Which of These 12 Teams Is Next to Win Its First Stanley Cup?

Riley Kufta@@RileyKuftaContributor IIIJune 21, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 11:  The Los Angeles Kings pose together with the Stanley Cup in a group photo after defeating the New Jersey Devils in Game Six of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals at Staples Center on June 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The Kings defeated the Devils 6-1 to win the series 4 games to 2.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Winnipeg Jets

Years without a cup: 1 (18 if you want to count the early Jets)

Closest: 2011-12 - 11th in Eastern Conference (1984-85, 1986-87 - lost in Smythe final to Edmonton Oilers)

Technically, the Winnipeg Jets of today have just one season to date, due to how recent the old franchise was there, one could argue the old one should count. 

But the way I see it, they're just 0/1 thus far with plenty of years in a strong NHL market to become champions. 

Columbus Blue Jackets

Years without a cup: 12

Closest: 2008-09 - Swept in first round of playoffs by Detroit Red Wings.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are an addition from the most recent expansion in 2000, allowing minimal time to have earned their first Stanley Cup. 

Despite the short lifespan, the Blue Jackets have been a major letdown since entering the league. They made the playoffs just once in 2008-09, and failed to win a single game. 

Things aren't looking up for the Blue Jackets either, as they are coming off a last-place finish, and are expected to cut ties with franchise player and star forward Rick Nash. 

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 03:  Mark Letestu #17 and Rick Nash #61 of the Columbus Blue Jackets in action during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on April 3, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Minnesota Wild

Years without a cup: 12

Closest: 2002-03 - Swept in conference finals by the Anaheim Ducks.

Entering the league in the same year as the Blue Jackets, the Minnesota Wild have managed to find much more success. 

In just their third season in the league, the Wild made it to the Western Conference finals. 

Although they've only made the playoffs three times, the Wild have an attractive organization and a great hockey market. 

Fans in Minnesota can expect more early success as the years pass. 

Nashville Predators

Years without a cup: 14

Closest: 2010-11, 2011-12 - Lost in second round

Founded in 1998, the Nashville Predators are one of the newest teams to join the NHL. Although missing the playoffs in their first five seasons, Nashville developed a strong defensive core through drafting, and have since made the playoffs seven of the eight past seasons. 

GLENDALE, AZ - MAY 07:  (L-R) Ryan Suter #20, Shea Weber #6 and Colin Wilson #33 of the Nashville Predators stand attended for the National Anthem before Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2012 NHL Stanle
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

They made a habit of first round exits, which was changed in 2010-11 when the Predators won their first-ever playoff round against the Anaheim Ducks. Although losing in the second round, Nashville followed with a second playoff-round win this past season against the Chicago Blackhawks. 

With the future of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter in question, Nashville may find themselves struggling to pick up a third series win, let alone a Stanley Cup in the next few years. 

Phoenix Coyotes

Years without a cup: 16

Closest: 2011-12 - Lost in Western Conference finals to the Los Angeles Kings

The Phoenix Coyotes began as the Winnipeg Jets, but were relocated to Phoenix in 1996. 

Since then, they've struggled in the desert, in both financials and hockey. 

Once going on a run of just one playoff appearance in eight years, the Coyotes are now back on track, and have continually improved. 

Their best season is the most recent in our minds, as the Coyotes, led by Mike Smith, made it past the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators in the 2012 playoffs. 

GLENDALE, AZ - MAY 22: The Phoenix Coyotes skate off the ice in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings at Jobing.com Arena on May 22, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Kings defeated
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Coyotes lost in the Western finals to the Los Angeles Kings, who went on to win the Stanley Cup. 

As long as a deal is worked out that can keep the team in Glendale, Phoenix Coyotes fans can expect to see more success in the coming years. 

Florida Panthers

Years without a cup: 19

Closest: 1995-96 - Lost in Stanley Cup Finals to the Colorado Avalanche

Despite having been around since 1993, the Florida Panthers have reached the postseason just four times. 

In their first appearance, however, the Panthers defeated the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins en route to the Stanley Cup Finals. 

They ended up getting swept by the Colorado Avalanche, but it was an impressive season nonetheless.

This past season marked the first time the Panthers won the Southeast Division, and it was their second-most successful playoff run, bringing the Devils to Game 7 of the first round. 

SUNRISE, FL - APRIL 26: The Florida Panthers and the New Jersey Devils shake hands at center ice after the conclusion of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the BankAtlantic Center on April 26, 20
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Ottawa Senators

Years without a cup: 20

Closest: 2006-07 - Lost in Stanley Cup Finals to the Anaheim Ducks

Through 20 years in the NHL, the Ottawa Senators have had their fair share of playoff appearances. None have come closer than the 2006-07 run which saw them defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres before losing to the Anaheim Ducks. 

After that season, the team went into rebuilding mode. 

Luckily for Senators fans, it appears as though the rebuild is over as the Erik Karlsson era has arrived with high potential. 

San Jose Sharks

Years without a cup: 21

Closest: 2003-04, 2009-10, 2010-11 - Lost in Western Conference finals

In recent years, the San Jose Sharks have developed into one of the best teams in the league. 

SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 19:  S.J. Sharkie skates on the ice before the San Jose Sharks game against the St. Louis Blues in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on April 19, 2012 in San Jose
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Unfortunately, they've also become well-known for choking in the playoffs, as they have yet to make it past three rounds despite one President's Trophy and six Pacific Division titles. 

The era of regular-season dominance seems to be winding down, as the players who have led the team are on the wrong side of 30. 

Luckily for San Jose fans, the Sharks are reportedly in on the Rick Nash sweepstakes, who would bring back their youth while ending the playoff curse in the meantime. 

Washington Capitals

Years without a cup: 38

Closest: 1997-98 - Lost in Stanley Cup Finals to the Detroit Red Wings

So far, the teams listed in this article are reasonably new to the NHL, and it's understandable that they haven't won the hardware yet. 

But now, we're into the journey teams. 

The Capitals have been in the league for 38 years without winning a Stanley Cup, and have reached the finals just once. In 1997-98, the Capitals were swept by the Detroit Red Wings in the finals, after defeating the Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres. 

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 30:  Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with teammates Marcus Johansson #90 and Nicklas Backstrom #19 after Ovechkin scored a goal to give the Capitals a 3-2 lead in the third period in Game Two of the Eastern Conf
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Alex Ovechkin era came with promise and potential, but the Caps are instead finding themselves earning a reputation similar to that of the previously mentioned San Jose Sharks. 

Buffalo Sabres

Years without a cup: 42

Closest: 1974-75, 1998-99 - Lost in Stanley Cup Finals

The Buffalo Sabres have been around for 42 years, which is an awfully long time without winning it all. 

In the '70s, they lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in the finals, and did so again in 1999 against the Dallas Stars. 

The Sabres are going through a bit of an identity crisis right now, as they missed the playoffs last season despite very high expectations. 

Even so, the Sabres are a strong candidate to be the next team removed from this list. 

Vancouver Canucks

Years without a cup: 42

Closest: 1981-82, 1993-94, 2010-11 - Lost in Stanley Cup Finals

The Vancouver Canucks, who entered the league in the same expansion as the Buffalo Sabres, are currently the best team on this list, and the most likely to end the drought next season. 

That said, they need to overcome some barriers first, as they've made a habit of reaching the finals and being unable to capitalize, the most recent of which came last season when they forfeited a 3-2 series lead in the finals against Boston, going on to lose in seven games. 

The fanbase of the Canucks has grown a reputation of their own, as riots ensued following the 2011 loss, as well as the 1994 Game 7 loss to the New York Rangers. 

When the Canucks reached the finals in 1982, they were swept in four games by the New York Islanders. 

St. Louis Blues

Years without a cup: 45

Closest: 1967-68, 1968-69, 1969-70

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 15:  Goalie Cory Schneider#35, Kevin Bieksa #3, and David Booth #7 of the Vancouver Canucks react as fans cheer Dustin Brown's goal for the Los Angeles Kings in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The St. Louis Blues are the oldest team in the league that has yet to win a Stanley Cup. 

Upon entering the league, the Blues made it to the finals three straight seasons, but failed to pick up a win against the Stanley Cup winners (Montreal, Montreal, Boston). 

They've had enormous regular-season success, as they missed the playoffs just three times in their first 37 seasons. 

Following the lockout, the Blues missed the postseason five out of six seasons. 

But after almost picking up the President's Trophy last season, they appear to be back on track to pick up a cup. 


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