As 2013 draws to a close, which teams appear most likely to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup next summer? We'll rank Chicago, Boston and the league's other top teams, and fill in the rest of the list by tracking down this year's most likely dark horses.
While the ranking is largely a matter of my own personal opinion, it is backed up by a variety of leading hockey analytics. For years we've seen that good puck-possession teams have a huge edge in the playoffs, and the exact importance of good defense, disciplined play and effective special teams has become more apparent.
Of course, there's always the question of which goalies will catch fire at the right time, and which team's snipers will start finding twine. These factors are absolutely critical, but impossible to predict, so each team is assigned only its approximate odds of winning it all.
Each contender's strengths and weaknesses are reviewed at a high level, to make it clear what each team will need to do. The list starts on the next slide with the team just above the Colorado Avalanche, who just missed the cut. Sorry!
All data sourced from NHL.com, unless otherwise noted.