The Stanley Cup is known as the toughest trophy to win in all of professional sports. It takes years, perhaps decades, of rebuilding and preparation to create a team that has a realistic shot to win the Cup.
The Stanley Cup is so elusive that 40% of the teams (12 of 30) in the League have never won it. In fact, according to puckreport.com, the average Stanley Cup drought for an NHL team is 19.8 years. The longest current drought is, of course, the Toronto Maple Leafs, who haven’t won the Cup since 1967. That drought of 46 years is tied with that of the St. Louis Blues, who joined the league the year after Toronto won it all.
The 12 Teams to Have Never Won the Stanley Cup:
These 12 teams have never won a Stanley Cup in their franchise history. Teams are listed in order of franchise age.
St. Louis Blues – 1967
Buffalo Sabres – 1970
Vancouver Canucks – 1970
Washington Capitals – 1974
Arizona Coyotes* – 1979
San Jose Sharks – 1991
Ottawa Senators** – 1992
Florida Panthers – 1993
Nashville Predators – 1998
Winnipeg Jets*** – 1999
Columbus Blue Jackets – 2000
Minnesota Wild – 2000
*- Came into NHL as the Winnipeg Jets; Relocated to Arizona **- The original Senators won the Cup 11 Times in the early 20th century ***- Came into NHL as the Atlanta Thrashers; Relocated to Winnipeg
Who’s Come Close to Their First Stanley Cup?
St. Louis Blues:
The Blues actually made the Stanley Cup Finals in each of their first three seasons in franchise history, but failed to ever capture the trophy. They made the playoffs for 25 consecutive seasons, from 1979-80 up until 2003-04. They won their division for the 9th year this year.
The Sabres have made the Finals twice in their history, most infamously in 1999, when Brett Hull scored the Stanley Cup winning goal with his foot clearly in the goal crease. Buffalo owns six division titles, but currently find themselves in the middle of a total rebuild.
Vancouver has been a Stanley Cup Finalist three times in franchise history, most recently in 2011 when they fell in Game 7 to the Boston Bruins. Their rink currently holds 11 division banners, including a stretch of seven times in nine years, from 2003 to 2013.
The Capitals own a total of eight division championships in their 40 seasons in the NHL. They went all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1997-98, but were promptly swept by the powerhouse Detroit Red Wings.
Ottawa reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006-07 with a 12-3 playoff record, but were handed a beatdown by the Ducks, with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in their rookie seasons. They’ve compiled four division championships in their 22 years.
The Panthers finally won their first division title in 2011-12, with a minuscule 94 points. In their 21 NHL seasons, they’ve only made the playoffs four times. Their only three series wins all came in their third year, 1995-96, when they were promptly swept in the Finals by Colorado.
Who Will Win Their First Ever Stanley Cup Next?
Of the 12 teams still remaining without a Stanley Cup in their history, two are in the early stages of a total rebuild, the Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres. Then, a pile of teams are somewhere in the middle, usually making the playoffs as wild card teams and bowing out early. The Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jets, Florida Panthers, San Jose Sharks, Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks all seem to be in a spot where they should make the playoffs, but don’t oppose an imminent threat for the Stanley Cup. However, the Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals all finished very high in the NHL standings last year. But, when it comes to the postseason, do they have what it takes?
St. Louis Blues:
Although St. Louis seems to have the most regular season success of the 12 teams, they can’t seem to ever put it together in the playoffs. The Blues have made the playoffs for the past four consecutive seasons, and they haven’t just snuck in. However, they’ve won just one series in those four years. Now, they’re in the midst of likely changing their style of play due to their failures in the postseason. It doesn’t look like they’ll be a Stanely Cup favourite for a while to come.
The Washington Capitals are an interesting team. They’ve qualified for the playoffs in seven of the past eight seasons, but haven’t made it to the Conference Finals even once in those years. Six of those series defeats have come via a Game 7 loss though. They do sport a superstar and possibly the best goal scorer in the NHL in Alex Ovechkin. Their key players are likely at the height of their career, so for a realistic shot at the Stanley Cup, it would need to come very soon.
Now, the Winnipeg Jets are a very exciting team. Both for the present, and the future. Although their franchise (includes the Atlanta Thrashers) has yet to win a single playoff game, I do believe their time is coming. They showed extreme improvement throughout this season and have a very promising core that is quickly making it’s way into the NHL.
They’re farm system is deep and talented in each category. I’m not saying for a second that the Winnipeg Jets will win the Stanley Cup in 2015-16, but perhaps they’ll be team that consistently challenges for it five years from now. Here’s more evidence and clarification as to why the Winnipeg Jets will be the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Champions.
Prediction: The Winnipeg Jets win their first ever Stanley Cup in 2019-20.
So, although 40% of the NHL teams have yet to win a single Stanley Cup, a few of them are at the point of their franchise where they are looking to challenge for their first ever. But, it’s not a team that is already at their peak which we predict will be the next Cupless team to win the Cup. The Winnipeg Jets are already taking giant steps froward each year, and still have most of their top prospects developing in the minors. Once they take the step into the NHL, the Jets will have a strong core and an extremely deep roster, something they haven’t had and that’s kept them away from a single playoff victory ever. Give them five years, and then everyone will be taking them seriously.
Which Cupless Club do you think will win their first Stanley Cup next? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below!
Contributor for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Prospects. Scout with the Oakville Blades of the OJHL. For questions, concerns, or comments, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @SlawsonTHW.