2024 NHL Playoffs: Watchlist for Western Conference Players Including Oilers’ Skinner & Stars’ Johnston

The 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs spotlight both established stars and potential breakout players across teams, emphasizing the importance of lesser-known and young talents, alongside key acquisitions and players seeking redemption, in shaping the postseason’s outcomes.

The 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs have arrived. Heroes are set to emerge in the coming weeks, starting with a thrilling doubleheader on Saturday. The New York Islanders will clash with the Carolina Hurricanes, followed by a face-off between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins. While the spotlight often shines on the big stars, sometimes it’s the lesser-known players who make all the difference in the postseason.

Over in the Western Conference, names like Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, and Jack Eichel dominate the headlines. But let’s be real, they can’t win the Stanley Cup by themselves. They’re gonna need a bit of help from their teammates, and that’s exactly what we’re diving into today. We’re spotlighting those who might just be the key to their team’s success.

Take Wyatt Johnston of the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators’ rookie Luke Evangelista, for instance. They’re both itching for a breakout postseason. Then there’s Casey Mittelstadt and Elias Lindholm, who switched teams mid-season, aiming to be the missing piece their new teams desperately need. And don’t forget about Stuart Skinner and Pierre-Luc Dubois, each on a quest for redemption.

Let’s zero in on the Western Conference and highlight a few players to watch as the NHL playoffs kick off.

Last year, Wyatt Johnston was just a rookie when the Stars were ousted by the Golden Knights in the Western Conference Final. This season, he’s on a mission to leave a bigger mark. With an impressive 32 goals leading Dallas and one of the best expected goals shares on his team, Johnston is ready to challenge Vegas.

Speaking of the Golden Knights, they managed a last-minute shocker at the trade deadline, snagging Tomas Hertl from the Sharks. Despite coming off an injury, Hertl quickly found his groove, contributing significantly in the final games of the regular season. His addition, especially with Mark Stone’s injury, could be a game-changer.

Then there’s Nikolaj Ehlers of the Jets, an often overlooked powerhouse. In his ninth season, Ehlers is having a banner year, contributing significantly to the team’s goal differential. Despite some grumbles about his ice time, Ehlers could be the Jets’ secret weapon if they find themselves trailing.

Casey Mittelstadt emerges as a potential X-factor for the Avalanche. After a disappointing season, the Avs hoped Mittelstadt could solve their second-line center woes. His arrival has indeed made a difference, offering Colorado a new level of versatility up front.

The Canucks boast a secret weapon in Elias Lindholm, their third-line center. Despite a rocky start in Vancouver, Lindholm has the potential to turn the tide in the postseason. His performance could make Vancouver a formidable opponent in the West.

For the Predators, the spotlight might just fall on rookie Luke Evangelista. Teaming up with Tommy Novak, Evangelista has shown he’s capable of stepping up, especially as the playoffs approach. Their impressive stats could make Nashville’s forward line much more threatening.

Edmonton’s success might hinge on goaltender Stuart Skinner. After a rocky start to the season, Skinner found his stride, but his playoff performance last year leaves room for doubt. His improvement is crucial for the Oilers’ hopes in a competitive Western Conference.

Lastly, all eyes are on Pierre-Luc Dubois of the Kings. Following a high-profile move and a hefty contract, Dubois’ performance has been underwhelming. However, a strong playoff showing could redefine his first season with Los Angeles.

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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