2024 NHL Playoffs Predictions: First-Round Picks & Stanley Cup Winner Forecast

The 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin with the New York Rangers leading as the Presidents’ Trophy winners, and NHL experts predict various first-round outcomes and ultimately foresee either the Carolina Hurricanes or the Dallas Stars winning the Stanley Cup, highlighting key matchups, player performances, and team strengths across both conferences.

It’s that time again. The 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs are kicking off. The New York Rangers nabbed the Presidents’ Trophy, boasting the best record of the 2023-24 regular season. With a solid 55-23-4 record, they just barely outpaced the Dallas Stars.

In the first round, the match-ups are set. The lower-seeded wild card team is up against the division winner with the best record. Meanwhile, the second and third-place teams from the divisions are going head-to-head. The higher seed enjoys home-ice advantage for the first two rounds, thanks to their superior regular season performance.

Our NHL experts have thrown in their predictions for the first round and their Stanley Cup favorites.

**Western Conference**

(1) Stars vs. (WC2) Golden Knights. Chris says, “This is a tough one.” The Stars, with their impressive offense, are up against the defending champs. Despite the Stars’ strong lineup, Chris is hesitant due to their goalie’s inconsistent season. But, he’s banking on recent performances, choosing the Stars to win 4-3.

Austin views this as a potential conference final showdown happening in round one. With the Stars’ strong season and the Golden Knights’ health improving, it’s a heavyweight clash. But, Austin believes the Stars’ roster changes give them the edge, predicting a 4-2 victory.

(2) Jets vs. (3) Avalanche. Chris finds this series hard to call. The Avalanche’s recent dip in form contrasts with Nathan MacKinnon’s stellar season. Despite the Jets’ strong goalie, Chris doubts their scoring ability against the Avalanche, picking them to win 4-2.

Austin highlights the brutal nature of this match-up. With MacKinnon leading the Avalanche and the Jets’ solid depth, it’s a close call. However, he leans towards the Jets, citing their goaltending advantage, predicting a 4-3 win.

(1) Canucks vs. (WC1) Predators. Chris is impressed by the Canucks’ transformation under Rick Tocchet. With Thatcher Demko back, he sees the Canucks overpowering the Predators, picking a 4-1 series win.

Austin points out the similarities between the two teams but gives the edge to the Canucks due to their offensive firepower. Yet, he acknowledges the Predators’ late-season surge and picks them for a 4-3 upset.

(2) Oilers vs. (3) Kings. Chris notes the Oilers’ firepower and improved goaltending as key advantages. He predicts a 4-1 win for the Oilers.

Austin recalls the past two years’ outcomes, expecting the Oilers to dominate again. Despite the Kings’ defensive strengths, he agrees with Chris, predicting another 4-1 victory for the Oilers.

**Eastern Conference**

(1) Rangers vs. (WC2) Capitals. Chris highlights the Rangers’ rebound season and Panarin’s need to step up in the playoffs. He can’t see the Capitals challenging the Rangers, predicting a 4-1 series win.

Austin is skeptical about the Capitals’ chances, citing their goal differential and the Rangers’ offensive talent. He expects a swift 4-0 series for the Rangers.

(2) Hurricanes vs. (3) Islanders. Chris praises the Hurricanes’ additions and their goaltending depth. He predicts a 4-1 victory for the Hurricanes.

Austin contrasts the Hurricanes’ contender status with the Islanders’ struggles. Despite the Islanders’ late push, he agrees with Chris, also predicting a 4-1 win for the Hurricanes.

(1) Panthers vs. (WC1) Lightning. Chris anticipates a closely contested “Battle of Florida.” He believes the Panthers’ talent will prevail, picking them to win 4-3.

Austin sees the Panthers as having the upper hand this year. Despite the Lightning’s potential for an upset, he expects the Panthers to overcome their rivals, predicting a 4-2 series win.

(2) Bruins vs. (3) Maple Leafs. Chris is taking a chance on the Maple Leafs, citing their top-tier talent. He predicts a 4-3 win for Toronto.

Austin reflects on the historical outcomes between these teams but senses a chance for the Maple Leafs. He expects them to finally beat the Bruins, predicting a dramatic 4-3 victory.

**Stanley Cup winner**

Chris sticks with his preseason pick, the Hurricanes, praising their trade deadline moves. He predicts a 4-3 victory over the Stars in the final.

Austin believes in the Stars’ blend of talent and depth. He sees them overcoming a tough path to the final and defeating the Hurricanes 4-2 to win the Stanley Cup.

Alex Thompson
Alex Thompson
Alex Thompson is a Senior Writer for HockeyMonitor. With a background in Sports Media, Alex joined the team in 2022. He focuses on providing the latest hockey news, game scores, and fresh NHL trade rumors.

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