It doesn't seem that long ago that the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup, and it's been even more recent that Juraj Slafkovsky was drafted first overall and a wild offseason brought Johnny Gaudreau to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Claude Giroux to the Ottawa Senators, and Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers.

But now that fall is officially set to begin on Thursday, it's also time for training camps around the NHL to open, as we look ahead to opening night of the season on Oct. 11.

To help get you ready for the next few weeks -- as teams decide on which players make the roster, and how their lines, D pairings and goalie tandems will shake out -- here are the biggest lingering questions for each club, courtesy of Ryan S. Clark, Kristen Shilton and Greg Wyshynski.

 

Atlantic Division

Boston Bruins

Big question: How well can Boston weather its early injuries?

The Bruins will start this season with a seriously depleted roster. Brad Marchand had offseason surgery on both hips and will be unavailable until at least late November. Charlie McAvoy is on a similar -- and possibly longer -- timeline following offseason shoulder surgery. Matt Grzelcyk had a shoulder procedure done, too; he's out until November.

That leaves the Bruins without two of their best defensemen and one of their best forwards (who led the team with 80 points last season) for a sizable chunk of the schedule.

Will those absences spell disaster in Beantown? Or does the Bruins' depth hold up? It'll fall on new coach Jim Montgomery to keep his group on the rails. Veterans like David Pastrnak and Taylor Hall will be relied on more than ever to perform. Having Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci back in the mix helps too. Uncertainty still looms large, though. How Boston navigates those first two months might just determine the outcome of their whole season. It's a lot of pressure to put on those still healthy -- not to mention Montgomery -- and all eyes will be on how Boston rises to the occasion. 

 

Buffalo Sabres

Big question: Has Buffalo finally found consistent goaltending?

The Sabres have some dynamic young players in their midst (hello, Owen Power, Tage Thompson, Dylan Cozens and others) who will make this a fun team to watch. What Buffalo needs to complement those rising studs is better goaltending. The Sabres were abysmal in that department last season, rotating through six different starters and averaging 3.50 goals against (eighth worst in the NHL). Have they found the right goalie tandem now?

Craig Anderson was Buffalo's best option between the pipes in 2021-22 (17-12-2 record, .897 goals-against average) but missed time early on because of injury. He's back with the Sabres again, joined now by free agent signee Eric Comrie -- who could be on the cusp of a real breakthrough. Comrie went 10-5-1 with Winnipeg last season, producing a .920 save percentage and a 2.58 goals-against average. At 27 years old, he's poised to take on the most starts of his career alongside Anderson, and based on past performance, that could be great news for the Sabres.

There's a lot of belief around Buffalo that the team is turning a corner. Dependable goaltending would go a long way in seeing that come to fruition.