Jun 13, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) looks on against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at game five of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
The up-and-coming Bolts nearly knocked off the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final and enter the 2015-16 season as a favorite to win the Cup.
Tampa didn’t do much in the offseason, but that’s just fine. The Lightning have most of their core locked up for several years. That does exclude Steven Stamkos, however. The two sides have not started seriously working on a long-term deal.
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The Bolts model the Blackhawks because of their incredible depth. The top five forwards of Stamkos, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn make up an imposing first two lines. Youngster Jonathan Drouin also should be in the mix as he continues his development.
It’s hard to forget about Victor Hedman on defense. He emerged as one of the league’s top defensemen last season and nearly carried Tampa to the Cup. If Ben Bishop can continue to build off of a very impressive season, the Bolts will have an incredibly good shot at the Stanley Cup after coming two wins short a year ago.
There you have it, our countdown is complete! Who do you have in your top five? September is here — can’t wait for hockey to start!
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