As we head in the last few months of the season, several teams have separated themselves from the rest of the league.
In fact, some have even made themselves legit contenders to win a championship.
Here is a look at several teams that should be considered serious frontrunners to win the Stanley Cup right now.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning currently has the best record in the NHL (37-10-2 ) and have arguably been the best team in the league so far this season.
They have looked unbeatable at times and are one of the deepest teams in the NHL. Their forward group includes the likes of Nikita Kucherov, who is having a Hart Trophy type of season. Brayden Point has also been a pleasant surprise, having a breakout season of his own.
They also have Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Yanni Gourde and several other decent players who can chip in offensively as well.
Their defensive corps is also one of the best in the East featuring the likes of Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, and Mikhail Sergachev.
Andrei Vasilevskiy has also been very stellar in net and represented his team at the All-Star game this year.
Overall, there are very few holes on this team and they will be a tough team to beat in a seven-game series. This makes them a heavy favorite to come out of the East.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs are another strong title-contender in the East and has one of the most offensively potent offenses in the league.
Mitch Marner and John Tavares have been as good as advertised and Morgan Rielly is on pace to set new career-highs as well.
However, the Leafs may not have reached their full potential yet as they are still waiting for a player like William Nylander to get going offensively.
Meanwhile, players like Auston Matthews, Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau look like they have more to give.
Overall, scoring shouldn’t be a problem for this team but they could make some improvements to their blue-line at the trade deadline. It will be interesting to see if they will sacrifice some offensive depth to improve their backend at the trade deadline.
If all things fall into place, Toronto has a chance to go very deep into the playoffs this year.
This may come as a bit of a surprise for some but the Calgary Flames currently have the best record in the West. Over the past few months, they have given fans very little doubt about how good they can be.
Compared to most teams around the league, they might be one of the most well-rounded.
They have five players with 50 points or more this season and have Johnny Gaudreau having a Hart Trophy-type season. They also have one of the best top-four defensive cores in (Travis Hamonic, T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano, and Noah Hanifin).
Goaltending had some concerns heading into the season but Mike Smith (14-9-1) and David Rittich (19-4-4) have been good enough to give their team a chance to win every night.
Some people may still be doubting the Flames, but the numbers don’t lie as they are currently the best team in the Western Conference.
San Jose Sharks
There are a handful of title-contending teams in the West and many would put the San Jose Sharks in that conversation.
It was recognized as an all-in-move when they traded for Erik Karlsson before the start of the season. The Sharks have gotten off to a slow start but have gradually made their way back near the top of the standings.
They are a well-balanced team, having seven players with 40 points or more and eight players with 10 or more goals this season.
They have an older core but as long as their key players (Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, Joe Thornton) can stay healthy they should have a good chance to go far in the playoffs.
The Sharks also have a nice collection of younger players like Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Timo Meier, and Tomas Hertl who could come up big for them in a playoff series.
San Jose has been a title contender for many years and 2019 may finally be the year where they get over the hump.
Winnipeg Jets - They are right up there amongst the best in the West and should have a legit shot at coming out of the West.
Washington Capitals - The defending champs have pretty much the same roster as last year and as long as their core is healthy, they should have a chance to defend their title.
Dark Horse candidates
- Nashville Predators
- Vegas Golden Knights
- New York Islanders
- Pittsburgh Penguins
What are your thoughts on these picks? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!