It's pretty tough to beat early October in the hockey world, though it gets even better this weekend as most men's college hockey teams will be starting their seasons. The official opening of the 2018-19 men's season was last weekend, with multiple exhibition games and nine nonconference matchups, highlighted by defending national champion Minnesota Duluth raising its banner as part of an early weekend series with rival Minnesota. But this coming weekend features the first loaded slate of the season.

It has been an interesting five years in college hockey filled with expansion, realignment and reshaping of traditions, but there have been a few constants in unrivaled parity, unpredictability and a steady flow of elite NHL prospects performing at a high level around the country. This season could be especially star-studded, with 13 first-round NHL draft picks dotting rosters across the country. According to College Hockey Inc., a record 15 All-Americans are returning to their respective teams for 2018-19.