4. New Faces in New Places
We saw Joe Thornton in a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey for the first time in a game last night, which was very, very weird, while we also saw defenseman Alexander Romanov make his NHL debut for the Montreal Canadiens, as did forward Nils Hoglander who scored in his first game for the Vancouver Canucks. And there will be more of that tonight.
The obvious one is Alexis Lafreniere, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, who will make his debut for the New York Rangers later, but we will get on to the generational talent shortly.
Elsewhere around the league, Taylor Hall will make his much-anticipated debut for the Buffalo Sabres who are looking to end their nine-year absence from the postseason, while we will see if a new-look Detroit Red Wings team, spearheaded by veterans in the ilk of Bobby Ryan and Marc Staal can deliver their new team a win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Then there is the small matter of elite defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who was the biggest prize available in Free Agency, making his debut tonight for the Vegas Golden Knights, who open their 2020-21 season against the Anaheim Ducks. Pietrangelo signed a seven-year, $61,600,000 million contract with Vegas in the offseason and he’s expected to be the final piece in this franchise’s hunt for a Stanley Cup.
Let’s not forget about future Hall of Famer Zdeno Chara, either, who is expected to make his debut for the Washington Capitals tonight after signing a one-year, $795,000 contract in the offseason. And, let’s be honest, it is probably going to be just as weird, if not more so, seeing Chara in another jersey other than a Boston Bruins one as it was witnessing Joe Thornton not in a San Jose Sharks uniform. These are strange times we are living in.