From the Anaheim Ducks to the Winnipeg Jets, here is why each NHL team won't win the Stanley Cup this season.
October 07, 2015
1 of 30Harry How/Getty Images
Can you really trust a team that blows a 3-2 series lead and then fails to clinch at home in Game 7... three years in a row? These Ducks have plenty of talent. What they're lacking is heart.
2 of 30Ross D. Franklin/AP
A team that posted a league-worst minus-68 goal differential needed to add a significant defenseman to shore up the blueline. GM Don Maloney scoured the market and managed to pick up an all-time great. Unfortunately, it was Chris Pronger, who has been sidelined by lingering concussion symptoms since 2011 and currently works in the league front office. Probably not the answer they were looking for.
3 of 30Julio Cortez/AP
A preseason injury scare for Zdeno Chara illustrated how close this team is to having a defense led by Torey Krug, Zach Trotman and Adam McQuaid. After trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg long term (back surgery), the B's can plan of spending a lot of time chasing the puck around their own zone for the first two months. By that point the playoffs could already be out of reach.
4 of 30Gary Wiepert/AP
If Robin Lehner is the answer, what exactly was the question? The league's worst defense last season (35.6 shots allowed, 3.28 goals-against) is counting on a bunch of kids (Jake McCabe, Mark Pysyk, Rasmus Ristolainen) to man the blueline and a goaltender whose GAA over the past two seasons hovers above 3.00. That's a recipe for something, but it's not a Stanley Cup.
5 of 30Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images
You see that guy jumping up and down and waving his arms over there? He's dying to tell someone, anyone, that the Flames are going to suck hard this year. Because, yep, #fancystats. Calgary's possession numbers were brutal last season, second worst in the entire league. Sure, they still got into the playoffs and knocked off a higher-ranked opponent in the first round, but even Ken King, the team's own president, admitted they “made a lot of 40-foot putts” along the way. The stats nerds will swear to you that that sort of thing has a way of catching up to a team, and since hockey is a game of math they're probably right. Better luck next year, Flames!
6 of 30Harry How/Getty Images
A team that's finished no better than 12th in the conference over the past four years and hasn't made the playoffs since 2009 looks like a solid bet to extend both streaks this time around. The main culprit? An offense that tallied 183 goals last season, 27th in the league, and might be even worse this year.
7 of 30Joe Raymond/AP
The defending champs should be in the mix to repeat, but the lingering stench of the Patrick Kane rape investigation, the loss of key players Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya and the hangover effect of a short, difficult summer could conspire to derail them early in the postseason.
8 of 30Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images
Maybe the power play won't be quite as bad as the one that clicked at just 15 percent last season (second-to-last in the league). And maybe their brutal possession numbers under coach Patrick Roy (43.8 percent last season) will improve organically. And maybe...nah. This team is cannon fodder.
9 of 30Ross D. Franklin/AP
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Jackets won't have to worry about a crippling string of injuries crushing their dreams this season. Their wafer-thin blueline should derail them long before sick bay starts looking for extra beds.
10 of 30Andrew Nelles/AP
Not to put too much weight on the preseason, but wasn't the goaltending supposed to be better this year? Somehow Kari Lehtonen went 0-3-0 with a 4.57 GAA and an .821 save percentage and Antti Niemi, signed as a free agent to push for the top job, went 1-2-0 with a 3.00 GAA and an .877 save percentage. Forget the Cup—at this rate, the Stars can count on missing the playoffs... again.
11 of 30Dan Hamilton/Icon Sportswire
Detroit Red Wings
Mike Babcock is gone, replaced behind the bench by the promising but unproven Jeff Blashill. They aren't sure whether veteran Jimmy Howard is their starter or if playoff hero Petr Mrazek is ready for the role. They'll start the season with several key injuries, including the irreplaceable Pavel Datsyuk. And let's face it—that playoff streak has gotta end some time.
12 of 30Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images
Before the arrival of Connor McDavid elicits visions of the next Stanley Cup parade, take a moment to consider Edmonton's defensive top-four: Andrej Sekera, Justin Schultz, Oscar Klefbom and Mark Fayne. The worst group in the league? Sure looks like it, eh?
13 of 30Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images
The Panthers are counting on their maturing young core to bridge the seven-point gap that separated them from the playoffs last season. It might work—both Sasha Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau are poised for big years—but kids like these come with no guarantees. If they do make the cut, their D will make for a short stay. Asking Willie Mitchell to play top-four minutes is courting disaster.
14 of 30Mark J. Terrill/AP
Los Angeles Kings
No team will be happier to welcome the new three-on-three OT format than the Kings, who were an awful 3–15 in extra time games last season. While ground made up there should be enough to get them into the playoffs, an inconsistent offense and a feckless power play will trip them up.
15 of 30Ann Heisenfelt/AP
Two numbers to consider: .936 and .914. The first is the remarkable save percentage Devan Dubnyk posted after joining the Wild midway through last season. The second is Dubnyk's very pedestrian career save percentage. If Minnesota's most important player comes within five points of that average, the Wild can kiss their playoff hopes goodbye.
16 of 30David E. Klutho for Sports Illustrated
Carey Price can't possibly be as good as he was last season, can he? He'd better be, because if the reigning MVP regresses even a little, Montreal's 20th-ranked offense and brutal possession game will drop this team into wild card territory...or worse.
17 of 30Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images
The Preds have most of the pieces needed to mount a serious Cup challenge—elite goaltending from Pekka Rinne and a deep, talented blueline—but can any team dressing Mike Ribeiro, Matt Cullen, Cody Hodgson and Paul Gaustad as its four centers be taken seriously as contenders? Ribeiro and Cullen are both 35 and aging out quickly. Hodgson has washed out in Vancouver and Buffalo. Gaustad is strictly a two-zone player. That group's not up to the challenge of Jonathan Toews, Anze Kopitar and Tyler Seguin.
18 of 30Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
New Jersey Devils
Remember that pop-gun offense that outscored only the Coyotes and Sabres last season? Yeah, the Devils solved the problem by signing veteran castoffs Lee Stempniak and Jiri Tlusty. May as well go ahead and order the champagne now.
19 of 30Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images
New York Islanders
Are we really sure Jaroslav Halak is the answer in goal? Sure, he set a few franchise marks last season, and arguably kept the team afloat by himself in the first half. But he also bears most of the responsibility for his team's 2.73 goals-against average—23rd overall and the worst of any team that made the playoffs—and deserves a large share of the heat for a penalty kill that ranked 26th at just 78 percent. Hard to make any headway when you're not getting the stops.
20 of 30Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire
New York Rangers
Remember last season when Henrik Lundqvist went down and Cam Talbot stepped in to save the day? Well, Talbot's manning the pipes in Edmonton now, leaving Antti Raanta and Magnus Hellberg as the fallbacks if the 33-year-old King is deposed. Anyone feel good about that? And while the Blueshirts have come close in each of the past two years, the additions of Emerson Etem, Jarret Stoll and Viktor Stalberg aren't likely to put them over the top.
21 of 30Tommy LaPorte/Icon Sportswire
Hard to knock this team beyond saying they're good... but not good enough. The Sens are counting heavily on solid sophomore campaigns from Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone. The pair combined for 53 goals as rookies and might need to ramp that up to 60 to keep Ottawa in the hunt for a wild-card spot.
22 of 30Bob Frid/Icon Sportswire
Remember last season when Steve Mason delivered a Vezina-caliber performance (his .928 save percentage ranked third in the league) and the Flyers still were a bottom-10 team defensively? Unless they've cloned Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek, Philly won't score anywhere near enough to compensate for the pylons that man their blueline.
23 of 30Gene J. Puskar/AP
Pittsburgh's forwards might be hockey's answer to the Harlem Globetrotters, but they'll need to get the puck out of their own zone before they start whistling Sweet Georgia Brown. A defense of Kris Letang, Ian Cole, Olli Maatta, Ben Lovejoy, Rob Scuderi and Brian Dumoulin ranks in the bottom half of the league, maybe bottom third. Not exactly a championship foundation.
24 of 30Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire
San Jose Sharks
Remember what happened to the last team that gambled on a Kings backup to become its starter? Keep poor Ben Scrivens in mind when you ponder what young Martin Jones—he of 29 career starts—can bring to a San Jose team that ranked 24th in team defense last season. He's been terrific in exhibition action, but he's yet to prove himself capable of facing a steady diet of NHL-caliber talent.
25 of 30Ann Heisenfelt/AP
St. Louis Blues
Forget about winning the four consecutive playoff rounds it takes to capture the Cup. It'll be a stunner if the Blues can sneak past in the first round. That's a trick that St. Louis has managed just once in the past 13 seasons, despite finishing first or second in their division six times during that span.
26 of 30Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Steven Stamkos contract will be the stick that gets jammed in the spokes of their season. Forget trying to play it down. Every time the Bolts cross the border the drama will kick into high gear and the assumption will grow that he’s wanted to test free agency all along. Imagine what this team could look like if he gets traded before the deadline...
27 of 30Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images
Toronto Maple Leafs
I see what the problem is here. It's not that the Leafs have been stripped down for parts as they undertake an extensive rebuild. And it's not the lack of depth up front or a defense that allowed 33.5 shots against last season, second-most in the league. It's that they don't have enough good Ontario boys!
28 of 30Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images
Ryan Miller is like the singer who can't quite hit the high notes anymore. He still reaches but he can't quite get them. Sort of like the pucks that keep finding the open corners of his net. Miller's career is in sharp decline, and backup Jacob Markstrom doesn't offer much in the way of insurance. Tough to win when you can't get a stop.
29 of 30Alex Brandon/AP
It's not a sketchy commitment to defense that's destined to sink the Capitals come playoff time. It's their overreliance on special teams. That's the common thread that binds their recent postseason flops. Calls are tougher to come by when it gets down to the marrow, and that's why stars like Alex Ovechkin (1-1-2 in his last five Game 7s) and Nicklas Backstrom (1-2-3 in his past nine) become peripheral players when it matters most. Until they figure out how to become beasts at five-on-five, the Caps are doomed to also-ran status.
30 of 30Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images
No team felt more shame last season than the Jets, who spent more time in the box than any other team. Winnipeg played at least one man down for a league-high 521:46, which is a lousy way to conduct business when your PK ranks a middling 13th. Tough to win a championship with no self-discipline.
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