Which 2020 NHL playoff teams are in danger of missing the playoffs this season?

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Every year there a couple of teams across the NHL that make the playoffs after missing the previous year. If one of those teams is making the playoffs, that means a team that made the playoffs is going to have to miss.

So let’s take a look at the playoff teams from the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and see which ones are most likely to miss.

Since the 2020 postseason was a little different with the qualifying round, we are only counting playoff teams as teams that advanced through the qualifying round and to the Round of 16 as playoff teams. It just makes it easier. So for the purposes of this exercise, if your team lost in the play-in round, we are not considering them a playoff team. Only teams in the field of 16 are included.

Teams least likely to miss (should be safe)

Tampa Bay Lightning. The defending Stanley Cup champs have too much talent, are too good, and are still a legit Stanley Cup contender even without Nikita Kucherov during the regular season.

Colorado Avalanche. Maybe the best roster in the league on paper.

Vegas Golden Knights. They have two top-pairing defenders, two No. 1 goalies, and a deep collection of impact forwards. Definite Stanley Cup contender.

St. Louis Blues. When they get Vladimir Tarasenko back from injury an already strong team is going to get a huge addition.

Boston Bruins. Even with the questions on defense the forwards and goalies are good enough to push them through.

Washington Capitals. They have won their division in five consecutive seasons. They may not win the division this season, but there is no way there are four teams in their division that are better than them.

It could happen (but not likely)

Dallas Stars. The goalies and defense make me say no chance, but the offensive questions and some early season injuries give me a little bit of pause. There are some really good teams in that division.

Carolina Hurricanes. Deep group of forwards and an outstanding defense make them what should be a Stanley Cup contender. As long as the goaltending holds up. That is the wild card here.

Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers are always a mystery and capable of winning 10 in a row or losing 10 in a row, so you just have to roll the dice and see what you get. Carter Hart is the real deal and there is enough talent here that I think they are a playoff team. But that division is fierce and at least one or two really good teams in it is going to miss.

It might happen (entering the danger zone)

New York Islanders. If the Islanders get in, I could see them winning a round or two again and making a run. Here is the problem: They have to finish with a better record than four of Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo during the regular season. They finished fifth out of that group a year ago (behind Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh) while another team, the Rangers, was just a single point behind them. Making the playoffs is not a lock here, even for an Eastern Conference Finalist from a year ago.

Calgary Flames. We know four teams in the North Division are going to make the playoffs. I feel confident in saying Toronto and probably Edmonton (lost in the qualifying round in the bubble) will be among the top-four. I am confident in saying Ottawa will not be. After that, you have Calgary, Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver fighting for two spots and I am not sure there is all that much separating them.

[Related: Preseason Power Rankings for contenders and pretenders this season]

Vancouver Canucks. They took a big step a year ago, won a playoff round for the first time since 2011, and were a Game 7 away from the Western Conference Final. The top half of their lineup is good enough to make a lot of noise. The bottom half of the lineup is a major liability and the goaltending is a big question mark.

Montreal Canadiens. In a normal year they would not have been even close to the playoffs a year ago. But they were the 24th team into the bubble and then shocked the hockey world by beating the Pittsburgh Penguins to get into the field of 16 where they lost a very close, tough series to the Philadelphia Flyers. They were probably better than their record might have you believe a year ago, and they did have a really strong offseason, but is that enough to get back in the playoffs?

Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets have caused chaos two postseasons in a row, sweeping the 62-win Tampa Bay Lightning two years ago and then beating the Toronto Maples in the qualifying round a year ago in a season nobody expected them to do anything. Did they add enough offense? What if the goaltending does not repeat its performance? Those are the two big questions that could hurt them.

It probably will happen

Arizona Coyotes. They are not going to be better than Colorado, Vegas, or St. Louis so that means their ceiling is probably fourth place. The goaltending is encouraging, but where is the offense going to come from? Are they better than one of Minnesota, San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles? Maybe some of them. But this is still a roster lacking in difference makers and that can be difficult to make up.

Chicago Blackhawks. Similar to Montreal, this would not have been a playoff team in a normal year. But they were one of the 24 teams in the bubble, beat the Oilers in the play-in round to sneak into the Round of 16, and were quickly dispatched by the Vegas Golden Knights. Out of all the 16 playoff teams, this is the one I am most confident in saying will not be back in the playoffs this season. It is an undermanned roster to begin with two completely unproven goalies, but it is also going to be dealing with some significant injuries all season.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced Friday that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

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TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.

Back with Wild, Fleury welcomes big workload as clear No. 1

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — With his ever-present smile, tireless approach and long list of accomplishments in the net, Marc-Andre Fleury has always embraced a heavy workload.

The Minnesota Wild sure haven’t shied away from leaning hard on their new – and 37-year-old – goalie. After arriving in a deadline-day trade in March and re-signing with the Wild in July, the guy everyone calls “Flower” is still fully abloom as he begins his 19th season in the NHL.

“They say, `You play,’ I play, unless maybe I’m hurt or something,” Fleury said. “But other than that, I like playing.”

Wild general manager Bill Guerin initially planned to bring back both Fleury and Cam Talbot, who made the All-Star team and went 13-0-3 in his last 16 regular season starts before being benched in favor of Fleury for the first-round playoff series against St. Louis. The Wild lost in six games, after Talbot got the cold start in the elimination game and gave up four goals on 26 shots.

Guerin changed his mind, though, after signing Fleury to a two-year, $7 million contract. Realizing Talbot’s frustration from the lack of postseason action, he didn’t want to risk any tension or discontent. Talbot was traded to Ottawa for Filip Gustavsson, who will be the No. 2 goalie while top prospect Jesper Wallstedt gets more development in the AHL.

Gustavsson has only 23 career regular-season starts, nearly 200 fewer than Talbot, so it’s a good bet that Fleury will get the majority of the games.

“I was ready to share the load with him, but things didn’t work out and happy to be having the chance to play maybe a bit more. It’s fun to play. It’s more fun than sitting on the bench,” said Fleury, who went 28-23-5 in 56 combined starts for Chicago and Minnesota last season with a 2.90 goals against average and a .908 save percentage.

The Wild reconvened for training camp last week, beginning their quest to recapture the mojo they enjoyed last season while setting franchise records for points (113), wins (53) and goals (305). The only team that finished ahead of them in the Western Conference was Colorado, which went on to win the Stanley Cup, but they never met the Avs in the playoffs because the Blues got to them first.

There’s a strong chemistry in place, at least, to build upon.

“We still have a lot of guys here who were here last year. We’re just trying to make it even better, just trying to listen to everybody,” center Joel Eriksson Ek said. “We want to set a standard and a way for how hard this team’s going to work.”

The Wild start the regular season by hosting the New York Rangers on Oct. 13.

COMINGS AND GOINGS

The most significant roster move of the summer amongst the skaters was the inevitable salary-cap-driven trade of second-leading scorer Kevin Fiala to Los Angeles. Fiala had a career-high 33 goals and 52 assists last season. Guerin otherwise dabbled mostly in two-way contracts in free agency for depth. Former Anaheim center Sam Steel signed with Minnesota last month, one day after defenseman Dimitry Kulikov was dealt to the Ducks.

MORE POWER

The Wild were done in during the playoffs by abysmal special teams. They went just 4 for 24 on the power play against the Blues, and head coach Dean Evason had the team working on that on the first day on the ice. The penalty kill that lagged last season was a focus of the second practice.

“It has to get better, no question,” Evason said.

BLUE LINE SHUFFLE

Captain Jared Spurgeon has been placed with Jonas Brodin on the first pair on defense, and Jake Middleton has joined Matt Dumba on the second unit. Dumba and Brodin are close friends who’ve been paired together for several seasons.

“Dumbs is a shooter too,” said Middleton, who re-signed for three years and $7.35 million. “It’s pretty exciting. I can get some cookies passing him the puck. That’d be a big plus. I think it’ll work well. He loves hitting guys too. He plays a gritty game as well so I think we’ll be a good combo.”

UP FRONT

With Jordan Greenway recovering from offseason surgeries, Tyson Jost will get the first chance to skate with Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno. The departure of Fiala has opened at least one spot for a rookie to make the team, with 2020 first-round draft pick Marco Rossi in line for it.

ON THE SLATE

This is the first time in eight years the Wild will play their regular-season opener at home. After three more games at Xcel Energy Center, they don’t hit the road until a five-game trip that starts Oct. 22 at Boston. The Wild have a season-long nine-game homestand from Feb. 9-21.

Stars expect to open camp without unsigned scorer Jason Robertson

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FRISCO, Texas — Young 40-goal scorer Jason Robertson is expected to miss the start of training camp for the Dallas Stars because the team and the restricted free agent haven’t agreed on a new contract.

General manager Jim Nill said there’s been steady, ongoing negotiations over the last couple of weeks with Robertson and his representatives. Nill wouldn’t say what has kept the two sides from reaching a deal, adding there have been “very good discussions.”

The Stars, with new coach Pete DeBoer, open camp Thursday in Cedar Park, Texas, at the home of their AHL team. They have three days of work there before returning to North Texas for their exhibition opener at home on Monday night. They open the regular season Oct. 13 at Nashville.

“I think he’s disappointed he’s not at camp, we are too,” Nill said before the team departed for the Austin area. “I think it’s very important for a younger player and as you mentioned, the (new) coaching staff. … We do have some time on our side, but we wish he gets here as soon as he can.”

Robertson had a base salary of $750,000 last season, the end of a $2.775 million, three-year contract. He still has five more years before he has the opportunity to become an unrestricted free agent.

The left wing turned 23 soon after the end of last season, when he had 41 goals and 38 assists for 79 points in his 74 games. Robertson joined Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Modano, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin as the only 40-goal scorers since the franchise moved to Dallas in 1993.

A second-round draft pick by the Stars in 2017, Robertson has 125 points (58 goals, 67 assists) in his 128 NHL games. He had one goal and three assists in his first postseason action last season, when Dallas lost its first-round playoff series in seven games against Calgary.

DeBoer said he looks forward to coaching Robertson, but that the forward’s absence won’t change his plans for camp.

“It doesn’t impact what I’m doing,” DeBoer said. “Listen, I laid awake at night with the excitement of coaching Jason Robertson, 40-plus goals, but he’s not here. So, you know, until he gets here, I can’t spend any energy on that.”

Nill said the Stars are open to a long-term extension or a bridge contract for Robertson, who was part of the team’s top line last season with veteran Joe Pavelski and Roope Hintz. They combined for 232 points, the second-most in franchise history for a trio.

“We’re open to anything. But other than that … I’m not going to negotiate through the media,” Nill said. “As I said, we’ve had good conversations. We’ll see where it goes.”