As the days go by, the NHL restart gets closer and closer to becoming a reality. And to celebrate the NHL returning, it's only proper that we look at the sleepers participating in this odd and unprecedented NHL restart.
5. Florida Panthers: I know a couple of people from Florida are gonna love me for this one. But I put them on this list because of their head coaching and offseason pickups. I already wrote an article on this, and for in-depth analysis on the Panthers chances in this upcoming NHL playoffs, check that out down below. But with Joel Quenneville at the helm, key additions like Sergei Bobrovsky and Mike Hoffman, and a nice defensive core with Aaron Ekblad, they will be a tough out in the NHL restart.
4. Winnipeg Jets: The Jets are just like the Florida Panthers. They've had an abysmal regular season. But the talent over in Winnipeg is enough to convince me they can indeed turn it around. When you have an all-star goalie in Connor Hellybuck and young talent like Patrick Laine, you've got a chance no matter what.
3. Nashville Predators: Ah the Nashville Predators. The Predators have Stanley Cup Final experience. This year, they are looking to get right back to the Stanley Cup Final. The Predators won their last three coming into the restart. They also have a new slogan: For Smashville. In other words, they are doing it for Nashville. They use this slogan as a way to reunite Nashville with sports again, and that should be all the motivation the Preds need in Edmonton.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs: The Toronto Maple Leafs are an interesting team. You would think with the talent they already have, they should have no problem in the regular season. Wrong. The Maple Leafs went 36-25-9. But don't despair Leafs fans, because they still had a plus 11 goal differential on the year and the third-most goals in the Eastern Conference. Finally, they were also a respectable 18-16-2 on the road. So, when they face off against the Blue Jackets in the qualifying round, I believe it will be the first of many games to come for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
While the NHL restart features many teams that have a chance at the Stanley cup final, not all the teams have a true chance. But, the Flyers, Maple Leafs, Predators, Jets, and Panthers all have a true chance, even though they're not talked about as much as they should be. So, when the NHL resumes play in August, watch out for these teams as they are poised to make a deep run this fall.