New and old NHL talent set to collide this year

It’s finally here. While the playoffs are still fresh in our minds, it feels like it’s been months.

The sports fan’s purgatory is the summer block, where baseball is the only sport played, is coming to an end.  Sure, baseball is fun, but who really wants to sit and watch a game that feels like there’s more time between innings than actual game time? But I digress.

Back to the excitement for this weekend.

The NHL will drop the first puck of the season this Sunday as the Nashville Predators take on the Florida Panthers.

This season is highly anticipated. We will see the first overlap of generational players, that is, players who are seen as having so much skill and natural ability that they grace the ice once in a lifetime.

Fans recall Sidney Crosby’s entrance into the league in 2005. He was designated as the next great player.  Now comes Connor McDavid, who is the most hyped rookie since Crosby. McDavid has been under the spotlight since he was a teenager, when he earned a Reebok sponsorship at age 15.

McDavid dominated junior play. He entered Canadian junior hockey with a waiver, since he was too young according to league rules. Despite missing time due to a broken hand after an on-ice fight, he managed 120 points in 47 games played last year. If you are not familiar with hockey, averaging over two and a half points a game is an impressive feat.

While McDavid alone is enough reason to be excited for this season, along comes another generational player in the same draft, Boston University’s star Jack Eichel. While McDavid will be entertaining the Edmonton Oilers’ fan base, Eichel will be with the Buffalo Sabres.

Eichel’s entrance to the NHL comes with the excitement of fans and a sigh of relief for UVM hockey, as they no longer have to face him in the Hockey East. Eichel’s dominance in college hockey will likely not immediately translate to the pros, but he should be able to demonstrate his ability as a complete player on a revamped Buffalo team.

While the more significant NHL games are a few weeks away, this weekend should offer excitement for hockey fans as we see the first competitive play of the next generation of NHL stars colliding with the current pantheon.