Though all December hockey games are now canceled, there is still time to salvage the minimum 48-game season. Where there is a season, there are playoffs, and where there are playoffs, there are last year’s losing teams fighting for redemption.
Several clubs have made drastic roster changes that make them virtually unrecognizable from their last-year counterparts. These teams are anxious to start fresh, and get their newly acquired players on the ice.
Many playoff-missing teams will be postseason contenders because of recent trades and acquisitions. Other clubs have sealed their fates by giving away key players, or neglecting to address their weaknesses—see the Edmonton Oilers, which, despite three first-overall draft picks, have yet to acknowledge their defense.
There are also sure to be some opening playoff positions in both conferences.
In the East, without Zach Parise, the New Jersey Devils will have a hard time making the playoffs. In the West, the Detroit Red Wings’ defensive void, left by Nicklas Lidstrom, leaves them vulnerable to losing their spot.
Here is a list of five previously bad teams destined to be contenders in the 2013 playoffs.