blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Qualification Droughts

Monday, April 13, 2015

NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Qualification Droughts

At the outset of every season, each team aspires to win the Stanley Cup. Six months later, the playoff seeding is set and only 16 teams continue to chase that dream. The remaining 14 clubs must wait until next season to renew their quest for the Cup. For them, the playoff drought begins.

The chart below describes, in descending order, the number of seasons each of the current 14 teams has gone without making the Stanley Cup playoffs, showing the last year they qualified for the postseason.

Team                          Years         Last Playoff
Edmonton Oilers
Carolina Hurricanes    
Buffalo Sabres
Arizona Coyotes
Florida Panthers
New Jersey Devils
Toronto Maple Leafs
Boston Bruins
Colorado Avalanche
Columbus Blue Jackets
Dallas Stars
Los Angeles Kings       
Philadelphia Flyers
San Jose Sharks       

Only 2 of the 7 Canadian teams (Edmonton, Toronto) find themselves on this year's list, compared to last year when all but Montreal missed the postseason. Edmonton owns the longest active playoff qualification drought missing the playoffs for nine consecutive seasons, one season shy of Florida's all-time record of ten straight playoff misses ending in 2012

Interestingly, half of the teams that missed this year's playoff skated in last year's postseason (Boston, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Jose), making room for seven squads that missed last year's real season (Calgary, Nashville, New York Islanders, Ottawa, Vancouver, Washington, Winnipeg).  The seven team turnover marked the largest year-to-year change in NHL history. Overall, there has been a playoff turnover of at least five clubs in 8 of the past 10 seasons, proving that parity is a stark reality in the NHL's modern salary cap era.  

Further, for the first time since 2007 and only the fifth time since the Original Six era, the defending Stanley Cup champions failed to qualify for the postseason (Toronto 1968, Montreal 1970, New Jersey 1996, Carolina 2007, Los Angeles 2015).

In terms of salary cap, four of the top ten spending teams (Philadelphia 1st, Boston 6th, Colorado 7th, Florida 9th) and five of the bottom ten spenders (Columbus 22nd, San Jose 23rd, Carolina 25th, Buffalo 26th, Arizona 30th) missed the playoffs, proving once again that neither well-financed nor under-capitalized teams are immune from on-ice failure.

For the 14 teams on this list, the playoff rains can't come soon enough.

* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Series Win Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Final Appearance Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Championship Droughts.