In a recent release of various NHL polls, it appears likely that the Pittsburgh Penguins are the favorites for Stanley Cup Champions, hoping to complete the first three-peat from a team since the New York Islanders in the 1980s. With the addition of the Las Vegas Knights and consistent trading among true playoff contenders in the offseason, the Penguins are threatened in their quest for a three-peat.
In a poll released by ESPN in early August, the Penguins have 6-1 odds of completing a three-peat. However, following close on their heels are the Edmonton Oilers with 9-1 odds. The Tampa Bay Lighting, Washington Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild all round out the top six with 12-1 odds of winning the Stanley Cup.
The Oilers, especially with league MVP and scoring champion Connor McDavid, are not to be taken lightly by any team. With an offense poised to take any and all opportunities on the ice, fans should expect to see Oilers’ players leading the league in goals and assists.
Following closely on their heels are the Nashville Predators, last season’s Stanley Cup Finalists. With the addition of Nick Bonino from the Penguins and the retention of star players P. K. Subban and Pekka Rinne, fans won’t be disappointed with the team as they look to start the season following the disappointment of last season’s loss. The Predators are out for revenge, and won’t be stopping until they reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
For Washington and Chicago, who took a second-round exit and first-round exit in last season’s playoffs, respectively, the biggest task for the two becomes lowering their goals against averages. If the two can keep this statistic down, and raise their goals for, both will present themselves as threats as the season progresses. Like the Predators, both teams look to bounce back from early exits despite talented rosters.
Another playoff team from last season to keep an eye on is the Anaheim Ducks. Coming into the playoffs as underdogs last season, the Ducks had an impressive and unexpected run against the Oilers in the second round, narrowly being beat by the Oilers. With the Ducks’ resilience, fans should expect to see the Ducks fighting for a spot in the playoffs. They aren’t top contenders for this year’s Cup, but with 14-1 odds, it would be hard to count them out.
The Columbus Blue Jackets, as well, look poised to make a healthy Stanley Cup run. Entering last year’s playoff season with one of the youngest teams in the NHL, the Blue Jackets look to build upon their first round exit, steering towards a first round win instead. Give the Blue Jackets a couple more years, and you should expect to see them fighting for a Stanley Cup, although this year probably won’t be their year to win.
Although the Knights have 200-1 odds of winning the Cup this season, NHL fans should expect to see the team develop and threaten fellow NHL teams, knocking fellow division teams around and causing havoc in the standings. With a seasoned goalie in net and a solid defense, the Knights look to give the conference a run for their money.
With many teams poised to make solid runs, it should be an interesting year for the NHL. Fans should expect to see many of last year’s playoff contenders out for revenge in the 2017-2018 season, as well as the unexpected underdog, like last year’s Anaheim Ducks. However, with the Penguins on the forefront of a three-peat, teams will have a hard time knocking them off their repeat champion pedestal.
As the season officially opens in a matter of days, fans should expect to see the Pittsburgh Penguins and Edmonton Oilers vying for the Stanley Cup title in early June 2018.