We’re now past the halfway point of the offseason, inching closer and closer to training camps and, eventually, the restart of competitive NHL action in October. The lead-up into next season is often lengthy, though, with weeks worth of camps and preseason play before the regular season finally kicks off. Today, the NHL released its composite preseason schedule, bringing together many teams’ individual schedule announcements. It’s an array of 111 games played across 44 venues in both North America and Australia.
The crowning jewel of this year’s preseason is obviously the 2023 NHL Global Series in Melbourne, Australia, which marks the league’s first foray into the Southern Hemisphere since the first overseas NHL games took place in 1938. In fact, the set of games between the Arizona Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings on September 23 and 24 are the first on the NHL’s composite schedule.
There’s also the pair of Kraft Hockeyville games, a tradition that’s rebounded well after the COVID pandemic and brings important visibility (and funding) to smaller hockey markets in Canada. The Buffalo Sabres will play the Toronto Maple Leafs in St. Thomas, Ontario, on September 27, and the Ottawa Senators will play the Florida Panthers in Sydney, Nova Scotia, on October 1.
The schedule also includes a fair amount of other neutral-site matchups. In addition to the Global Series and Hockeyville contests, the metropolitan areas of Wichita, Austin, San Diego, Kansas City, Palm Springs, Halifax, Orlando, Abbotsford, Salt Lake City, and Tucson will all see NHL action this preseason.
Preseason length has been a hot talking point in recent seasons, with many positing the six-plus games that most teams play are too many and risk injuries and pre-season burnout. Others would argue a longer preseason track is beneficial for teams looking to evaluate talent with little NHL experience to see how they might fare in a professional environment if called up during the season. Some teams, such as the Coyotes, will play as many as nine preseason contests this year (albeit including multiple split-squad games).