NHL Lottery Teams Who Will Make the Playoffs in 2014

Tyler Donohue@@TDsTakeNational Recruiting AnalystMay 11, 2013

NHL Lottery Teams Who Will Make the Playoffs in 2014

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    The quest for a Stanley Cup started with 16 teams. That number will continue to dwindle until we're left with one squad standing and celebrating.

    For 14 franchises left on the postseason doorstep, there are questions abound. The summer presents these teams with an opportunity to pick up players and get healthy, key ingredients for a quick resurgence. 

    Whether it was misfortunes or squandered regular-season opportunities, plenty of solid squads were left out of the playoffs for various reasons. Here are four teams you can expect to see rebound next season.

Columbus Blue Jackets

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    2013 Result

    24-17-7, ninth in Western Conference

    Bumps in the Road

    The Columbus Blue Jackets struggled to consistently produce offense and lacked a presence near the net. Columbus ended the regular season ranked 25th in scoring (2.4 goals per game) and 28th in power-play percentage.

    The team won eight of its last nine games but was unable to dig itself out of a frustrating early hole. Columbus started the season 5-12-4 and lost talented rookie defenseman Ryan Murray to a shoulder injury.

    Reason for Rebound

    Life in the post-Rick Nash era wasn't so bad. Columbus bid farewell to its franchise cornerstone last summer and rebuilt around a promising core of young players. The result was 55 points, which ranked highest among all non-playoff squads. 

    Murray's return adds an important piece to the puzzle, and there's more help on the way. The Blue Jackets own three first-round picks in the NHL draft.

    Columbus has a quality roster that should only improve with more seasoning.

New Jersey Devils

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    2013 Result

    19-19-10, 11th in Eastern Conference

    Bumps in the Road

    New Jersey capped off a disappointing season with a 4-0 loss against the hated rival New York Rangers. It provided Devils fans with one final poke in the eye during a disastrous April.

    The team finished 4-8-10 in the final month of the regular season, losing its grasp on a playoff spot. New Jersey was 13-9-5 on March 15 but won just six more games in the following 21 contests.

    The Devils were one of the league's most stagnant scoring squads, ranking 28th in goals per game (2.3).

    Reason for Rebound

    There's too much established talent and pride on this roster to allow another collapse to take place next year. Veteran stalwarts Patrik Elias and Ilya Kovalchuk should return barring a significant roster shakeup, and re-signing center David Clarkson will be on the top of the team's offseason list. 

    As usual, questions will surround 41-year-old goalkeeper Martin Brodeur, but he played pretty well this season (2.22 GAA) and is likely to be back between the pipes for a 20th NHL campaign. The Devils organization has a lot of support in the region and has historically spent money when necessary, so don't be surprised to see the front office open its wallet if the right opportunity comes along.

Winnipeg Jets

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    2013 Result

    24-21-3, ninth in Eastern Conference

    Bumps in the Road

    The roster remained rather pedestrian on offense, particularly at the center position (which could be addressed through the draft). Goalie Ondrej Pavelec, 25, experienced growing pains and struggled to string together sustained spans of excellence while starting 43 games.

    The Jets were statistically the worst offensive power-play team in the league.

    Winnipeg lost three of its final four regular-season games. That late stumble cost the team an opportunity to break through into the Eastern Conference playoffs.

    Reason for Rebound

    The Jets narrowly missed the playoffs after tallying 51 regular-season points. A bitter ending should motivate a group of largely unproven players entering next season.

    A talented trio of wingers highlights a promising roster. Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Evander Kane should each continue to grow more comfortable leading Winnipeg to the next level.

    On the other hand, one of them could be utilized as an intriguing bargaining chip in an effort to trade for an established center or veteran star.

Philadelphia Flyers

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    2013 Result

    23-22-3, 10th in Eastern Conference

    Bumps in the Road

    Philadelphia failed to live up to lofty expectations and simply lacked any semblance of consistency. The Flyers didn't win three games in a row until a season-ending four-game win streak that arrived far too late to salvage playoff hopes.

    The team started the season 2-6 and never seemed able to get its head back above water. Injuries also plagued the Flyers, who led the NHL in player appearances.

    Ilya Bryzgalov didn't make the leap many anticipated in his second season with Philadelphia. The enigmatic goalie arrived in 2011 touted as the answer to an organization's lingering netminder issues but has instead fallen in line with the franchise's frustrating recent history at the position. 

    Reason for Rebound

    The Flyers are firmly committed to a core highlighted by superstar Claude Giroux. He headlines an emerging foundation of players that includes Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek and Matt Read.

    Most of the rotational guys on this roster have playoff experience after Philadelphia advanced to the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals. Expect general manager Paul Holmgren to make a play for multiple marquee names this offseason in order to boost his current roster.

    He made lucrative contract offers to both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter last summer, eventually signing restricted free agent Shea Weber to a monster deal that was surprisingly matched by Nashville. After striking out on its top three targets in 2012, Philadelphia will be an active player this offseason.

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