NHL Stanley Cup 2021 Leading Contenders
Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning failed to live up to expectations in the playoffs in the 2019 season, but they made that experience count last season as they beat the Dallas Stars to win the Stanley Cup.
After undergoing surgery to repair a core-muscle injury just prior to the COVID-29 pandemic led to the NHL’s suspension, the Bolts captain Steven Stamkos was expected to be out of the game for a couple of months.
The Bruins have to be considered among the favorites for the Stanley Cup. The key question is whether they will be able to retain that regular season momentum after a lengthy lay-off, particularly given that some on their roster are at the veteran stage of their careers.
Vegas Golden Knights
Despite the franchise itself having little history, there is a wealth of playoff experience on the Knights’ roster. On the downside, they could miss playing any games in front of their own fans in their Las Vegas fortress.
The Avs performed admirably in the regular season given the number of injury absences they had to contend with. They should have a healthy roster for the restart, although there is a concern as to a relative lack of postseason experience.
The Flyers were one of the form teams in the NHL in the two months prior to the suspension, but will the lengthy break have stopped their momentum?
The enforced break enabled the Flyers to benefit from the injury recoveries of James van Riemsdyk (hand), Nate Thompson (knee sprain) and Philippe Myers (fractured patella in right knee).
St. Louis Blues
The former Stanley Cup champions finished top of the Western Conference last season despite the lengthy absence of Vladimir Tarasenko due to a shoulder injury. He should be back though to augment a team that will be high on self-belief and team spirit. Retaining the trophy isn’t beyond the realms of possibility for the Blues.
Stanley Cup winners in 2018, the Caps still retain many of the same names on their roster today. Any team able to call upon Alex Ovechkin has to be a contender, while the addition of another veteran Russian in Ilya Kovalchuk before the shutdown adds to their firepower.
The Penguins are definitely capable of challenging for the Stanley Cup, with them possessing plenty of quality on their roster in the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
The Stars were very strong in defense during the regular season, but struggled for goals themselves in attack. The lack of firepower was probably their undoing as they finished as gutsy runners-up to the Tampa Bay Lightning last year.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs has an offense that can cause problems for any opposition team. They could also give another opportunity to their prolific teenage prospect Nicholas Robertson.
Although the Oilers are not seen as one of the favorites for the Stanley Cup, they undoubtedly have a potential game-changer on their roster in Connor McDavid. They can also count on Hart Trophy candidate Leon Draisaitl, but is the supporting cast good enough?
The Predators might not be the force they were a few seasons back and they generally failed to impress during the regular season. However, they still have an experienced and talented roster and they will be hoping they can gain some momentum in the new season.
NHL 2021 Predictions – Who Will Win the Stanley Cup 2021?
The Tampa Bay Lightning can continue their good spell by claiming consecutive Stanley Cups and winning the Eastern Conference.
In the Western Conference it might be worth backing the St. Louis Blues to come through.