NHL Teams That Are Doomed to Disappoint in the 2015-16 Season
Every NHL team and their fans optimistically look toward a new season expecting improvement. While some clubs will reach or exceed their goals, others will experience disappointment.
Of those teams, some are non-playoff clubs whose hopes for contention will be dashed. Some are marginal postseason contenders who will fail to take the next step in their respective developments. Others have championship aspirations but will fall short of their targets.
Here's a look at the NHL teams doomed to disappoint in 2015-16, listing their records last season, their notable offseason moves and analysis of why they won't meet expectations. Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments section below.
Last season's record: In 2014-15, the Boston Bruins compiled a record of 41-27-14, giving them 96 points. They finished fifth in the Atlantic Division and out of playoff contention.
Notable offseason moves: Hired Don Sweeney as general manager. Traded defenseman Dougie Hamilton to Calgary for draft picks. Shipped left wing Milan Lucic to Los Angeles for a return that included goalie Martin Jones, who was subsequently dealt to San Jose. Traded winger Reilly Smith and the rights to center Marc Savard to Florida for winger Jimmy Hayes. Signed free-agent left wing Matt Beleskey.
Why they'll disappoint: Sweeney's moves freed up salary-cap space and could benefit the Bruins in the long term but won't help them in 2015-16. Beleskey and Hayes haven't fully established themselves as scoring wingers. Losing Hamilton is a serious blow to their defense corps. Like last season, the Bruins face a tough fight to reach the playoffs.
Last season's record: In 2014-15, the Colorado Avalanche compiled a record of 39-31-12, giving them 90 points. They finished seventh in the Central Division and out of playoff contention.
Notable offseason moves: Traded center Ryan O'Reilly to the Buffalo Sabres. Acquired and signed center Carl Soderberg. Signed free-agent defenseman Francois Beauchemin and left wing Blake Comeau.
Why they'll disappoint: They haven't adequately addressed their defense, which was among the league's worst last season. Beauchemin is aging, as are top-six wingers Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay. Soderberg won't fully replace O'Reilly's two-way skills. The young players received in the O'Reilly trade, Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov, haven't fully established themselves as NHL regulars.
Last season's record: In 2014-15, the Edmonton Oilers compiled a record of 24-44-14, giving them 62 points. They finished sixth in the Pacific Division and out of playoff contention.
Notable offseason moves: Hired Peter Chiarelli as general manager. Hired Todd McLellan as head coach. Selected top NHL prospect Connor McDavid with the first overall pick of the 2015 NHL draft. Acquired goaltender Cam Talbot via trade from the New York Rangers. Signed free-agent defenseman Andrej Sekera and center Mark Letestu.
Why they'll disappoint: Despite the buzz over the Oilers' recent moves, they still lack a proven starting goaltender. Talbot has never been a full-time starter. Even with the addition of Sekera, there are still holes on their blue line. Young defensemen Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom are years from reaching their full potential, while Justin Schultz has struggled to meet expectations.
Los Angeles Kings
Last season's record: In 2014-15, the Los Angeles Kings compiled a record of 40-27-15, giving them 95 points. They finished fourth in the Pacific Division and out of playoff contention.
Notable offseason moves: Traded goaltender Martin Jones to the Boston Bruins as part of a deal to acquire left wing Milan Lucic. Terminated the contract of center Mike Richards. Re-signed right wing Tyler Toffoli. Signed free-agent goalie Jhonas Enroth and defenseman Jamie McBain.
Why they'll disappoint: Uncertainty over the future of defenseman Slava Voynov, who pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of domestic violence, could leave overworked rearguard Drew Doughty once again carrying the defensive load. Team captain Dustin Brown's performance has noticeably declined over the past two years. The players could be growing weary of head coach Darryl Sutter.
Last season's record: In 2014-15, the Montreal Canadiens compiled a record of 50-22-10, giving them 110 points. They topped the Atlantic Division but were eliminated from the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Notable offseason moves: Re-signed defenseman Jeff Petry. Signed free-agent right wing Alexander Semin. Traded left wing Brandon Prust to the Vancouver Canucks for right wing Zack Kassian and a draft pick. Bought out right wing Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau.
Why they'll disappoint: The Canadiens failed to add reliable scoring depth. Semin and Kassian are bargain-bin acquisitions. There's nothing in their recent moves that suggests last season's subpar offensive and defensive numbers will significantly improve. Carey Price's stellar goaltending will once again carry the Habs to the playoffs, but they're no closer to a 25th Stanley Cup banner.
New York Rangers
Last season's record: In 2014-15, the New York Rangers compiled a record of 53-22-7, giving them 113 points. They topped the Eastern Conference standings and won the Presidents' Trophy with the best regular-season record. They were eliminated from the Eastern Conference Final by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Notable offseason moves: Promoted assistant general manager Jeff Gorton to general manager. Traded goaltender Cam Talbot to Edmonton for three draft picks. Traded winger Carl Hagelin to Anaheim for winger Emerson Etem and and a draft pick. Acquired goalie Antti Raanta from Chicago. Winger Martin St. Louis retired.
Why they'll disappoint: While the Rangers remain a playoff team, they have failed to improve their roster. As a result, they will struggle against improving opponents such as Tampa Bay and Washington. Their defense corps could have difficulty containing swifter teams. Winger Rick Nash remains a streaky postseason scorer. Etem has yet to prove himself as a full-time NHL winger.
Last season's record: In 2014-15, the Philadelphia Flyers compiled a record of 33-31-18, giving them 84 points. They finished sixth in the Metropolitan Division and out of playoff contention.
Notable offseason moves: Hired Dave Hakstol as head coach. Traded defenseman Nicklas Grossmann and the rights to Chris Pronger to Arizona for center Sam Gagner. Shipped enforcer Zac Rinaldo to Boston for a draft pick. Signed free-agent goaltender Michal Neuvirth. Re-signed defenseman Michael Del Zotto.
Why they'll disappoint: With eight defensemen under one-way contracts next season, the Flyers have little roster or salary-cap space to promote their promising blueliners. They're stuck with expensive, aging forwards Vincent Lecavalier and R.J. Umberger, who are using up valuable cap space. Gagner has struggled over the past two seasons. Coach Hakstol lacks experience at the professional level.
Last season's record: In 2014-15, the Pittsburgh Penguins compiled a record of 43-27-12, giving them 98 points. They finished fourth in the Metropolitan Division and were eliminated from the opening round of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs by the New York Rangers.
Notable offseason moves: Traded a package of prospects and draft picks to Toronto for right wing Phil Kessel. Re-signed winger Beau Bennett and defenseman Brian Dumoulin.
Why they'll disappoint: Top defenseman Kris Letang has a lengthy concussion history. They failed to adequately replace departed veteran blueliner Paul Martin. The bulk of their defense corps is young and inexperienced. Inconsistent winger David Perron and fading scorer Chris Kunitz remain in the lineup. They're lacking reliable fourth-line depth.
St. Louis Blues
Last season's record: In 2014-15, the St. Louis Blues compiled a record of 51-24-7, giving them 109 points. They topped the Central Division but were eliminated from the opening round of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs by the Minnesota Wild.
Notable offseason moves: Traded right wing T.J. Oshie to the Washington Capitals for right wing Troy Brouwer, goalie prospect Pheonix Copley and a draft pick. Re-signed right wing Vladimir Tarasenko to an eight-year contract extension.
Why they'll disappoint: Blues management failed to shake up this roster of playoff underachievers. Head coach Ken Hitchcock was re-signed for another season. Brouwer's recent playoff stats are no better than the departed Oshie's. The Blues will once again the postseason, but they're no closer to being serious Stanley Cup contenders.
Last season's record: In 2014-15, the Vancouver Canucks compiled a record of 48-29-5, giving them 101 points. They finished second in the Pacific Division and were eliminated from the opening round of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs by the Calgary Flames.
Notable offseason moves: Traded defenseman Kevin Bieksa to the Anaheim Ducks for a second-round draft pick. Dealt goaltender Eddie Lack to the Carolina Hurricanes for draft picks. Traded right wing Zack Kassian and a draft pick to the Montreal Canadiens for left wing Brandon Prust.
Why they'll disappoint: The Canucks surprised most observers last season by making the playoffs, but this rebuilding club will struggle to do it again. Most of their core players—the Sedin twins, Radim Vrbata, Ryan Miller, Dan Hamhuis—are well into their 30s. The Canucks are transitioning toward younger players such as Bo Horvat and Jake Virtanen, but they're years away from their respective primes.