The Stanley Cup went on quite an adventure with the Washington Capitals this offseason, but the defending champions face a fight to retain it this season.
The NHL returns on Wednesday when the Caps will raise their banner and open the regular season against the Boston Bruins.
But could Washington's numerous 'keg stands' lead the team to experience a Stanley Cup hangover? The departure of coach Barry Trotz has also left many questioning the consistency of the Capitals heading into the season.
Meanwhile, competition is building not only around Washington in the Eastern Conference, but in the Western Conference as well, with some of the biggest threats coming out of the Atlantic and Pacific divisions.
Here are three storylines to follow heading into the 2018 NHL season.
Will adding John Tavares make the Toronto Maple Leafs contenders?
The coveted free-agent center signed a seven-year contract worth $77 million with the Maple Leafs in July after spending the previous nine seasons with the New York Islanders, and he is set to join a solid squad of youngsters that includes Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly.
Tavares, a five-time All-Star, is in a position that will allow him to build on his numbers after finishing with 37 goals and 47 assists last season. But is it enough to help Toronto to hoist the Stanley Cup for the 14th time and the first time since 1967?
Can Erik Karlsson take the San Jose Sharks to the next level?
The Sharks acquired the captain and defenseman in a trade with the Ottawa Senators last month with the hope that Karlsson can help San Jose win its first Stanley Cup after coming so close in 2016.
The five-time All-Star and two-time Norris Trophy winner posted nine goals and 53 assists last season and is expected to bolster the Sharks power play to an unstoppable level as he creates what will be one of the league's most lethal duos alongside Brent Burns.
So we heard you like Karlssons. pic.twitter.com/aSyquWi7bt— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) October 1, 2018
How will the Vegas Golden Knights top their historic inaugural season?
The Golden Knights burst onto the scene in their first season, winning the Pacific Division and steamrolling their way to the Stanley Cup Final before being beaten by the Capitals, as Washington captured its first championship.
But several offseason moves have the line looking a little different this year. The Golden Knights lost James Neal and David Perron but added Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty to fill the void, all but assuring a high-octane offense is poised for another high-scoring season.
|McTominay signs new Manchester United contract|
|Pizzi to stand down after Saudi Arabia elimination|
|Boateng closing in on shock Barcelona switch - reports|
|Catalans to defend Challenge Cup after resolving RFL dispute|
|Djokovic wears down Medvedev to reach last eight|
|Mouratoglou: I knew ´loyal´ Serena would not fire me after US Open turmoil|
|Barcelona B defender Wague accuses Ejea fans of racist abuse|
|I felt like I had been hit by a train - Halep upbeat despite losing Serena battle|
|Arsenal confirm Mislintat departure|
|Icardi will renew, 100 per cent - Wanda Nara offers latest Inter assurance|
|Japan 1 Saudi Arabia 0: Four-time winners send Pizzi´s men out|
|A souvlaki maybe named after him, a growing fan base – Tsitsipas creating Melbourne buzz|
|Barca winger Dembele out for 15 days|
|Strikers blown away by Hurricanes in Adelaide|
|Ireland lose Beirne for England and Scotland clashes|
|´Innate fighter´ Serena says character key to beating Halep|
|Hudson-Odoi ´an outstanding talent´ - Bayern great Ballack hails Chelsea youngster|
|Scotland call up four as hand injury forces Watson out|
|Serena comes through major Halep battle to reach last eight|
|Better than Rafa? Camacho cameo leaves Klopp unconvinced by transfer options|
|England job ´a privileged position´, says Southgate|
|Emery has confidence in Arsenal outcast Ozil|
|Zverev destroys racquet in Aus Open meltdown|
|From Villarreal to Aus Open quarters – Bautista Agut breaks major duck|
|Brees: I plan on being here next year and making another run at it|
|´Unf******-believable bro!´ - Brady stunned after reaching third straight Super Bowl|
|New England find answers, penalty costs Kansas City – three takeaways from Patriots´ win over Chiefs|
|Donald Trump congratulates Brady and Super Bowl-bound Patriots|
|Rose helps Timberwolves down Suns|
|Brady leads Patriots into third straight Super Bowl|
|Osaka overcomes Sevastova to reach quarters|
|Chelsea remain behind Sarri – David Luiz|
|McVay explains Gurley´s limited role in Rams´ win over Saints|
|Southgate hails ´tremendous talent´ Rashford|
|Long earns maiden PGA Tour win at Desert Classic|
|Flanagan resigns as Sharks head coach|
|Rams´ Robey-Coleman admits he committed penalty on controversial no-call|
|NFL admits they blew the call – Saints coach Payton|
|Terrible no-call, Goff shines – three takeaways from Rams´ win over Saints|
|Lonzo Ball to miss 4-6 weeks with ankle sprain|
|Patterson added to Australia Test squad|
|Zuerlein´s overtime kick sinks Saints and sends Rams to Super Bowl|
|It was a clear goal – Valverde dismisses Barca VAR controversy|
|Rashford can emulate Man United greats Ronaldo and Rooney – Solskjaer|
|Karmichael Hunt swaps Reds for Waratahs|
|Barcelona forward Dembele set for tests on sprained ankle|
|Neymar insists Barcelona and Real Madrid links not ´concrete´|
|England trio Nowell, Slade and Cowan-Dickie sign fresh Exeter deals|
|Windies coach Pybus not distracted by detractors|
|Barcelona 3 Leganes 1: Messi and Suarez combine to spare Barca´s blushes|
|I´m sure Michael would be extremely proud - Vettel hails Mick Schumacher|
|Young plays down injury fears for England trio Launchbury, Shields and Hughes|
|Pochettino: Lucas Moura fit for Chelsea clash|
|Ranieri positive on Fulham survival chances despite ´unbelievable´ Spurs loss|
|United Arab Emirates v Kyrgyzstan: Zaccheroni confident in attack|
|South Korea lose Ki to hamstring injury|
|It doesn´t look great - Pochettino to wait on Alli assessment|
|Messi benched as Barcelona face Leganes|
|Dalglish texts me before matches - Van Dijk|
|Patrick Mahomes could sign NFL´s first $200m contract - reports|
|Iran 2 Oman 0: Jahanbakhsh and Dejagah secure last-eight spot|
|Helloooo u remember me? Nkoudou reminds Spurs fans he exists|
|Japan v Saudi Arabia: Pizzi believes Saudis can upset the odds|
|Repsol Honda´s Lorenzo to have surgery on fractured wrist|
|Fulham 1 Tottenham 2: Winks heads late winner after Alli injury|
|Leinster seal home quarter-final with win over Wasps|
|Vince, Curran star as Sixers trounce Heat to move second|
|Sharapova stunned by Barty as Kvitova takes Anisimova to school|
|Guardiola demands improvement after Man City win|
|Sexton has bat phone to referees - Jones|