This season, there were four NHL teams that missed the postseason after making the playoffs in the 2020-2021 season: Vegas Golden Knights, New York Islanders, Winnipeg Jets, and Montreal Canadiens.
There are many reasons that a playoff team could suddenly fall off the pace in the following season, so here are three teams that made the playoffs in 2021-2022 that will miss the playoffs next season.
Making predictions now, before the draft and before free agency, does come with an added level of risk but knowing each team’s salary cap implications can help to inform these bold predictions.
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Here are three teams that could fall out of the playoffs next season:
There are a few reasons that the Capitals are in danger of missing the playoffs next season, not the least of which is that while they did have 100 points last season, they qualified for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. If a team is poised to fall out of the playoffs in the East, it’s probably the Capitals.
Secondly, they are going to be missing some major contributors at the start of the season, with some uncertainty around the timing of their return. Playmaking center Nicklas Backstrom and power forward right winger Tom Wilson are both expected to be rehabilitating from injuries when the season begins.
Backstrom is having another hip surgery and his recovery has been described as lengthy. That’s a big hole in the Capitals lineup for an undetermined amount of time.
Wilson had surgery to repair a torn ACL, and that comes with a timeline of 6-8 months recovery time. That could cost him 2-4 months at the start of next season and with Backstrom out as well, that could leave the Capitals vulnerable, depending on how they are able to address their forward holes in the offseason.
Finally, goaltending remains a question mark. Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov have shown potential but coming off a season in which Washington had a .902 save percentage, it is fair to consider goaltending to be an area of concern for the Capitals.
While the Stars did bring in Peter DeBoer as their new head coach, there will still be challenges fixing what was largely a one-line team in 2021-2022.
The Stars do have some things going for them, not least of which is that top line of Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, and Joe Pavelski. Defenseman Miro Heiskanen and goaltender Jake Oettinger are quality core pieces as well, and yet there are challenges beyond that core group. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have been battling injuries and are no longer having the same kind of impact that they did when they were younger, and defenseman John Klingberg is headed for unrestricted free agency.
None of these things mean that the Stars are necessarily destined for collapse. They have some salary cap space and could address some of these potential concerns, but there are enough question marks in place that it would not take much for the team that landed a wildcard spot in the Western Conference playoffs to fall out next season.
Not only did the Predators squeak into the last playoff spot in the Western Conference last season they are also facing the prospect of losing star winger Filip Forsberg in free agency. That would leave a hole that could not be easily filled with another acquisition.
If Forsberg leaves, the Preds would surely try to address that need for more scoring, but there is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to the young forwards on the roster. How much improvement can be expected from the likes of Tanner Jeannot, Luke Kunin, Phillip Tomasino, and Eeli Tolvanen? There might be some improvement but that is hardly guaranteed.
Defenseman Roman Josi remains outstanding, goaltender Juuse Saros is excellent, and right winger Matt Duchene is coming off the best season of his career, but questionable depth coupled with the potential loss of a game-breaking forward who scored 42 goals in 69 games might leave the Preds on the outside looking in when it comes to the 2022-2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
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