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Key dates for the NHL playoffs and beyond

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What happens when and to whom.

Buffalo Sabres v Toronto Maple Leafs

Now that the NHL regular season is over, we can start focusing on all the important things yet to come. Playoffs are set to begin...

April 15: Toronto Marlies host Belleville Senators on the last day of the AHL regular season. The playoffs begin shortly after the NHL playoffs do, and often last just beyond the NHL final in mid-June.

April 19 - April 29: The IIHF U18 Men’s World Championships in Chelyabinsk and Magnitogorsk, Russia. Rasmus Dahlin won’t be there, but many other prospects will.

April 28 (unconfirmed): The NHL draft lottery.

April 30: At midnight Moscow time, all KHL contracts expire. Any free agents can be signed after that time. Leafs fans will be watching CSKA Moscow’s Igor Ozhiganov, a right-shooting defenceman rumoured to be signing with Toronto.

May 4 - May 20: The IIHF World Championships in Copenhagen and Herning, Denmark. The end of the World Championships marks the end of the hockey-playing season in Europe. Confirmed participants for Team Canada so far are Connor McDavid, Matt Barzal and Ryan O’Reilly. Confirmed not to be going is Carey Price.

May 17 - May 27: The Memorial Cup in Regina. Ian Scott is out of the Playoffs, as is Keaton Middleton, but Eemeli Räsänen, Nicolas Mattinen and Ryan McGregor are still in with a chance.

May 27 - June 2 (unconfirmed): The NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo, New York. We can try to learn more about the mysterious late first round picks the Leafs will be looking at this year.

June 1: Draft rights expire for all players not drafted out of US College or Russia. The Leafs have several draftees whose rights run out at that time: Vladimir Bobylyov, Pierre Engvall, Nicolas Mattinen and Keaton Middleton.

June 15 or 48 hours after the Stanley Cup Final: First buyout window opens. The buyout window closes on June 30, and subject to each team’s arbitration cases, they may have another chance later in the summer.

June 20 (unconfirmed): NHL Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada. That leaves over a month and a half to argue about the Hart Trophy winner.

June 22 - 23: NHL Entry Draft in Dallas, Texas.

June 26: Qualifying offers are due for Restricted Free Agents. RFAs who do not receive qualifying offers become free agents on July 1.

June 27-June 30: Discussion period for UFAs.

July 1: Free agency opens.

After the free agent signings start to dwindle, there will be hearings, usually in August, for RFAs who have elected arbitration. There are a lot of Leafs RFAs with arbitration rights, and we’ll discuss this when we know who is or is not signed or issued with a qualifying offer.

We will, of course, have the T25U25 again this year, and it will run on about the same schedule as last year, so it should end before training camp begins.