I'm a fan of the lowly Wahington Caps in D.C. but it's because my son plays there, as a hockey professional in the NHL.
Just a little US-born kid bucking the odds with 'coke bottle' glasses skating on the natural outdoor ice rinks. But that said, he makes a pot-full of money.
Who's going to the Cup finals - even with an inside track: it's anybody's guess. For sure it's not Carolina - hah (due to the repeat stigma more than anything)!. The new CBA makes it a card shuffle each and every year. There no such thing as a steady locked-in lineup from year-to-year.
Sharks and the Flames in the West and the Senators, or you're correct, reaper; Buffalo in the east.
I like Dallas as a dark horse in the West and in the East - maybe, the NY Rangers.
Big market teams along the eastern seaboard get close and then fold in the "2nd season, that is the 2 1/2 month playoff run to the Cup. It's a brutal, exhausting finale spanning Oct to June. Probably too much but it's the money.
Always follow the money.
I work hard at not being tightly-wound about sports and hockey in particular! But that said, I need my 'satellite dish fix' where-ever I reside.
It's quite a treat, as a parent; being thrilled by a son, playing sports for $$$'s. Blessed, I am - truly blessed.
A key is keeping one's perspective and staying out of his personal and financial business. Recently though, I have been hinting: "pre-nup, pre-nup, pre-nup." Cynical, but practical enuf! Got to go - called my flight.