The sound of playoff beard-trimming clippers is still hanging in the air in Pittsburgh, which means it’s still altogether too early to talk about who might win the Stanley Cup in 2017. The fact of the matter, though, is that the bookies don’t hang around, and it’s only a matter of time before the betting odds for next season start to pop up on our NHL betting lines page. I will freely admit that this will not be my last look at the potential Stanley Cup winners for next season, as draft picks, free agency moves, and trades will all have teams shuffling up or down in the pecking order as the offseason progresses. There are a few teams that already jump off the page even this early, so let’s take a look at who might be in contention when the NHL playoffs roll around in 2017.
Breaking Down Our Super Early Picks to Win the 2017 Stanley Cup
We all know that repeating in the salary cap era is incredibly tough to do, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s the current Stanley Cup champions. They have a ridiculously talented squad at both ends of the ice, and all of their major players are locked up to long-term contracts. If the rumors are to be believed, Marc-Andre Fleury may well be on his way to the Calgary Flames, which would mean some free space under the cap, as well as a first round pick in the draft if the Pens get exactly what they want for their backup goalie.
This was the team that easily waltzed away with the President’s Trophy last season, but who failed to live up to expectations in the playoffs. Like the Penguins, this is a team that is totally stacked from top to bottom, and you have to feel that they are going to have to break through in the postseason at some point. Perhaps they will look at adding a little more toughness to a team that is brimming over with talent.
The Blackhawks always seem to struggle to stay under the cap, which means constantly changing the supporting cast that their core group of players have to play with. They always seem to find a way to make it happen, though, and I don’t imagine that the coming season will be any different. You can’t ever overlook a team that has won the Stanley Cup more than once over the past few years.
San Jose Sharks
This year’s runners-up in the Stanley Cup are going to come back next season feeling as though they have something to prove. If there is one thing going against them, it is that they are an aging group of players, but they should have enough left in the tank to make one more run at the cup.
Tampa Bay Lightning
I am putting these guys in the top 5 despite the fact that they may end up losing Steven Stamkos in the offseason. The reason that I still have them here is because they almost made it back to the Final without Stamkos, as well as several other key players, playing a game in the postseason. Cap space will open up if Stamkos goes, and they may be able to add a couple of great players with that money.