It's that time of year again. The time when teams in the NHL are still trying to find themselves. The likely Stanley Cup finalists are currently out of playoff contention and teams that finished in the league's basement last season are leading their respective divisions.
As we all know, this craziness will calm down. The good teams will start beating the not-so-good teams, and things will return to normal before playoff time.
The question is, with so many teams enjoying superstar players on their rosters, who is most deserving of a Stanley Cup victory this season?
I've decided to comprise this list solely of players who have yet to win the big trophy AND who actually have a chance to win it this season (with one or two exceptions).
So let's get to it.
Considering the man just turned 42 and is still working his magic between the pipes for Tampa Bay, I'd say he deserves a ring.
Roloson and the Lightning came very close to making the Stanley Cup finals last year and who knows how much more he has in him? The team should win one for him this season.
Joe Thornton is an amazing player who has enjoyed an incredible career. He recently passed the 1000-point mark and, at 32 years old, he still has plenty left in him.
The only thing that is seemingly lacking from Thornton's accolades is a Stanley Cup victory and with the team that San Jose has put together this year, 2012 could be his best shot.
There aren't many worse situations than making the Stanley Cup Finals and losing. Iggy scored 13 goals during the 2004 playoffs to help Calgary reach the finals, but it wasn't enough.
I'd like to think that he still has what it takes to lead a team to the Stanley Cup, even if that team is Calgary.
King Henrik does everything he can (and more) to help the Rangers win. The problem is, they're simply not doing the same for him.
Lundqvist is almost always at the top of the league in wins, shutouts and just plain being awesome. He definitely deserves a ring, so maybe the New York management will wake up and realize that.
Nash is an incredible player who is sticking it out on a garbage team. Columbus hasn't done much to help him out over the years, but he's still scoring amazing goals and landing on highlight reels.
With some key additions in the offseason, and hopefully some more at the deadline, Nash could soon be able to make the playoffs and really shine for the Blue Jackets. I don't think he'll get it done this year, but he really deserves a ring.
Ovechkin is one of the best players in the league and has been playing his ass off since day one. Washington always comes close, but can never get very far in the playoffs.
That needs to change.
Ovechkin is very deserving of a Stanley Cup, maybe more so than anyone else on this list. Please, Washington, make it happen already.
Kipper is a top goalie in the NHL and seems to be as consistent as anyone. He is doing his part to keep Calgary relevant, but unless the Flames get some offense (and defense) for him, he could take his talents elsewhere or just give up.
Give the man a cup.
Havlat is definitely one of the slickest and most skilled snipers in the league, and he seems to have finally made the right move by leaving Minnesota for the greener pastures of San Jose.
Playing on an all-around skilled team for essentially the first time in his career will give Havlat the opportunity to win his first Stanley Cup. He brings an intense firepower to the Sharks that could really help them go all the way.
Heatley, swapped with Havlat in a trade this past offseason, is too good to play on the crappy teams that have employed him throughout his career.
He might have taken a step back towards his first Stanley Cup when he was shipped to Minnesota, but one thing is for sure: Heatley is a game-changer. He has the ability to take over a team and has the power to attract other stars to come and join him on his quest for a cup.
Minnesota has some solid players and, with the addition of Heatley, it could make an interesting playoff team.
Miller, one of the best goalies in the world, deserves a cup. He has been Buffalo's top player for several years now and hasn't really had the team in front of him to make it happen.
Under new ownership, Buffalo is adding the right players to help Miller after all he has done to help them.
Winning a Stanley Cup this year, which by the way is completely within Buffalo's grasp, is something that will not only bring some sports happiness to the city of Buffalo, but will also help Miller's overall confidence.
He's a great goalie and he deserves a serious playoff run for once, especially one that will end in hoisting the Cup.
The Sedins have been dominating the league over the past few years and were robbed of a Stanley Cup by either: a) poor goaltending b) injuries on defense c) the Bruins being better.
In any case, the Sedin brothers will still put up triple digit-point seasons, and hopefully their teammates will put in as much effort as well. You can't win back-to-back family Art Ross trophies and not have your team back you up for a Stanley Cup win.
Come on Canucks, do it for the twins!
Kovalchuk is the victim of playing for the Devils after they were good. He is a solid player and an extremely skilled goal scorer. So much so that he can put up a 50-goal season and lead New Jersey back into the playoffs.
With teammates that include Zach Parise and Martin Brodeur, the Devils need to wake up and start getting back to the high level of play they displayed 10 years ago.
Kovalchuk is capable of being that star who leads a team to the cup and, with the help of his Devils teammates, he can make it happen.