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Stamkos can lead Lightning to Stanley Cup success

A healthy Steven Stamkos could turn out to be the key to the Tampa Bay Lightning securing a second Stanley Cup title.

Stamkos has spent his entire NHL career with the Lightning, scoring over 600 points, but his injury-enforced absence was felt last season as the Lightning failed to qualify for the play-offs.

The 27-year-old is a two-time Maurice Richard Trophy winner as the NHL's leading goalscorer and fully recovered from the torn lateral meniscus in his right knee that sidelined him in November.

Crucially, he does not seem to have missed a beat on his return to the ice. Stamkos leads the league in scoring with 25 points from 15 games and has formed a dynamic duo with Nikita Kucherov to help take Tampa Bay to the top of the standings with an 11-2-2 record.

With Andrei Vasilevskiy providing solid goaltending at the other end of the ice, the Lightning appear primed for a long play-off run and 8/1 is a tempting offer for them to go all the way to repeating the Stanley Cup-winning heroics of 2004.

The New Jersey Devils have not qualified for the post season in the five years since losing the 2012 Stanley Cup final to the Los Angeles Kings, but times are looking better in Newark.

Number one overall pick Nico Hischier has made a seamless transition to the NHL from junior hockey in Halifax and a defensively sound team are a dark horse for the Stanley Cup at 25/1.

Cory Schneider's goaltending will keep them in most games and a team with such Stanley Cup pedigree can never be underestimated.

In the west, the expansion Vegas Golden Knights have made an impressive introduction to the NHL and while a play-off place appears likely, the Winnipeg Jets offer value at 18/1.

Good drafting has set them up with a strong core and in Nikolaj Ehlers they possess one of the most explosive skaters in the league.

Connor Hellebuyck has been lights out in the cage so far and the stars could be aligned for a long play-off run in Manitoba.

Tampa Bay Lightning to win Stanley Cup @ 8/1

New Jersey Devils to win Stanley Cup @ 25/1

Winnipeg Jets to win Stanley Cup @ 18/1

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Andrew McDermott
@a_mcdermott in Ice Hockey