Which team without a Stanley Cup is going to win one next?
With the Washington Capitals winning their first ever Stanley Cup they get to come off the list of those that are still searching for theirs. Who is going to get theirs next? Here’s an attempt at ranking their chances from most likely to least likely. And no I am not counting Stanley Cups that were from the Original Six days. Sorry, not sorry.
This team is built to win right now. I think if they got through Winnipeg they probably would have won it all last year. They still have some sweetheart deals with Filip Forsber, Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, and Viktor Arvidsson. David Poile has done a nice job of managing his RFA’s into long term deals. He forgave bridge deals and locked these players in for the long term without paying UFA prices. The last few years they have been legitimate contenders and should continue to be for another couple years. They are one of the best bets for teams in the win-now window
They played well against the Golden Knights and ran up against Marc-Andre Fleury at his career best level of play. They have a bevy of young talented forwards which are complimented nicely by star players like Mark Shiefele and Blake Wheeler. The reason I have them lower than the Predators is because there is a little bit of uncertainty moving into 2018-19 with Jacob Trouba’s RFA status and Paul Stastny being an unrestricted free agent. Connor Hellebuyck had a breakout season, but he is also due for a new contract before the season.
Yes I have the Maple Leafs on here. Quite frankly I don’t look back on the Original Six era as fondly as some do. I have a hard time putting a lot of value in the number of titles a team wins when you barely need a second hand to count the number of teams. Toronto has a lot going for them right now. The reason I have them below the other two here is because of the conference and playoff setup. They have to get through Tampa Bay and Boston and then have a likely matchup with Pittsburgh or Washington after that just to reach the Stanley Cup Final. I am very bullish on Kyle Dubas running the team. I would think that the Matt Martin, Ron Hainsey, and Roman Polak missteps will be a thing of the past. Their core group of young players are due to get paid, but they should have enough money to navigate that issue. The Toronto Marlies are consistently one of the better AHL teams and are on the cusp of winning the Calder Cup right now.
The Golden Knights had a lot of fortunate things happen to them in their inaugural season. They were gifted two thirds of a top line by a guy who hate math and computers. They got the best year of Marc-Andre Fleury’s career. They play in the Pacific Division. They play in Vegas which is probably the most distracting location in the league for a visiting player. They are in a unique spot where they took on players other teams didn’t want and hadn’t paid. They hit on quite a number of them. They should be able to manage their cap moving forward even with a raise coming to a guy like William Karlsson. Being the Pacific Division is a huge help. You have Peter Chiarelli totally bombing his way through being awarded Connor McDavid. Arizona isn’t a threat. Los Angeles is middle of the pack. San Jose is older every year. Vancouver is Vancouver. Calgary has some potential, but so did Carolina under Bill Peters. Vegas has a great situation right now.
Yes I have the Sabres here. Landing Rasmus Dahlin was a must for the team and the lottery ball was the right one this time. Jason Botterill will eventually fill the Sabres depth from within. When you look back at the Pittsburgh Penguins depth most of it came from the AHL which Botterill was in charge of. Randy Sexton has also come over from Pittsburgh and will help with the drafting end of things. The Rochester Americans made the playoffs for the first time in years with the newfound attention being paid to organizational depth. Apparently the Oilers are interested in Rasmus Ristolainen again. If Botterill can pry Klefbom from the Oilers then their previously suspect defense group just got a whole lot better. Ryan O’Reilly is either going to stay in Buffalo and continue to be an effective center or the Sabres will probably get good value back in a trade. The Sabres are on the rise and have some potential moving forward. The other teams on this list are stuck in neutral or just flat out stink.
Can’t say I’m really comfortable placing them here, but when you see the teams below none of them stick out as good candidates. Artemi Panarin, Seth Jones, Alex Werenski, Cam Atkinsonand Sergei Bobrovsky are incredibly talented. Pierre-Luc Dubois had a really good 2017-18 season. After that you have Nick Foligno and Brandon Dubinsky eating up over 10M in cap space getting older and less effective each passing year. The Penguins remain a road block for Columbus. They are a good team that needs a lot to go right to navigate through the current playoff format. Plus it’s about that time John Tortorella’s message starts wearing thin on the players.
The only reason they are here is that they are in the Pacific Division. This team is old and leans too heavily on players who are older and closer to their twilight than their prime. They had a great window to strike, but that window is pretty much closed. Signing Evander Kane to a 7M per year deal isn’t going to move the needle.
Middle of the road team with some really talented players, so so depth, and very questionable goaltending. There are a few younger players that might turn out to be good NHL players, but nothing that will propel them to Cup favorite any time soon. The Blues are aptly named for now and the immediate future
They had a real good team two years ago and were upset in the first round by St. Louis. That was their best look at it. This team is good, but they are in a San Jose Sharks situation in a much tougher division. They have to get through Nashville and Winnipeg within the first two rounds. That is rough. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are eating up a ton of their cap space and they are both 33 years old and have seven(!) years left on their deal. There will probably be compliance buyouts in the near future with another lockout coming, but even with those can Minnesota afford both buyouts? These contracts are horrid. Losing Alex Tuch and Erik Haula didn’t help the cause here
They won’t make out as well as the Vegas Golden Knights did, but there are still plenty of general managers who will do them favors. Even if they don’t get any favors and pluck best available from each team they still in better shape than the other teams on this list. They’ll probably get Vincent Trochek from Florida because they want to protect Derek MacKenzie. Also they should be called the Seattle Sasquatch. Make it happen.
Losing the Sedins is the end of an era for the Canucks. Keeping the Sedins as long as they did hurt them long term. They needed to start their rebuild sooner and now that they’ve waited the lottery rules aren’t as advantageous as they were. You also have the rumors of Vancouver shopping their seventh overall pick right now which doesn’t speak highly to a commitment to said rebuild.
A whole lot of blah. Clayton Keller is a very exciting younger player, but past that there isn’t much. What happens if Oliver Ekman-Larsson doesn’t want to sign? You’d have to hit a home run with that return on that trade which is never a great proposition when you are trading the best player in the deal away. It doesn’t help when you draft in the top three and that selection is Dylan Strome who has made absolutely no impact at the NHL level. There’s a huge canyon between Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel and Strome and that was the margin for error in the older lottery format. You needed to lose harder than the other teams and Buffalo was better at losing that year. They have cap space, but will never use it. If they relocated they would probably jump up the rankings slightly.
They had a good thing going and then they reversed course. While I do think the analytical approach is way better than the Dale Tallon one, you can’t keep flipping back and forth between your roster construction style regardless of which one you go with. This left the team in turmoil and as a result they lost a ton of talent for free. They gifted the Western Conference Champions two-thirds of their top line for the ability to protect Alex Petrovic. You really showed the Computer Boys on that one, Dale. By the way Alex Petrovic is being shopped now. You can’t make this stuff up.
Pathetic franchise that not only won’t win a Stanley Cup, but deserves one the least. Does anybody actually care about the Senators other than the people of Ottawa? I feel for the fan base because they do love the Senators. It’s just that their owner is a disgrace and the rink location is less than ideal. I see nothing about this situation that is going to get better. They should honestly be considered for relocation to Quebec City. It would be an easy transition as the PA announcer in Ottawa already incorporates French into everything. Erik Karlsson wanted to stay. They screwed that up. Enough said.
Thanks for reading!