Even though the NHL season doesn’t officially kick off until Oct. 10, 2023, fans still have many days to sort through the upcoming schedule and find key dates to circle. Considering there are 2,624 games in an NHL campaign, we wanted to highlight the important ones so everyone knows which events they should attend or at least be close to a TV to catch the action.
Although there are 32 teams with must-watch games on their calendars, this list applies to the NHL in general, with the All-Star Game, Hall of Fame weekend, and the NHL Trade Deadline all focal points. Of course, these days don’t take away a former player playing his former team for the first time or a skater reaching a particular milestone. Instead, these are just ordinary days with special events scheduled.
Sept. 23-24, 2023 – Global Series (Australia)
Although most teams will only be beginning their training camp routines, the Los Angeles Kings and Arizona Coyotes will be in Melbourne, Australia, to kick off the NHL Global Series. Over two days in late September, these two teams will face off in front of Australian fans, welcoming the NHL for the first time in history. Even though these games won’t have any significance in the standings, the entire event will serve as a way to deepen the connection between the league and its fans from down under.
Sept. 27, 2023 & Oct. 1, 2023 – Kraft Hockeyville Games
As winners of the Kraft Hockeyville contests, the communities of West Lorne, Ontario, and Sydney, Nova Scotia, will host NHL preseason games featuring the Ottawa Senators, Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres, and Toronto Maple Leafs. First, on Sept. 27, 2023, the Maple Leafs will “host” the Sabres at Joe Thornton Community Centre in St. Thomas, Ontario. Meanwhile, the Senators will “host” the Panthers on Oct. 1, 2023 at the Centre 200 in Sydney, Nova Scotia. As always, these communities get to host NHL action and receive money to upgrade their facilities and buy gear for the local hockey programs.
Oct. 10, 2023 – NHL Opening Night
The official start of the 2023-24 regular season will occur on Oct. 10, 2023, with three games, highlighted by the debut of first-overall pick Connor Bedard of the Chicago Blackhawks. Interestingly, the young superstar will face off against Sidney Crosby, another former first-overall selection, in what should be a special moment for each player.
Additionally, the Vegas Golden Knights will raise their Stanley Cup banner before their game against the Seattle Kraken. Despite only three matchups on schedule, opening night will be memorable for many players, franchises, and fans.
Oct. 24, 2023 – All 32 Teams in Action
If you are a passionate hockey fan and have plans on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023, you may want to rearrange your schedule to ensure you have the day off. Starting at 6:00 p.m. EST, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals will kick off a historic day as all 32 teams will be in action. Ultimately, with games beginning within 15 minutes of one another, the final contest between the Philadelphia Flyers and Golden Knights will start at 11:00 p.m. EST, meaning every team will skate within five hours of each other.
Oct. 29, 2023 – Heritage Classic (Edmonton)
Twenty years ago, in 2003, the NHL hosted the first-ever Heritage Classic between the Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Interestingly, the contest marked a significant moment in NHL history since it kicked off the outdoor game era, which officially started shortly after in 2008 with the Winter Classic.
Now, the game’s two best players, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, will participate in their second outdoor game, but on home soil where the present-day Oilers can redeem the loss from the initial Heritage Classic. Meanwhile, their opponents on what should be a cold winter day are the Calgary Flames, who will look to gain the upper hand in the Battle of Alberta with a chance to secure the rivalries’ first outdoor win. Even though it is an early game in the season, the intensity will be high in what should be another historic moment for both franchises.
Nov. 10-13, 2023 – Hockey Hall of Fame Weekend
As the Hockey Hall of Fame, located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, opens its door to another class of inductees, this year is another star-studded group led by Henrik Lundqvist, a first-ballot entrant. Surprisingly, he’s not the only netminder who got a call, with Stanley Cup champions Tom Barrasso and Mike Vernon getting their rings, too.
Furthermore, Pierre Turgeon, Caroline Ouellette, Pierre Lacroix, and Ken Hitchcock will also receive their plaques. Of course, no Hall of Fame weekend would be complete without the Legends Classic games, which Adam Oates and Joe Nieuwendyk will lead this year.
Nov. 16-19 – Global Series (Sweden)
The second part of the NHL Global Series will occur in Stockholm, Sweden, when several teams participate in a mini showcase in the Nordic Country. As part of an effort to grow the game worldwide, the Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, and Minnesota Wild will each play two games at Avicci Arena. Considering Sweden is one of the top hockey countries in the world, this is not the first time the NHL has hosted events there, and based on the popularity them, it won’t be the last time either.
Dec. 23, 2023 – Stanley Cup Final Rematch
Hopefully, by the time the Golden Knights and Florida Panthers meet for the first time since Game 5 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Final, both teams will have healthy rosters. Considering the physical toll it took to advance to the fourth round of the playoffs last year, with both teams battered and bruised, Vegas ended the Panther’s Cinderella Run in five games. Of course, if everyone is good to go, this should be a great game, with some of the game’s best, like Matthew Tkachuk and Jack Eichel, going head-to-head once again.
Jan. 1, 2024 – Winter Classic (Seattle)
The NHL’s two newest expansion clubs, the Seattle Kraken and Golden Knights, will meet in the Winter Classic, set to take place on New Year’s Day from T-Mobile Park in Seattle. Interestingly, the Golden Knights become the latest defending Stanley Cup champions to play an outdoor game immediately after winning, joining the Detroit Red Wings (2009), Chicago Blackhawks (2014, 2016), Los Angeles Kings (2015), Pittsburgh Penguins (2017), and Tampa Bay Lightning (2022). Meanwhile, the Kraken became the quickest team to host an NHL outdoor event, achieving the feat in their third season.
Jan. 20, 2024 – Hockey Day in Canada
The annual Hockey Day in Canada celebration will occur in Victoria, British Columbia, on Jan. 20, 2024. As one of the league’s longest-running celebrations of the game, all seven Canadian teams will be in action that day, with the Canadiens drawing the short stick this year and facing the Boston Bruins. Meanwhile, the Senators will play the Winnipeg Jets, followed by the Vancouver Canucks hosting the Maple Leafs, and the nightcap game between the Oilers and Flames.
Feb 1-4, 2024 NHL All-Star Game Weekend (Toronto)
After the best in the world took their talents to South Florida in 2023, today’s NHL superstars will return to the site of the first-ever All-Star Game in Toronto. Although the venues have changed over the years, there’s no denying that Toronto is Canada’s top hockey market, and Scotiabank Arena will host its second event since opening in 1999. Even though there have not been any announcements regarding the event, based on previous years, it will be a fun weekend, leaving many players and fans with memories to last a lifetime.
Feb. 17-18, 2024 – Stadium Series (New York)
The NHL Stadium Series returns for another year at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, home to the NFL’s New York Giants and New York Jets. Although these games will take place after the Super Bowl, the weather will still be chilly and brisk, ideal conditions for outdoor hockey games.
Ultimately, this year’s matchups feature Metropolitan Division rivals, with the Philadelphia Flyers taking on the New Jersey Devils and a battle between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders.
Mar. 8, 2024 – NHL Trade Deadline
One of the most anticipated moments of the regular season takes place on Mar. 8, 2024, with the NHL Trade Deadline. Ultimately, teams will know whether they will be buyers or sellers in the weeks leading up to the deadline and must make their final decisions by 3:00 p.m. EST.
Still, the day never fails to disappoint as teams make last-minute transactions, keeping the insiders busy for hours after the closing bell. Realistically, whether a team loads up for a run at the Stanley Cup while other teams begin their rebuild, all the hype surrounding the deadline engages fans like no other day of the year.
Apr. 18, 2024 – Last Day of NHL Regular Season
After 2,618 games, the final day of the regular season will feature six matchups, bringing to a close the 2,624-game season on Thursday night in mid-April. Interestingly, the season’s last contests could have significant playoff implications since six of the 12 teams slated for action that day qualified for the playoffs in 2022-23.
Although most International Ice Hockey Federation events do not interfere with the NHL schedule, they are essential dates for hockey fans, whether they love watching prospects or veterans chase gold. So, with that in mind, the World Junior Championships are in Gothenburg, Sweden, from Dec. 26, 2023, to Jan. 4, 2024, and the World Championships will take place in Czechia from May 10 to May 26, 2024.
As fans prepare for nine months of hockey by buying the latest jersey release or tickets to see their favorite teams, there will be so many memorable moments in the upcoming year that it would be hard to list certain ones already printed on the calendar. However, we highlighted the key dates most fans should know as we inch closer to the season’s first puck drop.