There was 30, and now there is 2. After the finish of the Conference Finals last night, the Stanley Cup Finals will be contested between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks.
The Penguins have been riding a hot streak since the hiring of coach Mike Sullivan. General Jim Rutherford has made gutsy moves by adding Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino, Carl Hagelin, Trevor Daley, Justin Schultz, Tim Erixon, Eric Fehr, Tyler Biggs, and Matt Cullen to the roster.
San Jose let coach Todd McLellean go, and hired former New Jersey head coach Peter DeBoer. Sharks GM Doug Wilson added more experienced guys in Joel Ward and Paul Martin in the offseason, while adding an underrated winger in Joonas Donskoi to the roster. At the deadline, they handed four Maple Leafs in exchange for three draft picks and two players- Roman Polak, James Reimer, Jeremy Morin, and Nick Spaling in for two second round draft picks, one fourth round pick, Ben Smith, and Alex Stalock. Wilson's gutsiest move was Martin Jones for a first round pick and a prospect. Now, he is the starting goalie in the Stanley Cup Final.
The amazing fact is that both teams kept their cores together, even through hard times. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and Marc-Andre Fleury stuck with the Penguins through all the rough times. The Sharks stayed loyal to Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, even though neither are captains on this team anymore.
In terms of a prediction, I picked Pittsburgh in 7 as this team has enough speed to power through the Sharks lineup.
What are your predictions?
More to come…