Preds, NHL set to return in January

With Hanukkah just ending and Christmas around the corner, Predators fans have something else to rejoice about.

The National Hockey League and NHL Players Association announced Sunday afternoon an agreement to play a 2020-21 regular season. The first of a 56-game regular season begins on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, and concludes on May 8.

Training camp for the Predators will begin on Jan. 3, 2021. There won’t be any pre-season games.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs will return to a 16-team format in the traditional best-of-seven, four-round format that is scheduled to conclude around mid-July with the hope of returning to a 2021-22 regular season beginning in October.

Realignment

Nashville, Chicago and Dallas remain in the Central Division for this upcoming season. They welcome Carolina, Columbus, Detroit, Florida and Tampa Bay.

Teams will play each other eight times each and they are the only opponents scheduled for the regular season.

The new alignment is as follows:

North: Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg
West: Anaheim, Arizona, Colorado, Los Angeles, Minnesota, St. Louis, San Jose, Vegas
Central: Carolina, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Nashville, Tampa Bay
East: Boston, Buffalo, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington

The North division will play one another nine or ten times.

Where will the Preds play?

The hope is that all teams play in their home arenas but the NHL has pledged to remain flexible and could move to a hub city format if things get out of hand.

With that being said, the NHL is leaving the decision of having fans in the arena up to the local government.

“Most arenas will not, at least in the initial part of the season, be able to host fans,” the NHL said in a statement Sunday.

Keep in mind, the Titans are currently allowing a select number of fans in the stadium and Vanderbilt basketball is allowing family members in Memorial Gym.

Other dates to remember

The trade deadline will be on April 12. The Seattle Kraken expansion draft will be on July 21 (teams need to submit their protected lists by July 17). The 2021 draft will be held July 23-24. The free agency signing period will begin on July 28.

Additional details to know

For the first time, the NHL is allowing advertisements on helmets. This creates an opportunity for organizations to recoup lost revenue. This is only the plan for the upcoming season and ads will have to be signed off on by the NHL.

In a typical season, if a rookie plays in 10 games, then his entry-level contract kicks in. This year the threshold will be seven games.

Teams will also have the option travel with a taxi squad of four to six players. Those players will receive their AHL salary and not count toward the $81.5 million salary cap. The taxi squad is not required to travel but will practice with the club.

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