Stanley Cup Playoffs 2013: Which 2nd-Round Teams Have the Brightest Futures?
With the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs in full swing, one likely would find that the majority of these eight teams are focused on immediate, rather than future, success.
But some of these eight teams, although in contention for the Stanley Cup right now, are finding that future seasons are "looking up" as well.
Here are the four teams in the second round with the brightest futures.
What constitutes a "bright" future in this article is a combination of regular season finish in the standings, players signed for next season and up-and-coming players who could contribute in the coming seasons.
4. Ottawa Senators
The Ottawa Senators were likely the surprise playoff team of the season, as they were without most of their stars at one point or another during the season.
Jason Spezza played just five games before re-aggravating a herniated disk in his back, while Craig Anderson's ankle was run into and he missed some time. Erik Karlsson played just 17 games in the regular seaosn after his Achilles tendon was sliced by Matt Cooke's skate.
If these three players (let alone the others who missed time with injuries) play a full season next year, Ottawa's future looks very bright.
Karlsson, a Norris Trophy winner with 78 points last season, is enough to elevate this team's play over an entire season, but it is the unheralded heroes in the Sens' lineup that have been game changers this playoff season.
Players like Kyle Turris (six points) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (six points) have both been somewhat surprise contributors. Colin Greening, Cory Conacher and Jakob Silfverberg (three points apiece) are all up-and-coming players who have provided a huge boost in the playoffs, offensively.
Last, but not certainly not least, there is Anderson, who is proving that he can make the big saves and help his team win games when it matters most
There is certainly a lot to like about the Senators going into the next couple of seasons.
3. Boston Bruins
The Stanley Cup playoffs, for some teams, represents a great opportunity to figure out what said team has in the way of "Black Aces" (or AHL call-ups).
The Bruins played these Black Aces when Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden were injured before Game 1 of their series with the Rangers. In stepped Torey Krug, Doug Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski. Suddenly the Bruins are up 3-0 in their best-of-seven series, with Krug scoring goals in Game 1 and 2.
Hamilton (assists in Games 1 and 2) and Bartkowski have also filled in admirably.
Add to their newly found talent on defense the fact that 26-year-old Tuukka Rask can make saves when need be (93.0 save percentage and a 2.19 GAA) and Boston seems to have found itself a replacement for Tim Thomas.
Despite their position as the seventh-oldest team (via NHLnumbers.com) in the NHL, the Bruins don't look to be sinking in the NHL's power rankings any time soon. They have a very bright future and that is why they are third on this list.
2. Chicago Blackhawks
With the 2013 President's Trophy in hand, points in 24 straight games to start the season and an average age good for 12th youngest in the NHL, the Chicago Blackhawks have plenty of good things ahead.
The Blackhawks, simply put, dominated every team in the NHL during the regular season. Although they may be having some difficulties in the second round of the playoffs against the Detroit Red Wings (currently down 2-1 in the series), the Blackhawks are going to be a force that must be reckoned with for a long time.
Names like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp highlight the Blackhawks' star-studded lineup, but that doesn't even touch on the defensive side. Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Nick Leddy are mainstays on the Blackhawks' defense.
The Blackhawks finally found their goaltending duo in Corey Crawford and Ray Emery. That success has been the biggest cause for the 'Hawks success, this season.
With a 2010 Stanley Cup in most of these players' back pockets, the sky is the limit for this young team.
1. Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings have the brightest future in the NHL.
The Red Wings simply have not faltered since making the playoffs 22 seasons ago. Year in and year out, the Red Wings find ways to re-tool and re-stock the cupboards when their talent departs. The Wings' big signing this season was Jimmy Howard to a 6-year, $31.8 million deal (via NHL.com).
But the Red Wings have watched their team come together with a new identity right before their very eyes. It started when the Red Wings won their final four games of the season, making the playoffs for the 22nd straight season.
Players like Kyle Quincey, Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith took a big step forward down the stretch and in the first round against Anaheim. Neither of these players was especially spectacular against the Ducks, but all three have shown flashes of brilliance in the playoffs thus far.
The Red Wings have also found a solid third line in Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist and Damien Brunner. The line has been one of Detroit's better forechecking lines and has accounted for a lot of the Red Wings' offense.
If the Red Wings can manage to keep all three players, they should have a wealth of talent coming back next year. The Wings also have Darren Helm back next year, who has missed all but one game this season with a back injury.
Detroit also has its AHL team, the Grand Rapids Griffins, in the AHL conference finals. That is the furthest that the Griffins have gone since 2005-06.
All statistics courtesy of NHL.com unless otherwise noted.
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