Where the Nashville Predators rank among the other teams without a Stanley Cup

With the Florida Panthers breaking through to win their first Stanley Cup, the Nashville Predators are now one of nine teams yet to lift Lord Stanley.
May 3, 2024; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) stares a catfish against the Vancouver Canucks during the third period in game six of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
May 3, 2024; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) stares a catfish against the Vancouver Canucks during the third period in game six of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports / Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
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Check off another franchise off the list that doesn't have a Stanley Cup with the Florida Panthers winning an absolute all-time thriller in Game 7 to beat the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night.

With the Panthers claiming their first Stanley Cup, the list of teams without a Stanley Cup is down nine with the Nashville Predators being one of them. Who is next to break their Stanley Cup curse, and how long will it take to see another first-time winner?

When looking first at the Predators, it is incredibly hard to know just how far they are away from legitimately being a Stanley Cup contender. They vastly overperformed in 2023-24, but a lot of offseason questions loom that will either send them further into a retool or they could take some home run swings to move closer to Stanley Cup contention in the next couple of years.

The Canucks & Sabres lead the zero-Stanley Cup teams with most seasons played

Of the nine teams without a Stanley Cup, the Vancouver Canucks and Buffalo Sabres have been around the longest. They both have been around for 53 seasons. The Canucks have compiled a postseason record of 118 wins and 141 losses, while the Sabres have 124 playoff wins and 132 playoff losses.

For comparison, the Predators have been around 25 seasons and a playoff win-loss record of 56 wins and 75 losses. They've only been to the Stanley Cup Final once, and that same year in 2017 is also the only time the team has made it past the second round.

Looking ahead, out of the nine teams who is the closest to breaking the next drought? It would be easy to just go with the Canucks because after all, they did just go to the second round and got knocked out by the eventual Western Conference champion Edmonton Oilers. They were even up 3-2 in the series to advance and were the biggest surprise team of the NHL in 2023-24.

The Canucks also already have the goaltending with Thatcher Demko in net, and they already have a lot of key core players likely returning for next season including Quinn Hughes, Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller and Elias Pettersson.

It's a safe bet that the Canucks will likely be back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for 2025. Let's eliminate the teams that don't look like likely contenders for the playoffs in 2025. Let's go ahead and remove the San Jose Sharks and Columbus Blue Jackets from being anywhere in the same universe of not only competing for the Stanley Cup anytime soon, but even making the playoffs. Of course there are always surprises, and the Blue Jackets have a really solid prospect pool to be excited about.

The Buffalo Sabres were a bit of a letdown last season. Expected to take a step forward and get back into the playoffs, they instead finished with an underwhelming 84 points and sixth place in the Atlantic Division. They could be a fair candidate to be a sleeper pick in 2024-25, but they likely far off from going on a deep playoff run. The bar is probably set at just ending their 17-season playoff drought.

The Ottawa Senators are an interesting team. They're on the rise, have a lot of young talent to go along with their leader Brady Tkachuk, whom Stanley Cup winning brother Matthew Tkachuk said his brother will eventually win one.

Here's the thing; I don't think Matthew is just showing his brotherly support and using bias. It's actually not a bad take at all to think that the Senators are on the right path to be a legit contender in the next three to five years. And they just acquired via trade former Vezina Trophy winner Linus Ullmark, so they're on the rirght path to be in the 2025 Stanley Cup Playoffs. And then of course we know anything can happen.

Just how realistically close are the Predators to recaputuring the 2017 magic?

The remaining teams (Predators, Jets, Wild, and Kraken) are all mid-tier teams that have playoff aspirations, but feel like purely regular season teams that are missing a few pieces to survive the gauntlet of winning a Stanley Cup right now. Out of those four, however, I think it's very fair to have the Predators leading that pack.

The Predators have some bonafide proven veterans to lead the way with Ryan O'Reilly, Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi. They have young talent that should keep improving, most notably Luke Evangelista. We still don't know really what's going to happen with franchise goalie Juuse Saros. Trading him, which is growing more and more unlikely with each goalie trade that happens around the NHL, would signal a possible franchise reset.

So could the Predators do what they did in 2017 and go on a magical run in the next few years? Of course they could, they already have enough pieces to get hot at the right time. They almost achieved that this season with an 18-game point streak and just hitting an offensive disappearing act at the worst possible time in the first round.

So with laying out all nine Stanley Cup cursed teams out there, the safe pick is the Canucks but the more sexy pick is the Senators. What happens in offseason free agency on July 1 could dramatically change the outlook for some of the mid-tier teams just missing a few pieces, like the Predators.

Here's my ranking of teams closest to winning a Stanley Cup that haven't won one yet:

1. Vancouver Canucks (53 Seasons)

Elias Pettersson, Ian Cole, J.T. Miller, Ilya Mikheyev
Edmonton Oilers v Vancouver Canucks - Game Seven / Derek Cain/GettyImages

The Canucks were up 3-2 against the Oilers and have a lot of their core returning for 2024-25.

2. Ottawa Senators (31 seasons)

Jakob Chychrun, Shane Pinto, Drake Batherson, Brady Tkachuk
Ottawa Senators v Boston Bruins / Rich Gagnon/GettyImages

The Sens are a rising team that should be a trendy pick to make the playoffs in 2025, and they just added Linus Ullmark.

3. Nashville Predators (25 Seasons)

Andrew Brunette, Nashville Predators
Vancouver Canucks v Nashville Predators - Game Six / Brett Carlsen/GettyImages

The Preds have the leadership core and sprinkle in some young talent, plus a great head coach in Andrew Brunette. They need another major piece.

4. Winnipeg Jets (24 Seasons)

Mark Scheifele
Colorado Avalanche v Winnipeg Jets - Game Five / David Lipnowski/GettyImages

The Jets overperformed expectations last season. They have one of the NHL's best goalies in Connor Hellebuyck that keeps them relevant.

5. Minnesota Wild (23 Seasons)

Mason Shaw, Minnesota Wild
Ottawa Senators v Minnesota Wild / David Berding/GettyImages

A team that undoubtedly had a letdown year in 2023-24 missing the playoffs, and one that doesn't seem to have a clear direction right now.

6. Seattle Kraken (3 Seasons)

Oliver Bjorkstrand, Seattle Kraken
Seattle Kraken v San Jose Sharks / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

If you're a Kraken fan you have to be pretty pleased with the fact that this franchise is ahead of the curve compared to most expansion teams in the past. Still a ways to go to be a legit Stanley Cup caliber team.

7. Buffalo Sabres (53 Seasons)

Owen Power, Buffalo Sabres
Buffalo Sabres v Seattle Kraken / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

I could end up eating my words on this one because this team has some promise, but I need to see them actually make the playoffs for the first time in 17 seasons before I can pick them to even win a playoff series, much less a Stanley Cup.

8. Columbus Blue Jackets (23 Seasons)

Kirill Marchenko
Columbus Blue Jackets v Tampa Bay Lightning / Mike Carlson/GettyImages

With one of the better prospect pools in the NHL, maybe the best, it at least appears the Blue Jackets are on the right path. But that path is a long road, and they're making a switch at head coach that could speed things up and slow things down.

9. San Jose Sharks (32 Seasons)

Klim Kostin
Seattle Kraken v San Jose Sharks / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

The Sharks are in such a deep hole right now, but they do have the 2024 top overall pick in the draft. It's going to take multiple years in a row of successful drafting and development to even see the success translate to the regular season, much less the playoffs.

If the Predators make a mammoth splash in free agency to sign a superstar or two, then maybe I shoot them up to the top of this list. But for now, I have the Canucks as the safest pick for Cupless teams to break their curse. And again, it's been 53 seasons for that franchise, so I kind of give them a free pass for being so insufferable in that first round series with the Predators.

With 25 seasons completed in the NHL, I can't imagine the Predators waiting another 28 years without one which would put them where the Canucks and Sabres are now in their long waits. That would make the year 2052.

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