The Boston Bruins are still savoring their Stanley Cup championship, but the rest of us are looking toward the 2012 NHL season. This offseason has been full of blockbuster trades, additions and losses. As the team rosters become more and more set, several front-runners stand out from the rest.
We've got a little under a year before the next championship, but these are my top four picks as to who could be bringing home the Cup next season.
If the Penguins can stay healthy this season, they’ll be ones to watch as the postseason comes near. Their three major factors are Sidney Cosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury.
Even with all their setbacks last season, Pittsburgh was still a contender in the Eastern Conference. They don’t have many holes but they do have veterans and good leadership.
Behind James Van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux, the Flyers have great scorers to lead their team.
New acquisition Ilya Bryzgalov has put up great numbers recently and the pressure will be on him this year.
Philadelphia has added youth and size to their roster as well and should do very well this season.
The Canucks came so close to a parade this year, and they’ll be back with a vengeance next season. Daniel and Henrik Sedin will be back next year, as will Ryan Kesler.
Vancouver could have a slow start after a long postseason but they’ll speed up and make it far again as so many of their players are in their prime.
While some of their losses over the offseason will hurt them, the Canucks have enough talent to make another playoff run to the end.
The Kings have done a good job of putting together a very intimidating team this year. Once they can re-sign Doughty, they’ll have a good team in pretty much every way.
Their goaltending situation is great. Adding Simon Gagne and Mike Richards will help them tremendously. They’ve got enough guys on their roster to make any opponent worried.
They have both offensive and defensive depth, and should be very successful in 2012.