For the first time in forever, the New Jersey Devils can be considered legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. With that comes an enormous target and teams that think it’s their time will look to get through the Devils. Up and down the Eastern Conference there are good teams. Squads that are littered with young talent, depth, playoff experience, and their own Cup dreams. Here’s a look at three of the teams who want to keep the Devils from the Stanley Cup.
The Carolina Hurricanes come as no surprise to anybody. Following an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Canes will likely be one of the favorites in the East if not the entire NHL. From upper management to the coaching staff and all the players, the Hurricanes have built this team the right way. Everyone has a designated role, everyone has the same objective, and they expect to run the East.
After last season, it seems like New Jersey and Carolina could be a perennial playoff matchup. Both teams have similar philosophies, young talent, and of course, the same end result. It is doubtful these teams have had their last big playoff matchup.
Since Rod Brind’Amour took over before the 2018-19 season, Carolina has made the playoffs each season. The way this Carolina team is constructed, it’s very conceivable that they can take that next step. With largely the same roster as last year, Carolina still managed to get better this offseason. The additions of Dmitry Orlov from Boston and Michael Bunting from Toronto shows the window is now wide open in Raleigh. Add the rumblings of Erik Karlsson wanting to go to Carolina, and this team is about to be loaded.
Having playoff experience is a largely blown-out-of-proportion argument. However, losing in later rounds and intense series like the Canes have been in is a key ingredient to a Cup team. Look at the last three winners of the Stanley Cup. Vegas, Colorado, and Tampa Bay all had years that it was their Cup to lose, and they did lose it. However, they grew from it, gained that knowledge, and won a Cup, and their windows are still open now.