Ranking the East teams who missed the playoffs

Thumbnail image for Olli Jokinen.jpgWith the playoffs just a few hours away, this is surely a great time to be a hockey fan. That being said, there are fourteen teams on the outside looking in. No doubt about it, they must feel more than a little jealous and probably are asking themselves what went wrong (OK, many are just wondering “Should I use a 9-iron?” but still). With those sad souls in mind, I decided to rank their chances of making the playoffs next year.

Obviously, this is as hasty as it gets, but I hope you find this fun. First, let’s start with the Eastern Conference.

1. New York Rangers

Now, previous success isn’t always an indicator of how a team will do in a season (just ask the Colorado Avalanche), but I think the Rangers might have the best shot to make the playoffs next year. They’re not very deep and are arranged incredibly poorly, but this is the East we’re talking about here.

2. Carolina Hurricanes

A lot went wrong for Carolina this season, but they still finished the year pretty strong. Naturally, they have some rebuilding to do, but Eric Staal and Cam Ward are a nice start.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning

Well, we know that the Lightning will add a new coach and general manager, for one thing. Who knows if the team will make some major changes, but if not, it’s hard to imagine a trio of Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier missing the playoffs again.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs

Their roster is kind of a disaster, but the team has the deepest pockets of any franchise who missed the playoffs. That has to count for something, even in a salary cap system.

Jump for the three teams in the East that will probably stay in the cellar next year.


5. Atlanta Thrashers

This team is far-and-away the biggest mystery. They have a ton of cap room for this summer so in a few months they could be No. 1 on this list. Then again, the franchise sports the order and logic of a tornado, so they could just as easily drop to No. 7.

6. Florida Panthers

Florida’s front office spoke of big changes. We’ll see. They might rank higher in the actual East standings next season, but I still think they’ll miss the playoffs. Those other teams seem more able to have a nice run. At least at this point, six months before the 2010-11 season.

7. New York Islanders

This team has a long way to go before they reach contender status, but I like a lot of the things they’re doing. 

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    Avalanche reportedly settle with Nieto, avoiding arbitration

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    Matt Nieto won’t need his arbitration hearing on Monday.

    According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Nieto has agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract with the Colorado Avalanche.

    Nieto split last season between San Jose and Colorado, which claimed him off waivers in January.

    In 43 games for the Avalanche, the 24-year-old forward scored seven goals with four assists.

    Nieto was the only Colorado player on this summer’s arbitration list. However, the Avs still have a restricted free agent in Nikita Zadorov, who could be off to the KHL next season.

    3 KHL players suspended after testing positive for banned substances

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    The International Ice Hockey Federation has announced that three KHL players have been suspended after testing positive for banned substances.

    Here’s an excerpt from the KHL’s website:

    The IIHF has informed the KHL that three players – forward Danis Zaripov (then with Metallurg Magnitogorsk), defenseman Andrei Konev (Admiral Vladivostok) and defenseman Derek Smith (Medvescak Zagreb) – have tested positive for banned substances.

    Derek Smith tested positive for a category S6.а stimulant.

    Andrei Konev tested positive for a category S6.b stimulant.

    Danis Zaripov tested positive for a category S6.b stimulant plus category S5 diuretics and masking agents.

    Zapirov, who was part of Team Russia at the 2010 Olympic Games, has been banned from suiting up in “competitive hockey” until May 22, 2019. Konev will be unable to play until Nov. 19, 2017, while Smith, who is Canadian, will be suspended until Sep. 2, 2018.

    Smith, 32, played in 94 NHL games with the Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames between 2009-10 and 2013-14.

    Report: John MacLean could join Tocchet’s coaching staff in Arizona

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    The Arizona Coyotes have a new head coach, but Rick Tocchet still has to fill out the rest of his staff.

    According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the ‘Yotes might be looking to add John MacLean to their coaching staff.

    MacLean, 52, spent six years as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils (2002-2009) before becoming the head coach of their AHL affiliate. After one year of coaching in the minors, MacLean was promoted to head coach of the Devils. His tenure didn’t last very long, as he was fired after just 33 games (they were 9-22-2 under his watch).

    He spent the following three seasons as an assistant in Carolina, but he was let go after the 2014 season.

    MacLean hasn’t been back behind an NHL bench since being let go by the ‘Canes. Instead, he’s served as a hockey analyst on various television networks.

    Related:

    Tocchet wants Coyotes’ young players to be ‘creative’ and ‘calculated’

    Tocchet brings lessons from past mistakes (and successes) to Coyotes

    Sabres re-sign Robin Lehner to one-year, $4 million deal

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    The Buffalo Sabres avoided salary arbitration with goalie Robin Lehner, as they inked him to a one-year, $4 million contract on Tuesday morning.

    Lehner and the Sabres were scheduled to have their hearing on July 27, but that obviously won’t be necessary anymore.

    The 26-year-old played a career-high 59 games in 2016-17. He finished the year with a 23-26-8 record, a 2.68 goals-against-average and a .920 save percentage.

    There’s no doubt that he’s a talented netminder, but he’s had his share of struggles when it comes to staying healthy and being consistent. Of course, the team in front of him hasn’t been very good either.

    Both of Buffalo’s goalies (Lehner and Chad Johnson) will have something to prove this season because they’re both on one-year contracts. When their deals expire next summer, Lehner will be a restricted free agent again, while Johnson will be free to test the market on July 1st.

    The Sabres now have just over $10.9 million in cap space with RFAs Zemgus Girgensons, Nathan Beaulieu and Evan Rodrigues still needing new contracts.

    A huge extension for Jack Eichel is also on the horizon, but his new salary won’t count on the cap until 2018-19.