Welcome to the NHL Offseason

Nashville Predators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, October 22, 2016. Nashville, TN. Photo: Dylan Rodrigues

It’s official. My least favorite time of the year is here: the NHL offseason. In all my years as a hockey fan, this is the worst start to an offseason I’ve ever had to experience. I’m new here at On the Bleachers, so for those of you who don’t know, I’m a massive Nashville Predators fan. The NHL offseason was forced upon us three days sooner than I would’ve like it to be. But instead of the Stanley Cup Final going 7 games, it ended prematurely with the Penguins skating the Cup on my team’s home ice. It was a terrible start to what is usually the most boring part of the hockey season.

However, this year’s offseason is set to be one of the most exciting ones in a long time. Here’s why.

1. Expansion Draft
The two words on every hockey fan’s mind this offseason are “expansion draft.” The Vegas Golden Knights have already made a few free agent signings in the past few months, but their roster is still far from complete. I believe that the rules for this year’s expansion draft gives Vegas a chance to come into the league and be competitive almost immediately. I won’t bore you with all of the nuances of the expansion draft rules (you can read them here if you’d like), but I will give you a brief overview.

  • Teams can protect either 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 1 goalie OR a total of 8 skaters (combination of forwards and defensemen) and 1 goalie
  • Vegas can only draft 1 player from each team
  • The list of protected/unprotected players will be made public on or around June 18th

Teams are currently able to make deals with Vegas in order to ensure that Vegas doesn’t draft certain unprotected players. I’d be curious to see what teams, if any, are thinking about making such a deal with the Golden Knights. There are a lot of moving parts with this expansion draft, and it’s exciting to see which players end up in Sin City. June 21st can’t come soon enough.

2. New adidas Jerseys
The second main reason I’m actually excited for this offseason is to see the new jerseys being unveiled by the NHL and adidas. It was announced last year that adidas would be taking over as the official jersey manufacturer for the NHL starting the 2017-2018 season. Since then, we’ve learned a few things. First, we learned that there will be no third jerseys this season as adidas needed the time to focus on designing and producing jerseys for 31 teams.

Second, it was all but confirmed that the new jerseys are going to be pricey. The replica jerseys will be branded as Fanatics, not adidas, and are rumored to retail between $169.99 and $199.99. If you want to splurge for the authentic jersey with the adidas brand, prepare to spend a reported $359.99 to $399.99.

The last bit of news regarding the new adidas jerseys we have is that they will be unveiled June 20th. This was confirmed by the NHL and adidas today as teams tweeted out teaser images of the jersey with #FormTheFuture. I’ve embedded a few team tweets below.

From what I’ve heard, there isn’t supposed to be any major design overhauls. The teams who do get updated sweaters will most likely only see small tweaks here and there.

3. Free Agency
I saved this one for last because it’s exciting, but not as monumental as the first two. It’s there every year, and it’s always good for the “Wait, [insert player name] ended up signing with [insert low-ranked rebuilding team]?!” and “[insert team name] paid THAT guy how much?!” moments. It seems that every year, without fail, one player makes a shocking move and signs with the team no one expected him to, and that one team will always pay way too much money for way too long to a player not worthy of said contract.

As I mentioned at the top, the offseason is usually a boring time of the year for me as a fan. It’s a weird feeling for me actually being excited for the offseason. I’m excited to see who makes the move to Sin City, which players my beloved Predators end up protecting, what the new adidas jerseys look like (and do I pay $400 for one?), and ultimately, I’m excited to be a part of the On The Bleachers network.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter for more up to date into. @DRodrigues18