After an action-packed regular season, the NHL playoff picture is finally set. But as every hockey fan knows by now, predicting the overall winner of the Stanley Cup seems like a crapshoot given how many higher-seeded teams have been upset in earlier rounds compared to other major sports.
As such, we’ve gathered below a handful of the internet’s hockey pundits to fill us in on who they believe will hoist Lord Stanley’s trophy when all is said and done.
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2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Expert Picks and Predictions
Both of Bleacher Report’s hockey experts, Rob Goldberg and Timothy Rapp, are in agreeance that this is indeed the year that the Washington Capitals will finally become NHL champions.
Goldberg argued that despite the Caps’ constant underachievements in the playoffs of seasons past, this is the one team that appears truly equipped to win the title. Washington – this season’s President’s Trophy winner and the Eastern Conference’s leading favorite at +375 to win the Stanley Cup – has a one-two punch on offense in Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie that few teams have been able to really contain during the regular season.
The Capitals also have last year’s Vezina Trophy winner, Braden Holtby, playing arguably even better between the pipes this season than the last. In turn, all these standout pieces give the team no glaring weaknesses on both sides of the rink whatoever.
Over at CBS Sports, meanwhile, Cody Benjamin predicts that the Chicago Blackhawks will re-establish themselves as the NHL’s true dynasty of the decade.
The Blackhawks have the same odds as the Capitals at +375 in becoming Stanley Cup champs, and it’s hard to argue against that price. The team has such fantastic balance between its young guns and already-decorated stars; mainly with the championship-winning core of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford still intact. That goes without saying that Chicago also had seven rookies combining for 105 points and six different players scoring 20 or more goals during the regular season to provide constant pressure on the attack against those who stand in their way.
Last but not least, Kavan Young of Fantrax couldn’t help but side with a Canadian franchise to emerge as league champs after not one of those seven teams made it to the playoffs the previous year. Young ultimately went with a Toronto-Edmonton final as his prediction, with the Oilers (+1,600) winning their first Stanley Cup since the 1989-90 season.
It took over a decade for Edmonton to make it back to the postseason, and this year’s club has great promise to not just be a title contender for years to come, but also as a terrific dark horse to win it all this very moment. Look for Connor McDavid, who won the Art Ross Trophy by a landslide in just his second year in the pros, to carry his sizzling 14-game points streak from the tail-end regular season into the playoffs along with some key performances from fellow rising star Leon Draisaitl (29 goals, 77 points).
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