Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to watch tonight’s rivalry games. It’ll be interesting to see how the Sharks come out after a long postseason. Or how the Kings will respond to their early exit. That’s only the Pacific Division. PK in Nashville, Weber in Montreal, and the countless other storylines around the league. It all seems so exciting, but it’s not enough for the already patiently waiting fans of Las Vegas. So here’s a few suggestions on how to get through the 2016-2017 NHL season.
* Get a 2017 calendar, flip to June 22nd, and mark it with a puck, goal horn, or cross-sticks. Start a countdown: Today is 253 days away. Or you can start a countdown on your phone with this cool widget.
* Make a point to watch more hockey. Every Ducks and Kings broadcast is available in Las Vegas. Kings will be on FoxSports West & the Ducks play on Prime Ticket. Both of these teams will try and bully the (Something) Knights around in the Pacific Division. Get used to it,you’ll be seeing a lot of them in the years ahead.
* Also, NBCSN televises many weekly games, including Wednesday night rivalries. Expect to see a lot of Penguins, Blackhawks, Capitals, Rangers, and Flyer games. Get even deeper, and tune in to NBCSN on Friday nights for College Hockey Fridays.
* Get to know the backup goalie for every team. Especially, the team’s that are blessed with a number one goaltender. We know Price, Quick, Lundqvist, Schneider, Holtby and a few others won’t be changing locations, but their backups could be. Many other NHL teams will be evaluating their backstop for a full 82 games. Getting to know backup’s will get you even more prepared for the expansion draft. And will make you that much more of a geek.
* Keep an eye on the NHL coaching hot seats. In the Eastern Conference it’s really warm up in Montreal, New York, and Boston. Out west, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Winnipeg are heating up. Chances are, George McPhee won’t get an opportunity to sign Claude Julien if he gets canned in Boston. However, John Capuano, Paul Maurice, Todd McLellan, Alain Vigneault, and yes even John Tortorella could be available to coach the Knights next year. Get to know the rejects, McPhee may hire one.
*Play around with the GeneralFanger.com Expansion Draft Tool. They let you customize every player to be protected by each team and then select your final 30 to come to Vegas. Believe me when I tell you, your mock draft will look a lot different today than it will in February, and especially in June.
* On top of reading SinBin.vegas daily, add TSN, Puck Daddy, Sportsnet, and ProHockeyTalk to your reading list. Las Vegas will be a discussion all season long, and beat writers across the NHL will be covering players that could be exposed. The expansion impact will be a conversation going on in every NHL city. Reading the information available can get you better prepared for the final expansion roster. Just remember, 253 days away.
* The NHL is celebrating its 100th season all of 2017. The festivities will start on January 1st, with the NHL Centennial Classic in Toronto. The following day will be the Winter Classic in St Louis. The NHL will hold multiple centennial events during 2017. Take the year to appreciate the celebrations, if we must wait lets enjoy the great sport of hockey.