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.
|CAF Champions League Review: Khenissi double gets ES Tunis up and running|
|Edinburgh clinch home quarter-final, Glasgow also advance to last eight|
|Hazlewood to miss Sri Lanka Tests with back injury|
|Norwich City 3 Birmingham City 1: Canaries end winless run to go second|
|Hoffenheim 1 Bayern Munich 3: Goretzka goals close gap on Bundesliga´s return|
|Cowboys part ways with offensive coordinator Linehan|
|Payton´s message to Saints fans: Hurry up and make noise|
|Transfer talk no distraction for Inter, says Spalletti|
|Memories of 2015 still linger for Vunipola as England begin World Cup year|
|De Bruin´s 85th-minute try consigns Kings to eighth straight loss|
|Bielsa´s Derby County dossier detail ´pretty standard´ – OptaPro chief|
|Injury-hit Madrid lose Navas to adductor issue|
|Patriots coach Belichick still gets nervous ´every week´|
|Copa del Rey draw: Barcelona to meet Sevilla in quarter-finals|
|Kohli: No one more committed to India than Dhoni|
|Brook questions Khan credibility following Crawford agreement|
|Sad Pochettino admits Bielsa is ´wrong´|
|Simeone eyes LaLiga gain after Atletico´s Copa del Rey pain|
|Rossi a no-go for Tottenham as Pochettino rules out panic buys|
|Guardiola identifies ´three or four´ midfield targets|
|Nadal encourages patience in young stars after humbling De Minaur|
|NFL playoffs 2019: 10 Opta facts for Patriots v Chiefs|
|Robertson helping Klopp learn Scottish for Dalglish chats|
|Levante appeal over alleged ineligible Barcelona player rejected|
|NFL Playoffs 2019: 10 Opta facts for Rams v Saints|
|Lowry to take three-shot Abu Dhabi lead into final round|
|Training is not for anyone else - Klopp condemns Bielsa over ´spygate´ row|
|In other countries, everybody does it - Guardiola respect remains for spying Bielsa|
|Cilic battles back to join Nadal, Federer in fourth round|
|Klopp: Trent unbelievable for playing through pain|
|Faulkner provides super start and fabulous finish to sink Scorchers|
|Ref admits error in key foul call on Lonzo Ball in Lakers-Thunder game|
|Marina Granovskaia is working very hard – Sarri ´confident´ of January signings|
|Tuchel confirms Rabiot out of PSG contention|
|Madrid derby kick-off confirmed for February 9|
|Benzema fit to face Sevilla despite broken finger, Solari confirms|
|Bournemouth boss Howe says no offers received for Wilson|
|Kerber cruises after Wozniacki, Sabalenka upsets|
|Mbappe a great player and great person, says beaming Beckham|
|Gracia confident someone will step up if Doucoure leaves for PSG|
|Albrighton signs new Leicester deal|
|Niasse joins Cardiff on loan from Everton|
|Hendrick credited with Fulham strike|
|Western Sydney Wanderers 1 Adelaide United 2: Goodwin compounds Wanderers woes|
|Chahal and Dhoni carry India to ODI triumph|
|Levante report Barcelona for alleged use of ineligible player in Copa del Rey|
|Solskjaer regrets Sanchez´s Reading setback|
|Tomic brands Hewitt a ´liar´ as feud continues|
|Ruthless Nadal thrashes teenager De Minaur|
|Wozniacki enjoyed status as defending champion in Melbourne|
|Solskjaer backs Mourinho to return to football´s big time|
|Murray to miss Open 13 Marseille|
|Solskjaer´s United turnaround no easy task, says Hughton|
|The big Friday Premier League quiz|
|How James Harden´s 2018-19 numbers compare to his MVP campaign|
|It´s insane! - Tsitsipas excited to face ´legend´ Federer|
|Sharapova ends Wozniacki title defence|
|American teen Anisimova sends records tumbling at Aus Open|
|Lakers survive Ball´s gaffe to beat Thunder in OT|
|Federer expects ´athletic´ and ´attacking´ Tsitsipas clash|
|Alcacer is fit and available – Favre|
|Fantastic Federer breezes past Fritz|
|Pogba happy with Man United approach under Solskjaer|
|Mickelson leads Desert Classic, ties career-low with 12-under 60|
|Warriors´ Durant on Curry: He´s a once-in-a-generation, once-in-a-lifetime talent|
|Patriots owner says Brady is greatest player, not just quarterback, of all time|
|Inglis to retire from representative duty this year, NRL in 2020|
|Is Beal better without Wall? Wizards star says it´s ´absolutely nonsense´|
|Rockets C Capela undergoes thumb surgery, expected back after All-Star break|
|This Week in U.S. Sports: Irving apologises, Machado´s agent isn´t happy|