By: Ella Marrufo
Fall is just around the corner, which can only mean one thing: the start of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) regular season. Here is everything you need to know about what happened during the offseason, as well as what to look forward to for the upcoming 2023-2024 season before it kicks off on Oct. 10.
After the Chicago Blackhawks drafted Connor Bedard first overall on Jul. 17, Hawks fans finally got something to cheer for after years of hopelessness at the bottom of the rankings. Bedard, a generational talent who played for the junior hockey team the Regina Pats, is currently ranked number one for most likely to receive the Calder Memorial Trophy this year, alongside other rookies like Buffalo Sabres goalie Devon Levi and Columbus Blue Jackets forward Adam Fantilli. This season is chock-full of new offensive talent who will not only aid their teams in the race to the Stanley Cup, but also boost TV ratings and the NHL’s entertainment factor — especially in the case of Bedard, who looks to be one of the most remarkable rookies since Connor McDavid in 2015.
Additionally, over the summer there were several high-caliber player trades that went somewhat under the public’s radar. Star veterans like Boston Bruins’ Taylor Hall and San Jose Sharks’ Erik Karlsson were traded to the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins respectively, and Vladimir Tarasenko, a right-winger who was traded to the New York Rangers in February of 2023, is now set to play for the Ottawa Senators.
There are, however, still several talented free agents awaiting new or renewed contracts such as the Anaheim Ducks’ Trevor Zegras and Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Pettersson. As for Pettersson, the rumor mill indicates that he may be moving on from the Canucks this year after the team named Quinn Hughes captain instead of Pettersson, who is arguably the Canucks’ best player. Moreover, Patrick Kane, an elite right-winger formerly of the Blackhawks and most recently the Rangers, underwent hip resurfacing surgery over the summer. He likely will not be healthy enough to play until November or December at the earliest, but many suspect that he will receive interest from numerous teams as a potential second-liner regardless of his late start to the season.
Aside from the players, coaches were also busy over the offseason. Former Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville along with general manager Stan Bowman attended a meeting regarding their “lessons learned” after the Kyle Beach sexual assault incident in 2010. Both Quenneville and Bowman — who have been banned from having a role in the NHL since 2021 — gave presentations that Gary Bettman, the NHL’s commissioner, said “gave them an opportunity to tell everybody about their experience.” However, Bettman enforced, “I still have to make a judgment as to whether it’s appropriate for them to be reinstated.”
(Sources: Bleacher Report, The Athletic)