As the offseason for the NHL is currently underway, some teams took this time to enhance their team from the previous season, by adding and subtracting players in an effort to improve their roster. Some teams didn’t really need to make many drastic changes whereas some teams needed to make some massive changes. With those changes now finalized, some people are already taking bets as to who next year’s Cup winners will be…
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs arguably had one of the biggest and best offseason acquisitions in the entire league as they acquired power forward and talented playmaker, John Tavares, who averages around 30 goals per season, which is a huge offensive boost for the Leafs.
With other talented players like young-gun Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and star goalie Frederik Andersen. With those young building blocks and highly-skilled veteran players, the Maple Leafs are turning into one of the power houses in the entire league, which has resulted in them being a fan favorite to win the Stanley Cup in 2019.
The Predators are just a team waiting to explode. After an impressive playoff run in the 2017 season, in which they appeared in their first Stanley Cup Final ever, the Predators are on the brink of hoisting their first cup in franchise history for a few reasons.
The first reason is they’ve compiled a vas variety of skilled young players such as Viktor Arvidsson, Ryan Hartman and Kevin Fiala. Those three alone combined for 63 goals last year! Which isn’t bad for a couple of young players in the making. They are just a few that make up the building blocks for the Predators’ young core that they’ve compiled.
Next, they have an insane amount of skilled veterans such as PK Subban, Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis (who of which was just signed to an eight-year extension worth 6.25 million dollars), and goalie Pekka Rinne. Excluding Rinne, the five mentioned above scored a combined for 80 goals last season, which is a sizable amount of goals. With an offense like that, the Predators are just oozing with potential and could very well see themselves lifting Lord Stanley next season.
Another Central Division team just waiting to erupt, the Jets shocked the hockey world last year, plowing their way through the competition which ended in a 52-20-10 record, racking up a total of 114 points in the Central Division. That was only the beginning. The Jets marched their way past the Minnesota Wild in the first round, winning that series in five games, then defeating the defending Western Conference Champions, the Nashville Predators, in seven games. Their journey would be thwarted by the Vegas Golden Knights as they lost that series in five games.
The Jets are a team to be feared in the league with young players like Patrick Laine, Mark Scheifele, and big-boy Dustin Byfuglien skating around. Plus with Vezina-finalist Connor Hellebuyck minding the net, the Jets appear to be in tip-top shape to make a very deep playoff run and could be in the finals in a pinch.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning had one of the best trade deadline acquisitions of the 2018 NHL season as they acquired two huge names from the New York Rangers in Ryan McDonagh and JT Miller. That was just the tip of the ice berg as the Lightning have a vast player depth chart in players such as Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Alex Killorn (just to name a few). Those five forwards combined for a total of 113 goals in 2017-2018 alone! The defense is another piece to the puzzle as well.
With big names such as Norris trophy winner Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Mikhail Sergachev, and Dan Girardi, the Lightning are stacked when it comes to their defense, but it doesn’t just end there! There are rumors that the Lightning could be in the market to acquire veteran super star defenseman: Erik Karlsson. If that happened, well let’s just say the rest of the league wouldn’t stand a chance; the Bolts would be stacked! And that’s not even talking about their goalie.
The Lightning have a great starting goalie in Andrei Vasilevskiy who has already become one of the top goalies in the league in his very short NHL career. Last season he went 44-17-3 which is fantastic for the Vezina-finalist.
The Lightning are incredible on paper, but it is time for them to put that paper to use and show the league why they are to be feared.
Vegas Golden Knights
The Golden Knights are looking to make a statement, as if they haven’t already. With an impressive inaugural season under their belt, as they reached the Stanley Cup Finals, they are looking to win it all this time. After making some smart moves this season in bringing back star goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, signing power forward William Karlsson (who scored 43 goals in a single season) to a one-year deal, and bringing in some veteran skill in the centerman position in Paul Stastny, the Golden Knights are looking sharp, but will they be able to repeat what they accomplished last season?
With all of the action this summer, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out on ice.