Take, for example, the opening argument over at TPSH:
The Stanley Cup playoffs (especially the later rounds) are supposed to be epic battles between great teams. This year, this doesn't seem to be the case. None of the four truly remaining playoff teams look to me as great teams that win Stanley Cups.
A truly great team can be measured by a few metrics. I will choose two are examples (which I think demonstrate the problem). A truly great team has an elite goalie who is one of the best in the NHL. A truly great team (one that wins the Stanley Cup any year in recent memory) has at least four or five (and in many cases even more) players who are clearly on Hall of Fame tracks in their career.
In other words, don't even bother playing a regular season. Or have a playoff season. Piece together some sabermetrics, throw some 12-sided dice, and hand the Cup to the best team on paper. The sad news for TPSH is that this isn't a game of Strat-o-Matic baseball. This isn't Dungeons & Dragons. Games are played on the ice. By real players. The better player is only the better player if he is the better player. Likewise for the better team. And to suggest that a team isn't Cup-worthy unless they have five or more "players who are clearly on Hall of Fame tracks in their career"? That's complete garbage. There's another problem with that line of thinking, and it's that people seem to think that the Hall can induct an infinite number of players. That's another post for another day. During the off-season, maybe.
There's a reason that the NHL, and NBA and MLB use a playoff series format. They want to eliminate fluky upsets by inferior teams. They want to take "bad nights", or "playing above one's head" or "lucky bounce" out of the equation. To advance in the playoffs, you have to prove that you deserve to. Detroit finished the season with the best record in the league. With their future HOF roster, certain folks would award them the Cup right then. But when it counted, they couldn't win. You want a marquee matchup with marquee players? Don't blame the league. Don't blame Carolina and Buffalo and Edmonton. Blame Detroit. Blame Montréal. Blame New Jersey. Those are the teams that couldn't, despite their clout, get it done.
As for Tom Benjamin,(who is probably still mad because the Baltimore Stallions won the 1995 Grey Cup during the CFL's failed attempt at expansion into the USA) with his "we want the same four teams to win the Cup over and over" drone, I suggest that he watch the NBA instead. I don't buy into the "it's bad for ratings" or "it's bad for the overall health of the league" garbage. The sad reality is that our sport is a niche one anyway. True fans will watch the Cup final no matter who's in it. Casual fans don't know the difference anyway, and non-fans will continue to not care. While it's true that none of the remaining teams are dynastic, we may be witnessing the beginning of a dynasty. Or not.
In short, Edmonton is there because they deserve to be. They won three best-of-seven series to EARN the right to play for the Stanley Cup. Carolina and Buffalo deserve to be where they are, and by Friday morning, one of them will have earned the right to be playing for the Cup. Anyone who thinks that these teams are "mediocre" or thinks that they don't deserve to be where they are just hasn't been watching. Look, I'm sorry that the Canucks had an epic collapse at the end of the season, playing themselves out of the playoffs and allowing Edmonton to slip in the back. I really am. That doesn't mean that Edmonton didn't help themselves, nor does it mean that they're "lucky". Sure they had some luck to get the eighth seed, but there's a lot more than luck involved when you win three best-of-seven series.
Get over it. The league has more than six teams now, some of them are in non-traditional markets, and most of them are competitive.