Non Playoff Teams who are a Work-in-Progress
(Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks, Arizona Coyotes, Ottawa Senators)
Some of you are going to be puzzles as to why I wouldn’t put the Predators in the top tier of non-playoff teams considering they came up just three points shy of the Winnipeg Jets despite a rash of injuries and selling at the deadline.
Although there’s an argument to be had that the Predators will be right back in the midst of playoff contention next season, I’m feeling like let’s pump the brakes a little bit. This offseason is going to offer a lot of questions on how they’re going to construct the lineup when everyone gets healthy.
Where is Ryan Johansen going to fit into this equation? He’s the oddball in all of this when figuring out how this lineup will look on opening night of 2023-24. And then there’s the elephant in the room of what happens behind the bench with Head Coach John Hynes.
This is why I place the Predators in that “work-in-progress” category. They’re certainly not a dumpster fire and can definitely be back in the hunt for the playoffs in 2024, but a lot needs to be settled. Most notably that the high level of play from the youngsters wasn’t a flash in the pan and it’s actually a sign of things to come.
I have the Vancouver Canucks in this category because they were arguably the biggest disappointment in the NHL, along with the St. Louis Blues, for failing to make the playoffs despite having a decent roster on paper, and a high-quality goaltender in Thatcher Demko.
I can see the Canucks bouncing back in 2024 and returning to the postseason. Elias Pettersson is elite and is signed to another year, and they have top-end talent at the forward position with Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller and Conor Garland.
The Anaheim Ducks are my surprise pick for this category. Yes, they finished dead last in the entire NHL in points with 58. Just atrocious, but I think they’re building something and have some quality young pieces that will continue to get better, unlike teams in my basement like the San Jose Sharks.
The Ottawa Senators were another disappointment, although not at the same level as the Canucks. They didn’t put it all together for a playoff berth like many predicted they would, but they were just five points out.
This isn’t a terrible tier to be in if you’re a fan of one of these teams. All hope is indeed not lost. It just means you have some work to do and questions to figure out, maybe this offseason, before we can say definitively which direction you’re going in.