NHL Preview: New Year, New Cheers

Chris Peters

It’s a new season in the National Hockey League, with “new” being the operative word. There are new rules in place, new coaches getting their first shot behind an NHL bench, familiar faces skating in new places, and of course a couple of new rookies ready to make their mark this season. And, according to our esteemed puck prognosticator, we’ll have a new Stanley Cup champion when the ice chips settle in the spring. One thing that promises to hold true to form, fans are in store for another exciting season of hockey.

5 things to watch

1. Expansion
Two markets survived the multi-phase NHL expansion process: Las Vegas and Quebec City. With deep-pocketed and NHL-ready ownership groups, the two cities could be experiencing NHL hockey as early as 2017-18.

2. Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel Arrive
Two of the most anticipated prospects to enter the NHL since Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin squared off as rookies in the 2004-05 season, Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel have a lot to live up to. Both have to try to help turn around rebuilding teams, which is no small task.

3. Three-On-Three Overtime And Coach’s Challenges Are Here
The NHL’s rules committee gave the green light to some new rules for the upcoming season and they’re big ones. Regular-season games tied after regulation will now be decided by a five-minute, three-on-three overtime period. The goal is to curtail the reliance on the shootout to decide games, and it should lead to a lot of open ice for top players. Also new this year: coaches can challenge certain calls on the ice including goalie interference and offsides.

4. NHL Launches New Digital Media Products
With the help of MLB Advanced Media, NHL.com, live streaming games, and the NHL Network will all go through overhauls that will give fans more and better content to follow their favorite teams.

5. Players Vie For World Cup Roster Spots
With the World Cup of Hockey making its return next September, NHL players will not only be playing for their own teams this season, but auditioning for the chance to represent their countries at the World Cup.

Rookie Watch

All eyes will be focused mainly on two individuals this season. No. 1 overall pick Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers and Jack Eichel, the Buffalo Sabres’ pick at No. 2, are coming into the league with the kind of hype reserved for the likes of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

McDavid had a dominant season in the Ontario Hockey League, posting 120 points in just 47 games last season for the Erie Otters. Meanwhile, Eichel (Right) had one of the best freshman seasons in college hockey history, posting 71 points in leading the Boston University Terriers to the national championship game. He also became just the second freshman to win the Hobey Baker Memorial Award.

Another guy to keep an eye on next season is Carolina Hurricanes prospect Noah Hanifin. The 18-year-old defenseman will get a shot at making the NHL club in training camp after one standout season at Boston College.





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