So many contenders but only one Stanley Cup.
That’s the way it looks from here in the chase for the cherished chalice. A lot of teams believe they have a chance to win it all.
Last season’s champions, Vegas, will have plenty of competition.
Here’s how we see it unfolding:
1. New Jersey Devils: Any team with Jack Hughes on it has more than a legitimate shot.
2. Carolina Hurricanes: Can they finally make a deep run?
3. New York Rangers: In Peter Laviolette we trust.
4. New York Islanders: Isles banking on goalie Ilya Sorokin to have another banner year.
5. Pittsburgh Penguins: A team in transition but they still have Sidney Crosby.
6. FLYERS: Return of Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson makes them better right away.
7. Washington Capitals: About the only interesting thing will be Alex Ovechkin’s chase for Wayne Gretzky’s NHL-record career goal total.
8. Columbus Blue Jackets: Some improvement but not enough to escape the basement.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning: Still have much of the core from those two recent Stanley Cups.
2. Florida Panthers: Coming off a surprise run to the Cup Finals and anxious to prove it wasn’t a fluke.
3. Boston Bruins: Set an NHL record for points last season but lost several key parts, including Patrice Bergeron.
4. Buffalo Sabres: Determined to end long playoff drought and made progress last season.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs: There’s plenty of firepower but it always seems to fizzle in the playoffs.
6. Ottawa Senators: Another team which showed signs of life last year, led by ex-Flyer Claude Giroux.
7. Detroit Red Wings: Long out-of-playoff streak continues.
8. Montreal Canadiens: Hard times continue for a once-proud franchise.
1. Dallas Stars: Keep an eye on Jason Robertson, one of the real surprises of last season.
2. Colorado Avalanche: Like Tampa, the Avalanche can call on the experience of winning a Cup a couple years back.
3. Minnesota Wild: No superstars but lots of depth.
4. St. Louis Blues: If anyone can pull the Blues out of this slide, it’s Craig Berube.
5. Chicago Blackhawks: Might be a stretch but with hotshot Connor Bedard on board, anything’s possible.
6. Winnipeg Jets: Seems like they’re right on the bubble every season.
7. Nashville Predators: Like the Flyers, they’re in a bit of a rebuild.
8. Arizona Coyotes: Lovable losers playing in a college rink.
1. Edmonton Oilers: Any team with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on it is always a threat.
2. Seattle Kraken: Coach Dave Hakstol continues to do a nice job with expansion club.
3. Los Angeles Kings: Former powerhouse from a decade ago finding its form again. Defenseman Drew Doughty one of the best leaders in the business.
4. Calgary Flames: Coming off a disappointing campaign and looking to make amends.
5. Vancouver Canucks: Coach Rick Tocchet had Canucks playing much better after he took over last season.
6. Anaheim Ducks: Plenty of young guys looking to make a name for themselves.
7. San Jose Sharks: At least they have a cool mascot.
>Stanley Cup pick: DEVILS over Stars.