Who's Still Chasing Their First Stanley Cup?

Alex Ovechkin Holding Stanley Cup Overhead

The 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs are in full swing, entering the exhilarating second round. While many teams vie to etch another victory in their history, a significant number are in pursuit of their inaugural triumph. This historic competition celebrates one of hockey's finest rituals—the passing of the Stanley Cup—a symbol of ultimate victory and comradeship among players.

This tradition spotlights the emotional peak of the season, reminiscent of the iconic moment when Joe Sakic transferred the Cup to Raymond Bourque, marking a poignant end to Bourque's illustrious 22-year career. This year, the anticipation builds around who will be the next to lift the Cup for the first time, with several veterans eyeing what could be their last shot at glory.

Zach Parise | Colorado Avalanche

Zach Parise's quest for the Stanley Cup has led him to the Colorado Avalanche, where, at 39, he's embarked on what could be his final attempt at the elusive title. Parise signed a one-year deal in January after an 11-season draught that saw him not move past the second round since his 2012 Stanley Cup final appearance with the New Jersey Devils, but Parise has shown resilience.

Following a significant tenure with the Minnesota Wild and then adopting a new role with the New York Islanders, he's transitioned into a crucial second-line player for the Avalanche. Despite no longer being in his prime, Parise's early playoff contributions—two goals in six games—signify his undiminished drive.

Avalanche's coach, Jared Bednar, lauded Parise's choice to join the team, highlighting the collective aspiration to clinch the title for him, encapsulating the veteran's inspiring pursuit of Stanley Cup glory.

Joe Pavelski | Dallas Stars

Joe Pavelski, standing tall at 39, remains a formidable force in the NHL, with an impressive tally of 140 playoff points since 2006, trailing only behind legends Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Nikita Kucherov, and Alex Ovechkin.

The ageless wonder has consistently neared the 30-goal mark over the past three seasons, twice enduring the agony of Stanley Cup final losses with San Jose in 2016 and Dallas in 2020. Pavelski's resilience and passion are palpable, as he admits the pursuit of the Cup continually fuels his drive. In the 2022-23 season, he not only excelled on the ice, finishing second in scoring for the Dallas Stars with 27 goals and 67 points but also off the ice, embodying the spirit of leadership.

Pavelski has played a pivotal role in mentoring rising stars like Wyatt Johnston and Logan Stankoven, earning praise from Stars coach Pete Deboer for his exemplary guidance and commitment to nurturing the next generation of talent. This multifaceted contribution makes Pavelski a linchpin in the Stars' quest for their maiden Stanley Cup victory.

Ryan Suter | Dallas Stars

Ryan Suter, a stalwart in the NHL, stands as the player with the most games without a Stanley Cup win. Throughout his 19 seasons, divided among the Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild, and Dallas Stars, Suter has been a fixture on the ice, averaging 25:42 minutes over 124 playoff games.

Despite his vast experience and critical role, Suter's closest brush with the Cup came last spring, with the Stars' exit in the Western Conference Finals. This season marked a pivot for Suter, averaging less than 20 minutes of game time for the first time since his rookie year.

With one year left on his contract, the 39-year-old defenseman eyes what may be one of his final opportunities to capture the elusive Stanley Cup.

Brent Burns | Carolina Hurricanes

Brent Burns stands as one of the NHL's most colorful and engaging figures, bringing irreplaceable energy both on and off the ice. At 39, Burns's grizzled appearance and spirited personality make him a favorite among teammates and fans alike.

His contributions as a top-pairing defenseman for the Carolina Hurricanes underscore not only his skill but also his unwavering passion for hockey. According to teammate Jaccob Slavin, Burns remains the "biggest kid in the locker room," a testament to his love for the game.

Despite having reached the conference finals thrice, including a heartbreaking loss in the 2016 Cup Final with San Jose, Burns's quest for a Stanley Cup victory remains unfulfilled. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour acknowledges Burns's limited opportunities ahead, highlighting the team's collective recognition and appreciation of his efforts. Burns's unique blend of character and talent continues to inspire, making him a beloved figure in the league and a cherished member of the Hurricanes.

Paul Maurice | Florida Panthers (Coach)

Paul Maurice, with a remarkable tenure spanning over a quarter-century in the NHL, has carved out a reputation as an enigmatic figure in a profession often characterized by restrained personalities. Despite his longevity and record-setting career as the youngest coach to achieve 1,000 and 1,500 games, a Stanley Cup victory has eluded him.

His closest attempt came last year when he led the Florida Panthers on an astonishing run to the Cup final, only to fall to Vegas in five games. Known for his unique style of coaching, Maurice has a way of empowering his players, making them feel capable of leading themselves. Sam Reinhart, a forward for the Panthers, praises Maurice for his direct approach and consistent guidance from the start of their training camp. This methodology not only builds trust but also instills a sense of confidence within the team, setting a solid foundation for their execution on the ice.

As they're leading the league in points, Stanley Cup predictions have Maurice and the Florida Panthers as top contenders for his first-ever Cup victory. With such high expectations, Maurice's coaching prowess will be put to the test, but his unwavering passion and unique approach make him a formidable force to watch in the playoffs.