There’s plenty of buzz around the NHL heading into the playoffs next month. Here’s the top storylines!
Hughes and the Devils – Contenders?
Jack Hughes has been everything the Devils hoped he would be when they drafted him with the #1 overall pick in 2019. Hughes has tallied 37 goals and 79 total points through 62 games played, which puts him squarely in the top 10 players in the league this year.
The Devils have also experienced breakout seasons from Nico Hirschier (61 points in 65 games), Jesper Bratt (60 points in 66 games) and even defensemen Dougie Hamilton, who has 63 points through 66 games played, which ranks him as the third best offensive defenseman in the league this year, behind only Josh Morrisssey (WPG) and Erik Karlsson (SJS).
The Devils have shown down the stretch that they are capable of winning big games. Other Eastern Conference teams must take the young Devils team seriously come playoff time and they should be seen as a true cup contender.
The Maple Leafs, Fools Gold Yet Again?
The Maple Leafs are yet again one of the favorites to take home Lord Stanley, even if they haven’t won a playoff series since 2006. Auston Matthews is inarguably one of the best players in the game today and his failures in the playoffs have come back to haunt him every year he’s had the chance to expel the playoff demons that the Maple Leafs have been fighting for years.
Whether it be the pressure of playing in Toronto or the direction the team has gone under GM Jim Nill, the team hasn’t been able to find success in the playoffs. I expect the Maple leafs to win a playoff series this year, but I don’t think having them +900 to win the Stanley Cup and the fourth highest favorite to win the cup is an accurate depiction of how the season will end for the Leafs.
Are the Dallas Stars Real Cup Contenders?
The Dallas Stars have shown great progress from the team they were in 2022. The Stars have benefited from star play out of Jason Robertson (83 points in 63 games) and starting goalie Jake Oettinger, who currently rocks an incredible .920 save percentage and a solid 2.41 goals against average.
The Stars are certainly worth a look at +1500 to win the cup behind the superstar tandem. The team is brimming with confidence at the moment, with statement road wins over the Buffalo Sabres and Seattle Kraken. New head coach Peter DeBoer has the team looking and, most importantly, feeling different about the way they are playing this season.