The 2015-16 season officially came to a close over the weekend - the Cup has been raised, parades have been planned, and all of us have already forgotten what the channel number for NBCSN is. That means it's time to look ahead to the offseason and plan for hockey's summer. Here are the important dates you need to know over the next few weeks.
Hockey's Summer Calendar
June 15 - Buyout window opens
With the first day of buyouts this week, we could see some bigger names and pricier contracts become available. The Sabres are already paying plenty of money to players (and coaches, and GMs, and presidents) who no longer work for the team, so while there's been speculation that a player like Matt Moulson could be bought out, I wouldn't bet on it.
June 20 - NHL schedule reveal
According to John Shannon of Sportsnet, the NHL will reveal the 2016-17 schedule on Monday of next week. Let the season predictions begin!
June 22 - NHL Awards & Board of Governors Meeting
There won't be any Sabres players involved this year (insert Eichel/Calder rage here) but this event is so painfully awkward every year that it's quickly becoming must-watch TV.
This is also the next BoG meeting, and where we'll likely hear more about expansion to Las Vegas.
June 24-25 - NHL Draft (in Buffalo!)
This is the big one, the 2016 NHL Draft taking place in the First Niagara Center in beautiful Buffalo, NY. The Sabres hold the 8th overall pick, and with plenty of Day Two picks as well as Toronto holding the 1st overall selection, this should be an interesting atmosphere inside the arena to say the least. Will we see another big trade out of Tim Murray, or will the Sabres stand pat and focus on replenishing their farm system? Tune in - or show up - and find out.
June 25 - Free agents can begin speaking to teams
Free agency doesn't start for a few more days, but players and teams can start talking with each other early. Known as the "Legal Tampering Period," this should help jump-start the free agent market.
June 30 - Last day to qualify RFAs
OK, be honest, how many of you were the kid who started his project at the last minute? And how many of you are now also hockey GMs?
July 1 - Free agency opens
Starting right at noon on July 1, free agents can now be signed by the highest bidder. The Sabres still need more depth at a few key positions, and will likely make a splash or two in the UFA (or RFA?) market. Will the Sabres make a smart move and bring in a savvy veteran at a decent price, or will we get someone to take over the Vile Leino Memorial Overpaid UFA role?
Sometime in July - Rookie Development Camp
The Sabres haven't announced anything official yet, but once the draft is complete the team should announce dates for their annual rookie development cam, featuring players drafted in the past three NHL Drafts.
Let us know which dates you have circled on your calendar, or which event you think affects the Sabres most in the comments.