Why your team won’t (and will) win the Stanley Cup this season

Stanley Cup

There are 24 teams in the NHL’s two hub cities for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and one of them is going to emerge as the winner.

That means 23 teams are going to fall short. The odds are not in your team’s favor.

The entire format (extra teams, a four-month layoff from the regular season, no travel, etc.) adds even more uncertainty and unpredictability to the playoffs and, quite honestly, probably anything is capable of happening this postseason.

With that in mind let us take a quick look at why your favorite team can, and can not, be the one team to win it all.

Arizona Coyotes

Why they won’t win: It is just hard to imagine a team without a true impact player at center winning the Stanley Cup.

Why they can win: When you have two outstanding goalies — and the Coyotes absolutely do in Antti Raanta and Darcy Kuemper — you will always have a chance.

Boston Bruins

Why they won’t win: They are still a fairly top-heavy team offensively and could eventually run into a deeper team that could cancel out their top line and win the depth game.

Why they can win: They have been the best team in the NHL this season and only lost 14 games in regulation.

Calgary Flames

Why they won’t win: They overachieved in the regular season a year ago and have regressed back to being what they truly are — a solid, but unspectacular team.

Why they can win: Johnny Gaudreau gets a fresh start after the four-month break and has a breakout postseason performance to carry the team.

Carolina Hurricanes

Why they won’t win: I just don’t know if I trust the goaltending situation. That could be their undoing.

Why they can win: Their defense is so good, especially if Dougie Hamilton plays, that it may not matter what their goaltenders do.

Chicago Blackhawks

Why they won’t win: They were on track for a third straight non-playoff season, have not won a playoff series in five years, were the 12th place team in a mediocre Western Conference, the 23rd overall team in the NHL, have a lousy defense, and put up the white flag on their season when they traded their pending free agents before the trade deadline.

Why they can win: There is always the possibility that Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Corey Crawford go on a two-month tear and leave a path of destruction in their wake.

Colorado Avalanche

Why they won’t win: Even though the duo of Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz has been really good this year, that might be the one question mark I have.

Why they can win: The roster is loaded and set up for sustained long-term success. They should be considered one of the top contenders in the entire league.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Why they won’t win: Great story this season, better team than anyone gave them credit for at the start and have overcome a ton. Part of it still feels like a mirage.

Why they can win: Seth Jones and Zach Werenski are studs on defense and can shut things down.

Dallas Stars

Why they won’t win: They simply do not score enough goals. On the other hand…

Why they can win: They simply do not give up any goals.

Edmonton Oilers

Why they won’t win: No depth. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl can only do so much.

Why they can win: Nobody else in the league has the two aforementioned megastars and those guys are capable of greatness.

Florida Panthers

Why they won’t win: Absolutely no defensive structure on this team.

Why they can win: Sergei Bobrovsky slays his postseason demons and plays like the goalie they threw $70 million at.

Minnesota Wild

Why they won’t win: Nothing about this roster says “Stanley Cup team.”

Why they will win: Maybe 2020 is crazy enough for the Minnesota Wild to win it all.

Montreal Canadiens

Why they won’t win: They were the 24th place team in the league for a reason. One of those big reasons: They do not have enough finishers offensively.

Why they can win: Carey Price goes back in time to the 2014-15 season and channels his all-world self.

Nashville Predators

Why they won’t win: Goaltending and special teams have both been a season long issue. Those are bad issues to have.

Why they can win: If they can find a way to fix one (or both) of those issues this is still a great team on paper.

New York Islanders

Why they won’t win: They have been a painfully average team for most of the season and were a bit overrated last year.

Why they will win: Barry Trotz is a top-tier coach and I believe in his ability to squeeze the most out of a sub-par roster.

New York Rangers

Why they won’t win: By nearly every objective measure (shot attempts, shots on goal, scoring chances, expected goals) this is a truly dreadful defensive hockey team.

Why they can win: Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad are great, and they have a lot of really good goalies they can lean on.

Philadelphia Flyers

Why they won’t win: I still do not fully trust their defense.

Why they can win: This was a truly outstanding team this season and they finally have a goalie.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Why they won’t win: The goaltending will be their ultimate undoing.

Why they can win: The rest of the roster is loaded with a couple of Hall of Famers and a bunch of All-Stars.

St. Louis Blues

Why they won’t win: There is a reason almost no team repeats as champions in the NHL. It takes a ton of luck.

Why they can win: They are still a great team and are getting Vladimir Tarasenko back after not having him for most of the season.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Why they won’t win: Until this core actually does it there always be skepticism toward them.

Why they can win: It is the best team in the league on paper and the great teams eventually put it together.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Why they won’t win: The defense fails them again.

Why they can win: They have too much offensive talent to keep failing.

Vancouver Canucks

Why they won’t win: The bottom half of their lineup might be the worst of all 24 teams in the tournament.

Why they can win: They have a great young core of players that is worth tuning in to see every night.

Vegas Golden Knights

Why they won’t win: Marc-Andre Fleury struggles and they wait too long to turn to Robin Lehner (or do not turn to him at all).

Why they can win: When healthy and the goaltending is there this might be the best team in the West.

Washington Capitals

Why they won’t win: Braden Holtby can not get hot at the right time again and they have no Plan B behind him.

Why they can win: If Holtby does get hot this is still an elite roster.

Winnipeg Jets

Why they won’t win: The defense still has way too many holes.

Why they can win: Connor Hellebuyck can mask a lot of flaws.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Stars expect to open camp without unsigned scorer Jason Robertson

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

FRISCO, Texas — Young 40-goal scorer Jason Robertson is expected to miss the start of training camp for the Dallas Stars because the team and the restricted free agent haven’t agreed on a new contract.

General manager Jim Nill said there’s been steady, ongoing negotiations over the last couple of weeks with Robertson and his representatives. Nill wouldn’t say what has kept the two sides from reaching a deal, adding there have been “very good discussions.”

The Stars, with new coach Pete DeBoer, open camp Thursday in Cedar Park, Texas, at the home of their AHL team. They have three days of work there before returning to North Texas for their exhibition opener at home on Monday night. They open the regular season Oct. 13 at Nashville.

“I think he’s disappointed he’s not at camp, we are too,” Nill said before the team departed for the Austin area. “I think it’s very important for a younger player and as you mentioned, the (new) coaching staff. … We do have some time on our side, but we wish he gets here as soon as he can.”

Robertson had a base salary of $750,000 last season, the end of a $2.775 million, three-year contract. He still has five more years before he has the opportunity to become an unrestricted free agent.

The left wing turned 23 soon after the end of last season, when he had 41 goals and 38 assists for 79 points in his 74 games. Robertson joined Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Modano, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin as the only 40-goal scorers since the franchise moved to Dallas in 1993.

A second-round draft pick by the Stars in 2017, Robertson has 125 points (58 goals, 67 assists) in his 128 NHL games. He had one goal and three assists in his first postseason action last season, when Dallas lost its first-round playoff series in seven games against Calgary.

DeBoer said he looks forward to coaching Robertson, but that the forward’s absence won’t change his plans for camp.

“It doesn’t impact what I’m doing,” DeBoer said. “Listen, I laid awake at night with the excitement of coaching Jason Robertson, 40-plus goals, but he’s not here. So, you know, until he gets here, I can’t spend any energy on that.”

Nill said the Stars are open to a long-term extension or a bridge contract for Robertson, who was part of the team’s top line last season with veteran Joe Pavelski and Roope Hintz. They combined for 232 points, the second-most in franchise history for a trio.

“We’re open to anything. But other than that … I’m not going to negotiate through the media,” Nill said. “As I said, we’ve had good conversations. We’ll see where it goes.”

Training camps open around NHL after another short offseason

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Training camps open around the NHL after another short offseason, a third in a row squeezed by the pandemic. That doesn’t bother Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon one bit.

For one of hockey’s best players and his teammates, it’s already time to get back on the ice and defend their Stanley Cup title, less than three months since they knocked off the back-to-back champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

“I still feel like I just was playing,” MacKinnon said. “I took two weeks off, and then I started skating again. It’s just fun. I enjoy it, and I like the short summer. It feels like the season’s just kind of rolling over again.”

The NHL rolls into fall coming off an entertaining playoffs and final with the chance to finally get back on a normal schedule. That means full camps for teams that got new coaches and the benefits of a regular routine.

That means a mere 88 days between Game 6 of the final and the first-on ice practice sessions.

“We’re kind of used to it now,” Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy said after he and the Lightning lost in the final for the first time in three consecutive trips. “It’s a little harder, of course, because you don’t have that much time to rest. It’s basically a few weeks and you have to get back at it. But, yeah, I can’t complain. You want your summers to be short every year.”

It was a little longer for Connor McDavid and the Oilers after losing to Colorado in the West final. Despite the lack of downtime, McDavid “wouldn’t trade that in for anything” and aims to make it even further since Edmonton shored up its goaltending situation by adding Jack Campbell.

A few spins of the goalie carousel ended with the Avalanche acquiring Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers and Cup winner Darcy Kuemper landing with Washington. Joining new teammates, many of whom hoisted the Cup in 2018, Kuemper is not worried about less time off.

“It was definitely a very unique summer,” Kuemper said. “With how short it was, you start getting back into the gym and you’re kind of a little bit worried that your training’s going to be so short. But you kind of felt like you weren’t getting back into shape. You were already there.”


The Oilers are one of several teams settling in for training camp under a new coach. Jay Woodcroft took over as interim coach in February but has the full-time job now.

“Looking forward to a camp with him,” McDavid said. “He did a great job coming in during the middle of the season, but it’s never easy on a coach, for sure. I’m sure there’s things that he wanted to touch on that you wasn’t able to kind of in the middle of the year, so he’ll be able to to touch on all of it this year.”

The same goes for Bruce Boudreau in Vancouver, 11 months since being put in charge of the Canucks. Philadelphia’s John Tortorella, Boston’s Jim Montgomery, Vegas’ Bruce Cassidy, Dallas’ Peter DeBoer, Florida’s Paul Maurice, Chicago’s Luke Richardson, Detroit’s Derek Lalonde and the New York Islanders’ Lane Lambert are all starting the job fresh.


Roughly 40 players are attending a camp on a professional tryout agreement with the chance to earn a contract for the season. James Neal has that opportunity with the Blue Jackets, and Derek Stepan returned to Carolina to seek a job with the Hurricanes.

The most intriguing situation involves 37-year-old center Eric Staal, who agreed to the tryout with Florida the same time brother Marc signed a one-year contract. Younger brother Jordan was with Eric and Marc on the 18th green at Pebble Beach to witness the occasion.

“They’re both just super pumped, as was I,” said Jordan Staal, who is the captain of the Hurricanes. “Eric is excited about the opportunity and Marc, as well. Really cool. Really cool thing.”


Before the puck drops on the NHL season in North America on Oct. 11, the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks play twice in Prague on Oct. 7 and 8. And those are not exhibitions.

“We still play two important games,” said Sharks forward Tomas Hertl, who is a native of Prague. “It’s not just preseason where you coming here to warm up.”

Colorado and Columbus will also play two games in Tampere, Finland, on Nov. 4-5 as part of the NHL’s Global Series.

And just as the league gets used to a regular schedule, work is ongoing between the league and NHL Players’ Association to stage a World Cup of Hockey in February 2024, which is popular among players even if it knocks the calendar off kilter again.

“I think they missed out on a huge, huge portion of the international game that’s really going to be missed,” McDavid said. “We need to figure out a way to get an international tournament in as quickly as possible.”

Matthew Tkachuk, Panthers ready for 1st training camp together

Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. — Aleksander Barkov was sound asleep at his home in Finland when the trade that brought Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers was finalized, which isn’t surprising considering it was around 4 a.m. in that part of the world.

He woke up and read texts from friends reacting to the deal.

And it wasn’t too long before he got a message from Tkachuk.

“The first message was `(expletive) right’ and how he was excited to come to Florida,” Barkov, the Panthers’ captain, said at Florida’s media day. “`Let’s take this next step, let’s be a winning team for many years to come.’ That’s who he is. He wants to win. He wants to bring that character to this organization. And I think he’s done some damage already.”

With that, Barkov was sold.

And after a few weeks of informally skating with one another, the Panthers start the process of officially seeing what they have in Tkachuk when the team’s training camp – the first under new coach Paul Maurice – opens.

“We’ve basically had everybody here for a few weeks,” Tkachuk said. “I feel like I’ve been in training camp for a couple of weeks. So today doesn’t feel that new to me. I’ve gotten to know everybody … so let’s get these games going. I’m sick and tired of just practicing and working. I want to start playing some games. I think everybody feels the same way.”

Maurice was hired over the summer as well, inheriting a team that won the Presidents’ Trophy last season and went to the second round of the playoffs — the first series win for Florida since the run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1996.

He’s as eager as the players are for the first formal practice, calling it “our first Christmas.”

“The house is bought. Most of the boxes are unpacked,” Maurice said. “I’ve got two kids that kind of came with me; one’s in Coral Gables, one’s in Estero. Their places are unpacked. They’re out of our house. Once you get down here, for me, you spend most of your days at the rink. So, experiencing all of South Florida, we haven’t gotten to that yet.”

As part of the deal that went down on July 22, the 24-year-old Tkachuk signed a eight-year, $76 million contract. That’s not the only big cost that the Panthers had to agree to while executing the trade; they also sent Jonathan Huberdeau, the franchise’s all-time scoring leader, and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a left wing who had career bests of 42 goals, 62 assists and 104 points last season.

“I wish all the best to Huby and Weegs,” Barkov said. “They’re great. Everyone loved them. Only good things to say about them. It happens, and for sure, it was best for the team and organization to do this. We move on, and we’ll get ready for a new season.”


Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is Russian, still makes his home in St. Petersburg, and went there for the bulk of his offseason.

He said it was not logistically difficult to travel there (or return to the U.S.) this summer, even as the war that started when Russia invaded Ukraine continues. Bobrovsky said last season that he was not trying to focus on anything but hockey, and when asked if it was difficult to be back in Russia as war continues he kept the same approach.

“I had a good summer,” Bobrovsky said. “I saw friends, I saw family. It’s all been fine. I don’t want to talk about what’s going on. I’m not involved in that stuff.”


Florida is opening camp with 56 players – 31 forwards, 19 defensemen and six goalies. That group includes brothers Eric Staal and Marc Staal; Marc Staal signed as a free agent in July; Eric Staal is with Florida on a tryout contract.

Coyotes sign Barrett Hayton right before training camp

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes signed forward Barrett Hayton to a two-year contract right before the start of training camp.

Terms of the deal were not released.

The 22-year-old Hayton was a restricted free agent and not initially listed on Arizona’s roster for camp.

Hayton had 10 goals and 14 assists in 60 games with the Coyotes last season, all career highs.

Arizona drafted the Peterborough, Ontario native with the fifth overall pick of the 2018 NHL draft. He has 13 goals and 18 assists in 94 career games with the Coyotes.