With the offseason now upon us, teams across the NHL are trading and signing newer and better players in an attempt to improve from the previous season. Some teams have put the pieces together and now it is time to execute those pieces into action; it is time to make a push for the playoffs. This list is about teams that could finally make it back into the playoffs, ending their drought.
The Coyotes have been an underdog team for the past few seasons, but their playoff drought continues to grow as they’ve missed the playoffs for the past six seasons. They always seem to do well in the offseason, but last season was a molding season for the Yotes.
With so many new faces in new veterans such as Derek Stepan and Niklas Hjalmarsson and young kids getting full-time roster spots such as Christian Fischer, the Coyotes simply just needed a season to learn how to play and develop chemistry. It was also goaltender Antti Raanta’s first NHL season as a starting goalie, but he definitely took the time to learn as he posted the best stats as a goalie from the second half of the season in the entire league as he posted a 1.94 goals against average and a .938 save percentage.
With new faces like Alex Galchenyuk and Michael Grabner as new forwards, they give the Coyotes a brand new look to how they could play out next season. Along with returning veterans, such as Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who has been locked in for another eight years, they could earn one of the two Wild Card spots in the Western Conference.
This team is a coin flip at the moment, but the Sabres could make it back into the playoffs out East. They drafted, number one overall, Rasmus Dahlin, a Swedish defenseman with incredible puck handling skills and scoring ability, and have a young talent in Jack Eichel. They’ve also acquired some interesting key pieces from the Pittsburgh Penguins as they received forward Conor Sheary and defenseman Matt Hunwick in exchange for a fourth round pick in the 2019 draft.
Buffalo practically stole Sheary and Hunwick from the Pens. Despite losing big names Robin Lehner and Ryan O’Reilly, they found a new goaltender as they signed Carter Hutton who had a 17-7-3 record last season with the St. Louis Blue.
Despite them being young, they are still more than capable of making the playoffs.
Dallas is a confetti cannon just waiting to erupt. They have so many big pieces locked up for a few years and they have playoff talent, they just need to prove it. With Alexander Radulov, Ben Bishop, Martin Hanzal, Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, they are just waiting to get back in the playoff action. Jim Montgomery, who has been the head coach over at the University of Denver since 2013-14, he has a track record the speaks volumes in working with young players.
The Stars just need to use these pieces they have and use them to their full potential to be a playoff contending team.
After an impressive campaign in 2015-16, going 47-26-9 and winning their division, the Panthers seemed to have a lot of the pieces in place to make a deep playoff run, only to get thwarted by the second wild card New York Islanders in six games.
The Panthers are in a two-year playoff drought going into the 2018-19 season. They came oh-so-close last season, but they just couldn’t get over the hill. They have a lot of big pieces like solid goalies Roberto Luongo and James Reimer and other players like Aaron Ekblad, Alexander Barkov, Evgenii Dadonov, and Mike Hoffman. The Panthers could make a huge impact in the standings and get back in the playoffs.
So those are the few teams that could end their playoff droughts in the upcoming NHL season. Some of the other teams will make the playoffs or be competitive while another crop of franchises could be heading towards dismal campaigns.