How Will the Rangers Fare in the Metro? Who wins the Cup?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 29: The New York Rangers celebrate a second period goal by Vladimir Tarasenko #91 against the New Jersey Devils in Game Six of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 29, 2023 in New York, New York. The Rangers defeated the Devils 5-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 29: The New York Rangers celebrate a second period goal by Vladimir Tarasenko #91 against the New Jersey Devils in Game Six of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 29, 2023 in New York, New York. The Rangers defeated the Devils 5-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JUNE 13: Team captain Mark Stone (C) #61 of the Vegas Golden Knights and teammates pose with the Stanley Cup after their 9-3 victory over the Florida Panthers in Game Five of the 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on June 13, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Golden Knights won the series four games to one. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JUNE 13: Team captain Mark Stone (C) #61 of the Vegas Golden Knights and teammates pose with the Stanley Cup after their 9-3 victory over the Florida Panthers in Game Five of the 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on June 13, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Golden Knights won the series four games to one. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

My Stanley Cup Winner is…:

Before we get to that, here are my picks for the individual player awards.

Regular Season Awards:

Hart Trophy: Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers)

Calder Trophy: Connor Bedard (Chicago Blackhawks)

Vezina Trophy: Jake Oettinger  (Dallas Stars)

Norris Trophy: Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche) 

Selke Trophy: Nico Hischier (New Jersey Devils)

Back to the playoffs, let’s start with my Eastern Conference Pick.

It’s been 17 seasons since Carolina won a final four-game, but this could be their year. They’ve been consistently strong under Rod Brind’Amour, and it feels like they’re building towards something big. Beating Pittsburgh in the first round would be sweet. Then, taking down the Rangers in round two, who ended their run in 2022, would be pretty satisfying.

Facing the Lightning in the conference finals won’t be easy, but I think they can weather the storm. The Hurricanes might ride that surge to the final.

Out West, it does feel like the stars are aligning for the Oilers and McDavid. If they can get past the Kraken, handle the Kings once again, and make up for that sweep by the Avalanche, it could indeed be their year to reach the Stanley Cup Final. The hockey world is waiting for McDavid to shine on the biggest stage!

As for who wins the Stanley Cup, it’s Carolina’s turn.

The Hurricanes have been on the cusp of glory for a while now. They’re a team with depth and a rock-solid defensive system. Andrei Svechnikov ( My Conn Smythe Pick)  and Teuvo Teravainen will bring to their offense in the playoffs. Defensively, the  Hurricanes have arguably the best blueline chart in hockey, not to mention their elite tandem guarding their net. It’s almost poetic that Brind’Amour, who won the Cup as a player in 2006,  does it again as a coach.