NHL Reportedly Targeting Oct. 12 Start Date for 2021-22 Regular Season

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIIApril 21, 2021

Edmonton Oilers right wing Josh Archibald, second from left, celebrates with Connor McDavid (97), Tyler Ennis (63) and Adam Larsson (6), of Sweden, after Archibald scored a goal against the Nashville Predators in the first period of an NHL hockey game Monday, March 2, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

The NHL is hoping to begin the 2021-22 season on October 12 with training camps opening September 22, according to Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic:

The opening night date is nearly a week later than usual, but a return to a more typical start to the season in general. This year the league moved to a 56-game schedule beginning on January 13 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 regular season is expected to finish on May 13 with the Stanley Cup Final slated to wrap up in mid-July. 

There are still a few crucial steps that will test the NHL's ability to begin its next season in October. Namely, the state of the pandemic both in the United States and Canada.

Due to restrictions on travel between Canada and the U.S., the NHL realigned its conferences to put all Canadian teams in the same division. It's unclear if the current format will remain in place or if the league will revert back to its pre-pandemic alignment and will likely depend on the status of vaccine rollout and whether travel between the countries has resumed. 

Complicating matters further is the introduction of the Seattle Kraken as the newest franchise in the NHL. 

The Kraken are expected to begin play in the 2021-22 season with an expansion draft slated to be held on July 21. The annual entry draft is set to take place two days later from July 23-24 with free agency following on July 28.

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With a new team entering the fold on top of an already truncated offseason, it remains to be seen how many games the league will look to schedule for each team next season. Players have already spoken out numerous times this year over how the league has handled postponements and rescheduled contests due to the pandemic. 

It's unclear when the league will look to solidify next year's calendar.