Gaudreau homecoming, Winter Classic among storylines after holiday break

The NHL resumes play Tuesday with 12 games following its annual Christmas break. It will be an action-filled stretch for the League leading up to the 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend, to be hosted by the Florida Panthers at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida, on Feb. 3-4.

Here are some stories to watch between now and the All-Star Game:

2023 IIHF World Junior Championship

Conor Bedard of Canada, Leo Carlsson of Sweden and Charlie Stramel of the United States are among the top prospects for the 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft who will be in the spotlight at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Moncton New Brunswick. The tournament starts Monday and concludes with the gold medal game Jan. 5. Also competing will be Shane Wright, the No. 4 pick of the 2022 NHL Draft on loan from the Seattle Kraken, who was named Canada captain, and Luke Hughes, the No. 4 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft by the New Jersey Devils, who is in his sophomore season at the University of Michigan and was named captain for the United States.

Stamkos seeks 500th goal

Overshadowed some by Alex Ovechkin‘s chase for his 802nd goal, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos is three goals from becoming the 47th player to reach 500 in the NHL. The Lightning open a three-game homestand against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; SN, BSSUNX, RDS, ESPN+, SN NOW). Stamkos, who has 16 goals in 32 games this season, already became the first player in Lightning history to get 1,000 points with an assist in a 4-1 win at the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 1.

Busy New Year’s Eve

The NHL bids farewell to 2022 with a dozen games on Dec. 31, beginning with the Buffalo Sabres visiting the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks playing at the Columbus Blue Jackets at 1 p.m. ET. The reigning Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche close their year by hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7 p.m. ET, and the night concludes with Calgary Flames at the Vancouver Canucks and the Edmonton Oilers hosting the Winnipeg Jets at 10 p.m. ET.

Winter Classic returns to Fenway

The Bruins will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2023 Discover NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park on Jan. 2 (2 p.m. ET; TNT, SN, TVAS). It will be the second time Fenway Park, home of the Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox, will host the Winter Classic. The Bruins defeated the Flyers 2-1 in overtime at Fenway in 2010, the third Winter Classic. This game, like that one, will have plenty of star power, with David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Taylor Hall leading Boston, and Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel and Kris Letang starring for Pittsburgh.

Lindholm’s return to Anaheim

Hampus Lindholm played his first nine NHL seasons with the Anaheim Ducks before being traded to the Bruins on March 19, and the next day agreeing to an eight-year, $52 million contract ($6.5 million average annual value). The defenseman will return to Honda Center for the first time since then when the Bruins visit on Jan. 8. Lindholm, who helped Anaheim finish first in the Pacific Division four straight seasons from 2013-17, ranks third in Ducks history among defensemen in goals (57), assists (165) and points (222).

Miller’s No. 30 to be retired by Sabres

Ryan Miller will become the eighth player to have his number retired by the Buffalo Sabres when his No. 30 is raised to the KeyBank Center rafters in a ceremony prior to their game against the New York Islanders on Jan. 19. Miller, who played 11 seasons with Buffalo after being selected by the Sabres in the fifth round (No. 138) of the 1999 NHL Draft, holds Sabres records for wins (284) and games played (540) among goalies. He’ll join Tim Horton (2), Rick Martin (7), Gilbert Perreault (11), Rene Robert (14), Pat LaFontaine (16), Danny Gare (18) and Dominik Hasek (39) among Sabres players to have their numbers retired.

Hockey Day in Canada

All seven Canada-based NHL teams will be in action for Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada on Jan. 21. The games begin with Calgary hosting Tampa Bay at 3 p.m. ET, followed by Toronto visiting the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg at the Ottawa Senators at 7 p.m. ET. Edmonton visits Vancouver in the nightcap at 10 p.m. ET. Owen Sound, Ontario will serve as the host city for a day of off-ice activities.

Gaudreau’s return to Calgary

It likely will be an emotional night when Johnny Gaudreau plays at Scotiabank Saddledome for the first time as a visiting player with the Blue Jackets on Jan. 23. Gaudreau played his first nine NHL seasons with Calgary before signing a seven-year, $68.25 million contract ($9.75 million AAV) with Columbus on July 13. The forward led the Flames and tied for second in the NHL with 115 points (40 goals, 75 assists) in 82 games last season. Gaudreau is fifth in Calgary/Atlanta Flames history with 609 points (210 goals, 399 assists) in 602 regular-season games.

Gagner, Edler, Krejci, Tavares within range of 1,000 games

Jets forward Sam Gagner (998), Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alexander Edler (997), Bruins forward David Krejci (990) and Maple Leafs forward John Tavares (983) each could reach 1,000 regular-season games before the break for the All-Star Game. Gagner is in line reach the milestone against the Canucks on Thursday. Edler could play in his 1,000th game against the Flyers on New Year’s Eve. If Krejci doesn’t miss any games, he will play in his 1,000th game against the Flyers on Jan. 16. Tavares would play his 1,000th game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 29 if he doesn’t miss any games.

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