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Tampa Bay over Vegas in 7.
I want to go with the Golden Knights this season – I love their mix of high-end talent, depth, speed, and it’s not the boring answer – but I just can’t do it.
As much as I like them, they don’t really have any clear advantages over a Lightning team with first-team caliber all-stars at every position. Their collection of top forwards doesn’t run as deep, they don’t have a Victor Hedman on defense, and they don’t have Andrei Vasilevskiy in goal.
If these teams meet in the finals and a) the Lightning aren’t missing any key pieces or; b) the Golden Knights haven’t made a notable addition or two, I like Tampa’s chances of meeting expectations.
The NHL is finally transitioning to a higher octane offense first style of game. That will all come to fruition in a Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning Final with the Lightning finally coming out on top in a 7 game series.
Tampa was the joke of the year after last season, which seems impossible due to how dominant they were for the entire regular season. However, when you lose in 4 games to a Columbus Blue Jackets team that barely made it into the post-season in the first place, ruining thousands of brackets as they went, people are going to poke fun at you.
It wasn't a good look for a team that seemed guaranteed to at least make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. You can bet that the Lightning are going to be motivated this season and have that extra push when it comes to the post-season.
A Stars-Lightning Final would be an exciting affair to watch. Both teams have numerous offensive weapons scattered throughout their lineups, with neither team being a "one line team" Seguin and Benn can be split up and paired with the likes of Radulov, Hintz, and even Pavelski. Meanwhile the Lightning can run with Stamkos, Kucherov, Cirelli, Gourde, Killorn, Johnson, and Point.
I give the edge to the Stars in terms of the options on the backend in Klingberg, Heiskanen, and even Sekera but the Lightning will take it in 7 due to more options up front and in my opinion the better goaltender in Vasilevsky. These are the kinds of teams I want to see emulated more in the future.
I know I'll take flack for being a homer, but the Toronto Maple Leafs should be the Stanley Cup Favorites.
They've got the best centres in the NHL, the best right wingers, one of the best goalies, and arguably the best top-three defensemen.
Their players should all be a year closer to their eventual peaks, and I think they're the team to beat this year.
In the final they'll inexplicably play the Oilers. The Oilers by all rights should have no trouble making the playoffs while dressing two of the best players in the world on their team.
If their blue line - on paper it's not too bad - is alright, and they get the goaltending I am completely assuming they'll get, then maybe this prediction won't be so bad.
That said, if we're not just making wacky guesses, the Blues, Flames, Sharks, Leafs, Lightning and Hurricanes should combine to make up some version of a Stanley Cup Final.
Tampa over Vegas in 6 games. The Bolts will finally get their due in the final this year and the Knights will go back again. Marc Andre Fleury can only carry a team so far again and eventually he will tap out to the onslaught of Tampa Bay.
Stamkos gets his cup!
Predicting the 2019-20 Western Conference Finals
Predicting the 2019-20 Eastern Conference Finals
Predicting the Pacific Division standings
Predicting the Central Division standings
Predicting the Metro Division standings
Predicting the Atlantic Division standings
Pacific Division bold predictions
Central Division bold predictions
Metro Division bold predictions
Atlantic Division bold predictions