5 NHL Teams That Don’t Have a Chance of Contending In 2013
5 NHL Teams That Don't Have a Chance of Contending In 2013
The salary cap currently in place in the NHL is designed to help level the playing field for all teams, yet there are always a handful that end up having little chance to contend in any given season. Injuries, poor performance by star players and a lack of system depth are all factors that can lead to this outcome. Just as certain as there have been 10-15 teams that are consistently in the playoff picture over the last decade, there are 10-15 that have repeatedly found themselves headed to the golf course early on in the spring.
A few surprise teams are off to a great start and are looking to change their fate from previous seasons. A stellar draft class has contributed a handful of impact players already, and for the teams not seeing an immediate benefit from their young prospects, the future still looks bright. The Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche could reach the playoffs after finishing at the bottom of the Western Conference standings last season, but that turnaround fate likely won’t be the same for Eastern Conference basement dwellers like the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers. Since it’s still early in the season, technically every team “has a shot” at contending, but here’s a look at five teams that you can bet won’t be hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup next summer.
The Carolina Hurricanes are 2-2-2 to start the season, with backup goaltender Anton Khudobin in net for both wins. With Khudobin now headed to injured reserve and Cam Ward looking nothing like the Conn Smythe-winning netminder he once was, this team is in trouble. The Hurricanes are 24th in the league in scoring (averaging 2.2 goals per game) and are 23rd in the league on the power play. Jordan Staal (one assist) and Jiri Tlusty (no points) have been particularly disappointing early on.
The Buffalo Sabres are without a doubt the least surprising team to end up on this list, but after an 0-6-1 start things look even more bleak than they did last season. Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek deserve better than this, and could be dealt at the trade deadline if things haven't improved. The Sabres are last in the league in scoring, averaging one goal per game and have the fourth-worst power play. A 10-game suspension for Patrick Kaleta couldn't have come at a worse time.
The Florida Panthers were one of the worst teams in the league last season, and things don't look much brighter this season. With a great group of young talent they will be contenders in a few years, but right now they continue to struggle with defense and goaltending. Signing Tim Thomas seemed like a good move, but he has shown some rust and is already battling an injury. Top prospect Jacob Markstrom continues to struggle between the pipes, and the Panthers are giving up an average of four goals per game.
This season is off to a horrible start for the Philadelphia Flyers. After a 3-0 start the team fired head coach Peter Laviolette, and they are now 1-5 while averaging just over one goal per game. Offseason acquisitions Ray Emery and Vincent Lecavalier haven't panned out yet, and Claude Giroux is minus-3 with one assist while averaging 21 minutes through six games. It could be a very long season for Flyers fans.
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers are 1-4 to start the season, and have the worst goals-against in the league (5.00). Henrik Lundqvist has struggled, and the team waived backup Martin Biron this week in an effort to shake things up. Offensively, the Rangers are averaging 1.8 goals per game, as Rick Nash, Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan are all searching for their first goals. The lone bright spot has been Brad Richards' hot start (four goals, five points points in five games) after a disappointing 2012-13 season.
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