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Top 3 Teams that could make the Playoffs this year

Oct. 12, 2019 - Michael Stewart

Top 3 Teams that could make the Playoffs this year

Introduction: The 2019-20 NHL season has started off with a bang and the off season moves of many teams is the reason why. There are three teams that failed to make the playoffs in 2018 that could see them possibly cracking the playoff bracket based on their off season moves and adding depth this season. Below are my top 3 NHL teams that I believe have a good chance of making the playoffs this season.

  1. Buffalo Sabres: The 2018 Buffalo Sabres finished near the bottom of their conference and haven’t made the playoffs since 2011.  The result of their playoff absent resulted in the hiring of Head Coach Ralph Krueger who is known as a strong motivator and many believe he can change the team’s culture. The Sabres didn’t stop there as they added forwards Jimmy Vesey (Trade), Marcus Johansson (UFA signing) and defensemen Colin Miller (Trade) and Henri Jokiharju (Trade). The Sabres also traded away Forward Alex Nylander (Jokilarju Trade) and lost forward Jason Pominville to FA. These four additions along with players such as: Forwards, Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Jeff Skinner and defensemen Rasmus Dahlin and Rasmus Ristolainen gives the Sabres a solid nucleus to build on and a good opportunity to finally earn a playoff berth.
  2. New York Rangers: The New York Rangers rebuilding process went into overdrive in the off season as the team adding two top tier players in Forward Artemi Panarin (UFA signing) and defensiemen Jacob Trouba (Trade). The Rangers also acquired young defensemen Adam Fox (Trade) to their blue-line . Perhaps the biggest news that hit broadway in the off season was the Rangers winning the 2nd overall pick in the NFL lottery and selecting forward Kaapo Kakko. The gifted winger is projected to make an impact in his rookie season and put the buzz back in the Garden. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is not the player he once was, but he still provides solid goaltending and leadership to the team’s young core of talent. Backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev should see more playing time to keep Lundqvist fresh and give the team a strong chance to make the playoffs since the 2012-13 season.
  3. Florida Panthers: The Florida Panthers had a great second half of the season last year, but fell short of the making the playoffs. The additions of  Forwards Brett Connolly (UFA), Mike Hoffman (Trade) and Noel Acciari (UFA), along with goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (UFA) and defensemen Anton Stralman (UFA) gives the  Panthers much added depth to go along with current players such as; Forwards Alekander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Evgenii Dadonov and Vincent Trocheck; defensemen Keth Yandle, Aaron Ekblad  and Michael Matheson gives the Panthers and solid core of players ready to take the next step.

Final Thoughts: Thus far this season, the Sabres and Rangers have come out of the gate flying as the Panthers have struggled a bit, but they did the same thing last season. It’s a long season and if any of these team’s want to make the playoffs; they will need at least three things to go their way:

  • Staying Healthy: Obviously; this goes without saying especially of their top tier players.
  • Top Players Produce: Again, it usually goes hand in hand having a good year and your top players producing.
  • Catch some breaks along the way: Today’s game in the NHL is so competitive and many of the teams are so evenly matched that many of the game’s will be determined by which team got the most breaks through- out the game.