Staff Predictions for the Chicago Blackhawks 2020-21 season
By Jimmy Lynch
The winner of the 2020-21 Stanley Cup will be…
There’s a contingent of the Blackhawks fan base that’s going to hate this because of that Saad trade, but I think Colorado probably has the best chance at winning the Stanley Cup this year. Honestly, it’s an easy choice, but they didn’t do anything during the off-season to hurt the quality of the team.
Additionally, Bowen Byram, despite not winning gold with Team Canada was one of the IIHF’s top players during the tournament. What’s more, he’ll be suiting up along with Cale Makar, who was last year’s defensive sensation for the Avalanche. They’ll be a great team this year and are probably going to be the team to beat all season.
I see the 2021 Stanley Cup winners as the Colorado Avalanche. They already have everything most GMs and fanbases could ever dream of, and to add it, Bowen Byram may make his NHL debut this year. They also went out and acquired solid additional pieces in Devon Toews and Brandon Saad without having to mortgage much in return. This team is young, dangerous, and hungry.
I think the Colorado Avalanche will win the 2021 Stanley Cup. This team is absolutely stacked. Offensive juggernauts like Mikko Rantanen, Gabe Landeskog, and Nathan Mackinnon allow them to score almost at will. On the back end, Bowen Byram and Calder Trophy winner Cale Makar will help round out a deep defensive core. There are some teams that could challenge them for the title, though. The Lightning, for example, are still very good and I could see them making a run back to the Cup Final. I just don’t think, though, that anybody can beat the Avs this season.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Being from the Toronto area, I actually grew up a Maple Leafs fan first and foremost. It was from my Dad’s influence that I also became a Blackhawks fan along the way. So I’ve backed both for most of my life. As luck would have it, when one of my teams is doing well, the other is headed in the wrong direction.
That happened when Chicago was on their recent runs, with Toronto not faring nearly as well. And with the Blackhawks in rebuild mode, the Maple Leafs are now coincidentally far more poised to finally get where they haven’t since 1967. As a fan of both, it would be a disservice not to take this opportunity to predict the Maple Leafs as the 2021 Stanley Cup champions.
The 20/21 Stanley cup winner will be the Philadelphia Flyers. Carter Hart showed last season that he could pretty much win a playoff series by himself. If Giroux, Provorov, etc. pitch in the flyers will be skating around with the trophy at the end of the season.
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I have a gut feeling it will come down to the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights. Whichever one of those teams can make it out of the West, is my pick for the Cup. Out of the two, I’m going to go with Vegas, strictly because they have a better goaltending combination. In a shortened season, goaltending is going to be very important.
I would go with Robin Lehner and Marc Andre Fleury 10/10 times over Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz. In the playoffs especially, goaltending can give you a huge advantage as demonstrated by Anton Khudobin carrying the Stars to the Stanley Cup Finals last season. If you combine that reasoning and take into account the offseason addition of Alex Pietrangelo, I believe this is the year that Vegas is finally able to get it done.
I think Tampa Bay will repeat as Stanley Cup champs this season. Kucherov not playing during the regular season will hurt them but getting Stamkos back and not losing any key players this off-season, they look primed to repeat. However, watch out for Colorado. The reason I don’t have Colorado winning is due to their goaltending situation. It would not surprise me to see Tampa Bay and Colorado in the cup finals this summer.
Tampa Bay will have an easy ride in the Central Division this coming year. Plus with Nikita Kucherov most likely being set to return for the playoffs, Tampa Bay will add a big piece of their lineup back just in time for a playoff run. However, Colorado and Vegas will definitely be apart of the conversation for the Stanley Cup.