In reality, the offseason is painfully short once you get through free agency, factor in development camps and count down the days to rookie camps.
That said, there's a lot of stuff percolating to keep hockey on the front burner as we head into the dog days of summer.
1. Will Steven Stamkos sign an extension?
Is there anyone who doesn't expect a long-term deal to get done to keep the Stanley Cup finalist Tampa Bay Lightning intertwined for the long haul with their dynamic captain, Steven Stamkos? OK, Leafs fans, put your hands down. Still, the last thing general manager Steve Yzerman wants to do is have this become a "thing" by stretching it into training camp or beyond. Surely this will get done, but the longer it doesn't, the longer there will be rumblings that somehow Stamkos might consider an exit plan.
2. How will Mike Richards situation resolve itself?
The Los Angeles Kings are charting dangerous territory here by looking to dissolve Richards' contract rather than buy him out, especially as they continue to wait out Slava Voynov's situation in the face of domestic-abuse charges. We get that it's a business, but the Kings' reputation, already on the rocks given the multiple off-ice issues in the past year, has the potential to take a real hit depending on how this plays out. The other issue with the Richards case is the tepid response from the NHL Players' Association, which might have been expected to rush to Richards' aid but has taken a very neutral view, causing many to arch their eyebrows. One has to imagine that, if the Kings are successful, we might see more teams looking for leverage to dispose of ugly contracts in this manner. And after all is said and done, is there a hockey home for Richards?
3. Will Slava Voynov play for Kings again?
Not to pile on the Kings, but there is also the issue of Voynov and the implications of his pleading no contest to a domestic-violence charge that came with a 90-day jail term. But assuming Voynov isn't deported, which remains a possibility, the end of the court proceedings is just the beginning for the defenseman in terms of his ability to continue to play in the NHL. The league has been on top of this from the outset -- remember the $100,000 fine imposed when Voynov "mistakenly" skated with his teammates during a league-mandated suspension from team activities? -- and they will be taking a good, long look now that Voynov's court case is complete. Would it be a surprise to see Voynov banished for a season? Two? More? The league will be expected to make a strong statement with additional sanctions, and that statement will speak volumes about what might befall other players who are involved in domestic violence.
4. Could Jarret Stoll be suspended by league?
And finally with the Kings (talk about a season from hell), what about Jarret Stoll, who had felony drug charges downgraded to a misdemeanor? The NHL was strangely silent on whether it would impose another layer of sanctions against Stoll, as is its right. And it's something that teams must be wondering about as they consider whether to give the free agent another shot. But the optics of letting Stoll skate, as it were, on serious charges like these aren't good, especially given cocaine was among the drugs alleged to have been discovered in Stoll's possession.
5. What else for Maple Leafs?
Surely trading Phil Kessel isn't going to be the one and only domino to fall as the Toronto Maple Leafs try to recast their identity after one of the most embarrassing stretches in team history. And what about actually hiring a general manager sometime soon? Just asking. Let's just say that if Kessel is the only significant piece to be culled from the roster, then Leafs fans can rightly complain about having been sold a bill of goods about meaningful change.
6. Are Bruins trending up or down?
Boston Bruins roookie GM Don Sweeney took it on the chin after facilitating the departure of three everyday players in a 24-hour span at the draft (Dougie Hamilton, Carl Soderberg and Milan Lucic). He did horse swap Martin Jones into a first-round pick and a prospect, got free-agent Matt Beleskey at a reasonable number on a five-year deal and then brought home local boy Jimmy Hayes for Reilly Smith, but the jury is still out on which direction the Bruins are heading.
Eric Staal and Cam Ward, key members of the team's 2006 Stanley Cup win, are entering the final season of their respective contracts. If Staal wants to stay, the sooner an extension gets done, the better for the stability of a franchise that last made the playoffs in 2009. But what dollar figure works for both the team and for Staal? If that number isn't agreeable to both sides, then how does GM Ron Francis go about parting ways with one of the team's most important figures of all time?
8. Who will coach Team USA at World Cup?
USA Hockey is expected to announce their management team for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey on Aug. 6 in Lake Placid, New York. Should be a fascinating group, led by Kings GM Dean Lombardi. Team USA will be significantly taxed by the formation of the under-24 Young Guns team from North America, as they will lose the services of Jack Eichel, Alex Galchenyuk, Seth Jones and Jacob Trouba, among others. The first order of business for the group will be in assembling a coaching staff. Have to think Todd Richards of the Columbus Blue Jackets will be the odds-on favorite to lead that coaching staff.
9. What else is in store for Chicago Blackhawks?
10. Who will bid adieu to the game this offseason?
Already Martin St. Louis, destined for the Hall of Fame, has said goodbye, as did Kimmo Timonen while celebrating his first Stanley Cup, with Chicago, last month. What will become of Brenden Morrow -- last seen with the finalist Lightning -- Sergei Gonchar, Matt Cullen and Lubomir Visnovsky? If indeed we have seen the last of some of these players, here's to a fulfilling retirement after years of exemplary service.