The 10 Longest Individual Stanley Cup Droughts with Potential to End in 2014

Rob VollmanContributor IApril 22, 2014

The 10 Longest Individual Stanley Cup Droughts with Potential to End in 2014

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    FRED JEWELL

    The Stanley Cup is the ultimate goal for every NHL player, and yet, so many greats have gone their entire careers without the opportunity to hoist it. What can be more satisfying than to watch a grey-bearded legend finally lift the sport's most celebrated trophy over his head?

    There are quite a few superstars in the playoffs right now who could give us that moment very shortly. Judging by the number of seasons each of them played, their number of postseason appearances and their games played in both regular season and the postseason, I've identified the longest active droughts among those who have never won the Stanley Cup.

    By my count, about half of this year's teams have a player that can give us this great moment, which is generally more exciting the longer the drought has been. Let's begin!

     

    All statistics are via Hockey Reference unless otherwise noted.

     

Honorable Mentions

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    Chris O'Meara

    Sami Salo, Tampa Bay Lightning

    In his 15 NHL seasons, Salo has competed in the playoffs a dozen times, more than all but three of the players in the following top ten. His 100 previous playoff games would rank fifth. However, his 878 career games played in the regular season are at least 100 fewer than all of them.

     

    Robyn Regehr, Los Angeles Kings

    Regehr has played 1,022 games over his 14 seasons, more than three of the players selected for the top 10. He has been in the playoffs only five times previously, playing 59 games.

     

    David Legwand, Detroit Red Wings

    Having spent most of his career in Nashville, Legwand has played 977 games over 15 seasons without even the opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup. He has previously qualified for the postseason seven times, but played only 47 games.

     

    Brenden Morrow, St. Louis Blues

    Brenden Morrow has played 921 regular season games and 92 more in the postseason. This is the ninth time he has competed in the playoffs in his 14-year career.

     

    Stephane Robidas, Anaheim Ducks

    This is only the sixth postseason appearance in Stephane Robidas' 14-season NHL career. He has previously played 885 regular season games but only 44 in the postseason. Robidas suffered a serious leg injury in Monday night's game against the Dallas Stars.

     

    Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

    While his numbers are modest relative to the skaters, Henrik Lundqvist leads all Cup-less goalies in this year's postseason with seven previous postseason appearances, 574 regular seasons games and 67 postseason games. He is second to Ryan Miller with nine NHL seasons of experience.

10. Scott Hannan, San Jose Sharks

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    David Zalubowski

    The Drought

    Scott Hannan made his five-game debut with the San Jose Sharks in the 1998-99 season and has since played 14 more seasons and 997 games with Colorado, Washington, Calgary and Nashville.

    This will be his 11th postseason appearance, during which time he has played 83 games.

     

    The Closest Call

    Hannan has yet to appear in a Stanley Cup Final and was with San Jose for only one of their three appearances in the Western Conference Final back in 2003-04.

     

    The Chances of it Ending

    San Jose has a strong team but a tough road this year. Its odds of winning the Stanley Cup are roughly 9.2 percent, according to a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal.

    Should the Sharks falter, the 35-year-old unrestricted free agent would have to find a contender looking for a veteran third-pairing defender and take perhaps one or two final shots.

9. Eric Brewer, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Chris O'Meara

    The Drought

    Eric Brewer made his debut with the New York Islanders as a 19-year-old in the 1998-99 season. This year is his 15th season, during which he played his 965th NHL game.

    Amazingly, this is only Brewer's fourth trip to the postseason, having had the misfortune of playing for the Islanders, the Oilers, the Blues and the Lightning during each team's colder times.

     

    The Closest Call

    Brewer's only experience beyond the first round was with Tampa Bay in 2011.

    The Bolts took the mighty Boston Bruins to a seventh and deciding game, which they dropped 1-0. The Bruins would go on to defeat Vancouver in the Stanley Cup Final.

     

    The Chances of it Ending

    Things don't look good for Brewer. Down to Montreal 3-0 in the series, the 35-year-old's dreams may already be finished shortly after this is published.

    Brewer is signed with Tampa Bay for one more season, after which he may yet catch on as a veteran third-pairing defenseman for a couple more.

8. Kimmo Timonen, Philadelphia Flyers

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    Matt Slocum

    The Drought

    Kimmo Timonen has played 1,092 NHL games over 15 seasons for Nashville and Philadelphia going all the way back to the 1998-99 season.

    He has previously competed in the postseason eight times averaging exactly 10 games per season.

     

    The Closest Call

    Timonen was a key part of Philadelphia's 2010 Stanley Cup finalist team. Its Cinderella season ended with a 4-3 overtime loss to Chicago in Game 6.

     

    The Chances of it Ending

    The Flyers have a challenging first-round opponent in the New York Rangers, after which they are likely to face the Penguins and the Bruins.

    Timonen should have further opportunities if this doesn't prove to be Philadelphia's season. The 39-year-old Finn is still a top-four defenseman, and as an unrestricted free agent, he could choose to offer a discount in order to sign with one of the league's top contenders.

7. Daniel Briere, Montreal Canadiens

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    Matt Slocum

    The Drought

    Daniel Briere played five games with Phoenix back in 1997-98, and 911 more in 15 seasons since then with the Coyotes, Sabres, Flyers and Canadiens.

    This is Briere's 10th trip to the postseason, during which he has previously played 108 games.

     

    The Closest Call

    The blame for a failure to win the Stanley Cup does not rest with Briere, who is a postseason demon.

    Briere previously scored 109 points in 108 games, leading the league in goals in 2012, points in 2010 and power-play goals in 2008.

    His closest call was with the 2010 Stanley Cup finalist Philadelphia Flyers, who took the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-3 overtime loss in Game 6.

     

    The Chances of it Ending

    Could this be Briere's year?

    Montreal is off to a great start and are poised to knock off the Tampa Bay Lightning in Round 1. The path to the Stanley Cup will likely run through the Boston Bruins next, a team Montreal has beaten three out of four times this season. Once in the Eastern Conference Final, it's really anyone's game.

    The 36-year-old is signed with Montreal for one more year, which is likely to be his final season. This could be his last good chance.

6. Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez

    The Drought

    Joe Thornton's debut was as an 18-year-old rookie with Boston back in 1997-98. He has played a total of 1,207 games over 16 seasons for two teams, Boston and San Jose.

    Thornton has never missed the postseason with the Sharks and only twice with the Bruins. He has previously played 125 postseason games with the two clubs over those 13 appearances.

     

    The Closest Call

    Despite his teams' impressive regular-season performances, Thornton has never been anywhere close to winning the Stanley Cup.

    The Sharks have made the conference final two times since Thornton's arrival. In 2009-10, they were swept by the Chicago Blackhawks on their way to a Stanley Cup championship, and the next year, they were dropped in five by the Vancouver Canucks.

     

    The Chances of it Ending

    The Sharks are one of the favorites to come out of the West and have already jumped to a 2-0 lead over the mighty Los Angeles Kings.

    Even if San Jose stumbles, it isn't over for Joe Thornton. He is only 34 years old and arguably still one of the league's top-three playmakers. The Sharks have extended him for three more seasons and should remain a legitimate contender for the duration of that deal.

5. Saku Koivu, Anaheim Ducks

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    Alex Gallardo

    The Drought

    Saku Koivu finished fourth in Calder trophy voting way back in 1995-96 with 20 goals and 45 points in his first NHL season.

    He has now played 1,124 games over 18 seasons. Koivu has qualified for the postseason for the 11th time but has only 67 previous playoff games under his belt.

     

    The Closest Call

    Koivu has never been anywhere near the Stanley Cup Final.

    Montreal's lone recent appearance in the conference final was the year after he left the team, and if Anaheim beats Dallas, it will be the first time Koivu has won a series as a member of the Ducks. 

     

    The Chances of it Ending

    Anaheim had a great regular season allowing them an easier first-round matchup against one of the wild-card teams.

    The road gets significantly tougher after that, and while I personally don't like the team's chances, someone has to come out of the West, so why not Koivu and the Ducks?

    The team's success is a particularly urgent matter for Koivu, who may retire at this season's conclusion. While the 39-year-old Finn clearly still has the talent to continue to perform at the NHL level, the number of games his body can play may have been reached.

4. Todd Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings

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    Paul Sancya

    The Drought

    Todd Bertuzzi's first taste of NHL action was back in 1995-96 with the New York Islanders. Since then, he has played 1,159 NHL games over 18 seasons with the Islanders, Canucks, Panthers, Red Wings, Ducks and Flames.

    This is Bertuzzi's 11th trip to the postseason, where he has 86 previous games of experience.

     

    The Closest Call

    Bertuzzi has never competed in the Stanley Cup Final.

    His lone appearance in the conference final was with Detroit in 2006-07 when their talent-laden team went up on Anaheim 2-1 before losing three straight. The Ducks would go on to win their first and only Stanley Cup.

     

    The Chances of it Ending

    Detroit was hammered by injuries and was only able to secure one of the wild-card spots this season, which meant a tough first-round matchup against the Boston Bruins.

    This could prove to be their toughest test, and if they advance, their chances of winning the Stanley Cup could be considered as good as anyone's.

    Will Bertuzzi have another opportunity? The pending unrestricted free agent is 39 years old and could announce his retirement this summer.

3. Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks

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    TONY AVELAR

    The Drought

    Patrick Marleau made his NHL debut as an 18-year-old for San Jose back in 1997-98. He has played a total of 1,247 games over 16 seasons, all with the Sharks.

    The San Jose Sharks have missed the playoffs only once since Marleau's rookie season. In those 14 previous postseason appearances, Marleau has played 140 games.

     

    The Closest Call

    For all their regular season success, the Sharks have never competed in the Stanley Cup Final.

    Marleau has been with the club for all three of their appearances in the conference final, however. Their best chance was probably their first, in 2003-04, when the Sharks were the favorites to beat the Calgary Flames.

    The series was tied 2-2 going back to San Jose, but the Flames won back-to-back games to eliminate the Sharks.

     

    The Chances of it Ending

    San Jose has a strong team but drew the dreaded first-round matchup against the Los Angeles Kings. Their ride should get easier in the second round (in my view) but could hit the wall yet again in the conference final.

    Even if the Sharks are stopped short once again, the 34-year-old superstar was extended for three more seasons. This is one drought that should end eventually.

2. Jarome Iginla, Boston Bruins

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    Charles Krupa

    The Drought

    Jarome Iginla's first NHL game was in the 1995-96 playoffs with the Calgary Flames. Since then, he played 1,310 regular season games over 17 seasons.

    Unfortunately for Iginla, that 1996 postseason appearance was the last opportunity his team could offer for eight long years. His teams have had success since then giving Iginla seven previous postseason appearances during which he has played 69 games.

     

    The Closest Call

    The Calgary Flames went on an unexpected run to the 2004 Stanley Cup Final, during which Iginla led the league with 13 goals.

    No one on this list has come closer than Iginla. If it weren't for a potentially blown call on a Martin Gelinas goal in Game 6, Iginla's spot on this list would be up for grabs between Vincent Lecavalier, Dan Boyle, Martin St. Louis and Cory Sarich.

     

    The Chances of it Ending

    This could finally be Iginla's season. The Boston Bruins won the Presidents' trophy and were practically unbeatable after the Olympic break.

    Even if someone pulls off an upset, the 36-year-old free agent winger scored 30 goals for the 12th straight time (ignoring the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season), and could easily have up to five more opportunities.

1. Daniel Alfredsson, Detroit Red Wings

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    Gene J. Puskar

    The Drought

    Daniel Alfredsson won the Calder trophy as Rookie of the Year with the Ottawa Senators way back in 1995-96. This is his 18th season, during which he has played 1,246 games all but the last 68 with the Senators.

    The Senators have missed the postseason only three times since his debut, allowing Alfredsson to previously amass 121 postseason games over his long career.

     

    The Closest Call

    After losing only three games on their way to the 2007 Stanley Cup Final, the Ottawa Senators lost to the red-hot Anaheim Ducks in just five games. Alfredsson was tied for the league lead with 22 points and 14 goals, the latter of which was twice that of any other Senator.

    It was the final chance in a four-year stretch where Ottawa was arguably the best team in hockey.

     

    The Chances of it Ending

    The injury-plagued Red Wings limped into the postseason with a wild-card spot, which meant facing the powerhouse Bruins in the first round. If they can get by the Presidents' trophy winners, their chances of winning the Stanley Cup are as good as anyone else's. 

    As for Alfredsson, the 41-year-old is an unrestricted free agent who is still playing effectively enough to sign on as a top-six forward on the team of his choice, assuming he can handle the grind for one more year.

     

    Rob Vollman is author of Rob Vollman's Hockey Abstract, co-author of the annual Hockey Prospectus guides and a featured ESPN Insider writer. @robvollmanNHL.