Before they begin their quest to capture a second consecutive Atlantic Division title, several of the Florida Panthers' rising stars must first take on a much larger opponent - the world.
The 2016 World Cup of Hockey officially gets underway on Saturday, with more than 150 of the best hockey players in the world ready to battle for international bragging rights in the recently revitalized best-on-best competition.
The tournament will take place over a two-week period, from Sept. 17 - Oct. 1, and all games will be played at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, home of the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs.
The eight teams participating in this year's World Cup are Team Canada, Team Czech Republic, Team Finland, Team Russia, Team Sweden, Team USA, Team Europe and Team North America.
These teams have been split into two Groups, Group A and Group B, for the Preliminary Round (Sept. 17-22), when each team will play its three Group opponents in a round-robin format.
The top two finishers in Group A and Group B will advance to the Semifinals (Sept. 24-25), where the first-place team from each Group will face an elimination game against the second-place team from the other Group. The two Semifinal winners will then meet in the Final, a best-of-three series on Sept. 27, Sept. 29 and, if necessary, Oct. 1.
This tournament isn't like any you've ever seen before, however, as traditional international powerhouses such as Canada and the United States will face off against a pair of new and exciting multi-national super teams in Team Europe and Team North America.
Team Europe is comprised of players from all other European countries outside of Finland, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Russia, while Team North America consists of the best players from the United States and Canada who are 23 or younger as of Oct. 1, 2016.
Aaron Ekblad , Vincent Trocheck , Aleksander Barkov and Jussi Jokinen will be representing the Panthers at this year's World Cup. Trocheck is playing alongside Ekblad on Team North America, while Barkov and Jokinen are both competing for Team Finland.
Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant, who was an All-Star and finalist for the Jack Adams trophy last season, is serving as an assistant coach for Team North America.
With only a few day left until the puck drops, here is everything else that Panthers fans need to know about 2016 World Cup of Hockey:
Team Czech Republic
Team North America