More often than not, when a team misses the playoffs, there are a number of big changes that should or need to be made, and The NHL is no different.
There are five NHL teams that, despite missing the playoffs this season, have a good chance to recover for next postseason without any significant changes.
These teams simply (and clearly) have one or two positions to fill, whether in net, at the blue line or up front.
The following identifies those five teams, and what those small moves are that will help them reach the playoffs next season.
How the Anaheim Ducks managed such a poor season baffles me.
They've got possibly the best first line in hockey, the ageless Teemu Selanne—one of the best goaltenders in the league—and some pretty good defense too. Their only criticism in years past has been the lack of secondary scoring, but their problems this season ran much, much deeper than that.
That said, the Ducks were one of the best teams in the second half of the season, and at one point actually looked like they'd reach the postseason after going 13-22-6.
The "RPG line" (Ryan, Perry, Getzlaf) performed surprisingly poorly this season, and given the talent of the three, I wouldn't count on a repeat.
This summer the Ducks need to add some more secondary scoring, but there's no need to over-spend and go after the big names, assuming Teemu Selanne returns. If he does elect to retire, Anaheim is in trouble.
Speaking of teams that caught everyone off-guard with a playoff miss, the Buffalo Sabres were expected to challenge the Boston Bruins for the Northeast title rather than miss the playoffs.
When they went on a spending spree last summer to pick up Christian Ehrhoff, Robyn Regehr and Ville Leino, they displayed a strong commitment to winning.
Unfortunately, following a hit by Milan Lucic, Ryan Miller struggled to find his game, and his slump seemed contagious to the rest of the team.
Although the 2011/12 season was a disappointment for Miller and Co., I wouldn't count on a repeat. Ryan Miller is a star goaltender who will surely bounce back from this (like we saw from him near the end of the season).
In addition, it would be hard to imagine anyone on the team playing worse than they did.
The Sabres will likely try to trade Derek Roy this summer, but even if they made no changes, their chances for next season are looking good.
The Carolina Hurricanes were an interesting team last season. Many predicted them to miss the playoffs, which they did. But it's the manner in which they did it that has me thinking next year will be different.
Carolina made an admirable end-of-season run and didn't miss the playoffs by much, despite a horrendous start to the season from Eric Staal and a concussion to Jeff Skinner.
They've got a great defensive core with Pitkanen, Spacek, McBain and Gleason, but struggle when it comes to secondary scoring.
While improved seasons from Staal, Skinner, Tuomo Ruutu and Jussi Jokinen will help the 'Canes, they'll need to acquire some depth players with offensive ability to complete the team.
The Edmonton Oilers are poor defensively and mediocre in goal at best. But there's got to be a point where the plethora of offensive talent on the team makes those things essentially irrelevant.
The team has more former first-round picks on their team than you can count, and another first overall on the way. With almost every player on the roster improving each season, this is the time the Oilers' dynasty begins.
With the first overall draft pick (the rights to Nail Yakupov), they have the power to acquire whatever they feel necessary. They could keep the pick and draft Yakupov, or trade down and pick up a star defender or a better goaltender in the process.
You've got to think that if the Oilers address one of their two problems (defense or goaltending), that it would be enough to make the playoffs.
A healthy season from Taylor Hall wouldn't hurt either.
The main difference between the Tampa Bay Lightning that made it to the conference finals and the Tampa Bay Lightning that missed the playoffs is very, very clear.
When they did well, Dwayne Roloson was on the top of his game; when they missed the playoffs, he was one of the worst goaltenders in the league.
At 42 years old, Roloson is likely to retire. But even if he doesn't, it's not a risk the Lightning should be taking.
There are a number of goaltenders available this summer (Thomas, Harding, Bernier, Luongo, Schneider, Vokoun, Clemmensen). If Tampa Bay acquired any of these guys, they'd be in a good spot to make the playoffs.