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.
|Ozil´s Germany absence a ´pity´, says Sane|
|Rooney: I´ll finish my career in the US|
|McIlroy unsure of 2019 European Tour membership|
|Australian Open dismisses concerns of Federer scheduling bias|
|Hue Jackson joins Bengals staff as ´special assistant´|
|Real Madrid confirm Reguilon injury|
|Higuain handed two-match ban for Juve meltdown|
|Kruis ruled out for England as Jones calls up uncapped quartet|
|A year on from Italy failure, Ventura leaves Chievo after four games|
|Bairstow misses out as unchanged England promote Stokes|
|Recalled Alba denies Luis Enrique bust-up|
|´Unhappy´ Christensen won´t push for Chelsea exit|
|Nadal to make Abu Dhabi comeback in December|
|Taijul helps Bangladesh tighten their grip despite Taylor ton|
|Neymar joining Real Madrid wouldn´t hurt Iniesta|
|It´s just team spirit - Livingston not worried by Durant-Green exchange|
|Trippier out of England squad with groin injury|
|Ex-Sri Lanka international Lokuhettige charged by ICC|
|Former England and Chelsea star Joe Cole retires|
|Nets offer support to LeVert following serious leg injury|
|Panenka proud Sergio Ramos imitates his penalties|
|Liverpool´s Alisson seeks patience to reach potential|
|Anthony Davis leads Pelicans, Clippers hold off Warriors in OT|
|Lindelof rues international break for Man Utd|
|Shaqiri confident in more goals for Liverpool|
|Giants too good for 49ers in crunch time|
|Southgate named honorary Yorkshireman|
|Nicky Butt: Manchester United are low on confidence|
|Criticism of Barcelona star Dembele is overblown - agent|
|Thibodeau discusses Butler trade: We thought this was the best deal for us|
|Acuna, Ohtani win rookie of the year awards|
|LeBron James on Lakers’ early season struggles: ‘I almost cracked’|
|Welbeck has successful second operation on broken ankle|
|UEFA warns FFP cases can be reopened based on ´new information´|
|Foakes to keep England place for second Test|
|WATCH: Rooney looking sharp in England training return|
|Mbappe: Money in football is truly indecent|
|Djokovic back to brilliant best as Isner is beaten|
|Celta Vigo replace Mohamed with Cardoso after Real Madrid defeat|
|Joshua intrigued by Usyk, says Hearn|
|Ibrahimovic beats Rooney to MLS Newcomer award|
|Rams WR Kupp out for season with torn ACL|
|Sturridge denies ever gambling on football following FA charge|
|Koeman understands De Ligt´s Eredivisie frustrations|
|Jimmy Butler trade: 76ers acquire Timberwolves star in blockbuster deal|
|´Improve your attitude´ - Deschamps issues Dembele warning|
|Sturridge charged with misconduct over alleged breach of betting rules|
|Saints sign Marshall following Bryant injury|
|Mendy suffers knee injury, leaves France squad with Lacazette|
|Zverev beats Cilic in error-strewn London battle|
|Rafinha replaces injured Casemiro in Brazil squad|
|´One-dimensional´ Australia batsmen need work before World Cup - Finch|
|Mancini keen to work with ´incredibly gifted´ Tonali|
|Italian manager of the year Allegri targets long Juve stay|
|Injured Lee departs as Wales prepare squad for Tonga|
|Conte content to wait until June for coaching return|
|Etzebeth set to return, Whiteley a doubt for Scotland Test|
|In-form Verstappen does not need distractions from 2019 challenge|
|FA asks Guardiola to explain Manchester derby referee comments|
|LaLiga MVP Messi hopes the division stays wide open|
|Murray and Henshaw out of All Blacks Test|
|Injured Man Utd duo Pogba and Martial drop out of France squad|
|Modric cannot always be the best - Dalic|
|Very troubling times - LeBron James alarmed by gun violence|
|Bayern confirm Ribery ´altercation´ with reporter|
|Madrid hit by injuries to Nacho and Casemiro|
|Record-breaking Mushfiqur torments Zimbabwe|
|Spartak Moscow appoint Oleg Kononov|
|Rooney predicts ´exciting time´ after being named in MLS Best XI|
|Former England call-up Graham replaces Thomson in Scotland squad|