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The team that wins the Cup in 2023 won’t have the usual star power

Over the past three years, we’ve become accustomed to seeing potential “dynasties” win the Stanley Cup.

This year, however, the team that wins the Cup will stand out from the crowd.

A superteam with two (or more) franchise tag players at its position is normally expected to take top honours – the Lightning did it with guys in their prime who won the Hart, Vezina, Norris and Maurice-Richard Trophies. The Avalanche counted on Nathan MacKinnon, one of the league’s best players, and Cale Makar, a young defenseman with generational potential.

We can even go back a little further. The Capitals did it with Ovechkin, Holtby and Carlson. The Penguins preceded with Crosby and Malkin, and the Blackhawks did it with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. The Kings also had a solid one at each position with Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick.

Can we really compare the composition of the teams currently in the final four to these? The NHL’s highest-paid players are out, as of today.

Is Sebastian Aho a franchise player in Carolina? Brent Burns is past his prime and Frederik Andersen isn’t a star goalie.

In Vegas, Mark Stone and Jack Eichel are star players and Alex Pietrangelo, though excellent, has never reached the NHL elite.

In Dallas, Jason Robertson is a star, but doesn’t (yet) have the reputation of a superstar. Miro Heiskanen is good, but not among the NHL’s elite. Jake Oettinger may be the centerpiece of this club, and a potential franchise goalie in the making.

In Florida, Matthew Tkachuk is a franchise player. Aleksander Barkov is a star, but hasn’t (yet) reached the next level in terms of his reputation. Sergei Bobrovsky no longer has the reputation he had in 2017 when he won a second Vezina.

The Hurricanes, Golden Knights, Stars or Panthers will be more in the category of the St. Louis Blues than the great teams that have dominated the 2010s and 2020s, so far.

Perhaps the future will prove us wrong and some of the rising young players will build a legacy that will make them deserving concession players. Maybe one of these four teams will become an unbeatable playoff team, and their individual value will no longer be comparable to what we attribute to them today.

Or maybe our memories are short, and guys like Jonathan Toews and Anze Kopitar didn’t have the same reputation before they put a ring on their finger.

Whatever the case, the 2023 champion team will have shown that star power isn’t what’s important. A good lesson for the Oilers and Maple Leafs of this world…

En Rafale

– Read on.

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