Unlike the NFL, it’s rare to find NHL teams that have been away from the playoffs for more than three seasons. However, for the New Jersey Devils, Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres and especially the Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers, it’s getting difficult to remember what playing in the postseason feels like.
New Jersey Devils – 3
The Devils won the Stanley Cup three times from 1995 to 2003, but since making the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012 (losing to the Kings), they’ve missed the playoffs each year, although they haven’t been miserable, which is something to go on. Excluding lockout years, last season was their worst since 1988-1989.
Florida Panthers – 3
No surprise here, as the Panthers, beginning their NHL “career” in 1993, have been to the postseason just four times since entering the league. They haven’t won a playoff series since 1996, when they somehow made it to the Cup finals, losing in a sweep to the Colorado Avalanche.
Buffalo Sabres – 4
Up until the beginning of the 2000’s, the Sabres were rarely out of the postseason, although they have no titles to show for their consistency and have made the Stanley Cup finals just twice since 1970, their first year in the league. The last few years haven’t been easy, missing the playoffs six times in the last 8 years and losing 102 games over the last two seasons. They haven’t won a playoff series since 2007.
Carolina Hurricanes – 6
The Hurricanes tend to have one special season and then disappear for a few years. They made the Cup Finals in 2002, missed the playoffs twice and then won the trophy in 2006. Since then they’ve been to the postseason just once (2009), making the conference finals and getting swept by the Penguins. Last season was the second worst in the history of the franchise since moving to Carolina.
Edmonton Oilers – 9
It’s hard coming down from the Olympus, especially when all the gods desert you. The Oilers won five Stanley Cups in seven years from 1984 to 1990. But life has been difficult without stars. They made the finals once again in 2006 only to lose against the Hurricanes in game 7. They’ve finished with more wins than losses only twice since, and the last two season have been extremely difficult, picking up 88 losses in that span.