5 NHL Teams That Have Never Reached the Stanley Cup Finals
The Stanley Cup Finals is one of the most highly-anticipated events for American sports fans. For many teams, making it to the finals is a dream come true – a chance to compete for the most prestigious trophy in all of hockey. As was the case this season as the Florida Panthers reached the finals against all odds.
The Amerant Bank Arena side has languished in a world of mediocrity for a number of years now. As such, they had long been considered a team that may very well be up for relocation should their fortunes not transform, and fast. But boy has their outlook picked up in recent campaigns.
At the end of the 2021 season, they successfully qualified for the playoffs for just the sixth time in franchise history and the first time in five years. That particular venture would end in the first round however, they were back the following campaign, making it all the way to the second round that time around. Then last season, the Panthers truly hit the jackpot.
They would qualify for the playoffs for the third consecutive season for the first time in franchise history. And this time, they set their sights on going all the way. They knocked off the top-seed Boston Bruins by four games to three in an epic first-round contest, before beating the Canadian giant Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round.
That would set up a meeting with the Carolina Hurricane in the Conference Finals, who they would whitewash, securing a date with the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Finals. That was as good as it got though unfortunately, eventually succumbing to a 4-1 series defeat. Despite their heroics however, the reputable NHL betting odds providers don’t fancy the Panthers to go on a similarly fairytale-esque run, pricing them as +1600 outsiders for the Stanley Cup this season.
However, not all teams are as fortunate, and there are a handful of teams that have yet to make it to the Finals. Let’s take a closer look at these five NHL teams and how close they have come to reaching the famous series.
Columbus Blue Jackets – Second Round
The Columbus Blue Jackets have been an NHL team since 2000, but they have yet to make an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals. However, they came close in the 2018/19 season when they made it to the second round of the playoffs. The team stunned the league by sweeping the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round. Unfortunately, they were unable to get past the Boston Bruins in the second round, losing the series in six games.
Minnesota Wild – Conference Finals
The Minnesota Wild also made their NHL bow in 2000, and they too have yet to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. However, they came very close in the 2002/03 season, when they made it to the Western Conference Finals.
The team, coached by Jacques Lemaire, upset the heavily favored Colorado Avalanche in the first round and then defeated the Vancouver Canucks in the second round. Unfortunately, their back-to-back seven-game thrillers left them ripe for the picking for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, he would duly oblige when they swept the Wild en route to the Finals series.
Seattle Kraken – Second Round
The Seattle Kraken are the newest team on this list and have only featured in the league for two seasons. Their maiden campaign went as expected, finishing second bottom of the Western Conference with a record of 27 wins and 55 losses. In their second campaign, however, they managed to make it to the playoffs against all odds.
They reached the postseason as a wildcard and then, just like the Panthers, stunned the top seeds – in this case, the Colorado Avalanche – in the opening round. the second round would prove to be a step too far though, succumbing to defeat at the hands of the Dallas Stars. Given that they are an expansion team, it may be a while before they are able to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, however, if last season is anything to go by, they may very well surprise a few people in the coming years.
Winnipeg Jets – Conference Finals
The Winnipeg Jets returned to the NHL in 2011 after a 15-year hiatus, taking the place of the Atlanta Thrashers. They too, however, are yet to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. They did come close in the 2017/18 season when they made it to the Western Conference Finals.
Led by a trio of talented young forwards in Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele, and Nikolaj Ehlers, the Jets made it past the Minnesota Wild and the Nashville Predators before losing to the Vegas Golden Knights in the conference finals.
Arizona Coyotes – Conference Finals
The Arizona Coyotes have been a part of the NHL since 1996, and the closest they came to the Stanley Cup was reaching the conference finals in the 2011/12 season. The team was led by superstar goaltender Mike Smith, who put up a .944 save percentage in the playoffs. Unfortunately, they were unable to get past the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference showpiece.