For the first time since 2016, the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs didn’t involve a series sweep. There are teams teetering on the brink of elimination, but as of Monday morning, all 16 playoff qualifiers are still alive.
Which means, mathematically, hockey fans can still dream about those opponents from the Eastern and Western Conferences that might meet for the Stanley Cup.
Here are the 10 best possible Stanley Cup Final matchups. Our rankings are based on storylines, star power and other attributes that might entice a casual sports fan to watch the greatest postseason tournament in sports.
This isn’t meant to besmirch the teams not listed here. The Minnesota Wild could have a banger of a series against any number of Eastern Conference foes. The atmosphere at Carolina Hurricanes and Winnipeg Jets home games? Simply awesome. Matthew Tkachuk, bringing his particular brand of whimsy to the playoffs’ biggest stage? We’re in.
But these 10 potential championship series are the ones that have our pulses racing and our minds wondering what chaos could ensue — especially when it comes to the Eastern Conference’s regular-season juggernaut, and its most “cursed” franchise.
Ranking best Stanley Cup Final matchups for 2023