10 bold predictions for the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

    The 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin on Saturday, so let’s take a look at 10 bold predictions for this year’s postseason. 

    1. The Dallas Stars will win the Stanley Cup 

    The Stars have the deepest roster in the NHL, one of the league’s elite offenses, a legitimate No. 1 defenseman in Miro Heiskanen and a goalie in Jake Oettinger who can steal games when he is at his best. The good news for the Stars? He is starting to play at that level going into the playoffs with a .941 save percentage in the month of April. He will set them apart from the pack. 

    2. Wyatt Johnston is the surprise playoff MVP

    If the Stars win the Stanley Cup, it is likely the Conn Smythe winner will on the Dallas roster. The bold prediction here is that second-year forward Wyatt Johnston gets that honor. He has quickly blossomed into a top-line player for the Stars and has been outstanding since Jan. 1, posting 23 goals and 44 points in 47 games. Those numbers come out to a 40-goal, 76-point pace over 82 games. Johnston might not be the biggest star in Dallas, but he will be this postseason. 

    3. The Toronto Maple Leafs will disappoint again

    This Maple Leafs core has been a perpetual playoff disappointment, winning just one playoff series in seven years together. That disappointment will continue for at least one more year. Boston might be the worst possible first-round draw for the Maple Leafs. Not only did Boston sweep the season series, but the Bruins have two outstanding goalies (Linus Ullmark and Jerey Swayman) while Toronto’s goalies ranked 24th in the league in save percentage this season. Toronto simply lacks the defense and goaltending to go far this year. 

    4. The Edmonton Oilers’ goaltending will hold them back

    Speaking of goaltending holding back a potential contender, say hello to the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers have two of the league’s best offensive players in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and a very deep offense. But they still lack a No. 1 goalie and they should not be confident that Stuart Skinner is the player to help lead them to a championship. 

    5. The Tampa Bay Lightning are going to go far

    The Lightning are kind of a forgotten team in the Eastern Conference due to their placement as a wild-card team, but do not rule them out for a deep playoff run. They still have a top-five offense and one of the league’s best big-game goalies in Andrei Vasilevskiy. They are also playing some of their best hockey at the right time of the year, going 15-8-3 in their past 25 games, the eighth-best mark in the NHL during that stretch. 

    6. The Presidents’ Trophy will once more not produce a Stanley Cup winner

    The most recent team to win both the Presidents’ Trophy (best regular season record) and Stanley Cup in the same season was the 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks. Only two teams have done it in the salary cap era. That run will continue this season as the New York Rangers have just enough small flaws in their game to hold them back. 

    7. Jake Guentzel will prove his value to the Hurricanes

    Guentzel was always underrated in Pittsburgh because of his placement alongside Sidney Crosby on the Penguins top line. But he is showing in Carolina that he is more than just a product of Crosby with eight goals and 25 points in his first 17 games with the Hurricanes. He has always been a great playoff performer and will keep proving he is a good player on his own, no matter who his center is. 

    8. The New York Islanders will be a tough out

    The Islanders are not going to win the Stanley Cup, but they are going to give whatever team eliminates them quite a scare. They went into the playoffs on a roll and have two outstanding goalies in Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov, a duo that has combined for the fourth-best save percentage in the NHL. Those two can turn a series upside down and mask a lot of flaws that might exist elsewhere on the roster. 

    9. The Vancouver Canucks will disappoint

    The Canucks have been one of the NHL’s biggest surprise teams this season by winning the highly competitive Pacific Division. But their magic is about to run out. They do have a lot of high-end talent, but they lack depth and a lot of their success has been driven by unsustainably high shooting and save percentages on a team level. Teams that lack depth and get by on percentages do not always do well in the playoffs against better, deeper teams. 

    10. Colorado’s goaltending fails it in a big way

    The Avalanche addressed one of their biggest needs at the trade deadline by getting a second line in center in Casey Mittelstadt. They did not address their other big need by improving their goaltending, which was one of the least productive units in the league all season. That is going to be a huge problem, especially in the first round against a Winnipeg Jets team that has an MVP candidate in Connor Hellebuyck in goal. That is the type of goaltending matchup that upsets are made of. 

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