5 New NHL Teams To Make The Playoffs This Season | Tony X
NHL Fanatic, Tony X, gives us his insight on which 5 teams will make the NHL playoffs this season, that didn’t during the 2022/23 campaign.
The 2022-2023 NHL season had 5 different teams make the playoffs this past season that didn’t make it the year before. Generally looking back at the past few years that’s been around the norm for the 16 team field to change on average 4-6 teams. Two of the biggest standouts this season were the Seattle Kraken who finished with 100 points and actually knocked off the defending champions Colorado Avalanche in the first round. The New Jersey Devils were the other “surprise” team that got in with 112 points and were one of the top teams in the league.
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With new teams moving in, some teams had to get the boot. One of those teams was the Pittsburgh Penguins who lost their streak of 16 straight playoff appearances dating back to the 2006 season. The Pens won three cups including going back to back 2015 and 2016 during that run so they’ll be fine with one year off.
The Washington Capitals also didn’t make it in and their playoff appearance run is almost as good as the Penguins. The Capitals made it into the dance 14 times out of the last 15 years and got one cup in the process. With both of these teams missing the playoffs this season, it was the first time in over 15 years that the NHL did not feature either Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby– two of the greatest players of all-time. Are both of these teams past their prime? Will the falloff continue, or will the year without playoffs feed that mentality to make it back better than ever?
Here are five teams that didn’t make the playoffs last season I think will next season:
1. St.Louis Blues
This team needs major improvement on the blue line to get back into the playoff hunt for the 2024 season but it can be done. They have the forwards to compete and put pucks in the Net. Only missing the playoffs twice in the last twelve years I expect a bounce back year after being sellers at the deadline last season. Sure what does making it 10 of the last 12 years mean to the team that’s being put on the ice right now? The front office and coaches know how to build a successful team that can compete and I think 2022 was an off year.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins
The East is a beast in itself, but this team won’t be throwing in the towel nearing the end of Crosby and Malkin’s career. They missed the playoffs by only 2 points last season. There are rumors of them being in high pursuit of Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson to give a bump to the defense and playmaking to try to make a run before the window fully closes.
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3. Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres have the longest active playoff drought in the NHL dating back to the 2010-2011 season but things are getting better very slowly. With the emergence of Tage Thompson and a few other quality players (Skinner, and Alex Tuch) the Sabres barely missed getting into the playoffs last season with 91 points. It will be a tough fight in the Atlantic but this team always seems to start off hot during the beginning of the season but collapse mid-season and that can’t happen again if they want to finally break that drought. Added experience with the coaching and roster will help them get the bump they need.
4. Washington Capitals
The team is getting older and only had 80 points last season but with a top 6 forward lineup this strong they can’t be counted out. The defense isn’t elite but it’s not a weak point in the roster either. Ovi is getting older and doesn’t have many years left. The window is closing but I’m sure the team and front office will do their all to get back into the playoff race.
5. Nashville Predators
Another team right on the edge of making the playoffs but barely missing it. The Predators finished the season with 92 points and fourth place in the division. The Central is a tough division with usually 6 of the 8 teams competing for the playoffs, Chicago and Arizona being the two that haven’t made much noise recently. Ryan O’Reilly will provide a great veteran presence to the team and knowledge of other teams in the division as he spent 4 years with division rival St. Louis Blues.
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They aren’t on the list but a team like the Detroit redwings could also possibly sneak in with a good year. They’re building a solid core and just acquired Alex Debrincat. I’m not sure if they can do it this year but they’ll be there soon.