What you need to know about the 16 Stanley Cup Playoff teams

The Monday Night Hockey panel breaks down which team is the biggest challenger to unseat the Boston Bruins as the favourites for the Stanley Cup.

Sixteen NHL teams remain stranding and at least in the lead up to puck drop on the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, each of them believes they have a shot to be champion.

Sixteen wins separate those teams from hockey’s most celebrated award, one claimed by the Colorado Avalanche last season. They return as division champions out of the Central, and fought through injuries all season to get there.

The Tampa Bay Lightning won the two Cups before Colorado, and lost in last year’s final. Do they have another run left in the tank?

Or is this someone else’s year? Will the Boston Bruins be able to shake the run of Presidents’ Trophy winners who fail to get past the second round? Will the Edmonton Oilers, last year’s Western Conference finalists, take it a step further?

Or is this the year the Maple Leafs end the curse, the Golden Knights finish the job for the first time, or the Rangers return to the top?

Time will tell.

Before the puck drops on the most exciting time on the NHL calendar, here’s an outlook on every team, with a scouting report on their strengths, weaknesses and paths to success from Jason Bukala.


Record (rank): 65-12-5 (1st)

Record since Feb. 1 (rank): 27-5-0 (1st)

Top-scoring Forward: David Pastrnak (61G, 52 A, 113 PTS)

Top-scoring Defenceman: Hampus Lindholm (10G, 43A, 53 PTS)

The Goalie Picture: As long as he’s healthy, Ullmark will be the go-to starter after a tremendous season that has him the favourite to win the Vezina Trophy. He tied or led the league in wins, goals-against average and save percentage. But, if necessary, the Bruins have a fully capable No. 2. Jeremy Swayman played 37 games and played a big role in the tandem claiming the William Jennings Trophy this season. Ullmark and Swayman combined to allow a league-low 174 goals — 36 fewer than the next-best team (Carolina). That gap from one to two is wider than any other since the 1990-91 season.

The Injury Picture: Patrice Bergeron left the last game of the regular season early on Thursday and then was not at practice Saturday or Sunday. His availability for Game 1 is unclear. David Krejci missed the last six regular season games, but the feeling was always positive he’d be playoff-ready — Krejci skated with the rest of the team Saturday. Nick Foligno, who hasn’t played since Feb. 28, expressed optimism he’d be back for Game 1. Derek Forbort, out since mid-March, skated on the third D pair on Saturday and could be an option out of the gate. Linus Ullmark left Tuesday’s game in the third period from “muscle tightening” which was called a precautionary move. He was back in the starter’s net Saturday.





Brad Marchand

Patrice Bergeron

Jake DeBrusk

Tyler Bertuzzi

Pavel Zacha

David Pastrnak

Taylor Hall

Charlie Coyle

Garnet Hathaway

Jakub Lauko

Tomas Nosek

Nick Foligno



Matt Grzelcyk

Charlie McAvoy

Hampus Lindholm

Brandon Carlo

Derek Forbort

Dmitry Orlov

Jason Bukala’s Pro Scouting Report:

Maintain team identity. Grind opponents down over a full 60 minutes. No need to change anything or reinvent themselves

Hope that Patrice Bergeron can continue his dominance in the face-off circle. He wins over 60 per cent of his draws, giving the Bruins the puck to start in all three zones

Continue to get premium goaltending

Be prepared for Florida’s quick strike/shoot-from-everywhere approach

Record (rank): 50-21-11 (5th)

Record since Feb. 1 (rank): 19-9-3 (10th)

Top-scoring Forward: Mitch Marner (30 G, 69 A, 99 PTS)

Top-scoring Defenceman: Morgan Rielly (4 G, 37 A, 41 PTS)

The Goalie Picture: When Ilya Samsonov was an RFA of the Washington Capitals last summer, they chose to not give him a qualifying offer, thus sending him into the unrestricted market. On a one-year show-me deal in Toronto, Samsonov has re-established the promise he once had as a first-round pick in 2015. Samsonov outperformed Matt Murray (another off-season goalie pickup) throughout the season, and Murray has struggled to stay healthy too. In fact, he may not be ready for the playoffs due to a concussion. Samsonov was banged up, too, and sat out the last two games of the regular season for precautionary reasons. That means 24-year-old Joseph Woll, with 11 career regular-season appearances, may be the backup in Game 1.

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The Injury Picture: As mentioned above, Murray may miss the start of the playoffs with a concussion, and though starter Samsonov was banged up and given rest, he is expected to be ready for Game 1. There have been some day-to-day situations around the roster, but all are expected lineup ready. Erik Gustafsson, one of the many options Toronto has to use on its blue line, was supposed to play against Florida this week, but was made a late scratch. He was back on the ice at an optional skate Saturday and rejoined practice Sunday, but would not be a projected starter in Game 1.





Calle Jarnkrok

Auston Matthews

William Nylander

Matthew Knies

John Tavares

Mitch Marner

Alexander Kerfoot

Ryan O’Reilly

Noel Acciari

Zach Aston-Reese

David Kampf

Sam Lafferty



Jake McCabe

TJ Brodie

Mark Giordano

Justin Holl

Morgan Rielly

Luke Schenn

Jason Bukala’s Pro Scouting Report:

Play fast. Don’t relinquish your identity as a fast and skilled team

Play responsibly between the blue lines

• Chip pucks behind Tampa defenders. Arrive first and work off the cycle

• Battle the hard areas more than ever before, especially around the crease in the offensive zone and net front in the defensive zone

• Acciari, Lafferty, Aston-Reese establish themselves and play responsible match up minutes with a heavy/hard style

• Win the goaltending battle and they win the series

Record (rank): 46-30-6 (13th)

Record since Feb. 1 (rank): 14-15-5 (24th)

Top-scoring Forward: Nikita Kucherov (30 G, 83 A, 113 PTS)

Top-scoring Defenceman: Mikhail Sergachev (10 G, 54 A, 64 PTS)

The Goalie Picture: When you have one of the best and most proven goalies in the league, the picture here is always clear. Andrei Vasilevskiy has backstopped the Lightning to three finals and two Stanley Cup wins in a row, and is just about unbeatable when having the chance to close out a series. Like many of the Lightning, Vasilevskiy’s regular season numbers weren’t quite as stellar this season, but there’s nothing at all wrong with a .915 save percentage, or finishing sixth in Goals Saved Above Expected. If something happens to Vasilevskiy, veteran Brian Elliott would jump in. Elliott was 12-8-2 with an .891 save percentage and 3.40 GAA.

The Injury Picture: Though they picked up some nicks and bumps down the stretch, the only skater unavailable for Game 1 is Tanner Jeannot. The Lightning acquired the depth line grinder from Nashville for a weighty return that included five draft picks. So far, they’ve gotten 20 games, one goal and three assists from him. Head coach Jon Cooper kept open the possibility that Jeannot could return from his lower-body injury some time during their opening-round series.





Steven Stamkos

Brayden Point

Nikita Kucherov

Brandon Hagel

Anthony Cirelli

Alex Killorn

Ross Colton

Nick Paul

Tanner Jeannot

Pat Maroon

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

Corey Perry



Victor Hedman

Nick Perbix

Mikhail Sergachev

Darren Raddysh

Ian Cole

Zach Bogosian

Jason Bukala’s Pro Scouting Report:

• Play with more discipline. Take fewer penalties than Toronto and produce offence on their power-play opportunities

• Andrei Vasilevsky is key to success. Needs to be better than his opponent every night

• Play to their identity as a skilled/heavy/detailed team in playoffs

• Third and fourth-line players (Paul, Maroon, Bellemare) need to wear down opponents and open up space for the skill group

• Get more defensive zone and off-the-puck detail from star players.

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Record (rank): 52-21-9 (2nd)

Record since Feb. 1 (rank): 19-12-1 (13th)

Top-scoring Forward: Martin Necas (28 G, 43 A, 71 PTS)

Top-scoring Defenceman: Brent Burns (18 G, 43 A, 61 PTS)

The Goalie Picture: Frederik Andersen used to be Toronto’s no-doubt playoff starter, and was signed by Carolina to do just the same, but the 33-year-old hasn’t played in a playoff game since 2020 now. He lost Toronto’s net to Jack Campbell and then was injured just before last year’s playoffs started. Durability will be a question that follows Andersen, but Antti Raanta showed last season that he can step up for the challenge. His season-long stats were better than Andersen’s, too. And, interestingly, 23-year-old Pyotr Kochetkov had the most Goals Saved Above Expected out of all three, per MoneyPuck. This is all to say, they have options.

The Injury Picture: The biggest losses to this team happened some time ago. First was Max Pacioretty, who was acquired for nothing in a Vegas salary dump with the hope he could add some missing scoring pop to the lineup. After recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, Pacioretty got into the lineup on Jan. 5, but after scoring three goals in five games he tore his Achilles a second time, ending his season. And Andrei Svechnikov, another key goal scorer, tore his ACL in March to end his season.





Mackenzie MacEachern

Sebastian Aho

Seth Jarvis

Jordan Martinook

Jesperi Kotkaniemi

Martin Necas

Stefan Noesen

Jordan Staal

Jesper Fast

Derek Stepan

Paul Stastny

Jesse Puljujarvi



Jaccob Slavin

Brent Burns

Brady Skjei

Brett Pesce

Shayne Gostisbehere

Jalen Chatfield

Jason Bukala’s Pro Scouting Report:

Carolina pushes the pace exceptionally hard between whistles. They play to the identity of their coach. Expect Carolina to wear down the Islanders with relentless compete and detail.

Goaltending, goaltending, goaltending. The Canes, in my opinion, will be defined by whoever plays net and if they are capable of making key stops in big moments

Offence from their defence is a hallmark of this group. Carolina led the NHL in overall defencemen scoring. It makes them a harder team to defend when all five skaters are involved offensively

Record (rank): 52-22-8 (3rd)

Record since Feb. 1 (rank): 20-9-4 (8th)

Top-scoring Forward: Jack Hughes (43 G, 56 A, 99 PTS)

Top-scoring Defenceman: Dougie Hamilton (22 G, 52 A, 74 PTS)

The Goalie Picture: Like Ilya Samsonov in Toronto, former Capitals goalie Vitek Vanecek took an opportunity elsewhere and ran with it, nabbing the Devils’ starting job from MacKenzie Blackwood by outperforming him in every stat category. If they come to need a second option, Blackwood may even lose out on that look to Akira Schmid. The 22-year-old Schmid had a .922 save percentage in 18 games this season — since March 1 he has a .915 save percentage in eight games, versus Blackwood’s .863 in five.

The Injury Picture: Michael McLeod missed the last two games of the regular season after taking a hit to the head from Brad Marchand on April 8, but he joined the team at Saturday practice. Head coach Lindy Ruff says he anticipates McLeod will be available for Game 1. Timo Meier was not at practice Saturday with what Ruff said was “food poisoning” but that he was feeling better. Game 1 isn’t until Tuesday.





Timo Meier

Nico Hischier

Jesper Bratt

Erik Haula

Jack Hughes

Ondrej Palat

Tomas Tatar

Michael McLeod

Dawson Mercer

Jesper Boqvist

Curtis Lazar

Nathan Bastian



Kevin Bahl

Dougie Hamilton

Ryan Graves

John Marino

Jonas Siegenthaler

Damon Severson

Jason Bukala’s Pro Scouting Report:

• Play to their identity. Utilize team speed and transition from defence to offence quickly

• Get timely saves. Goaltending has to, at least, meet their regular season standard

• Get more from Timo Meier. Since being acquired he has scored 9G, 5A in 21 GP. They traded for Meier to contribute on this stage

Record (rank): 47-22-13 (9th)

Record since Feb. 1 (rank): 20-8-5 (6th)

Top-scoring Forward: Artemi Panarin (29 G, 63 A, 92 PTS)

Top-scoring Defenceman: Adam Fox (12 G, 60 A, 72 PTS)

The Goalie Picture: With the offensive chops the Rangers have in their lineup, Igor Shesterkin is the kind of goalie who could make them nearly impossible to beat. Shesterkin helps cover up any defensive holes — though the Rangers had the sixth-lowest shots against per game average, at 5-on-5 they allow a heavy load of high-quality looks. The Rangers ranked 19th by expected goals against at 5-on-5 this season, second-worst among playoff teams (only the Islanders were worse). This speaks to why Shesterkin had the fifth-best Goals Saved Above Expected this season. The plan would be for Shesterkin to always start, but if a backup is needed then Jaroslav Halak is the guy after a 10-9-5 season with a .903 save percentage and 2.72 GAA.

The Injury Picture: As they say, no one is 100 per cent healthy at this time of year after the 82-game grind, but the Rangers figure to start the post-season without many injury concerns to speak of. Everyone was accounted for at Saturday’s practice and believed available to start.





Chris Kreider

Mika Zibanejad

Patrick Kane

Artemi Panarin

Vincent Trocheck

Vladimir Tarasenko

Alexis Lafreniere

Filip Chytil

Kaapo Kakko

Jimmy Vesey

Barclay Goodrow

Tyler Motte



Ryan Lindgren

Adam Fox

K’Andre Miller

Jacob Trouba

Niko Mikkola

Braden Schneider

Jason Bukala’s Pro Scouting Report:

• The Rangers are a playoff team that loses more face-offs than they win, especially when short-handed. They only win 44 per cent of their draws when a man short. It’s an area of weakness that can be exposed, especially during playoffs. It goes without saying they need to be better in the face-off dot.

• New York is fortunate to have Igor Shesterkin between the pipes. His stats fell off marginally this year (2.07 GAA and .935 SV% last season compared to 2.48 GAA and .916 SV% this season) but he has the ability to steal a game and a series when he’s at his best. The Rangers are counting on him to deliver.

• The team will need its second layer to contribute and win the middle-six battle against the Devils. Players like Vincent Trocheck, Chris Kreider and Filip Chytil will need to pitch in their share of offence.

• Look for captain Jacob Trouba to set the tone with his physical play early in the series

Record (rank): 42-32-8 (17th)

Record since Feb. 1 (rank): 18-10-2 (11th)

Top-scoring Forward: Matthew Tkachuk (40 G, 69 A, 109 PTS)

Top-scoring Defenceman: Brandon Montour (16 G, 57 A, 73 PTS)

The Goalie Picture: With a $10 million goalie and a top-end netminder of the future in the organization, it’s 30-year-old Alex Lyon who improbably has the Panthers’ net right now. After Bobrovsky went down to an illness in late March, Lyon stepped up to start all of the remaining games, and he didn’t lose in regulation until the Panthers had clinched. He’ll get his first taste of Stanley Cup Playoff action, but Bobrovsky will be on the bench behind him. Spencer Knight remains in the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program.

The Injury Picture: As mentioned, Bobrovsky will be available to the Panthers again after he missed the end of the regular season to illness. More pressing is that Sam Bennett, who had 16 goals and 40 points this season, has been out of the lineup the past month and was not expected to be ready for Game 1. However, Bennett is travelling to Boston with the team and head coach Paul Maurice didn’t rule him out after a couple weekend skates. Patric Hornqvist, a usual thorn in the side of the opponent this time of year, had his season end in December due to a head injury.





Carter Verhaeghe

Aleksander Barkov

Anthony Duclair

Nick Cousins

Sam Bennett

Matthew Tkachuk

Eetu Luostarinen

Anton Lundell

Sam Reinhart

Colin White

Eric Staal

Zac Dalpe



Gustav Forsling

Aaron Ekblad

Marc Staal

Brandon Montour

Josh Mahura

Radko Gudas

Jason Bukala’s Pro Scouting Report:

• Discipline will dictate their chances. Needless penalties and reacting to some Bruin players who are historical antagonists at this time of year (Brad Marchand for example) will cost them.

• Push the pace and make plays but be satisfied with “low event” hockey for stretches (less is more with this group sometimes).

• Win the special teams battle.

• Start on time. Can’t afford to fall behind early in games.

• Goaltending is a huge factor.

• When possible, especially in the offensive zone, attempt to match-up against David Krejci’s line. Krejci is the only Bruins centre with a below 50 per cent success rate in the face-off circle (47).


Record (rank): 42-31-9 (15th)

Record since Feb. 1 (rank): 17-9-4 (12th)

Top-scoring Forward: Brock Nelson (36 G, 39 A, 75 PTS)

Top-scoring Defenceman: Noah Dobson (13 G, 36 A)

The Goalie Picture: Finishing behind only Linus Ullmark and Juuse Saros in Goals Saved Above Expectation, Ilya Sorokin is crucial to the Islanders’ playoff success. Though his post-season experience is minimal, Sorokin has established himself as one of the top netminders in the league for three seasons now, over which time no other goalie has a better save percentage (.924). Semyon Varlamov has transitioned from Islanders starter to Sorokin’s backup and would still be a good option should the Islanders need him. Varlamov still had a .913 save percentage in 23 games this season.

The Injury Picture: Mathew Barzal hasn’t played a game since mid-February after he appeared to take a knee-on-knee check from Craig Smith, but he was with the team over the weekend and will be available for Game 1. He’s expected to return to a line with Bo Horvat and Anders Lee.





Anders Lee

Bo Horvat

Mathew Barzal

Pierre Engvall

Brock Nelson

Kyle Palmieri

Zach Parise

Jean-Gabriel Pageau

Hudson Fasching

Matt Martin

Casey Cizikas

Cal Clutterbuck



Adam Pelech

Ryan Pulock

Sebastian Aho

Scott Mayfield

Alexander Romanov

Noah Dobson

Jason Bukala’s Pro Scouting Report:

• Play a low-event, low-risk, responsible, old-school dump-and-chase style. Get pucks deep, work the board battles and finish checks.

• Win the goaltending battle.

• Score whatever way you can; nothing pretty required.

• Find a way to win the special teams game.

Record (rank): 50-23-9 (6th)

Record since Feb. 1 (rank): 22-5-5 (3rd)

Top-scoring Forward: Connor McDavid (64 G, 89 A, 153 PTS)

Top-scoring Defenceman: Darnell Nurse (12 G, 31 A, 43 PTS)

The Goalie Picture: When you sign a veteran free agent netminder to a five-year, $25 million contract, you’re not expecting to have someone become a Calder Trophy candidate at the position. But that’s where the Oilers are at with Stuart Skinner, as the 24-year-old earned 50 games this season, and posted a .914 save percentage and 29-14-5 record. Campbell is still in the picture here if needed, but the inconsistency that plagued him all season can be seen in a smaller window at the end of the season — after allowing four-plus goals in each of his three March starts, Campbell allowed just one goal in two April starts (granted, both were against Anaheim). But this is Skinner’s net and the Stanley Cup hopes depend on him.

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The Injury Picture: Greens lights all around as everybody who would be expected available for the playoffs will be in their spots come Game 1. Defenceman Ryan Murray, who hasn’t played a game since November, was loaned to AHL Bakersfield on a conditioning stint last week. It appears he could be a depth option at some point, if the Oilers need it.





Evander Kane

Connor McDavid

Zach Hyman

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Leon Draisaitl

Kailer Yamamoto

Warren Foegele

Ryan McLeod

Derek Ryan

Klim Kostin

Nick Bjugstad



Darnell Nurse

Cody Ceci

Mattias Ekholm

Evan Bouchard

Brett Kulak

Vincent Desharnais

Philip Broberg

Jason Bukala’s Pro Scouting Report:

• Matching their historical regular season success rate on the power-play will go a long way towards post-season success.

• Stuart Skinner has been terrific. It’s an entirely new season come playoffs. The Oilers need him to be elite to reach their goals this spring.

• Expect the Kings to play a very structured, disciplined team game. The Oilers will have to elevate their even-strength detail on and off the puck, especially at the top of their lineup. Connor McDavid is the best player in the world and Leon Draisaitl is exceptional as well, but consider the two of them have scored a combined 155 points outside of the power play. Then consider they are only a combined plus-29 on the year.

• Mattias Ekholm will log huge minutes in all situations and could end up being the Oilers MVP if they go on a long run. Since arriving in Edmonton, Ekholm has scored 14 points and is an incredible plus-28 in 21 games.

Record (rank): 51-22-9 (5th)

Record since Feb. 1 (rank): 22-4-5 (2nd)

Top-scoring Forward: Jack Eichel (27 G, 39 A, 66 PTS)

Top-scoring Defenceman: Alex Pietrangelo (11 G, 43 A, 54 PTS)

The Goalie Picture: Take your pick, the Golden Knights are swimming in options. Logan Thompson was the presumed starter at one point this season, but he’s been out to injury since March 23. Adin Hill had a good front half of the year before an injury sidelined him as well, making way for Laurent Brossoit to make an impression down the stretch and earn the Game 1 start. And then you have Jonathan Quick, acquired at the trade deadline in the face of the two injuries. With Thompson still not practicing with the team, Brossoit will lead the way, though it will get interesting when he returns.

The Injury Picture: As mentioned Thompson was not practising with the team over the weekend and still has an uncertain timeline. Mark Stone, out since Jan. 12 with a back injury, has been making progress toward a return and was cleared for contact over the weekend. Head coach Bruce Cassidy didn’t definitively say Stone would be in the lineup for Game 1, but he skated him with the linemates he would be with. Zach Whitecloud missed the last two games of the regular season after Roope Hintz fell awkwardly on the defenceman’s leg, but he too joined the team in his regular spot at practice. Like Stone, Cassidy didn’t commit to Whitecloud being in the Game 1 lineup, but it seems to be trending that way.





Michael Amadio

Jack Eichel

Jonathan Marchessault

Reilly Smith

William Karlsson

Phil Kessel

Brett Howden

Chandler Stephenson

Mark Stone

Ivan Barbashev

Nicolas Roy

Keegan Kolesar



Alec Martinez

Alex Pietrangelo

Brayden McNabb

Shea Theodore

Nic Hague

Zach Whitecloud

Jason Bukala’s Pro Scouting Report:

• Jack Eichel is their leading scorer. He had a nice year overall. The most impressive thing about his game was the uptick in defensive commitment. Eichel finished with a plus-26 rating. Vegas will require him to play to his offensive identity and continue with his three-zone commitment.

• The elephant in the room, for me, comes down to goaltending. Logan Thompson had a solid season but he’s unproven. Jonathan Quick is a veteran and past Stanley Cup champion, but he posted a 3.13 GAA and .901 save percentage in 10 games since being acquired. Teams don’t have playoff success without strong goaltending.

• Look for Chandler Stephenson to take the majority of the key face-offs for the Golden Knights. His regular season winning percentage was 58 per cent.

• When the game gets physical, Vegas counters with Keegan Kolesar (279 hits), and Brayden McNabb (201). They can disrupt the flow of their opponents’ game.

Record (rank): 47-25-10 (10th)

Record since Feb. 1 (rank): 19-7-3 (5th)

Top-scoring Forward: Anze Kopitar (28 G, 46 A, 74 PTS)

Top-scoring Defenceman: Drew Doughty (9 G, 43 A, 52 PTS)

The Goalie Picture: It’s this simple, really: Prior to the trade deadline, the Kings had the NHL’s 31st-ranked save percentage — only the Vancouver Canucks were worse off in net. Then they acquired Joonas Korpisalo (and Vladislav Gavrikov for the blue line) and Los Angeles had the fifth-best team save percentage the rest of the way. Most of that is due to Korpisalo, who started 11 games, won seven, and had a 2.13 GAA and .921 save percentage. But Pheonix Copley had a resurgence as well, turning around a sour season with a 5-2-1 finish, with a .916 and 2.19 from March 3 on.

The Injury Picture: A lower-body injury kept Kevin Fiala out of the lineup for the Kings’ last six regular season games and he wasn’t with the team at Saturday’s practice. The status of their 72-point scorer looms large in a series against the high-flying Edmonton Oilers offence. After a career year, Gabe Vilardi has been out since March 26 with an upper-body injury and also missed practice on Saturday. Head coach Todd McLellan said there was still a chance both could travel to Edmonton and start the series, though he didn’t give much of an update on either.





Quinton Byfield

Anze Kopitar

Adrian Kempe

Trevor Moore

Phillip Danault

Viktor Arvidsson

Kevin Fiala

Gabe Vilardi

Alex Iafallo

Carl Grundstrom

Rasmus Kupari

Jaret Anderson-Dolan



Mikey Anderson

Drew Doughty

Vladislav Gavrikov

Matt Roy

Sean Durzi

Sean Walker

Jason Bukala’s Pro Scouting Report:

• The Kings have to play a very structured, three-zone game. Their sound defence will create offensive chances in transition off turnovers.

• Joonas Korpisalo has played 11 games since being acquired at the trade deadline and has been outstanding. I’m stating the obvious when I say he needs to be the Kings’ best player in their first series.

• Grizzled veterans Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar had fantastic regular seasons, but I’m looking for Adrian Kempe, Viktor Arvidsson, and proven playoff checker Phillip Danault to provide second layers of offence and detail.

• If the Kings are going to win in the playoffs their penalty-killing will have to improve from their regular season 76 per cent success rate.

Record (rank): 46-28-8 (12th)

Record since Feb. 1 (rank): 17-3-3 (16th)

Top-scoring Forward: Jared McCann (40 G, 30 A, 70 PTS)

Top-scoring Defenceman: Vince Dunn (14 G, 50 A, 64 PTS)

The Goalie Picture: Philipp Grubauer was selected and signed to be the consistent backbone to an expansion team finding its way, but he just hasn’t been the same netminder since leaving Colorado, finishing his first two seasons in the Pacific Northwest with sub-.900 save percentages. Martin Jones, who played a team-high 48 games this season, had worse numbers overall. Neither goaltender had a positive Goals Saved Above Expected total this season and the position might be the main weakness for the Kraken. Their team .886 save percentage is the worst among all playoff teams and ranked 30th in the league.

The Injury Picture: When Andre Burakovsky last played a game on Feb. 7, he was Seattle’s top-point-getter and a key part of the offence. He was making progress and the team originally hoped he’d return in mid-March, but two setbacks ultimately led to a required surgery last week, knocking him out of the lineup for another six weeks. The team did not disclose the nature of the injury. Martin Jones missed the tail end of the regular season with a hand injury, but was at Saturday practice as third-stringer Joey Daccord was reassigned to the AHL club.





Tye Kartye

Matty Beniers

Jordan Eberle

Jaden Schwartz

Alexander Wennberg

Morgan Geekie

Eeli Tolvanen

Yanni Gourde

Oliver Bjorkstrand

Brandon Tanev

Ryan Donato

Daniel Sprong



Vince Dunn

Adam Larsson

Jamie Oleksiak

Will Borgen

Carson Soucy

Justin Schultz

Jason Bukala’s Pro Scouting Report:

• First playoff series for the franchise versus defending Stanley Cup champion.

• Any success they have will rest largely on the shoulders of whoever is between the posts stopping pucks. The Kraken outscored some of their off nights in net this season. Both Martin Jones and Philipp Grubauer posted winning records but also had sub-.900 save percentages.

• The Kraken have proven they can play a fast, entertaining style and have a quick strike offence. They have to play to their own identity.

• The Seattle special teams have been average at best. They will need to find a way to score some timely power-play goals and block an extra shot or two on the penalty kill.

Record (rank): 51-24-7 (7th)

Record since Feb. 1 (rank): 24-6-4 (4th)

Top-scoring Forward: Nathan MacKinnon (42 G, 69 A, 111 PTS)

Top-scoring Defenceman: Cale Makar (17 G, 49 A, 66 PTS)

The Goalie Picture: After trading for proven starter Darcy Kuemper to get them over the hump last season en route to the Stanley Cup, the Avs were priced out on him in free agency and had to go another route. This time, they bought into New York Rangers backup Alexandar Georgiev, who had become an unrestricted free agent right after posting the worst season of his career. The Avs looked past that, though, recognized a goalie who had pieced together four good years prior, and committed three years to him at a $3.4 million cap hit. Only Connor Hellebuyck and Juuse Saros started more games than Georgiev’s 62 and he was tied atop the league with 40 wins. Pavel Francouz has played the backup role in Colorado for three of the past four years now, and finished with a respectable .915 save percentage in 16 games this season. Francouz has been thrust into 13 playoff games in his career, starting nine of them, and has an 8-4-0 record.

The Injury Picture: Though Gabriel Landeskog hadn’t played all season, there was still some hope the captain could return for the playoffs, but that was squashed last week when the team announced his knee injury would keep him out for the entirety of the post-season, too. Other than that, the Avs might finally be getting some positive news here. Cale Makar has been out of the lineup since April 1, but there’s optimism the difference-making defenceman will be ready for Game 1. Josh Manson, out since March 1, is also expected to be ready for the start of the playoffs. If indeed both defencemen are back, Colorado would have Manson, Makar, Devon Toews, Bowen Byram and Sam Girard all in the lineup together for the first time since Nov. 5. Denis Malgin and Andrew Cogliano both left Colorado’s second-last regular season game early and missed Friday’s finale. There is no timetable for either to return yet. When head coach Jared Bednar was asked about the various injuries and statuses of those players on NHL Network, he said he expected the bulk of his players back for Game 1, “if not everybody.”





Artturi Lehkonen

Nathan MacKinnon

Evan Rodrigues

Matt Nieto

J.T. Compher

Mikko Rantanen

Ben Meyers

Lars Eller

Denis Malgin

Andrew Cogliano

Alex Newhook

Logan O’Connor



Devon Toews

Sam Girard

Erik Johnson

Bowen Byram

Jack Johnson

Josh Manson

Jason Bukala’s Pro Scouting Report:

• The Avs are the proud defending champions and they have weathered more than their share of injuries this season.

• Overall, there aren’t a lot of holes in their lineup, which speaks to the depth of their roster. They will rely heavily on their first power-play unit to score timely goals.

• Alexandar Georgiev will be called upon to come up with big stops at the right time of the game. He had a very good regular season.

• The roster isn’t healthy. Both Cale Makar and Josh Manson are dealing with injuries entering the playoffs, something that Seattle is aware of if the two players return.

• Nathan MacKinnon drives Colorado’s offence. He logs a massive amount of ice time at even strength and the power-play. But he needs to elevate still. Consider that over his last 10 regular season games he scored two goals and was a minus-4 in five games against playoff teams, and scored nine goals and seven assists with a plus-11 in five games against non-playoff teams. I’m not concerned about MacKinnon, but it’s certainly interesting to note his most recent trend

Record (rank): 47-21-14 (8th)

Record since Feb. 1 (rank): 19-8-4 (7th)

Top-scoring Forward: Jason Robertson (46 G, 63 A, 109 PTS)

Top-scoring Defenceman: Miro Heiskanen (11 G, 62 A, 73 PTS)

The Goalie Picture: After emerging from a crowded goalie picture last season to play a career-high 48 games, 24-year-old Jake Oettinger set a new benchmark in 2022-23 by getting into 62 games. He posted career-best numbers across the board, too. Oettinger had a bit of a rough stretch to start off March, which questioned if the team should prioritize rest down the stretch, but he got back on track himself and allowed just six goals in five April starts. If a backup is required, 30-year-old journeyman Scott Wedegwood is the guy after he went 9-8-3 with a 2.72 and .915 this season. Wedgewood has no Stanley Cup Playoff experience, and just 14 games of playoff experience at any level since turning pro in 2012.

The Injury Picture: The best news for the Stars is that there are no major injury concerns to begin the playoffs. Mason Marchment, who had been out since mid-March, returned to the lineup for the last game of the regular season and went pointless in 14:11 of ice time.





Jason Robertson

Roope Hintz

Tyler Seguin

Mason Marchment

Max Domi

Ty Dellandrea

Jamie Benn

Wyatt Johnston

Evgenii Dadonov

Joel Kiviranta

Radek Faksa

Luke Glendening



Ryan Suter

Miro Heiskanen

Esa Lindell

Jani Hakanpaa

Thomas Harley

Joel Hanley

Jason Bukala’s Pro Scouting Report:

• Miro Heiskanen has now proven himself to be a workhorse who plays all situations and averages over 25 minutes of ice time per game and he had a career-best season on offence.

• Jake Oettinger nearly beat the Calgary Flames in last year’s playoffs, almost on his own.

• The point is, the Stars are a balanced team. They score a ton and they don’t allow much. They can win games with their special teams contributions or outwork opponents at even strength.

• Joe Pavelski remains one of the best puck-tippers in the league and is a handful at the crease.

• Dallas simply has to stay the course over an entire seven-game series.

Record (rank): 46-25-11 (11th)

Record since Feb. 1 (rank): 19-8-7 (9th)

Top-scoring Forward: Kirill Kaprizov (40 G, 35 A, 75 PTS)

Top-scoring Defenceman: Jared Spurgeon (11 G, 23 A, 34 PTS)

The Goalie Picture: When Cam Talbot was traded out last off-season, this became Marc-Andre Fleury’s unchallenged net again, but surprisingly Filip Gustavsson has forced his way into the picture. Second in the league in GAA and save percentage, Gustavsson had a fantastic 39 games and has just one regulation loss since Feb. 11. There’s been no announced Game 1 starter yet, though the belief is that Gustavsson will get the nod. If he falters at all, Fleury is still very much in the picture, though his regular season finished with three consecutive regulation losses, allowing at least three goals in each. But Fleury has proven capable of rising to big moments before and has had no issue sharing the net, so we may see him yet.

The Injury Picture: While the Wild got some great news down the stretch with Kirill Kaprizov’s return to the lineup for two games in April after missing a month, it came right at the same time that Joel Eriksson Ek went down to an injury with a “week-to-week” timeline. A hugely important offensive producer, faceoff guy and net front presence, Eriksson Ek did not skate with the team on Saturday, but he will travel to Dallas for Game 1 and could be ready. Marcus Johansson, who was injured by a Neal Pionk cross-check on April 11 and missed the final game of the regular season, practised on his normal line Saturday and is shaping up to return. Oskar Sundqvist, out since April 6, skated in a non-contact jersey Saturday and is not expected to be ready for the opener. John Klingberg had an injury come up over the weekend at practice and is now questionable for Game 1.





Kirill Kaprizov

Ryan Hartman

Mats Zuccarello

Marcus Johansson

Frederik Gaudreau

Matt Boldy

Gustav Nyquist

Sam Steel

Marcus Foligno

Brandon Duhaimie

Connor Dewar

Ryan Reaves



Jacob Middleton

Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin

Matt Dumba

John Klingberg

Brock Faber

Jason Bukala’s Pro Scouting Report:

• The group isn’t shy about playing the game physically, but they aren’t a punishing team

• Who starts in goal could be interesting. Marc-Andre Fleury had his ups and downs this season, but he’s a proven playoff performer. Filip Gustavsson is only twenty-four years young, but his stats alone should give him the net

• The Wild play to their own identity. They skate pretty well as a group. They compete hard in all three zones and take advantage of turnovers and miscues. They don’t blow you away in any one category. This is a team that plays as a unit and can’t stray from their own structure

Record (rank): 46-33-3 (14th)

Record since Feb. 1 (rank): 14-14-2 (22nd)

Top-scoring Forward: Kyle Connor (31 G, 49 A, 80 PTS)

Top-scoring Defenceman: Josh Morrissey (16 G, 60 A, 76 PTS)

The Goalie Picture: No goalie started more games than Connor Hellebuyck’s 64 this season but he is no stranger to a throwback workload like that. He faced the third-most shots, made the second-most saves and ranked fourth by MoneyPucks’ Goals Saved Above Expected this season. Hellebuyck is Plan A, B and C here, but if he has to come out for injury, David Rittich would become the next netminder up. He made one playoff start for Nashville last season, allowed five goals on 13 shots, and was pulled just over 15 minutes in.

The Injury Picture: After getting injured on a Ryan Hartman check that landed the Wild forward a one-game suspension, Nikolaj Ehlers sat out the last game of the regular season. The Jets rested a number of their starters in that game against Colorado, but Ehlers’ time off was related to the injury. He spoke to media on Saturday and declared he’d be ready for Game 1, but head coach Rick Bowness called Ehlers day-to-day and would see how the player felt on Tuesday ahead of the opener. Rookie Cole Perfetti, who had eight goals in 51 games before his injury on Feb. 19, skated in a non-contact jersey Saturday. Though he is making progress and hopeful to return at some point, there is still no timeline and he’s not expected to be available at the start of Round 1. Kevin Stenlund is also day-to-day.





Kyle Connor

Pierre-Luc Dubois

Blake Wheeler

*Nikolaj Ehlers

Adam Lowry

Nino Niederreiter

Morgan Barron

Vladislav Namestnikov

Mason Appleton

Axel Jonsson-Fjallby

*Kevin Stenlund

Saku Maenalanen



Brenden Dillon

Neal Pionk

Dylan Samberg

Dylan DeMelo

Logan Stanley

Nate Schmidt

Jason Bukala’s Pro Scouting Report:

• The Jets will need to use their size and strength to win the battle in the trenches. Players like Adam Lowry and Brenden Dillon will be called upon to assert themselves physically.

• The Jets need to find a way to have more success in the face-off circle. The forward with the leading percentage (based on minimum 400 draws) is Lowry (50 per cent).

• Their top scorers will have to maintain detail and commitment in their defensive zone. Vegas knows they will have to focus much of their attention shutting down Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor, but they also know the twosome was a combined minus-27 this season

• Connor Hellebuyck will need to be at least as good as he was in the regular season if the Jets are to prevail versus Vegas.

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