PHT was reasonably successful with our Stanley Cup picks last year, with half the staff correctly predicting the Chicago Blackhawks to win it all. We’re back to try again in 2015-16. As always, feel free to add your picks in the comments section. Also, don’t forget to suggest we have no idea what we’re talking about. That’s important, too.
Jason Brough: Washington Capitals over the St. Louis Blues
I admit, I’m nervous about this Caps pick. This is a team that hasn’t been past the second round in almost two decades. And I’m picking them to meet the ST. LOUIS BLUES in the final. If I’m right about this match-up, watch the world end right before Game 7. In all seriousness though, my pick comes down to two youngsters, Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson. If the former can be the second-line center I think he can be and the latter can officially join the ranks of elite NHL defensemen, Washington’s going to be one tough out. Maybe that’s asking too much of those two, but in a young man’s league like the NHL, I’m comfortable doing it.
James O’Brien: Anaheim Ducks over Pittsburgh Penguins
For both the Ducks and the Penguins, the window to add another Stanley Cup ring might not be open much longer, but 2015-16 presents a golden opportunity. In Anaheim’s case, many of the West’s best teams are stagnating, if not sinking. Maybe the Ducks’ defense doesn’t have that one elite player, but it’s young and fairly deep. As for Pittsburgh, beyond the obvious addition of Phil Kessel, here’s a question: how often have the Penguins been healthy heading into the playoffs? This might be the year, and it could set the stage for a blistering final.
Ryan Dadoun: Anaheim Ducks over New York Rangers
The Anaheim Ducks have endured some painful playoff exits over the last few years, no doubt. But given they’ve taken a step forward in each of those years, I’m inclined to see those exits as progress, not an inability to win when it matters. The Ducks have more than enough scoring depth to go far, especially if Jakob Silfverberg can build off of his strong playoff run. Goalie Frederik Andersen also has some experience under his belt after serving as the team’s starter last year. As for the Rangers, they have a well-rounded squad with star power up front, on the back end, and in goal.
Mike Halford: Tampa Bay Lightning over Anaheim Ducks
Covering the final last year, I remember thinking the same thing over and over about the Lightning: Holy crap, these guys are young. This was partially due to their terrible, patchy playoff beards, but these Bolts are now a year older, and a year more experienced — yet they’re still really young, which is a good thing in the NHL. When the puck drops on the regular season, Tyler Johnson, Steve Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov, Cedric Paquette and Jonathan Drouin will all be 25 or younger. This is my very long-winded way of saying that I have zero concerns about a short summer, “the grind,” or a Stanley Cup hangover. The Lightning were the second-best team in hockey last year, returned almost the entire squad and are still young, talented and hungry. It’s their Cup to lose.