Stanley Cup Favourites

I know it’s very early, and most of us will look like fools come June 2008, but judging by the current lineups who do you think will be the major Cup contenders next season? Pick any three from each conference and give a short reason why.

These are my choices (in no particular order)

Western Conference:

Calgary Flames– Last season their downfall was their PK and road play. I believe Darryl Sutter has fixed that by bringing in Mike Keenan as head coach to get them more consistent. Also, Jim Playfair is back as defensive coordinator like he was in 2006 when the Flames had the stingiest defense in the league. The team core is still intact. They have the offense, they have the defense, and they definitely have the goalie. Flames could go all the way.

San Jose Sharks– After a great regular season competing in a tough division, and breezing through the Nashville Predators in the first round, they could not get past the Detroit Red Wings. This is because the Red Wings dictated the pace and style of play for the game. San Jose’s physical game did no damage because Detroit’s skilled game took over. As long as they don’t let that happen next season they look good for next spring.

Vancouver Canucks– For the entire regular season the Canucks relied on the Sedins to get them on the board and for Luongo to keep them in the game. In the playoffs, that didn’t cut it. The Sedins were shut down effectively by the Pahlsson line, and Luongo couldn’t win it alone for them. This season I believe Naslund and Morrison will rebound nicely, providing the Canucks with the needed offense, and their defense and goaltending is still the same, if not stronger.

Eastern Conference:

Ottawa Senators– You can no longer blame the Senators’ playoff failures on any one player. They got by with skill alone to the finals, but from that point on it was a poor team effort that led to their 5 game loss. Aside from Alfredsson, Fisher, and Phillips (surprise, surprise) the entire team was invisible. Now that they have felt the sting of losing, it’s my bet that they will be back with a vengeance. Look for a more determined Senators team next season.

New York Rangers– The Rangers came close to eliminating the Sabres by holding a one goal lead in the last minute of Game 5, but the defense couldn’t hold their offense back. A similar situation to the Vancouver Canucks, but facing a much milder team. With the additions of Gomez and Drury, who have both proven to be clutch playoff performers, and of course the stingy defense and Lundqvist in net, the Rangers could end up going far.

Pittsburgh Penguins– The sky’s the limit for this team. Last year, they were a skilled team that ended up losing to a more skilled team in the first round. It’s better they learned from their mistakes sooner than later, because this young team is going to be a powerhouse maybe even as soon as next season. They will only get better.

Don’t comment on my picks, post your own.

71 Responses to Stanley Cup Favourites

  1. MR40 says:

    they didn't add star forwards, because they already had star forwards, so there was no need for another one.

  2. hatterson says:

    I agree.  I mean I'm as big a Leafs fan as there is, but I honestly can't see calling them a solid cup favorite at this point.

    Lock for a playoff spot? Assuming Toskala/Raycroft stay moderately healthy, absolutely
    Can anything happen in the playoffs? Abosolutely
    Could the Leafs win the cup? sure

    Should they be considered a favorite? No, too many question marks right now.

  3. I_hate_LA says:

    As long as the Ducks have their trio intact Penner-Perry-Getzlaf we're set to contend again. Bertuzzi + Schneider to replace Selanne and Niedermayer isn't that far from a drop off either, but that's IF Bertuzzi gets healthy again.

  4. I_hate_LA says:

    hey…i remember you

  5. I_hate_LA says:

    If the queens can buyout clouuuuuuuuuuuuuutiiiiiiiiiiiiiiier's contract and get someone decent like raycroft, or possibly emery, they might be contenders.

  6. I_hate_LA says:

    Colorado- the addition of Ryan Smyth and Hannan will be a major boost for the Avs. Their prospects and young talent such as Wolski, Svatos, and Stastny will continue to develop. They have probably deepest at the forward position and they have a pretty strong defense as well in Liles, Leopold, and Hannan.
    NY Rangers- Their offense looks awfully scary right now and they look real good on paper.

  7. NHLman says:

    Anaheim- Until Scott Neidermayer retires they have an even better defense than last year with Schneider on the team. Bertuzzi, if given the right role, should be good. Plus, they did just win the Cup without any major personnel losses, at this point, although if Selanne and Neidermayer leave they won't be nearly as good.

    Detroit- Always good. I like the addition of Rafalski. If Datsyuk and Zetterberg continue to improve and there's no reason they couldn't be the best in the West. They did go fairly far last season.

    Colorado- Smyth and Hannan will add a lot to a team that is definitely on the rise due to its young talent. A pairing of Hannan and Liles sounds great on paper while a pairing of Smyth and Sakic also sounds good. The only question mark is in goal, but Budaj played well for them last year. I'd expect a similar performance from him, then again Theodore could always regain his form, though unlikely.

    Sleeper: St. Louis Blues- A much improved team in the second half. Kariya and Tkachuk will strengthen the team. I like the acquisition of Brad Boyes last season. The D is strong, they really just need goaltending. They should compete for at least the 8 spot. 

    NY Rangers- Gomez and Drury should catapult this team to the upper echelon. And what's with all this talk from everyone of a weak defense. Yes there aren't any Lidstrom's back there, but have you forgotten that the team was among the stingiest defensively in all the NHL? Remember the second round of the playoffs? The Rangers won back-to-back 2-1 games against the Sabres; the best offensive team in the NHL. Team defense is the key for this team and the additions of Gomez and Drury will not hurt the team defense, in fact they should help.

    Ottawa Senators- Have been good for a while and last year they actually did something. They haven't made any improvement this offseason, but they should still be a good team. I expect a better year from Redden and maybe Spezza can finally play 78 games or somewhere around there. Ray Emery was good and should be good. The younger players should improve too.

    Pens- Crosby, Malkin, Staal, and all the rest sounds nice. Sykora is maybe the best shootout player in the NHL and that will help in the points, but moreso he is a skilled player that can play a complimentary role. Fluery isn't great, but the team scores a lot to offset the goals allowed. If the defense is there they'll be very good, if not they'll still be good, just not very good.

    Sleeper: Florida Panthers- they had a great stretch to end the season and now have a very good goaltender in Vokoun. The youngsters will continue to improve and the team could shoot for a 5th-6th seed.  

  8. WYflyerfan says:

       Colorado- I think Smyth will play well with Sackic and Svatos will bounce back from his sophomore jinx. Also if they play like they did at the end of the year they will be hard to beat.


       Philly- I think the odds of the team actually jelling has to be around 6 to 1 and Carter and Richards bouncing back from thier sophomore year is around 5 to 1. Now facter in last year of finnishing dead last will be around 50 to 1 (just a guess). So I think they have about a 2.6% chance of winning everything and that would be a huge payout. So I am going with Philly not just for the money but because they are my team and I expect them to win every year no matter how little a chance they have. Otherwise what is the point of paying to see them play if you expect them to lose.. 

  9. DKB827 says:

    where are you getting your NYR facts from? Okay goaltending? Lundqvist was a vezina finalist for the second straight year(how many years has he been in the NHL? oh yea 2) . horrible defence? I do believe they had one of the best defences towards the end of the season?

  10. flyer186 says:

    cannuks have luongo he is a factor in any game if the team plays in front of him he unstoppable. the ducks may or may not have lost scotty but added good defencemen and brutuzzi is always a wild card. the sharks have good scoring and soilid goal tending.
    sleeper: avalanche

    pittsburg has a tallented group of hockey players thay may need to learn to play a bit more physical but the have great offence and soild goal tending. ottawa not much change from last year and they made it to the finals. rangers have put together a good team if thay have the chemistry than they are going to be a soilid team
    sleeper: flyers(just beacuase they are my team)

  11. johnrot says:

    Let me guess, hmmm probably a Maple Leafs fan. How can you say this about the Rangers? They finished 9th in overall team defense. I believe that Toronto finished 25th. Lundqvist already has 2 Vezina nominations in his first 2 years and he has a Gold Medal.

    I am sure Blake will bring the cup to Toronto.

  12. johnrot says:

    How can you say the Rangers bought their team. Drury and Gomez wanted to come here and last I checked all teams work off the same salary cap number. Actually in the early 90's and 00's the Rangers did try to buy teams, but that way of thinking is long gone.

    I can't believe you picked the HABS to be a sleeper. The truth is the rest of the NHL would have to sleep for them to win a cup next year

  13. cecilturtle says:

    Pittsburg I have a feeling is going to dominate next year and win the east easily!  NJ with Sutter running things on the bench and Zubrus who I predict turning out to be more valuable (because of his style of play and the style his teamates play) then Gomez actually was to the Devils.  Then the Blue shirts third.  But for the playoffs, it's the Rangers vs Devils game 7 next year with the winner going to the cup! 


  14. hattrick44 says:

    and they went deep cause team chemistry

  15. RPDA97 says:

    Im so sick of hearing these ridiculous comments about how the Rangers bought there team.  Its not their fault that a lot of players would love to play in MSG.  Its almost as if people fail to realize that they are using the same exact salary cap as the rest of the nhl.  They went out and got 2 great players that they NEEDED to fill gaps.  Obviously slats knew Nylander was a lost cause so they needed a first line center and it was quite obvious all of last season they needed a strong second line center as well.  So what did they do on July 1st went? Went out and filled those gaps.  I think the jealousy is ridiculous and even if you cant say the Rangers are cup contenders (because hey you never know) theres no way you cant say there not going to be one of the top 3 teams in the east.  Because lets face it, the east isnt thatt strong this year.

  16. malkin_71 says:

    Why not? Iginla 100+ points Maybe would have last year if he played ever game, Tangauy 80-90 points He can be deadly with Iggy, Lankow and Hueiles both had 77 points last year as second liners son 70-80 points for them. Lombardi coming of a 50 point sseason Break through comin up? David Moss at least 20 goals. had 10 in less then half a season, Dion Phanuef this guy is absolute DOMINATE!! The best shut down defencemen in the NHL Robyn Regher, some nice add ons with Nolan and Sarich maybe Aucoin can find his Form? Ofcoure the one of the best in the leauge in Kipper,Sounds contender enough to me.

  17. malkin_71 says:

    West: Calgary

    Iginla 100+ points Maybe would have last year if he played ever game, Tangauy 80-90 points He can be deadly with Iggy, Lankow and Hueiles both had 77 points last year as second liners son 70-80 points for them. Lombardi coming of a 50 point sseason Break through comin up? David Moss at least 20 goals. had 10 in less then half a season, Dion Phanuef this guy is absolute DOMINATE!! The best shut down defencemen in the NHL Robyn Regher, some nice add ons with Nolan and Sarich maybe Aucoin can find his Form? Ofcoure the one of the best in the leauge in Kipper

    East: Pittsburgh, NYR, I say Toronto is the sleeper.

  18. nyrhockey094 says:

    Please dont talk about the Rangers like you actually know whats going on. Nylander is not as much of a chemistry man as people think. Yeah he was a good part, however he was easily replacible, by a kid named Scott Gomez who is 8 years younger. Nylander will be missed but DRURY and GOMEZ will more then make up for it. Jagr still has Straka. If Gomez does not work on the first line, then they can do the Hossa Straka Jagr as they did for 20 games of last year, where Hossa put up some nice numbers, as did Jagr and Straka, then Shift and have Drury Gomez Shannahan second, and yes I realize Drury is a centre, players in this day and age can play wing as well.

  19. nyrhockey094 says:

    Goaltending, Lundqvist is the second best goaltender in the east. Their defense is a bunch of no names, but how does that make it bad?

  20. zdeno_duchesne says:

    AND assuming selanne and niedermayer drop

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