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The preseason is officially in the books and it's time for the 2022-23 NHL regular season to begin. The 2022-23 campaign will officially get underway on Oct. 11 with the New York Rangers hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Vegas Golden Knights facing the Los Angeles Kings.

With the offseason in the rearview mirror, there's so much to watch for as the regular season begins. Here's a look at the most intriguing storylines entering the 2022-23 NHL slate.

Avalanche aim to repeat as Stanley Cup champions

The Colorado Avalanche broke through and won their first Stanley Cup since 2001 last season when they dethroned the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now the question becomes: is this the start of a dynasty? Well, the framework is certainly there.

The Avalanche did retain the majority of their roster. The likes of Valeri Nichushkin and Artturi Lehknonen were re-signed while the front office also got a massive extension done with star center Nathan MacKinnon. However, the team did have to make some concessions and one of those was letting goaltender Darcy Kuemper walk in free agency. Now it'll be Pavel Francouz and former New York Rangers netminder Alexandar Georgiev in between the pipes. That'll be something to watch throughout the year, but when you have MacKinnon and Cale Makar leading the way, it's hard not to like your chances.

Will Chicago trade Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews?

The Chicago Blackhawks rebuild began prior to the 2022 NHL Draft when the team traded star winger Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for draft picks. While it doesn't appear that there's any rush, it looks like the Blackhawks will eventually trade franchise icons Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

Kane is in the final year of his contract, so it's a foregone conclusion that he'll get dealt at some point before the trade deadline. Considering that Kane is coming off a 92-point season, the Blackhawks should fetch a pretty favorable return for Kane.

Can Jack Eichel lead Golden Knights back to postseason?


Very few expansions teams had the start to their franchise that the Vegas Golden Knights have. This was a team that advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Final during their inaugural season in 2017-18 and qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of their first four seasons. That's why missing the postseason in 2021-22 was considered such a down year, especially after acquiring Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres.

Now Eichel is nearly a full year removed from neck surgery and should be at 100 percent for the first time in quite a while. The biggest factor that could affect Vegas' postseason aspirations is their goaltending situation. Robin Lehner is scheduled to miss the entire 2022-23 season while he recovers from hip surgery. The current in-house options are Logan Thompson and Laurent Brossoit, who don't exactly move the needle. It'll certainly be interesting to see if the Golden Knights acquire a netminder as the season progresses.

How will Johnny Gaudreau fit in with the Blue Jackets?

The biggest free agent to hit the open market was Johnny Gaudreau. It certainly came as a surprise to many when Gaudreau decided to leave the Calgary Flames to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets, but it may not end up being a bad decision for the six-time All-Star. Gaudreau will likely skate on the Blue Jackets' top line opposite fellow winger Patrik Laine. Playing on the same line as Laine, Gaudreau has a chance to be continue to play at an elite level with his playmaking skills being put to good use. It also will benefit Laine, who could return to the 30-40 goal range that fans were accustomed to seeing early in his NHL career.

The new-look Flames

There's not a team in the NHL that had a busier offseason than the Calgary Flames. Just hours before free agency was set to open, Johnny Gaudreau informed the front office that he wasn't going to re-sign with the franchise. Then Matthew Tkachuk asked to be traded. It seemed like a worst case scenario for Calgary, but Flames general manager Brad Treliving didn't panic.

The Flames were able to ship Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers in a deal that netted the franchise Jonathan Huberdeau, who signed an eight-year contract extension shortly after the trade went down. Calgary also signed star center Nazem Kadri to a seven-year deal to complete the roster overhaul. Losing Gaudreau certainly wasn't an ideal situation for the Flames, but this is still a team that can be playoff bound. It also doesn't hurt when you have a Vezina Trophy finalist in Jacob Markstrom in between the pipes.

Do the Lightning start to fall off?

This seems like a crazy question to ponder at first glance, but it's really something that needs to be considered. As the 2022-23 season begins, the Tampa Bay Lightning are the third-oldest team in the NHL. This is a group that has relied on veterans like Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, and Nikita Kucherov to lead the way during their three consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup Final. However, the Lightning had to make concessions this offseason as they were up against the salary cap. Ondrej Palat and Ryan McDonagh are gone and that talent really wasn't replaced.

It's certainly possible that there's a changing of the guard in the Eastern Conference and the Lightning aren't the dominant team that we've seen in recent years.

Alex Ovechkin aims to make more history


The 2021-22 season was an eventful one for Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin. He tallied 50 goals for the ninth time in his professional career and moved up to the No. 3 spot on the league's all-times goals list. Now Ovechkin just needs 22 more goals to pass Gordie Howe for second place on the all time goals list.

In addition, the Capitals winger can also become the first player in NHL history to have 10 50-goal seasons. Right now, Ovi is tied Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy with nine 50-goal seasons. Ovechkin certainly should be able to pass Howe this coming season, but if he were to reach the 50-goal plateau once again, that would be something very special.

Phil Kessel set to break consecutive games played streak

Just nine months after the previous record was broken, the consecutive games played record is on the verge of being broken yet again as the 2022-23 season begins. On Jan. 25, 2022, Keith Yandle broke Doug Jarvis' consecutive games played record as he played in his 965th consecutive game. Yandle's record came to an end at 989 games on April 2 when the Philadelphia Flyers listed the veteran defenseman as a healthy scratch. Vegas Golden Knights winger Phil Kessel enters the season with 982 consecutive games played. Kessel would have a chance to break Yandle's record on Oct. 25 against the San Jose Sharks in what would be his 990th consecutive game played.

The battle for Bedard

Canadian center Connor Bedard has all the makings of a generational talent in the mold of a Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews. It seems to be a foregone conclusion that Bedard will be the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. The only question becomes: which team will have the opportunity to select him as the savior of their franchise? 

The Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers and San Jose Sharks are among the teams that will likely be among the league's worst. Depending on how early in the season the Blackhawks ship Patrick Kane out of town, the Blackhawks may be the winners of the sweepstakes. The Flyers also could give them a run for their money with Sean Couturier currently on the injured list and a less-than-stellar roster in tow. Regardless, whoever ends up winning the draft lottery is going to one happy franchise.