Now that the St. Louis Blues have won the Stanley Cup, who’s the next first-time winner? Here’s our odds going into 2019-20:
Vegas Golden Knights, 8/1: The addition of Mark Stone strengthened the team’s offense, and Marc-Andre Fleury is still a championship-caliber goalie. The Golden Knights have two quality lines, good depth and a dependable, focused defense. Cody Glass and Nikita Gusev are two young prospects who can make a difference.
Winnipeg Jets, 10/1: Didn’t measure up in 2018-19, but there’s plenty to like about the Jets’ talent level, particularly up front with Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine and Kyle O’Connor. Pressure will be on general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff this summer. He could make several moves, including trading Jacob Trouba, a restricted free agent. He will also have to replace Tyler Myers if he leaves through free agency.
Mark Stone had 33 goals during the regular season in 2018-19. (Photo: Stan Szeto, USA TODAY Sports)
San Jose Sharks, 12/1: Still a very good team that should be a contender next spring in the playoffs. Unrestricted free agents Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton are getting older, but GM Doug Wilson does a good job of keeping his competitiveness current at all times.
Columbus Blue Jackets, 12/1: Intriguing roster led by Seth Jones and Zach Werenski, but let’s see what they do to replace Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky. Not difficult to see this team making a run at a Cup next season if their goaltending is strong. Coach John Tortorella gets a lot out of his group.
Nashville Predators, 15/1: It feels as if the Predators took a step backward this season, but they were still a 100-point team and a division winner. They have to fix their power play and retool their second line to be in contention.
Arizona Coyotes, 25/1: Every field needs a dark horse. The Coyotes are better than you think, particularly if they can add a couple of scorers this summer. Coach Rick Tocchet is a major plus.
The field, 30/1: If the Panthers land Panarin and Bobrovsky, they could move up to the top three. Keep an eye on the Buffalo Sabres, with a collection of young players such as Jack Eichel, Rasmus Dahlin, Sam Reinhart and Casey Mittelstadt. Much will depend on what GM Jason Botterill does this offseason. He has to bolster the defense and add a scorer. The Minnesota Wild are a challenging read.
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