Stanley Cup playoff lessons: Tkachuk the best all-around player? Does home ice matter?

    Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.

The Stanley Cup playoffs constitute the greatest postseason tournament in sports. Not just for the action, the drama, the brutality, the endurance, the pain, the glory and the legends that are made. But because in every single postseason, there are lessons to be learned.

Here are 10 things we’ve taken away from the 2023 NHL postseason, from stars being born to road teams being unstoppable to the wit and wisdom of Jack Hughes. Enjoy!

Matthew Tkachuk: Best all-around player?

Earlier this season on The Drop, when discussing Boston Bruins star David Pastrnak getting a massive new contract, I suggested that not only was Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk a better winger, but that he should be in the conversation for best all-around player in the NHL. For this suggestion, I was dragged by a bunch of fans who found it ridiculous.

A few months later?

I’m just trying not to turn an ankle on my victory lap.

Tkachuk is a star, a force, an MVP contender. He scores big goals and sets them up. He had an assist on Carter Verhaeghe’s Game 7 series clincher and set the critical screen in front of the Boston Bruins’ Jeremy Swayman.

Off the ice, Tkachuk has been the voice of the underdog, proclaiming that it would be miraculous if the Panthers were to take a game from the mighty Bruins. Then after Game 5 — which he won with an overtime goal — he mockingly recalled how everyone else thought Florida would get swept.

He and Sam Bennett have been the most potent duo in the Eastern Conference. Tkachuk is the current leader for the Conn Smythe Trophy, and for good reason.

Full marks to Panthers general manager Bill Zito, who boldly traded star winger Jonathan Huberdeau (and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar) to the Calgary Flames because he believed Tkachuk played the kind of game that would better lead to playoff success. Zito was right.

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