Ahoy! 7 NHL teams to enter season without a captain

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When the New York Rangers named defenseman Jacob Trouba as the 28th team captain in franchise history on Tuesday, it ended a four year run without one.

Trouba, 28, is entering his fourth season with the Blueshirts after a trade from the Winnipeg Jets in 2019. The season prior, captain Ryan McDonagh was dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the deadline which created the vacancy.

The hard-hitting defenseman picked up 39 points in 81 games, and was reportedly close to being named captain last summer. Head coach Gerard Gallant, who was just hired, opted to go with six alternates instead in order to get a better feel for his players.

“Since he joined the Rangers, Jacob has consistently displayed all of the qualities we want in a leader on and off the ice,” president and general manager Chris Drury said in a statement. “As we look to take the next step as an organization, he is a role model for all of our players to follow and the perfect choice to be our captain.”

NHL Teams without a captain

Ryan getzlaf ducks
Apr 23, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) and Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf (15) embrace after the Kings defeated the Ducks at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

After the Rangers decided on Trouba, I took a look at the NHL landscape and found that 7 teams will possibly be entering the 2022-23 season sans a captain.

Let’s take a deeper dive into each one.

NHL Teams without a captain

  • Anaheim Ducks
  • Arizona Coyotes
  • Buffalo Sabres
  • Calgary Flames
  • Montreal Canadiens
  • Philadelphia Flyers
  • Seattle Kraken

The Ducks are a young and upcoming team that saw their longtime captain, Ryan Getzlaf retire at season’s end. At this time, I would suspect they’re unlikely to name someone in the hopes that Trevor Zegras can assume that role in the near future.

Arizona may look to Lawson Crouse to be their new captain after he signed a 5-year deal. The team has been without a captain since they traded away Oliver-Ekman Larsson on July 23, 2021.

A look at the Sabres lineup shows another young team that will look to groom a captain. 2021 first overall pick Owen Power seems like a good candidate. Buffalo’s last captain, Jack Eichel was stripped of the C prior to the start of last season.

“I spoke to Jack two days ago, I spoke to the team yesterday and addressed this, Jack Eichel is no longer the captain of the Buffalo Sabres,” GM Kevyn Adams said before camp opened. “From our perspective, the captain is your heartbeat of your team, and we are in a situation where we felt we needed to make that decision.”

Eichel was traded to the Golden Knights not too long after.

The Calgary Flames went the entire season without a captain for 2021-22 after losing Mark Giordano in the expansion draft to the Seattle Kraken. After a summer of huge changes that saw Johnny Gaudreau leave for Columbus via free agency and Matthew Tkachuk traded to Florida, I could see them not naming a captain this year.

Montreal traded the contract rights of their captain Shea Weber to the Vegas Golden Knights this summer. The young Canadiens are unlikely to name a new leader as they continue their rebuild efforts.

Philadelphia is the most likely team on this list to name a new captain. Claude Giroux served in that position for years before being dealt at the deadline to the Panthers. New coach John Tortorella may look at Cam Atkinson, whom he had in Columbus take on the role, or possibly Kevin Hayes.

Finally, the Kraken named Giordano their first captain almost as soon as they selected him from the Flames in the expansion draft. The team may continue with four alternate captains but could opt to give the C to Jaden Schwartz or Yanni Gourde.