2023 NHL Stanley Cup Preview: Western Conference

 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: Western Conference

NHL Previews and Predictions

by Kameron LeTexier | Published: April 17, 2023

                   The NHL playoff bracket is set and its time to get excited. The most exciting part of the season may not even be the playoffs as the Connor Bedard sweepstakes are taking place at the draft lottery in May, but 2023 still looks to have a very enthralling playoffs. The Western Conference has a lot of contenders and we are here to count down each of their chances.


#8: Winnipeg Jets


                After a hot start to the season, the Jets found themselves falling off and stumbling into the playoffs on the heels of the Flames and Predators downfalls. The Jets only chance of winning a single game in the playoffs relies on Connor Hellebuyck’s shot-stopping ability. Their odds of hoisting Lord Stanley in June... zero.

#7: Seattle Kraken


                In their second season as a franchise, the Kraken have risen from the bottom of the league to a playoff contender led by 40 goal scorer Jared McCann and rookie Matthew
Beniers. They have an exciting young future, however keeping the puck out of the back of their net will be what stops them from making a run. Phillip Grubauer’s performance will decide the outcome of their season. 

#6: Minnesota Wild


                The Wild could go on a run backed by their goaltending tandem alone. Filip Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury could both easily steal a series or two. The biggest question mark in the playoffs for the Wild is their blue line. An inexperienced and weak group defensively that will not be able to withstand three months of facing the leagues best goal scorers. 

#5: Vegas Golden Knights


                The Knights roster is built to win in the playoffs with two-way threats like Chandler Stephenson and Mark Stone. They lack star power compared to other teams yet make up for it in goal scoring depth which is a key component in the playoffs. However, Laurent Brossoit is not a goalie capable of taking this group into June. Their only other option is Jonathan Quick who is a shell of his former self and on the way out of the league. In the end, they will be plagued by their goaltending.


#4: Dallas Stars


                
Dallas is comprised of speed, grit, and elite goaltending. Joe Pavelski, Jamie Benn, and Jason Robertson provide this dynamic. A trio of grit, speed and playmaking who are the heartbeat of the offence. The most underappreciated offensive attack in hockey. Jake Oettinger will need to continue his playoff success from last year and Miro Heiskanen will need to step up as he did during the Stars run to the finals in the bubble. If they can get production from these stars, there is no reason they cannot win it all.  


#3: Los Angeles Kings


                A group that had promise to start the year with some holes is now complete. Deadline acquisitions Vlad Gavrikov and Joonas Korpisalo erased defensive and goaltending struggles completely and have made the Kings one of the toughest teams to score on in the league. Of course, you cannot mention the Kings defensive system without mentioning Phillip Danault and Anze Kopitar, two of the best defensive forwards in hockey. This young, fast, and exciting team will be hard to beat this spring. 


#2: Colorado Avalanche


                The defending cup champions are weaker this year having lost Nazem Kadri to the Flames in the offseason and losing Gabriel Landeskog to a knee injury. Cale Makar, Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon are three reasons why the Avalanche can make it back-to-back Stanley Cups. This is still an extremely deep roster with a defensive core that will just keep coming at you all series long. Their only weakness is up the middle. If MacKinnon gets banged up it could be the end of the road for the Avalanche.


#1: Edmonton Oilers


                Connor McDavid is on a mission finishing this season with 153 points and 64 goals. His supporting cast is not too bad either with Leon Draisaitl registering 128 points and Ryan Nugent Hopkins posting 104. They make up by far the best offence in hockey. Their weakness at the blue line was addressed at the deadline when they acquired Mattias Ekholm, a premier shutdown defenseman. Since their big deadline deal, they are 16-2-1 and have no reason to slow down heading into the playoffs.  

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