Blues and the Vegas Golden Knights’ first-ever home game that counts Oct. 10 against Pacific Division rival Arizona.
The Penguins of course became the first team in the salary-cap era to repeat as Stanley Cup champions and they will raise the newest banner to the rafters at PPG Paints Arena on Wednesday, Oct. 4, against the Blues. The Pens already know they have lost backup goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in the expansion draft to the Golden Knights. Pittsburgh kicked in a sweetener to ensure that’s the player Vegas took. The Pens needed to be rid of Fleury’s nearly $6 million salary and they move forward with Matt Murray in net. The Pens are +750 favorites on Bovada NHL odds to threepeat next season.
One of the marquee games of next season will be Oct. 5 when Pittsburgh already faces the second of a back-to-back as it visits Chicago in the Hawks’ home opener. There was big news surrounding the Blackhawks on Wednesday when future Hall of Famer winger Marian Hossa announced he won’t play in 2017-18 and may never again. Hossa has been dealing with a severe skin allergic reaction caused by his hockey equipment. That sounds ridiculous, but it’s not unprecedented. Guys sweat like crazy in all that equipment, and if you have ever been in a hockey locker room, it’s gross and full of germs.
Hossa scored 26 goals last season, his 19th in the league. Yet this could be a break for the Hawks as they can move Hossa's $5.275 million cap hit onto long-term injured reserve on the first day of the season. That would protect the franchise from any overages to the NHL $75 million salary cap, up to the $5.275 million. If Hossa were to retire, the Blackhawks would be hit with a cap recapture penalty and that would cripple the franchise. Chicago is a +1200 second-favorite to win the 2018 Stanley Cup.
The Detroit Red Wings will open their new stadium, Little Caesars Arena, on Oct. 5 against the Minnesota Wild. Detroit has been playing at Joe Louis Arena since 1979. Vegas will open the season on the road against the Dallas Stars on Oct. 6 before hosting the Coyotes on Oct. 10.
Here are all the home openers, with the full schedule Thursday:
Anaheim Ducks: Thursday, Oct. 5 vs. Arizona
Arizona Coyotes: Saturday, Oct. 7 vs. Vegas
Boston Bruins: Thursday, Oct. 5 vs. Nashville
Buffalo Sabres: Thursday, Oct. 5 vs. Montreal
Calgary Flames: Saturday, Oct. 7 vs. Winnipeg
Carolina Hurricanes: Saturday, Oct. 7 vs. Minnesota
Chicago Blackhawks: Thursday, Oct. 5 vs. Pittsburgh
Colorado Avalanche: Wednesday, Oct. 11 vs. Boston
Columbus Blue Jackets: Friday, Oct. 6 vs. N.Y. Islanders
Dallas Stars: Friday, Oct. 6 vs. Vegas
Detroit Red Wings: Thursday, Oct. 5 vs. Minnesota
Edmonton Oilers: Wednesday, Oct. 4 vs. Calgary
Florida Panthers: Saturday, Oct. 7 vs. Tampa Bay
Los Angeles Kings: Thursday, Oct. 5 vs. Philadelphia
Minnesota Wild: Saturday, Oct. 14 vs. Columbus
Montreal Canadiens: Tuesday, Oct. 10 vs. Chicago
Nashville Predators: Tuesday, Oct. 10 vs. Philadelphia
New Jersey Devils: Saturday, Oct. 7 vs. Colorado
New York Islanders: Saturday, Oct. 7 vs. Buffalo
New York Rangers: Thursday, Oct. 5 vs. Colorado
Ottawa Senators: Thursday, Oct. 5 vs. Washington
Philadelphia Flyers: Saturday, Oct. 14 vs. Washington
Pittsburgh Penguins: Wednesday, Oct. 4 vs. St. Louis
San Jose Sharks: Wednesday, Oct. 4 vs. Philadelphia
St. Louis Blues: Saturday, Oct. 7 vs. Dallas
Tampa Bay Lightning: Friday, Oct. 6 vs Florida
Toronto Maple Leafs: Saturday, Oct. 7 vs. N.Y. Rangers
Vancouver Canucks: Saturday, Oct. 7 vs. Edmonton
Vegas Golden Knights: Tuesday, Oct. 10 vs. Arizona
Washington Capitals: Saturday, Oct. 7 vs Montreal
Winnipeg Jets: Wednesday, Oct. 4 vs. TorontoBet On NHL Futures At SBR’s Top Sportsbooks