But are those predictions warranted?
It’s an interesting debate. Those in the “yes” camp will point to a pretty good team from a year ago that made significant offseason upgrades in Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle, Jason Garrison, Brenden Morrow and Evgeni Nabokov. Steve Stamkos is arguably the league’s purest goalscorer, Ben Bishop and Jon Cooper were Vezina and Jack Adams finalists and the number of young talents (Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov) could be joined by an incoming crop of equally gifted prospects (Jonathan Drouin, Brett Connolly, Vladislav Namestnikov and Adam Erne.)
Those in the “no” camp, however, will probably suggest tapping the brakes.
For all the hype surrounding the Bolts, they’ve only made the playoffs once in the last three years and haven’t won a postseason game since 2011, when Guy Boucher was the head coach and Vinny Lecavalier was team captain. There’s been a huge overhaul since and, as a result, the longest-tenured guys on the team are Stamkos and Victor Hedman. There’s also the reliance on Bishop, who had a fantastic ’13-14 campaign but has no track record of sustained success as an NHL starter. He alluded to as much upon signing a two-year extension earlier this month, saying “I think I’ve still got to prove myself,” and “I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder.”
With those two differing opinions in mind, we turn it over to the PHT faithful — are the Bolts legit Stanley Cup contenders?