2. Washington Capitals
Why they could win the Stanley Cup
If there is a team that can say that they have more elite talent than the Penguins, it might be the Capitals. They have the NHL’s leading goal scorer in Alex Ovechkin, two of the best centers in the NHL in Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov, a Vezina Trophy finalist in Braden Holtby, and a strong blue line led by John Carlson. T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams, Matt Niskanen, and Dmitry Orlov add depth to the Capitals and make them, on paper, one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. If the Capitals can learn some lessons from the Penguins and add more speed and depth to their third line, the Caps could bring home the title at last.
Why they won’t win
The Capitals have a history of not getting things done in the postseason, so obviously that works against them. Among tangible factors, the Caps got a little bit lucky last year as far as injuries are concerned. Carlson was their only major player to miss time. The Caps are a major injury to Holtby, Ovechkin, Backstrom, or Kuznetsov away from being pretenders instead of contenders. To be fair, that could be said for virtually any team. But you need to get a little bit lucky to win the cup, and luck appears to enjoy trolling the Capitals.
Next: 1. Dallas Stars