Few things in sports can compare to the excitement of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The fast-paced, hard-hitting action is what makes hockey so much fun. This year’s first round had no shortage of dramatics. The Boston Bruins, who were the most successful regular season team ever, got beat in overtime of a thrilling game seven. The Toronto Maples Leafs advanced to the second round for the first time in 19 years, and the Seattle Kraken won their first playoff series in franchise history.
With the second round in full swing, we’re nearly a month away from one team lifting the Stanley Cup. So — who would make the most exciting champion? Here are the remaining teams ranked one through eight.
8. New Jersey Devils
There’s nothing wrong with the New Jersey Devils. Their seven-game opening-round matchup against the New York Rangers was one of the better series in both entertainment and TV ratings.
If you’re looking for a reason to root for them, the Devils have the league’s youngest roster with an average age of 24.95. Watching players like Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier win a Stanly Cup would be fun for most hockey fans. However, it’s hard to imagine the general public being enthralled with a Devils Stanley Cup victory.
7. Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars have an aging roster filled with veterans hoping to lift Lord Stanley. Forward Tyler Seguin won it all in his rookie season with Boston in 2011 but has yet to do so in his ten seasons in Dallas. Teammate Joe Pavelski has spent 17 years in the NHL and has yet to lift the Stanley Cup.
In 2020, when the team last made the Stanley Cup Finals, the TV broadcasts averaged just over two million viewers, the second-lowest during NBC’s 15-year coverage. Proving the excitement just isn’t there with the Dallas Stars.
6. Florida Panthers
If the Panthers find a way to win the Stanley Cup, they’ll have had one of the most surprising championship runs in recent memory. The way they battled back to steal the series from the Boston Bruins, and their opening-game victory over the Maple Leafs to start the second round has made the Panthers the most talked about team in hockey.
Their resilience and aggressive style of play make them an interesting Stanley Cup contender. The only thing holding them back is the lack of local support. Florida ranked 28th in regular season capacity percentage. Although their playoff attendance has been middle of the pack, you have to question how many seats are filled with fans of the opposing team.
5. Carolina Hurricanes
Carolina finished the regular season with the second-best overall record. They competed in a tight back-and-forth series with the New York Islanders to start the playoffs and thumped the Devils 5-1 in the opening game of round two.
Despite only starting in two games, Frerick Anderson leads all goaltenders with a goals-against average of 0.95 this postseason. The team has killed 95% of their penalties and averages 33.3 shots per game. Watching the Hurricanes go for their second championship would make for a great Stanley Cup Final.
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4. Las Vegas Golden Knights
Las Vegas has been one of the most exciting hockey teams since its inaugural season in 2017. That postseason, the Golden Knights marched to the Stanley Cup Finals, eventually losing in five games to the Washington Capitals.
The Golden Knights have had fantastic attendance through their first four playoff games, and the environment will only get better as the stakes get higher. Watching Vegas win their first Stanley Cup would be a very satisfying end to the 2022-23 season.
3. Seattle Kraken
The Kraken knocked out the defending champions Colorado Avalanche in the first round. Still, entering Thursday’s game two against the Dallas Stars, Seattle had the longest odds to win the cup at +900, despite leading the series 1-0.
One thing that makes Seattle fun; they’ve had 15 different skaters score a goal this postseason. Justin Schultz is also one of only four defensemen to score more than once. If the Kraken can continue to win as underdogs in the franchise’s second season, they’ll make for a fantastic story in the Stanley Cup Finals.
2. Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton has the best player in professional hockey in Connor McDavid, yet they’ve failed to reach a Stanley Cup Final since 2006. This year, however, McDavid seems to be getting help from the surrounding cast. Leon Draisaitl leads all skaters in goals and points, while Evan Bouchard is first in assists.
The Oilers opened the second round with the second-best odds to win the title. After dropping game one to the Golden Knights, Edmonton is now at +500 to hoist the Cup. Overall, Edmonton is a fun team to watch. If they’re Stanley Cup Champions in June, the hockey world will be buzzing.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs
There aren’t many NHL teams that generate more conversation than the Toronto Maple Leafs. Last week, when the team won their first playoff series in 19 years, Twitter exploded with photos and videos of fans celebrating.
Toronto’s roster is filled with household names that will keep people tuned in. From Auston Matthews, all the way to rookie sensation Matthew Knies the Maple Leafs are a team unlike any other. The city went crazy when the Raptors won the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2019. If the Maple Leafs are lifting the Stanley Cup in a month’s time, Toronto will have a celebration more over the top than anything we’ve ever seen before.