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2024 Stanley Cup predictions: Panthers, Hurricanes and Avalanche among favorites after trade deadline

The NHL trade deadline is officially in the rear-view mirror, and the Stanley Cup Playoffs are right around the corner.

Teams such as the Carolina Hurricanes and Vegas Golden Knights added a massive amount of star power at the deadline. As a result, the Stanley Cup race just got even more loaded than it may have previously been.

Let’s take a closer look at what the Stanley Cup field looks like with just over a month remaining in the 2023-24 regular-season.

Florida Panthers

Current Record: 44-17-4 (92 points)
Current Playoff Standing: 1st in Atlantic
Key Deadline Additions: Vladimir Tarasenko
Stanley Cup Outlook: The Panthers might be the most complete team in the NHL as the postseason draws near. Florida may not have even needed to make a move at the trade deadline, but still managed to acquire veteran winger Vladimir Tarasenko on the cheap. Tarasenko makes the Panthers’ already loaded top six even more dangerous, If goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky continues to play at an elite level, the Panthers could be the favorite to win it all heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Carolina Hurricanes

Current Record: 39-19-6 (84 points)
Current Playoff Standing: 2nd in Metropolitan
Key Deadline Additions: Jake Guentzel
Stanley Cup Outlook: The Hurricanes landed the crown jewel of the trade deadline when the franchise acquired star winger Jake Guentzel from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Carolina normally doesn’t swing for the fences when it comes to rentals, but the team altered their mindset this time around and it could pay huge dividends. Guentzel is close to returning and once he makes his Carolina debut, he’ll give the Hurricanes a true goal scorer. With goaltender Frederik Andersen recently returning from a blood clot issue, the Hurricanes are likely the Panthers’ biggest competition in the East.

Colorado Avalanche

Current Record: 40-20-5 (85 points)
Current Playoff Standing: 3rd in Central
Key Deadline Additions: Casey Mittelstadt, Sean Walker, Yakov Trenin and Brandon Duhaime
Stanley Cup Outlook: The Avalanche have been searching for a second-line center behind Nathan MacKinnon ever since Nazem Kadri left following the team’s 2022 Stanley Cup run. After the Ryan Johansen experiment failed, Colorado may have found the answer in trade deadline acquisition Casey Mittelstadt. The 25-year-old has an abundance of potential and should thrive even more with the star power he’s playing with Colorado. Sean Walker improves their blue-line depth, and Yakov Trenin gives the team some toughness in their bottom six. With all of the star power that the Avalanche possess, this is a team that has what it takes to make a run at the Stanley Cup.

Vancouver Canucks

Current Record: 42-17-7 (91 points)
Current Playoff Standing: 1st in Pacific
Key Deadline Additions: Elias Lindholm
Stanley Cup Outlook: The Canucks made a big splash back in January when they acquired Elias Lindholm to help stabilize their center position. Rumblings suggested that Vancouver made an even bigger effort to acquire more talent leading up to the deadline, but weren’t able to do so. Still, the Canucks have proved to be one of the more dangerous teams across the NHL this season. This is a team that is loaded with offensive firepower and a talented goaltender in Thatcher Demko. The biggest question mark might be whether the lack of postseason experience affects the Canucks when the Stanley Cup Playoffs roll around.

Edmonton Oilers

Current Record: 39-21-3 (81 points)
Current Playoff Standing: 2nd in Pacific
Key Deadline Additions: Adam Henrique and Sam Carrick
Stanley Cup Outlook: What a remarkable story that the Oilers have been throughout the 2023-24 season. Edmonton was floundering out of the gate and ended up firing head coach Jay Woodcroft just 13 games into the campaign. Since then, the Oilers have been one of the top teams in the NHL. The team beefed up their forward group with veteran Adam Henrique up the middle and rugged forward Sam Carrick on their fourth line. Connor McDavid and company have yet to break through their proverbial glass ceiling when it comes to reaching the Stanley Cup Final. This certainly has the potential to be the season if the goaltending holds up, but they’ll have plenty of tough teams to contend with in the West.

Vegas Golden Knights

Current Record: 34-23-7 (75 points)
Current Playoff Standing: 2nd in Wild Card
Key Deadline Additions: Noah Hanifin, Tomas Hertl, and Anthony Mantha
Stanley Cup Outlook: The Golden Knights could be the biggest wild card in the Stanley Cup field. Vegas has dealt with several injuries throughout the regular season, and currently find themselves occupying the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. The Golden Knights were more active at the trade deadline than any other team, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Vegas landed star defenseman Noah Hanifin in a trade with the Calgary Flames to solidify their blue line. If that wasn’t enough, the team sent shockwaves through the league when they landed center Tomas Hertl from the San Jose Sharks. Hertl figures to be healthy come playoff time, and once he is, the Golden Knights possess the likes of Jack Eichel, Chandler Stephenson, William Karlsson, and Hertl up the middle. As long as Vegas qualifies for the postseason, the defending Stanley Cup champions could be the most lethal team in the field.

New York Rangers

Current Record: 41-18-4 (86 points)
Current Playoff Standing: 1st in Metropolitan
Key Deadline Additions: Alex Wennberg and Jack Roslovic
Stanley Cup Outlook: The Rangers have had a tremendous season up to this point. However, it was expected that the franchise might’ve made a bigger splash at the trade deadline much like they did a season ago. New York ended up marginally improving their forward group with the additions of Alex Wennberg and Jack Roslovic. Still, it wasn’t the big-time additions that would’ve put the Rangers over the top. The Rangers had assets like Kaapo Kakko that they could’ve shipped out of town to potentially acquire some star power, but ultimately didn’t do so. This is a very talented roster, led by Artemi Panarin, but do they have enough firepower to compete with the likes of the Panthers and Hurricanes in the East? 

Dallas Stars

Current Record: 40-17-9 (89 points)
Current Playoff Standing: 1st in Central
Key Deadline Additions: Chris Tanev
Stanley Cup Outlook: The Stars were already looking like a juggernaut before the trade deadline. Dallas added to an already dangerous roster when they acquired defenseman Chris Tanev from the Flames to help stabilize their blue line. The Stars possess the second-best offense in all of the NHL as they average 3.62 goals and that’s with star winger Jason Robertson having somewhat of a down year. This is a team that reached the Western Conference Final, and has the talent to be able to have a repeat performance this time around.

Winnipeg Jets

Current Record: 40-18-5 (85 points)
Current Playoff Standing: 2nd in Central
Key Deadline Additions: Sean Monahan and Tyler Toffoli
Stanley Cup Outlook: The Jets produced two of the more underrated additions prior to the trade deadline in the form of Sean Monahan and Tyler Toffoli. Monahan gives Winnipeg a true second-line center behind Mark Scheifele, and Toffoli gives the Jets a massive boost in the goal-scoring department. On top of all of that offense, the Jets have received a Vezina Trophy-caliber season from goaltender Connor Hellebuyck this season. The Jets still are within striking distance of the top seed in the West with a month to go in the regular season, and this could be the most talented squad that they’ve had since moving back to Winnipeg.

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