More than half of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League make it to the NHL playoffs. This increases the chance for most teams to be a part of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but it also means that there is some considerable turnover from year to year. While it is likely that the Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, and the Boston Bruins will be back in the playoffs next season (anything could happen, but two out of those three are being labeled as potential dynasty teams), there will be a handful of teams that may find themselves on the outside looking in.
Whether it is due to losing core players in free agency, injuries, or simply not being able to repeat last year’s performance, teams can take a step back in one season. The 2013 playoffs were regarded as the breakout season for a New York Islanders team that was projected to be a perennial playoff contender by this point. Due to the Thomas Vanek trade being a losing venture, and losing John Tavares to injury at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the New York Islanders followed their 2013 playoff season with a dud.
Could a similar fate await teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Tampa Bay Lightning, who made it into the post-season, but made early first round exits? Or will both of these teams build upon that experience and become contenders in 2015?
Last week, Michael Collins took a look at teams that missed the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but could make the cut in 2015. In this post I will take a look at teams that made the playoffs during the 2014 season, but could miss the cut in 2015.