The 2002 Red Wings team has been filled of future Hall of Famers, and enter our championship of Stanley Cup champions as the No. 1 seed. 

Greg WyshynskiESPN

Looking back in the previous 16 Stanley Cup champions is like an anthropological analysis of the NHL itself. How it’s gone from all star teams in a league with no salary cap to thoroughly assembled ones under it. How suffocating defenses were legislated out in favor of a more offensive age. The way the power changed among quasi-dynastic teams. Just about the only on-line linking these eras may be that the requirement for excellent goaltending.

But imagine if these champions were to meet in a seven-game show, on a rink that surpasses time and space? The teams are playing exactly the exact fashions they played with inside their championship seasons. The players will be exactly the same ages, and at exactly the exact heights of efficacy, as once they won the Stanley Cup: a 22-year-old Jonathan Toews from 2010 facing a 27-year-old Jonathan Toews from 2015, such as the

If pitted against each other, which champion from the last 16 postseasons would hoist the Stanley Cup back again?

Since we’re also afflicted with March Madness about the hockey side, we decided to make this 16-team championship for your voting pleasure. The rules are simple: Two teams, using the rosters that they had in winning the Stanley Cup and playing exactly the exact fashions, facing off against each other.

Today, a breakdown of the Round of 16 in ESPN’s Stanley Cup Madness:

(3) PIT’09-(14) TB’04

51-17-10-4 (116 points); second in goals (251), third in goals against (187)

The situation for Detroit: I am talking about, look at this roster. There is certainly your case. The final of the pre-salary-cap age super teams. The best eight scorers on this team are all in the Hall of Fame: Brendan Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille, Steve Yzerman along with Igor Larionov up front, and also Nicklas Lidstrom (who averaged 28 minutes, 49 seconds per game in the regular year and 31:10 at the postseason) and also Chris Chelios to the blue line.

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This Red Wings team shared the DNA of these previous Stanley Cup winners under Scotty Bowman in 1997 and 1998. It had its own grinders including Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby along with Darren McCarty.

Even the Colorado Avalanche, that other titan of the Western Conference, would be the only team that took these Wings to seven games. Their veteran savvy helped them overcome adversity: Losing the first two games at home against Vancouver in the initial round, and beating an Final-opening loss to Carolina on home ice, since they won the following four straight both times.

If there is a hole on the club, then it might have been on the blue line beyond the two. Jiri Fischer along with Fredrik Olausson were fine, however, Steve Duchesne was no Larry Murphy.

Otherwise, this really is Duke… if Duke was comprised of 1 2 Zion Williamsons.

52-22-8 (112 points); third in goals (294) and 18th in goals against (260)

The situation for Carolina: The situation for Carolina begins with the kid. Cam Ward, 21, went 15-8 with a .920 save percentage and a 2.14 goals-against ordinary after taking over for Martin Gerber. That contained a 22-save effort in Game 7 Edmonton at the Cup Final to procure that the Conn Smythe like a rookie, doing this Ken Dryden thing.

Too bad that the Hurricanes couldn’t emulate more of that Canadiens dynasty. Their offense and defense ranked them fourth and third, respectively, in the postseason.

And if they forced the series to seven games, they had Justin Williams on the roster, too — simply as they do now, come to consider it.

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The situation for Washington: Besides the siren’s song of”recency prejudice,” there are plenty of reasons to rear the Capitals here. Their top two lines — anchored with Conn Smythe winner Alex Ovechkin (15 playoff objects ) and also Nicklas Backstrom (2 3 playoff points) — are formidable, and also Lars Eller‘s third lineup was great in service. Defenseman John Carlson had a livelihood (contract) season, whilst goalie Braden Holtby‘s .922 save percentage and 2.16 goals-against ordinary at the postseason proved enough to earn him a day at the White House. It turns out, he declined.

It took several years to get the Capitals to defend against their postseason ghosts and divide through for the Stanley Cup. But the 2018 version had all five of their players — Evgeny Kuznetsov, that headed the team with 32 playoff things, was one other — clicking at exactly the same time frame, for its very first postseason ever. These certainly were still an offensive attack and opportunistic. Oh, and having Tom Wilson“Hulk smash” at one competitor in each round probably had its own benefits, too, if just from a lightning-rod perspective.

46-28-8 (100 points); 25th in goals (206) and first in goals against (174)

The situation for Los Angeles: The second of the Kings’ Stanley Cup teams had been marginally better compared to the first, and perhaps not merely because they did not slip in under the wire like a wild card. They gained three seven-game string in a row from the arduous Western Conference — including the now-legendary rally out of the 0-3 hole in the first round against the San Jose Sharks — before carrying the Rangers in five games for that Cup.

These certainly weren’t the smothering defensive team that the 2012 club had been, but they certainly were better offensively by over 0.50 goals per game. One crucial difference between both similar rosters: Marian Gaborik, picked up at the trade deadline,” that potted 14 aims to lead the Kings in the postseason.

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54-21-7 (115 points); first in goals (257) and first in goals against (184)

The situation for Detroit: The following generation of Red Wings proved to be equally as Cup-worthy as the prior regime… as long as they had Nicklas Lidstrom along with Chris Osgood as the foundation of the playoff run. This Wings team featured a Conn Smythe effort from Henrik Zetterberg (27 points in 22 games), magic from Pavel Datsyuk (2-3 points) and a 13-goal performance from”The Mule” Johan Franzen, cementing his reputation as a postseason performer.

Lidstrom,” Brian Rafalski along with Niklas Kronwall hauled down the blue line, while Osgood lasted his inexplicable postseason mastery with a 1.55 GAA from the play offs. This variant can be noteworthy for trainer Mike Babcock becoming his lone Stanley Cup ring thus far, which united with Team Canada Olympic gold has made him infallible.

46-20-10-6 (108 points); 14th in goals (2 16 ); first in goals against (166)

The situation for Newjersey: The final of the Devils’ three Stanley Cups throughout the Martin Brodeur Era. The team had a stout blue Field of Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer along with Ken Daneyko, along with Brian Rafalski and Colin White. The Devils had the excellent checking line anchored by John Madden along with Jay Pandolfo.

Offensively, they certainly weren’t exactly on par with the 2000 edition: The leading scorers were Jamie Langenbrunner (11 goals in the playoffs) and also Jeff Friesen (10).

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The situation for Boston: It is amazing to think that the Bruins were an overtime goal from being ousted in the first circular, in the 3-vs. -6 series against the Canadiens. It’s a lot more than amazing to think that exactly the exact same guy who won the game, Nathan Horton,’d the winner against the Dragon in still yet another Game 7. Then Horton was seriously injured in Game 3 of the Final by Aaron Rome of the Canucks, the whole string had been thrown into chaos, and Vancouver was on fire following the Bruins won yet another Game 7 for the Cup.

And exhale.

The catalyst for this particular championship was that the team’s holy trinity of defense: Goalie Tim Thomas, that won the Conn Smythe with a .940 save percentage; defenseman Zdeno Chara, who averaged 27:39 per game while in the postseason; along with Patrice Bergeron, the team’s 25-year-old two way center who’d win the first of four Selke Trophies the next season. Add in David Krejci‘s 23 points in the drama, Brad Marchand‘s 11 aims and timely contributions from Mark Recchi along with Michael Ryder, together side Milan Lucic‘s fists, and this has been quite a team.

48-20-14 (110 points); sixth in goals (258); seventh in goals-against (208)

The situation for Anaheim: If you add up their moments, Chris Pronger along with Scott Niedermayer were around the ice for an average of 60 minutes each game in the playoffs. (A typical inflated by a few double-OT games, but the point remains.) That’s a pretty great starting point, specially once they played with in front of Jean-Sebastien Giguere, that was simplyn’t the wall he had been in 2003 but posted a .922 save percentage and a 1.97 GAA from the playoff run.

What was intriguing about it team was that the combination of forwards: a legend from Teemu Selanne, based experts like Andy McDonald, Sammy Pahlsson and Todd Marchant; and also a handful of 21-year-old kids termed Ryan Getzlaf and also Corey Perry that seemed to get a glowing future ahead of them. But these Ducks are probably best known for playing”heavy hockey” for overall manager Brian Burke, with players like George Parros, Brad May and Travis Moen on the roster. In a clash with the 2011 Bruins, they had better have fortified the planks.

52-22-8 (112 points); third in goals (271) and fifth in goals against (209)

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The situation for Chicago: We’d three Blackhawks teams where to select within this bracket, but this one just seemed like the most plausible option for the maximum seed among them. Oh, and some guy named Joel Quenneville directing the orchestra.

Now, a caveat that the size of a large Lou Malnati Chicago Classic: Antti Niemi has been the Blackhawks’ main goaltender, using a .910 save percentage and a footnote ever. Corey Crawford has been, without question, a update in their following Cup teams. But the Blackhawks were just so loaded here that it compensated for its netminding. Well, the Flyers were throwing Brian Boucher along with Michael Leighton in them.

The situation for… another Chicago: Chicago Speaking of Crawford, he also posted a .932 save percentage and a 1.84 GAA in leading Chicago to their second Cup of this Toews/Kane era. The thing that was interesting about it team: Even though a dominant regular season in goalscoring, the Blackhawks submitted that the second-lowest goals-for ordinary for a Stanley Cup champion (2.78) as 2005 at the postseason. Such has been the freakiness of the lockout-shortened season.

In the movie, it had been that the usual suspects leading the way — Kane, Sharp,” Hossa, Keith, Toews — along side timely contributions in Bryan Bickell, Michal Handzus and, like Boston will inform you, Dave Bolland.

48-26-8 (104 points); third in goals (245) and sixth in goals against (203)

The situation for Pittsburgh: There are three principal differences between this Celtics winner and the one that raised it in 2017. The foremost is that overwhelming strength of the HBK type of Phil Kessel (who led the Penguins with 10 goals and 22 points), Nick Bonino along with Carl Hagelin. Then there is the fact Kris Letang played with 2-3 games, giving this particular team the elite defenseman it lacked in his absence the subsequent season. And there is rookie Matt Murray, that transported the freight for 21 games rather than sharing it using Marc-Andre Fleury.

In contrast, making this Celtics group just a bit better compared to the 2017 variant. But also for the goals of this tournament, let us also note that Sidney Crosby failed everything and then some to lead this team, earning Conn Smythe honors; Evgeni Malkin posted 18 points; and also the Penguins played just a single Game 7 (from the conference final) before compiling an extremely good Sharks team 4-2 for the Cup.

40-27-15 (95 points); 29th in goals (194) and 2nd in goals against (179)

The situation for Los Angeles: Hey, in case the Kings can get a Stanley Cup out of their No. 8 seed, they could win this championship out of the No. 10 seed, right? Jonathan Quick, Conn Smythe winner, has been the story of this particular team, cementing his rep as a postseason hero with a 1.95 GAA and a .929 save percentage during their incredible 16-4 run through the postseason. That comprised a 91 percent penalty-kill rate, the most useful one of Cup champs since 2005.

Offensively… well, they were certainly a suffocating defensive team, weren’t they? The Kings won the Stanley Cup with out one player hitting double digits in goals. But some would simply call that”scoring.” (That some one being Darryl Sutter, likely )

45-28-9 (99 points); fourth in goals (2 64 ) and 18th in goals against (239)

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The situation for Pittsburgh: Please remember the Penguins created the Cup Final at the previous season, dropping to the Detroit Red Wings. They swapped drill sergeant Michel Therrien for players’ trainer Dan Bylsma during the 2008-09 regular season and not looked backagain.

While there clearly is a decided shortage of Phil Kessel on this roster… wow, was that this Penguins team piled. The young core of Evgeni Malkin (36 points to lead the playoffs), Sidney Crosby (15 goals), Kris Letang along with Jordan Staal has been augmented by veterans like Bill Guerin, Ruslan Fedotenko, Chris Kunitz along with Sergei Gonchar, that headed maybe the best blue lineup of all their Crosby-era Cup winners using Rob Scuderi, Brooks Orpik and also the U.S.S. Hal Gill.

This is, however, back in the”winning despite Marc-Andre Fleury” days. The 24-year-old goalie hadn’t yet reached postseason consistency, and published a .908 save percentage. However he had been great if it mattered most.

46-22-8-6 (106 points); third in goals (245) and 10th in goals against (192)

The situation for Tampa Bay: This team is one among the NHL’s forgotten champions, because the trauma from the ensuing lockout (and lost season) eclipses it. But this has been rather a lineup because of its time: that the Bolts’ trio of Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards, Marty St. Louis along with Vincent Lecavalier, Together with defenseman Dan Boyle and ahead Fredrik Modin.

However, it had been the role players that made this John Tortorella team roster: Ruslan Fedotenko, after a 17-goal regular season with 12(!) In the postseason; Pavel Kubina along with Darryl Sydor as rocks on the blue line; and, obviously, that the 40-year-old captain Dave Andreychuk, that had 14 points in 22 games. At length, in that last gasp of defensive-era hockey, Nikolai Khabibulin posted a .933 save percentage and a 1.71 goals-against average.

The situation for Chicago: This Blackhawks team was like a next generation iPhone: lots of the exact essential components, but they provide you with on the upgrades.

Ergo, it’s hard to not admire a roster that includes the names interchangeable with this run — Toews, Kane, Hossa, Keith, Seabrook, Sharp, Hjalmarsson — but with the added incentives of a proven Brandon Saad, a trade deadline ringer in Antoine Vermette as well as exceptionally, Brad Richards, whom the Blackhawks signed for $2 million against the cap because he had been flush using Rangers buyout money. Richards had 14 points from the play offs. This Chicago team has been better offensively (3.00 goals per match ) and also leakier defensively (2.61 to 2.09) compared to the 2013 team.

50-21-11 (111 points); first in goals (282) and 17th in goals against (234)

The situation for Pittsburgh: Kris Letang is a great defenseman. One could say a team requires a defenseman for example Kris Letang to win a Stanley Cup. These Penguins were the exception to this rule.

Utilizing a disparate selection of blueliners, the 2017 Pens won their 2nd successive Cup despite Letang missing the playoffs with an injury. This has been thanks partly to more all-world performances from Malkin (28 points to lead the team), Crosby (the other Conn Smythe) and Kessel (2-3 points), as well as the emergence of 22-year-old Jake Guentzel, that had 13 goals having fun with Sid. In goal, Fleury played with 15 games and Murray played in 11 to combine for a .929 save percentage and a 2.19 GAA. It wasn’t necessarily pretty, but it wound up beautifully.

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