Eric Lindros, Pat LaFontaine, Pavel Bure, Marcel Dionne, and the recently retired Henrik ‘The King’ Lundqvist all feature on a particularly unenvious list despite their glistening NHL careers: the list of legends who never hoisted the Stanley Cup. It’s the ultimate achievement in the league but, sometimes, even the greatest talents can’t quite get there.
This season, several players who look to be cementing a place as a future Hall of Famer are vying for their first Stanley Cup triumph. For some, this might just be their last, last chance, but each of those featured here is on a team that could go deep in the playoffs in 2021/22.
Dallas Stars veterans
We’re starting off with the 2020 Stanley Cup Finals runners-up, the Dallas Stars, as they boast three highly likely Hall of Famers who’re edging closer to the ends of their careers but haven’t won Lord Stanley just yet. All of Ryan Suter (36 years old), Joe Pavelski (37 years old), and captain Jamie Benn (32 years old) crave the Cup. Coming into this 2021/22 campaign, the Stars look to have a strong roster.
They did miss out on the playoffs last season, with injuries and perhaps a Finals hangover playing their part, but the talent at the American Airlines Center is enviable. So, it comes as a surprise that the NHL betting has them out dark horses at +2200, but that’s almost certainly due to last season’s finish. This season, Benn, Suter, and Pavelski should be part of a competitive team that can challenge for the Cup.
There isn’t a skater more desperate for the Stanley Cup than the active points leader Joe Thornton. He’s 1,680 games and 1,529 points into his career, has played for two legitimate contenders, and is now 42 years old. Now, he finds himself taking the near-minimum salary to play for a Florida Panthers side that’s suddenly realized the talent available to them.
It’s been well-documented that the main thing that’s held back the Panthers has been the front office, but now the Sunrise hockey club looks to have turned a corner. Florida still has to complete a trial by fire in the Atlantic Division just to get to the postseason, but if they do, the team headlined by Sergei Bobrovsky, Aaron Ekblad, Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart, and Anthony Duclair might just be able to bring ‘Jumbo’ the silverware that he craves – and are at +2000 to do so.
Drafted second overall by the Ottawa Senators in 2001, Jason Spezza has strung together a solid career worthy of the selection. Now 38 years old, the Ontario native has scored 1,034 points in 1,293 games, 441 of which were goals. He’s certainly paid his dues on weaker teams, as demonstrated by his -77 plus-minus, but now that he’s entering his third season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Spezza could finally win the Cup.
The Buds have been rated as top contenders for the Stanley Cup since they lured in John Tavares – way back in 2018. In the playoffs, however, it’s been one first-round exit after another, tallying a five-season streak of getting to the postseason and then bowing out immediately. Star scorer Auston Matthews says that this will change in 2021/22, and given the strength of the skating corps, it’s tough to argue with him or their +1100 odds.
While there are other future Hall of Famers still in need of a Stanley Cup – such as Carey Price to name a prime example – those above look the best set and the most deserving of winning it this season.