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Breaking Down the NHL Teams with the Bleakest Futures

Steve SilvermanFeatured Columnist IVJune 26, 2016

Breaking Down the NHL Teams with the Bleakest Futures

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    We can look at a young team like the Edmonton Oilers and see that they have a boatload of young talent on the roster.

    Perhaps Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov will never become a dominant team that wins championships, but it's difficult to watch them play and come to the conclusion that the struggling Oilers don't have much brighter days ahead.

    On the other hand, there are several teams that may not have the youth or depth that is likely to give them future success.

    One good trade or one superior draft pick may be enough to turn them around, but the following five teams seem likely to struggle during the foreseeable future.

Columbus Blue Jackets

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    The Columbus Blue Jackets have made the playoffs once since they started playing in the NHL in 2000-01.

    They had a legitimate, game-changing superstar in Rick Nash, but he was traded to the New York Rangers by Scott Howson last summer.

    Howson is no longer the Blue Jackets general manager. John Davidson was hired as team president, and that's probably a good thing for the franchise. Davidson hired Jarmo Kekäläinen as general manager.

    However, while Davidson may know the game, it could take years for the Blue Jackets to turn things around. They simply don't have enough talent on the roster. Their top scorers are Vinny Prospal, Fedor Tyutin and Mark Letestu, and they are simply not good enough players to turn the Jackets into winners.

    The Blue Jackets have high hopes for young defenseman Ryan Murray, whom they drafted with their first-round pick (second overall) last year. However, Murray is out for the year with a shoulder injury, and his progress has been delayed.

    The move to the Eastern Conference won't hurt the Blue Jackets, because they have been an abject failure in the Western Conference.

    But it may be several seasons before they can challenge the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins or Philadelphia Flyers.

Buffalo Sabres

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    The Buffalo Sabres realized they had a problem last year when Ryan Miller's teammates did not come to his defense after he was run over by Boston's Milan Lucic in a regular-season game.

    The Sabres had plenty of talent, but they did not have enough grit. They traded skilled Derek Roy to Dallas for hard-nosed Steve Ott. They also signed goonish John Scott to fight battles against the league's tough guys.

    There's little doubt that the Sabres are a tougher team than they were last year, but they are not better.

    The Sabres fired head coach Lindy Ruff earlier this year and general manager Darcy Regier could be next on the firing line if owner Terry Pegula wants to pull the trigger (via Yahoo.com).

    The Sabres lack identity and consistency. They are in a three-way tie for 12th in the Eastern Conference, and they appear to be a long way from turning things around.

    While Ryan Miller is still considered one of the better goalies in the league, he is struggling this year with a 2.82 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.

    Things may get worse for the Sabres as they go through a transition period for the next year or two.

Calgary Flames

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    Is there a more clueless general manager in the NHL than Jay Feaster of the Calgary Flames?

    Feaster is apparently living in Fantasyland as he seems to believe is capable of playing with the big boys in the NHL and making a legitimate Stanley Cup run.

    The evidence is all to the contrary. The Flames have not even made the playoffs since the 2008-09 season and have not won a round in the playoffs since getting to the Stanley Cup Final in 2003-04.

    The Flames are playing according to form in 2013 as they are tied for 12th place in the Western Conference.

    Feaster ought to be preparing for the future by trading veteran assets like Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff. Instead, he continues to tread water with a team that has virtually no chance.

    Until the Flames get a more forward-thinking leader, they appear destined to remain a hard-trying, close-but-no-cigar team that fails to make the playoffs most years.

    The loyal Flames fans deserve much better.

Dallas Stars

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    The Dallas Stars committed to a "win now" philosophy when they added 40-year-olds Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney in the offseason.

    General manager Joe Nieuwendyk and head coach Glen Gulutzan are under pressure to win. The Stars have not made the playoffs since the 2007-08 season, and the losing has taken a toll on the team's ability to hold on to its fanbase in Dallas (via bizjournals.com).

    The Stars are tied for ninth place in the Western Conference, just one point out of playoff contention. However, even if the Stars make the playoffs, they don't appear to have the kind of roster that could go very deep.

    The future appears quite shaky. With ancient warriors like Jagr and Whitney, the Stars are going to be attempting to fill key positions on the roster in the near future.

    Radek Faksa has a chance to be a star in the years to come, but he may need to develop in the minors for another season or two.

    It may be quite a while before the Stars are a legitimate contender again.

New Jersey Devils

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    The best thing the New Jersey Devils have going for them is the intelligence and foresight of Lou Lamoriello.

    If it were not for Lamoriello, the financially challenged Devils might be in a losing situation.

    However, even with Lamoriello in the driver's seat, there are big problems ahead for the team. Future Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur can't go on forever. Zach Parise left through free agency last summer.

    The Devils may have difficulty holding on to current stars in the future. Patrik Elias, Dainius Zubrus, David Clarkson and Alexei Ponikarovsky will be free agents at the end of the season, according to CapGeek.com.

    Financial issues could impact the Devils' ability to keep its best players (via SportingNews.com).

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