With the NHL regular season set to start on Wednesday night, every team thinks they have a shot at hoisting the Stanley Cup come May. Despite their hopes, there are a few teams that have little chance at making it to the playoffs, let alone the Stanley Cup Finals. The following four teams have absolutely no chance at winning the Cup.
The New Jersey Devils get the nod here. The Devils have a very good young core led by Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri, Marcus Johansson and 2017 first overall pick Nico Hischier.
Last year the Devils ranked last in the East in goals per game (2.20) and second to last in goals allowed per game (2.94). They allowed over 30 shots per game (31.4), which was 20th in the NHL. Their defense was awful last year and it didn’t get much better this offseason. Goalie Corey Schneider played very poorly last season giving up 2.82 goals a game and only a 0.903 save percentage. The Devils, to their credit, brought in a new goalie coach, Roland Melanson, whom Schneider played for in Vancouver where he experienced some of his best seasons.
Travis Zajac, who underwent surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle in August, is expected to miss a good portion of the season. To make matters worse, center Brian Boyle was recently diagnosed with Leukemia and faces an uncertain future as nobody knows when he will be ready to hit the ice. With those question marks and the inexperience of the young players, the Devils miss the playoffs.
It has been a turbulent year for the Florida Panthers. Last season, they fired beloved head coach Gerard Gallant mid-season and then missed the playoffs by 14 points. What’s worse? The Devils lost 29% of their offense as four of their top scorers- Jonathan Marchessault, Jaromir Jagr, Riley Smith and Jussi Jokinen- are all on different teams this season. Those four accounted for 72 of Florida’s 205 goals. So they lost four of their top scorers a year after they finished 23rd in goals. Not good.
They are also very inexperienced. Behind their top line defense consisting of Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad, they have one of the youngest and most inexperienced group of blueliners. Their lack of experienced depth will test them early and often. With Roberto Luongo as their 38-year-old starting goalie, that spells disaster coming off a season where they allowed the eighth most shots in the league. Florida, like New Jersey, has a lot of young guys who can help the team win in the future, but not this season.
The Colorado Avalanche are by far the worst team in the Central, and may very well be the worst team in the NHL (aside from Vegas). The Avs did very little to fix that this offseason, signing backup goalie Jonathan Bernier, underperforming former first-round pick Nail Yakupov, and traded a fourth rounder for forward Colin Wilson.
The trade rumors are still swirling around star player Matt Duchene, who doesn’t exactly seem thrilled to play in Colorado. If the season goes as bad as expected Duchene will almost certainly be in a different sweater by the trade deadline.
Last year’s Avs scored the fewest points in the Salary Cap Era with only 48. It’s hard to expect them to be much better with their lack of improvement in the offseason. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov can still provide solid play in the crease, but isn’t the stout goalie he used to be. The lack of defensive depth behind the top line will put plenty of pressure on Varlamov. The dearth of talent will keep the Avs out of the playoffs.
The easy pick for the Pacific Division would be the new expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights, who will probably finish last in the NHL. It would be unfair to place them on this list, however, because with just one offseason to build a team, they aren’t very talented. No expansion team has ever made the playoffs. So the Vancouver Canucks are the next ones up.
It’s hard to believe a historic team like the Canucks have never won a Stanley Cup. It’s even harder to believe that they made the Cup Finals in 2011, yet they have only made the playoffs once in the last four years. Vancouver isn’t really in the rebuilding mode, instead trying to plug holes with a quick fix (much like the Orioles in baseball-sorry Baltimore).
They rely too heavily on 37-year-old brothers Henrik and Daniel Sedin. They need offensive contributions from others and until they get that, they will be on the outside looking in. Last year the finished in the bottom three of the league in offense, power plays and penalty kills. When you can’t score, or can’t stop people from scoring on special teams, you aren’t going to win too many games.
Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson are promising young goalies, however neither have started more than 30 games in a season so far. So it remains to be seen whether or not they are legitimate starters. Vancouver has a better chance of winning the draft lottery than making the playoffs, let alone winning the Cup.
Those are the teams from each division that have no shot at winning the Stanley Cup. If you are fan of one of these teams, defend them by telling us What the Sports they will do to be successful.