NHL – Top 10 Favorites to Win 2019-20 Stanley Cup Title
The St. Louis Blues won their first NHL Stanley Cup Title in franchise history on Wednesday night. They did it on the road 4-1 over the Boston Bruins. The day after someone wins the title, people usually start talking about who will a championship the next season. So since that’s the case, here is a look at the top 10 teams that could win it all next season?
10. Florida Panthers
This is a crazy pick right here, but Joel Quenneville is the new head coach and he has championship pedigree considering the fact he won three Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks. Florida has some key pieces in place like Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck, Evgenii Dadonov, Mike Hoffman, Aaron Ekblad, and Keith Yandle. I get the impression they will find a way to sign both forward Artemi Panarin and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in free agency. Also, Florida had a better year this past season than people thought they did. The Florida Panthers finished with a 36-32-14 record with 86 points.
9. Winnipeg Jets
I would have this team higher on this list but is quite possible Winnipeg will have a much different looking roster next season because of salary cap issues. No matter what though, the Jets will still have a talented roster put together which a chance to win their first Stanley Cup title in franchise history. Connor Hellebuyck is still one of the best goalies in the league and this team is led by Blake Wheeler and Mark Schefiele.
8. Nashville Predators
As long as the Nashville Predators maintain structure and discipline, this team will have a really good chance to win its first Stanley Cup title next season. They had a disappointing first-round exit against the Dallas Stars in six games. Nashville will need to upgrade its offense in the offseason and a big trade might be on the way for them as well.
7. Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals were shocked in the first-round against the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games, but I expect Washington to have another excellent regular season next year and make another potential Stanley Cup run. The Capitals won the Stanley Cup just a year ago before the St. Louis Blues won. As long as Alex Ovechkin is still burying goals in the back of the net, this team will be tough to beat. Braden Holtby had another solid season in net and he is one of the most underrated goalies in the NHL. Todd Reirden had a very good year as being the head coach for the Washington Capitals after Barry Trotz decided to leave for the New York Islanders. Reirden will need to prove himself next season whether or not he is the real deal behind the bench.
6. Pittsburgh Penguins
As long as this team doesn’t self destruct, this team will have a chance to win three Stanley Cup titles in five seasons. It was a surprise that the New York Islanders swept them in the first round. Pittsburgh has the personnel to win it all next season, but it will be up to Mike Sullivan‘s assistant coaches on whether this team or not can go on a deep run. There have also been rumors about Evgeni Malkin or Phil Kessel being on the move in trade talks, but it looks like they will both be back next season. I also expect General Manager Jim Rutherford to tweak the defense. Sidney Crosby is still one of the best players in the world and Matt Murray needs to prove himself next year because he will be on a contract year.
5. Colorado Avalanche
After being the worst team in the league in 2016-2017, Colorado has made it to the postseason for the last two years and they have taken baby steps to get better. Nathan MacKinnon was an absolute beast in the postseason and he will elevate his game to another level next season. Mikko Rantanen is only 22 years old and he is already proving himself. Cale Makar will be a force to be reckoned with on the back end for years to come.
The Colorado Avalanche will also have two first-round picks, including the fourth overall pick from the Ottawa Senators. They have this pick because it was acquired in the Matt Duchene back in November of 2017. It is possible the fourth pick could make an impact right away and this team is heading in the right direction with Jared Bednar as head coach. Philipp Grubauer played well in his first year with the Avalanche after being traded from the Washington Capitals.
4. St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues had an improbable run in their run to the Stanley Cup title. What is amazing is that they almost had a fire sale at the trade deadline. When goaltender Jordan Binnington was called up, he saved the day for them and Binnington is 25 years old. He has the potential to be a stud in this league for a very long time. St. Louis has one of the better blue lines in the NHL and Craig Berube did an excellent job coaching this team when he took over back in November.
Vladimir Tarasenko is one of the best goal scorers on this team, but the downside for this Blues team is all of the veterans they have in David Perron, Tyler Bozak, Patrick Maroon, Jay Bouwmeester, Ryan O’Reilly, and others. They are all not getting younger and St. Louis needs to find some more youth into this team.
3. Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs will need to find a way to re-sign Mitchell Marner in the offseason and they are going to have to make some cap room in order to do so. Toronto has been bounced from the postseason in the first-round the past three years. Next year will be a make it or break it year for Head Coach Mike Babcock. If this team is underachieving, I could see General Manager Kyle Dubas pull the plug on Babcock and make Sheldon Keefe the new head coach. This team has way too much talent to not get past the first-round and they also have a Stanley Cup caliber roster. Toronto will need to find a way to play better defense next season and also get better goaltending out of Frederik Andersen. John Tavares and Auston Matthews were both beasts this past season.
2. Boston Bruins
As long as Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak stay on the top line, this team will be tough to beat on a night-to-night basis. It is also very possible that defenseman captain Zdeno Chara could very well retire considering he is 41 years old. Chara was playing with a broken jaw in this series. Goaltender Tuukka Rask played very well in net this postseason for them. Bruce Cassidy is one of the most underrated coaches in the entire NHL. Boston also had the second most points in the NHL this past season.
1.Tampa Bay Lightning
The Columbus Blue Jackets swept the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the Stanley Playoffs. They are one of the most talented teams in the NHL and Tampa Bay is well coached by Jon Cooper. Maybe being swept in the playoffs will be a wake-up call for this hockey team. The Lightning might need to realize that not winning the Presidents’ Trophy next season won’t be the worst thing in the world either. Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, and Andrei Vasilevskiy are some of the key players on this roster. Brayden Point had a breakout year this past season and he will continue to grow as a hockey player. The Lightning could make a tweak or two to the roster this offseason to maybe find a better balance.
Other teams that could potentially win it all in 2019-2020 that are not on this list: Calgary Flames, Vegas Golden Knights, San Jose Sharks, Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils, Montreal Canadiens, or the New York Islanders.
What team/teams do you feel will be in contention for the 2019-20 Stanley Cup? Leave a comment below.
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