The 2022-23 NHL season ended with a bang, the Stanley Cup final series between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Florida Panthers was an absolute barn burner with a crazy amount of goals. The Knights won the series 4-1 scoring a total of 25 goals in 5 games! Compared to the Panthers 12, that’s crazy!
They sealed the series with a 9-3 win going on to lift the Stanley Cup in front of the home crowd at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. That final series leaves big shoes to fill yet here we are, the 2023-24 NHL season is set to begin on October 7, 2023, and it promises to be one of the most exciting seasons in recent memory.
Who to keep an an eye on in the NHL this season
The field is wide open, with several teams capable of winning the NHL Stanley Cup. Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes are the top 5 favourite teams heading into the new season, but the Boston Bruins, the Dallas Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning are also pretty solid contenders. The Stars are led by a dynamic offence led by Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, and Joe Pavelski. They also have a strong defence anchored by Miro Heiskanen and John Klingberg.
They have a well-rounded team with a balanced offence and defence. They are led by Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, and Teuvo Teravainen. They also have a strong goaltender in Frederik Andersen. The Hurricanes have made the playoffs for the past five seasons, and they have reached the conference finals twice. They are a team that knows how to win, and they have the experience to go all the way this year. But they could have a hard time coming up against some great competition in their conference in the Stars, Panthers and the Bruins.
The Oilers have a high-powered offence led by Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. They also have a strong goaltender in Jack Campbell. The stats reckon they have a 20% chance of winning the Stanley Cup but that may be a little off the mark, the issue the Oilers have is their sheer reliance on McDavid and Draisaitl, if either of those two are injured they don’t seem to pose much of a threat. They’re still a team you need to be wary of, however!
The Toronto Maple Leafs have a strong chance of winning the Stanley Cup in the 2023-24 season. They have a talented roster led by the ever-present Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and John Tavares. They also have a good mix of veterans and young players. The Leafs have made some key additions in recent years, including signing Ilya Samsonov to be their starting goaltender and adding Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi to their forward group.
They have a tough schedule this season in the NHL, but they should be able to finish in the top three of the Atlantic Division quite comfortably and if they can do the unthinkable and get past the first round of the playoffs, they will be a dangerous team to beat.
As reigning Champions the Vegas Golden Knights are always going to be one of the favourites heading into the new NHL season, with a deep and talented roster featuring Mark Stone, Jonathan Marchessault and Jack Eichel, but they have lost a lot of key figures over the years like Max Pacioretty and Evgenii Dadonov, that never stopped them winning a ‘ship though! With their roster locked in for the season everybody will be keeping a close eye on them as the season goes on, but as reigning champions, they’ll always remain the team to beat, at least for this season.
So, that’s about it, we’ve taken a look at some of the big contenders for the 2023-24 NHL season, the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin on April 22nd 2024 so we have a long way to go and a LOT of hockey left to play, but what do you guys think, who’s lifting the cup this season? Will the Maple Leafs finally fulfil their potential and get their hands on a long-awaited Stanley Cup? Will the Vegas Golden Knights go back-to-back? Will the Lightning strike again and reach their 4th final in 5 seasons? Let us know your thoughts!
And check out below for a list of this weekend’s opening NHL fixtures.
NHL 2023/24 Season: Opening fixtures
For even more hockey coverage, go check out our Hockey section.