A Comprehensive Look at the NHL: Purgatory (Part 4/5)
This is where teams end up when they just miss the playoffs, but finished with too many points to get a decent pick. The Toronto Maple Leafs come to mind when thinking of this category. Here are the teams currently “stuck in purgatory”:
Just playing hockey this year is considered a win in Winnipeg. But they actually have been winning, and especially at home. Not enough to find themselves in a playoff spot, but maybe a little more than people expected. The only problem now is that if they don’t step their game up and grab one of the spots, they will be losing out on a top draft pick that they so desperately need. Personally I don’t see them sneaking in this year, especially with Kane out of the lineup. Vegas odds of winning the Stanley Cup are 67 to 1.
Tampa Bay Tampa is hard to figure out. They go from losing a tight 7-game Conference final to the current Stanley Cup champs, to being 10 points out of a playoff spot this year. They have the best scorer in the league, with a pretty good supporting cast on offense. Their D is solid, despite a few injuries. And on their back-end, oh, well maybe they aren’t so hard to figure out. Tampa has given up the most goals in the NHL, and that’s even with the 1-3-1 formation. So lets take a look at the keepers. I think last year was Rolly’s swan song, as I don’t think there is anything left in the tank. Time to send the 42-year-old out to pasture. Career backup, and 34-year-old Garon isn’t the answer either. Tampa needs a complete overhaul in the goaltending department before they can contend again. My advice would be to take a draft pick, and fix it in the offseason. But the way they are playing lately they could sneak up into a spot, especially if they could nab one of the few disgruntled tenders around the league before trade deadline. Vegas odds of winning the Stanley Cup are 56 to 1.
Montreal is another proud team that doesn’t want to hear the words “rebuild”. And why would they after making the playoffs 4 years in a row, and also taking the Bruins to a 7th game last season. But in all honesty the talent isn’t there. Cinderella runs, and riding good goaltending into a playoff spot, won’t yield a cup anytime soon. They do however have a few bright spots on the team in which to lay a foundation, Carey Price being one of them. And now is the perfect time to start accumulating prospects and bring this storied franchise back to greatness. Vegas odds of winning the Stanley Cup are 67 to 1.
Jamie Benn has stepped up nicely this year, but it still doesn’t fill the void of Brad Richards. And that’s really the difference between the Stars being a bubble team, and a playoff team. They are only a few points back of a spot, and have the talent to close the gap, but I don’t think they will make any noise without bolstering their lineup down the stretch. If they don’t, their almost better off getting a decent pick because they do have a good nucleus to build on. Vegas odds of winning the Stanley Cup are 51 to 1.
Calgary is no stranger to purgatory. They have finished in 10th place in the west two years in a row, and are right on pace to make it a third. That would make 3 years of no playoffs, and no top draft picks. Something has to give. I keep hearing Iginla’s name in the trade rumour mill, and quite frankly it’s not a bad idea. I know he’s their franchise player, and a great guy on and off the ice, but they need to admit that they failed with him, and start again. First, move Iginla. Second, buyout or move some of those other big contracts. Third, get more involved in the draft. Well, either that or keep over-paying on trade deadline day and finish 10th again. Vegas odds of winning the Stanley Cup are 51 to 1.
After years of struggling, the Coyotes finally found some success the last few seasons by qualifying for the playoffs. This year, it looks like their back to their usual losing ways. I don’t want to say that it’s all goaltending (losing Bryzgalov), but it is definitely a major factor. The other big thing in Phoenix seems to be poor scouting, and lack of player development. All those years near the basement should have had them looking like the Blackhawks, or the new Oilers, but instead there headed back down there with nothing to show for it. Of the last five draft years they have given up on and traded two of their top three picks. That’s just unacceptable in a market that can barely sustain a team when they are winning. Vegas odds of winning the Stanley Cup are 56 to 1.
Okay, ladies and gentlemen, there is the list of those teams who are just not good enough to make the playoffs, and are also not horrible enough to get a top pick in the draft – in other words, hockey purgatory. Check back tomorrow for the final installment, as we look at the teams who are utterly hopeless.
…and that is the last word.
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