We’ve looked at the four divisions and who we think will walk away with individual hardware this season. Now, we make our predications for the 2021-22 Stanley Cup champion.
The Lightning are looking to be the first NHL team to win three in a row since the 1980s Islanders. They’ll face a slew of competitors vying for their crown. It will be more of a normal season with 82 games and regular divisional alignment. How will that affect the season outcome compared to 2020-21’s unique circumstances?
Who do you see winning the Stanley Cup this season?
Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Avalanche over Hurricanes in 7 games. Conn Smythe: Cale Makar
The Avalanche to this point have been unable to break through the Second Round, but I believe in talent ultimately winning out. Tampa Bay eventually broke through. Washington eventually got its championship. St. Louis eventually won. Colorado will get there as well. There is too much talent on the team to not win it all, and win it all very soon.
Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Avalanche over Lightning in 7 games. Conn Smythe: Mikko Rantanen
The Avs have a real Lightning feel to them. They’ve been strong contenders for years but have fallen short each time. Tampa eventually broke through, and this Colorado team will do that this season. GM Joe Sakic has built a strong roster, the biggest question will be in goal and if Darcy Kuemper can rebound and if Pavel Francouz can come back from an injury that kept him out all of last season.
James O’Brien, NHL writer: Avalanche over Lightning in 6 games. Conn Smythe: Nathan MacKinnon
Sometimes, you’ve got to turn off your “galaxy brain” and just make the pick that feels right. Consider this series a passing of the torch (think the Islanders giving way to Gretzky’s Oilers, only sped up without Edmonton losing, because we have short attention spans). The Avalanche are so loaded, in so many key areas, and almost every important player sits in their prime years. MacKinnon doesn’t get that big individual award … until the playoffs.
Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: Avalanche over Panthers in 7 games. Conn Smythe: Nathan MacKinnon
I liked Colorado last season and do so again this year. They have one of the top-two lines in the NHL with MacKinnon, Rantanen and Landeskog and as good as I thought Philipp Grubauer was last season, I think Kuemper is better. Florida has a strong team with only Bobrovsky as a weakness at this time but if he can’t do the job yet again, then Spencer Knight will take over.
Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: Lightning over Golden Knights in 6 games. Conn Smythe: Andrei Vasilevskiy
As long as the Lightning have Andrei Vasilevskiy and a critical mass of their other core star players, I’m not going to bet against them. Vasilevskiy is that good. The best argument for picking another team (which I would not argue with) is simply that three-peating is too unlikely.