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.
|Conor McGregor makes surprise NHL appearance|
|Red Wings great Ted Lindsay dies aged 93|
|Senators fire head coach Boucher|
|NHL trade deadline 2019: The biggest deals that went down|
|Sharks acquire Nyquist from Red Wings|
|Zuccarello expected to miss at least four weeks|
|Sabres acquire Montour from Ducks|
|Kucherov notches second straight 100-point NHL season|
|Flyers acquire Talbot from Oilers for Stolarz|
|Bruins´ David Pastrnak undergoes thumb procedure after fall|
|Mikko Koivu injury update: Wild captain out for season with torn ACL, meniscus|
|Capitals star Ovechkin becomes highest-scoring Russian player in NHL history|
|Matthews signs five-year extension with Maple Leafs|
|Tuukka Rask tops Bruins list for wins by goaltender|
|Antoine Vermette, 36, retires after 14-season NHL career|
|Maple Leafs acquire Muzzin from Kings|
|Sidney Crosby finally wins NHL All-Star MVP|
|Capitals give up fourth hat-trick in five games|
|Devils´ Palmieri replaces Hall on NHL All-Star roster|
|WATCH: Snoop Dogg hilariously commentates on Kings v Penguins|
|Blue Jackets´ Tortorella becomes first American-born coach to win 600 NHL games|
|Coyotes lose center Schmaltz for rest of season|
|Lightning´s Vasilevskiy replaces Canadiens´ Price for NHL All-Star Game|
|Canadiens goalie Carey Price will miss NHL All-Star Game|
|Kane makes eighth NHL All-Star Game, 10 players named for first time|
|Ovechkin to skip NHL All-Star Game|
|Stars to host 2020 Winter Classic, 2020 All-Star game in St Louis|
|Bruins take down Blackhawks in Winter Classic|
|Flyers´ Lehtera charged with narcotics offence in Finland|
|Stars CEO Lites calls team´s two highest paid players ´f****** horse-s***´|
|Penguins re-sign Guentzel to five-year, $30m extension|
|Wild D Dumba has surgery, expected to miss three months|
|Murray stars as Penguins beat Capitals|
|Philadelphia Flyers fire coach Dave Hakstol|
|Sabres suspend forward Berglund for failing to report to the team|
|Ovechkin joins rare NHL club with second straight hat-trick|
|Seattle lands NHL expansion team from 2021-22|
|Maple Leafs stayed optimistic about signing Nylander|
|Maple Leafs´ Matthews tallies goal, assist in first period after return from injury|
|Coyotes acquire Schmaltz from Blackhawks for Strome, Perlini|
|Oilers acquire defenseman Wideman from Senators|
|Edmonton Oilers name Hitchcock new head coach|
|Chicago Blackhawks fire Quenneville|
|Kings fire coach Stevens and assistant Nachbaur|
|Canadiens set NHL record in win over Capitals, score two goals in two seconds|
|Golden Knights sign RW Tuch to seven-year extension|
|Predators forward Watson´s suspension reduced to 18 games|
|2018-19 NHL preview: Three storylines to follow this season|
|Ducks veteran Perry out for five months with knee injury|
|Coyotes forward Galchenyuk expected to miss opener|
|Red Wings´ Green battling ´virus that attacked his liver´|
|Senators captain Karlsson dealt to Sharks|
|Predators forward Watson suspended for 27 games|
|Predators sign Ryan Ellis to eight-year, $50M contract|
|Ovechkin, Kim earn major honours at ESPY Awards|
|Former NHL goalie Ray Emery found dead|
|Kings, Doughty agree to eight-year extension|
|Avalanche sign Grubauer to three-year extension|
|Trotz named Islanders´ new coach|
|Trotz resigns as Capitals coach after Stanley Cup win|
|Canadiens acquire Domi from Coyotes for Galchenyuk|
|Capitals´ Orpik lost part of finger in Stanley Cup Final, kept playing|
|Capitals go crazy at Stanley Cup parade|
|Stanley Cup champion Ovechkin says ´Get some beers!´|
|Ovechkin wins Conn Smythe Trophy after Stanley Cup triumph|
|Washington Capitals claim first NHL Stanley Cup title|
|Ovechkin sets Capitals postseason record, matches Crosby total|
|Capitals thrash Golden Knights to move one win away from Stanley Cup title|
|Capitals take 2-1 lead over Knights in Stanley Cup Final|
|Capitals level Stanley Cup Final against Golden Knights|