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8 NHL Teams Headed For The Cup In 2018 And 7 That Will Finish In The Bottom

Every NHL team’s goal at the beginning of each season is to win as many games as possible and make the playoffs to become contenders for the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately only eight teams in each Conference will make the playoffs and that leaves 15 teams who will have to wait another season to try their luck again.

So which teams will make a run for the Stanley Cup in 2018 and who will finish at the bottom of the standings? This article includes just 15 teams which means that I left out 16 of them, so let’s take a look at a couple of the teams I didn’t mention.

The Colorado Avalanche finished last in the entire league last season, but they did just sign Jonathan Bernier, so that helps their goaltending situation but not their lack of goal scorers. So although I don’t think they’ll finish in the bottom, I definitely don’t think they’ll make a run for the Cup.

Despite the Washington Capitals finishing first overall last season, they lost in the second round of the playoffs. In fact, they lost in the second round of the playoffs the last three consecutive seasons. They have a habit of choking in the playoffs; therefore, I don’t think they’ll be huge contenders for the Cup.

With that being said, let’s take a look at the 8 teams headed for the Cup in 2018 and the 7 teams who will finish at the bottom.

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15 Headed For The Cup: Winnipeg Jets

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Last season, the Winnipeg Jets finished ninth in the Western Conference and failed to make the playoffs. Since relocating from Atlanta in 2011-12, they only made the playoffs one time in 2014-15 when they lost in the first round. Last season they ranked 7th for the amount of goals scored by the team. One of their biggest problems, however, was the large amount of goals scored against them, which was the 4th highest in the league. They did make a good acquisition this off-season with the signing of goaltender Steve Mason, who has pretty decent numbers and should definitely help Winnipeg’s other goalie, Connor Hellebuyck.

With Mason also guarding the net now, I think the Jets will have a pretty good shot at playing for the Stanley Cup this upcoming season.

14 Finish In The Bottom: Los Angeles Kings

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Last season, the Los Angeles Kings finished tenth in the Western Conference and failed to make the playoffs. In fact, they missed the playoffs twice in the last three years. Last season, they ranked very low (25th) for the amount of goals scored by the team. They did, however, have the sixth lowest amount of goals scored against them, which was a relief after goaltender Jonathan Quick got injured and they had to rely on Peter Budaj to take his place.

During this off-season, they signed Michael Cammalleri who is a decent point producer, so that could help their scoring troubles, but they need to do more if they want to become real contenders for the Stanley Cup again. They’ve certainly been struggling since winning two Stanley Cups in three years in 2012 and 2014.

13 Headed For The Cup: Toronto Maple Leafs

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Last season, the Toronto Maple Leafs finished eighth in the Eastern Conference but lost in the first round of the playoffs. It was only their second time making the playoffs in the last twelve years. They finished 5th in the entire league last season in goals scored by the team and during this off-season they signed Patrick Marleau who is a good point producer. They did, however, rank very bad (22nd) for the number of goals scored against them, but with their new acquisition of veteran defenseman Ron Hainsey, hopefully he’ll help to lower those numbers.

The Leafs have several young talents on their roster, such as Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews who took home the Calder Memorial Trophy last season as rookie of the year. With a team full of bright new talent, as well as some great veterans, I think the Maple Leafs have a good shot at playing for the Stanley Cup this upcoming season.

12 Finish In The Bottom: Tampa Bay Lightning

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Last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning finished tenth in the Eastern Conference and failed to make the playoffs. In fact, it was the first time in four seasons they didn’t make the playoffs. They struggled when it came to scoring goals as they ranked 14th in the league. And they did even worst (ranked 16th overall) for the amount of goals scored against them. Also what hurt them was the fact that their captain and big point producer, Steven Stamkos, missed the majority of the season with a knee injury.

During this off-season, they did acquire Chris Kunitz, who can produce points and defenseman Dan Girardi, who is good at blocking shots, but I don’t think that’s enough for the Lightning to have a good shot at winning the Stanley Cup this upcoming season.

11 Headed For The Cup: Minnesota Wild

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Last season, the Minnesota Wild finished second in the Western Conference, but lost in the first round of the playoffs. They have made the playoffs for the last five consecutive seasons and made it to the second round twice. They had the second highest number of goals scored in the league and had five players record over 50 points last season, including two guys who racked up over 60 points. They have one of the best goalies in the league with Devan Dubnyk and the Wild had the 7th lowest amount of goals scored against them. And they just signed Kyle Quincey, who is a decent defenseman.

If the Wild continue to improve like they’d been doing, and they can get past the first round of the playoffs, they should have a great shot at winning the Stanley Cup this upcoming season.

10 Finish In The Bottom: Boston Bruins

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Last season, the Boston Bruins finished seventh in the Eastern Conference but lost in the first round of the playoffs. It was the first time they made the playoffs since 2013-14. Last season, they ranked 13th for the number of goals scored by the team and had the 9th lowest number of goals scored against them. They did have five players who produced over 50 points, but only two of them scored over 30 goals. Based on those stats alone, they need a few more players who can rack up goals, but they didn’t make any big acquisitions during this off-season so far.

Considering that they only made the playoffs once in the past three seasons, along with the fact that they ranked fairly low in goals scored last season, not to mention the fact that they haven’t made any big moves so far, I don’t think the Bruins will be headed for the Stanley Cup this upcoming season.

9 Headed For The Cup: Chicago Blackhawks

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Last season, the Chicago Blackhawks finished first in the Western Conference, but lost in the first round of the playoffs. They have made the playoffs every year since 2008-09 and have won three Stanley Cups during that time. Last season they ranked 9th in the league for the number of goals scored by the team and ranked 10th for the amount of goals allowed. This off-season they signed Patrick Sharp, who is a known point producer and who spent several seasons with the Blackhawks early in his career, so he should help bring up their total of goals scored.

With a tremendous amount of playoff experience, the Blackhawks know what it takes to win the Stanley Cup, and I think they have a pretty good chance of taking home another championship this upcoming season.

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8 Finish In The Bottom: Arizona Coyotes

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Last season, the Arizona Coyotes finished twelfth in the Western Conference and failed to make the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. As a matter of fact, in the last fourteen seasons, they missed the playoffs every year except for three consecutive seasons from 2009-10 to 2011-12. Last season, they had the 4th-lowest number of goals scored by the team and had the 3rd-highest amount of goals scored against them.

It’s pretty obvious that they need a major roster change and they’re in desperate need of point producers. They only had one player last season record over 50 points, and all but four players had a plus/minus rating in the minuses. They did acquire Derek Stepan this off-season, who is a good point producer, along with Antti Raanta, who is a decent goaltender, but the Coyotes need to make more changes if they want a shot at the Stanley Cup.

7 Headed For The Cup: New York Rangers

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Last season, the New York Rangers finished 5th in the Eastern Conference, but lost in the second round of the playoffs. They have made the playoffs in the last seven consecutive seasons and have made the conference finals twice and the Stanley Cup finals once. Last season they had the fourth highest amount of goals scored in the league. And during this off-season, they signed David Desharnais and Kevin Shattenkirk who are both decent point producers. The Rangers did rank 13th in the number of goals scored against them, but they just signed Ondrej Pavelec, who will be a good backup goaltender to Henrik Lundqvist and should help to bring their number of goals against down.

With the acquisition of a couple new point producers, as well as a decent backup goaltender, the New York Rangers have a very good chance at winning the Stanley Cup this upcoming season.

6 Finish In The Bottom: Vancouver Canucks

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Last season, the Vancouver Canucks finished 13th in the Western Conference and did not make the playoffs. In fact, it was the third time in the last four years that they hadn’t made the playoffs. They were the second worst team in the entire league for their amount of goals scored. And they didn’t do much better with goals scored against them as they were ranked 24th.

During the off-season they signed defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who is known to deliver some big hits, along with forward Sam Gagner who can produce points. But if they want to make a successful playoff run, the Canucks will need to make a lot more roster changes than that. I think it will definitely take a few more seasons for them to become Stanley Cup contenders.

5 Headed For The Cup: Pittsburgh Penguins

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Last season, the Pittsburgh Penguins finished second in the Eastern Conference and won their second consecutive Stanley Cup. As a matter of fact, they have made the playoffs the last eleven consecutive seasons and won a total of three Stanley Cups during that time. Last season they had the highest number of goals scored in the entire league, so it’s not surprising that they didn’t acquire any big point producers this summer. They did, however, rank 17th in the number of goals allowed against them. This off-season, they signed defenseman Matt Hunwick and goaltender Antti Niemi, so that should help lower the number of goals scored against the team.

Will the Penguins win their third consecutive Stanley Cup this upcoming season? I think they have a pretty good shot at making it three in a row.

4 Finish In The Bottom: Carolina Hurricanes

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Last season, the Carolina Hurricanes finished 12th in the Eastern Conference and failed to make the playoffs for the eighth consecutive time. They ranked pretty bad among all NHL teams for the number of goals scored by them (ranked 21st) and the amount of goals scored against them (ranked 19th). Jeff Skinner was the only player last season who produced over 30 goals and more than 50 points. It takes a lot more than one great player to make a team and that’s definitely where the Hurricanes are struggling.

There’s no doubt that this team needs a major roster change, but the only big acquisition they made so far during this off-season was Justin Williams, who is a decent point producer with a good overall plus/minus rating. I highly doubt we’ll see the Hurricanes play for the Stanley Cup any time soon.

3 Headed For The Cup: Columbus Blue Jackets

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Last season, the Columbus Blue Jackets finished third in the Eastern Conference, but lost in the first round of the playoffs. It was only the third time in franchise history that they made the playoffs which includes twice in the past four seasons. They also have one of the best goaltenders in the league with Sergei Bobrovsky, who won the Vezina Trophy last season. And that would also explain why they had the second lowest number of goals scored against them during the regular season. They also had the sixth highest number of goals scored by the team. In fact, they had five players who reached the 50-point mark last season.

With a bit more playoff experience under their belts from last season, I do think they have a great shot at winning the Stanley Cup this upcoming season.

2 Finish In The Bottom: New Jersey Devils

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Last season, the New Jersey Devils finished in last place in the Eastern Conference and failed to make the playoffs for the 5th consecutive season. They had the third lowest number of goals scored in the entire league and ranked 26th for the amount of goals allowed against them.

They signed Brian Boyle during this off-season, but he only brings a physical presence to the team and isn’t much of a point producer. If the Devils want to make the playoffs again, they need to get guys who can rack up major points, acquire some better defensemen, and a good goaltender. They only had two players last season who barely produced over 50 points (both recorded 53 points each) and their goaltending situation wasn’t much better with Cory Schneider earning just 20 wins in 60 games.

1 Headed For The Cup: Edmonton Oilers

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Last season, the Edmonton Oilers finished fourth in the Western Conference and lost in the second round of the playoffs. That was the first time they made the playoffs since 2005-06 when they lost in the Stanley Cup finals to the Carolina Hurricanes. The Oilers ranked eighth in the league last season for both the amount of goals scored by the team and also for the number of goals allowed against them. And this summer they signed Jussi Jokinen who can definitely rack up the points.

They have a talented group of young players, especially Connor McDavid, who led the league with 100 points last season and who took home three awards this year (Art Ross Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy, and Ted Lindsay Award). I definitely think the Oilers have a shot at winning the Stanley Cup this upcoming season.

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