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Key dates for the 2021 season: Trade deadline, free agency, and more

It’s going to be a weird one, folks.

NHL: FEB 12 Canadiens at Bruins Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

During every NHL season, there are a few dates that we’ve all become familiar with: the trade deadline at the end of February, free agency starting on July 1, etc.

However, given the fact that hockey won’t even be starting until mid-January at the earliest, those familiar dates are going to have to shift this season.

It appears that the NHL and the NHLPA have settled on those dates, according to insiders like Darren Dreger, Pierre LeBrun, and Bob McKenzie.

Based on their reports, here’s what we know:

  • Regular season begins: January 13
  • Trade deadline: April 12
  • Regular season ends: May 8
  • Latest the playoffs could go: July 15
  • Seattle Kraken expansion draft: July 21
  • 2021 NHL Draft: July 23 & 24
  • Free agency begins: July 28

This is going to be weird.

In some ways, it resembles how things looked in 2013. For example, back then, the league started on January 19, the trade deadline fell on April 3, and the regular season ended on April 28.

However, things get mighty congested in that mid-July stretch.

If you’re a team that goes to the conference or Stanley Cup Final, you’re looking at just a few weeks to finish your season, lose a guy to Seattle, draft your future prospects, and deal with free agents.

Gonna be fun!

As is the case with everything these days, the dates above are subject to change, especially if things get delayed at the start.

Still, as of right now, the league appears ready to push forward with a season opener in just under a month.