With the 2017-18 season right around the corner it is safe to say that we can look forward to another exciting season. The addition to the Vegas Golden Knights makes it for the first time in NHL history that the league has over 30 teams, and it is the first season of the Golden Knights' existence. With the game expanding there are so many questions about who could potentially win the Stanley Cup not only in 2017-18, but it is good to look ahead to see who is built to be able to win in the next three years.
There are teams that have built a team that can not only contend right now, but can contend in the upcoming seasons as well. Some teams are in a win right now, but then after this season they will be struggling. Then you have your teams who are currently in their rebuilding phase and will not be out of it any time soon. These different scenarios are good to look at for all 31 teams in the National Hockey League.
Every team has their own approach to what direction that they want their team to go in for the foreseeable future. Looking down the road you can already have kind of a hunch at who can potentially win in next three seasons, and who can't win. So with that being said here are the eight teams that can win a Stanley Cup in the next three seasons and the seven teams that can't win a Stanley Cup in the next three years.
15 Can - Pittsburgh Penguins
Let us start off with none other than the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. With the Penguins having their top talent of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Kris Letang, to go along with young stars Matt Murray, and Connor Sheary all under contract for the next three plus seasons, it makes it hard to believe that there is no way that they could not even be talked about for another potential title. With their veterans having the Stanley Cup playoff experience to go along with the ways to young talent they keep bringing in have it is hard to not have Pittsburgh as a contender for the foreseeable future.
Looking forward the Penguins are solid all-around, and will be competing in the Eastern Conference Finals at least for the next three seasons. So unless something drastically goes wrong don't expect the Penguins to not win another one to make it three in a five year span.
14 Can't - Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks are definitely going into their rebuilding phase, and not having guys locked long term makes it hard to believe that they will be able to contend in the next three seasons. With no quality starting goaltender, to go along with having the Sedin twins on their last legs, and barely anybody under contract after this season at the moment, Vancouver is one Canadian team that will be disappointing Canada. Obviously Vancouver fans, you guys can be good again, you just have to do it through the draft like you did when you got the Sedins.
Other than that Vancouver and contender will not be in the same sentence for not only the next three years, but for the foreseeable future as well. The front office has an idea of what they want to do, but it does not involve winning a Stanley Cup anytime soon.
13 Can - Columbus Blue Jackets
Now Columbus has some big decisions to make after the 2017-18 season, but they will most likely be making the right moves to help give them a realistic chance of being Stanley Cup champions for the first time ever. They have to re-sign some of their key pieces long term, and if they can do that they will be one of the better teams to come out of the Eastern Conference year in and year out.
The players they need to keep around the most is Sergei Bobrovsky, Cam Atkinson, and they have to see how Artemi Panarin does in his first year in Columbus. The Blue Jackets have never made it past the first round and if they can keep the core together not only can they do that in the next three seasons, but the chance of them being able to play for and win a Stanley Cup increases tremendously.
12 Can't - New York Islanders
The New York Islanders are one team that definitely will not be competing for a Stanley Cup in the next three years. With the possibility looking more than likely that John Tavares will leave via free agency after this season, the Islanders are in for a world of trouble for the next few seasons. They have two years left of Jordan Eberle, and after that they don't have any good talented forwards who can help lead the Islanders in the right direction.
New York is looking less and less a likely destination for marquee free agents, and they will struggle to compete year in and year out until they get a John Tavares like player. With the Islanders going through a serious rebuild of the future it looks like they won't be in the playoff picture anytime soon.
11 Can - Toronto Maple Leafs
With the Toronto Maple Leafs making the playoffs in 2016-2017, it makes it more and more realistic that they will have a chance of getting a Stanley Cup for the not only Toronto, but all of Canada for the first time since 1993. Young stars like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Zach Hyman, and company are making the Maple Leafs a desired free agent location, and Toronto could sign some of the top free agents in the next two offseasons to help their chances of making it to and winning a Stanley Cup.
With the chances of some guys who were born around the Toronto area thinking about potentially coming home it just means that Mike Babcock and the Maple Leafs could be one of the better teams in all of the National Hockey League in the next three years, and beyond.
10 Can't - New York Rangers
The New York Rangers will not be winning a Stanley Cup in the next three seasons. They have some moves that they will need to make, and some moves that they wish that they could make, but won't have the money to be able to do it. Plus adding to the fact that luck has not been on the Rangers' side in recent memory, especially with Henrik Lundqvist getting up there in age makes it harder to believe that a title is in the Rangers' foreseeable future.
With having some of their top six forwards in Mats Zuccarello, and Chris Kreider's contracts expiring in the next two seasons, that makes it hard to think that they can keep both of them long term. Bringing guys back to go along with some of the contracts that the Rangers currently have make it hard to believe they will contend for a Stanley Cup in the next three seasons.
9 Can - Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning have had some injuries that has corrupted their chances of winning a Stanley Cup title, but when this team is healthy it can be one of the better teams in the National Hockey League. With Tampa Bay having all three of the triplets still on the roster, to go along with the superstar Steven Stamkos, the Lightning have one of the best top six group of forwards in the league. Then having Victor Hedman on the blue line as their premier defender is a good sign.
If this team can stay healthy not only will they give teams like Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Washington a run for their money in the Eastern Conference, but they can contend with the best of the Western Conference as well. Look for the Lightning to be big time contenders for the next three seasons when healthy.
8 Can't - Anaheim Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks are one team that can make it to the playoffs, but then can not find a way to make it out of the Western Conference. With the core up front of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler, and the core on the blue line in Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, and Sami Vatanen all under contract for the next three plus seasons it is hard to think why the Ducks can't win a Stanley Cup right?
Well looking at their recent history, they have lost in the Conference Finals two out of the last three seasons, and have struggled to beat the Nashville Predators in the postseason the past two seasons. Anaheim is a great regular season team, and you can't take anything away from them because they are talented, but they don't have a chance to win a Stanley Cup in the next three years.
7 Can - Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota Wild has their core talent of Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund, Eric Staal, Ryan Suter, and Devan Dubynk under contract for the next three plus seasons and have a real chance at winning a Stanley Cup in the next three seasons. The Wild have made the playoffs every season since the signing of both Zach Parise, and Ryan Suter in 2012.
They have been a consistent team in the regular season, and have had some bad luck in the post season, but now that their core is getting older and gets more experience it makes it hard to believe that they can't bring a Stanley Cup home to the Minnesota faithful. Looking forward, the Wild are on the radar, but they need to be able to succeed in the postseason to stay on the radar.
6 Can't - Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins have been one of the more inconsistent teams over the past few seasons, and yes they have their core under contract for the foreseeable future, but is it the right players that you need in order to be able to compete for a Stanley Cup. With the Bruins set to go young in the bottom six of their forwards, and in the top six of their defense it looks like the Bruins are striving for the postseason, and see what happens from there.
Boston has not been the same since trading away Tyler Seguin, who has blossomed into a superstar during his time in Dallas. If the Bruins could have a do over and keep Seguin rather than trade him away would be one of the smarter moves that Boston could have done. With that being said the Bruins are in trouble, and they need to figure out who they want to be on the team in the future, and who just does not fit in anymore.
5 Can - Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators are coming off a heartbreaking loss in the Stanley Cup Final, but are poised to get back there in the next three seasons. With their good young talent up front, to go along with their fabulous four defensemen and a solid goaltender in Rinne, Nashville could be a big time threat for the next few seasons. The Predators are looking to avenge a loss that they have not experienced before, and could use some big time retribution in order to get it.
Looking forward Nashville's goaltender Pekka Rinne's contract expires after the 2018-19 season so they will need to sign him, to help keep the team together. The Western Conference will have four top teams for the foreseeable future, and Nashville very well looks like they will be one of them.
4 Can't - Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings' time as a elite team in the National Hockey League is slowly coming to a close. Yes, I understand that Jonathan Quick was not healthy last season so how can I say it is coming to a close. Well for starters their young talent is just not as good as the years that they won the Stanley Cup, Dustin Brown is a shell of himself and is getting paid and average salary of $5.875 million to do so.
Plus the Kings have to figure out who they need to have be a part of their top six forwards, and who they need to move for pieces that will help them in the future. With the Kings not looking promising look for them not to rebuild, but to be on the border line of the playoffs for the forseeable future.
3 Can - Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals have been one of the best regular season teams over the past few seasons, but have had terrible luck when it comes to the postseason. With the Capitals losing three straight seasons in the second round, it is time for the Capitals to shake things up right? Well the Capitals just need to be able to get by the Penguins/Blue Jackets in the second round, because that will be the two dominant teams the Capitals will have to deal with in the playoffs.
If Washington could ever make it out of the Eastern Conference they could easily win a Stanley Cup for Alex Ovechkin and company. Look for the Capitals to continue to be threats in not only the Eastern Conference, but in the National Hockey League as well for the next few years.
2 Can't - San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks have fallen off even with their most recent trip to the Stanley Cup Final during the 2015-16 season. Yes, they still have Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, and Brent Burns so how can they really fall off? Well, the Sharks have extended two guys this summer to long term extensions and one of them should not have gotten the amount of money per season as he did, and the other one they could have gotten at a cheaper amount.
Martin Jones and Marc-Edouard Vlasic agreed to extensions of six years for Jones, and seven for Vlasic. Jones is getting an average salary of $5.75 million which is a little overpay, while Vlasic is getting an average salary of $7 million which is a complete over pay. So the Sharks are overpaying guys to stay, so when Couture, and Pavelski hit free agency after the 2018-19 season are they going to over pay them to stay as well? The Sharks have some big question marks for the future that need to be answered sooner rather than later.
1 Can - Edmonton Oilers
The most likely team that can win the Stanley Cup in the next three seasons is none other than the Edmonton Oilers. With superstar Connor McDavid leading the way the Oilers are poised to be one of the better teams in the National Hockey League for the foreseeable future. Edmonton had a great 2016-17 season, that ended up short in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. With McDavid being the Hart Memorial Trophy Winner, and having the talent that they have surrounding him it makes it hard to see Edmonton not being a Stanley Cup winner.
The Oilers have some cap room to make a big splash next summer, and can be a huge factor in free agency. Look for Edmonton to have the best chances of being able to bring a Stanley Cup back to Canada for the first time since 1993.
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