Avalanche favorites to repeat as Cup champions in poll of NHL players

“That might win the Stanley Cup maybe, I’ll say,” MacKinnon stated, guffawing.

Clearly, if MacKinnon will have picked his personal crew, the middle would have predicted the Colorado Avalanche would repeat as champions. He would had been in line with the overwhelming majority of his colleagues across the League.

Of the 50 players NHL.com polled on the NAPMT and the NHL European Player Media Tour in Paris in August, 32 picked the Avalanche to win the Cup this season.

Five picked the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes every gained 3 votes, and the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers every gained two. Two players declined to give a solution. One selected the Toronto Maple Leafs.

So when the Avalanche carry their banner to the rafters sooner than they open the common season in opposition to the Chicago Blackhawks at Ball Arena on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET; TNT, SN NOW), they’re going to be anticipated to be proper again there doing it once more a 12 months from now.

“Um, well, I’d like to think we would (win the Cup),” Maple Leafs middle Auston Matthews stated. “But Colorado’s obviously going to be a heavy favorite with them winning last year and the team that they have and what they’ve been able to accomplish, so I’ll have to go with them.”

Obviously, Colorado is the straightforward solution, and that’s the reason section of this. The NHL stays outlined via parity and unpredictability, and in case you are put at the spot via NHL.com, nobody goes to blame you for choosing the crew that hoisted the Cup on June 26.

“It’s so hard,” Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes stated. “Who knows, man? There could be, like, 10 teams. As of right now, you’d have to go with Colorado, because they were the best team [three] months ago, I guess. That wasn’t that long ago. They’re the defending champs, you’ve got to knock them off, so them.”

That stated, for the entire NHL’s parity and unpredictability for the reason that advent of the wage cap in 2005-06, it has develop into not unusual for champions to maintain their luck or even repeat.

The Chicago Blackhawks received the Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015. The Los Angeles Kings received it in 2012 and 2014. The Pittsburgh Penguins received it in 2009, then in 2016 and 2017.

Video: NHL Network predicts the Stanley Cup matchup

The Lightning received it in 2020 and 2021, they usually went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2022, shedding to the Avalanche in six video games. That’s a excellent reason why to cross with Tampa Bay once more too.

Edmonton Oilers middle Connor McDavid picked the Lightning, announcing, “They’ve just been there before.” Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba stated the Lightning “proved they’re the team.”

Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar, whilst giving a nod to Carolina and Toronto, stated, “You can never count Tampa out because of all their stars” and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. St. Louis Blues ahead Robert Thomas stated the Lightning are “hungry for another one, and they were right there last year.”

But if starvation wasn’t a subject for the Blackhawks, Kings, Penguins or Lightning, why would it not be for the Avalanche?

“Once a team gets the job done and sees what it’s like to win, some people are like, ‘Oh, they won, and they’re not motivated,'” Dallas Stars goalie Jake Oettinger stated. “I think it’s the exact opposite. They’ll want to do it again. I can’t wait to play against them, obviously. Going to be fun to play them, hopefully in the playoffs.”

Other contenders have made primary adjustments.

The Flames misplaced ahead Johnny Gaudreau in unfastened company, however they added middle Nazem Kadri in unfastened company and ahead Jonathan Huberdeau by way of industry.

“They made some good pickups,” stated Winnipeg Jets middle Mark Scheifele, one of the players who picked the Flames. “Getting Huberdeau kind of fills the Gaudreau void and getting Kadri [is important]. They have a good [defense] corps. I just think they’re a tough team to play against.”

The Panthers subtracted Huberdeau however received ahead Matthew Tkachuk by way of industry from Calgary. They additionally received enjoy in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, successful a sequence for the primary time since 1996 via defeating the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference First Round, then getting swept via the Lightning in the second one spherical.

“I think they learned a lot and will be better for it,” stated MacKinnon, who picked Florida when he could not select Colorado.

The Rangers added ahead Vincent Trocheck in unfastened company, and the Hurricanes added defenseman Brent Burns and ahead Max Pacioretty by way of industry. (Pacioretty is improving from surgical treatment to restore a torn Achilles however will have to go back round February.)

The Avalanche are a lot the similar, then again. Although they misplaced Kadri and goalie Darcy Kuemper, they added ahead Evan Rodrigues in unfastened company and goalie Alexandar Georgiev in by way of industry, they usually nonetheless have their core of MacKinnon, Makar and corporate.

Several players stated they picked the Avalanche as a result of of what number of players they have got returning, and Vegas Golden Knights ahead Mark Stone cited Makar and MacKinnon in explicit, announcing, “They’ve still got the best defenseman on the planet, still got one of the best centermen on the planet.”

“If it’s not going to be us, then maybe my old team, Colorado again,” stated Kuemper, who signed with the Capitals as an unrestricted unfastened agent. “A lot of their players are coming back. Obviously, a lot of good players over there. They’ve done it before, so they obviously are capable of doing it again.”

They’re the crew to beat.

“Yeah, I think so,” MacKinnon informed NHL.com’s @TheRink podcast. “Yeah, I mean, obviously we have some new guys, like we talked about, but I feel good. We learned a lot from last season, and it’s a long 82 games, and I know everyone cares about the regular season a lot. But playoffs [are] when it matters, and we’re excited to get there.”

The NHL.com team of workers contributed to this record

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