The NHL hasn’t restarted this paused season yet but there is reportedly a planned date for the start of next season.
TSN reported on Wednesday night that as part of the memorandum of understanding between the NHL and NHL Players’ Association for the return-to-play format/Collective Bargaining Agreement that must still be ratified by the league’s Board of Governors and the NHLPA’s full membership, the 2020-21 season will tentatively begin on Dec. 1.
That is just one of several key dates in the MOU.
Formal training camps for the resumption of this season — paused on March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic — are scheduled to open on Monday. The 24 teams will then travel to their respective hub cities — Toronto and Edmonton have been selected but not yet officially announced — on July 24 with exhibition games to begin the next day.
The best-of-five qualifying series will begin on July 30. The Islanders, seeded seventh in the Eastern Conference, will face the 10th-seeded Panthers while the No. 11 Rangers will meet the sixth-seeded Hurricanes.
The first round of the 16-team playoffs will begin on Aug. 9. The conference finals will begin on Sept. 6 and the last possible game of the Stanley Cup Final will be on Oct. 2.
The offseason will be very compact.
The NHL Draft is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 6 and the free agency period will begin either on Oct. 9 or seven days after the conclusion of the Cup Final, whichever is later. Under the new CBA guidelines, there no longer will be a five-day interview period for unrestricted free agents prior to the free agent market opening.
Training camps for the 2020-21 season are then scheduled to open on Nov. 17.