Islanders lead the pack of most disappointing teams so far this season
The NHL is fast approaching a team temperature check.
U.S. Thanksgiving is a calendar date most general managers around the league assess where their teams are at and potentially what changes need to be made.
Every year out of the gate we have some surprise teams. As we all know, not all surprises are good. Let’s take a look at the 5 most disappointing teams in the NHL so far.
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New York Islanders: 5-6-2 (8th place in the Metro)
Before the season started, many had the New York Islanders as the team to not only beat in the Metro Division but the Eastern Conference.
The Islanders are basically the same team that lost to the Lightning in seven games in the Conference Final. They took care of restricted free agents Ilya Sorokin and Anthony Beauvillier. They retained unrestricted free-agents Kyle Palmieri and Casey Cizikis. They also added veterans Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise.
New York just ended its season-opening, 13-game road trip going 5-6-2 and losers of four straight games. The struggles appear to only be getting worse after losing defenseman Ryan Pulock for 4-6 weeks.
In this new era of parity a good start goes a long way. According to Sportsnet, from 2005-06 until 2018-19, just nine out 59 teams came back to make the playoffs after being out by at least 4 points by November 1st.
They are currently 6 points out of the last playoff spot, and we are well past that threshold. For a team many look at as the Gold Standard for how to play postseason hockey, making the playoffs now will be a little tougher for the Isles.
Vancouver Canucks: 5-10-2 (7th place in the Pacific)
The Canucks made bold moves this offseason with the acquisition of Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland from Arizona for a trio of depth forwards. They also added Jason Dickinson.
On defense, Nate Schmidt was dealt away after just one season and Alex Edler left via free agency, with newcomers Tucker Poolman and Luke Schenn hoping to take up the slack. Goalie Jaroslav Halak inked to serve as backup to Thatcher Demko.
Vancouver also took care of both Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. GM Jim Benning signed the RFA’s in time for the start of the season. Things looked promising.
Yet here we are, with the Canucks 5 games under .500 and sitting 7 points out of the final playoff spot.
This was a team that was supposed to be in the playoff hunt. Everyone expected a rebound after a miserable season in 2020-21. Instead, they are having internal meetings about deciding what to do next.
Chicago Blackhawks: 5-9-2 (7th place in the Central)
The Blackhawks have been embroiled in turmoil both on and off the ice.
After an active offseason, where they even got captain Jonathan Toews back after he missed all of 2020-21, expectations were high.
The Hawks acquired forward Tyler Johnson for the contract of Brent Seabrook, who retired. They traded for goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from Vegas and talked him out of retiring. They signed free-agent defenseman Jake McCabe and forward Jujhar Khaira. They traded veteran Duncan Keith to Edmonton to acquire defenseman Caleb Jones.
Of course, the biggest move of all was acquiring defenseman Seth Jones from Columbus and extending him.
Despite all the moves it amounted to an atrocious start that led to the firing of head coach Jeremy Colliton.
Interim head coach Derek King appears to have them on the right track, but a .375 winning percentage may be too big of a hole to make the playoffs.
Montreal Canadiens: 4-13-2 (7th place in the Atlantic)
The Habs were considered a borderline playoff team coming into this season despite a surprise run to the Final. That was because captain Shea Weber was going to miss the season and may be forced to retire.
They also lost Tomas Tatar, Phillip Danault and Corey Perry via free agency. Like I said, they were a borderline team.
The additions of Mathieu Perreault, Mike Hoffman, Cedric Paquette and David Savard should have been adequate enough to be competitive. Unfortunately, injuries and Carey Price taking a leave to take care of himself have derailed this season.
Montreal is 9 games under .500 and 8 points out of a playoff spot.
Seattle Kraken: 4-11-1 (8th place in the Pacific)
The Seattle Kraken are a success despite their record. From a marketing and fan interest stand point, the NHL couldn’t be happier about what they are seeing.
However, as a team on the ice one thing is clear – the expansion Kraken are not the Vegas Golden Knights.
Whether that’s a fair comparison or not is another argument. Bottom line, with Vegas being the last NHL expansion team they were always going to be the standard to which Seattle was judged.
Unfortunately for the Kraken, the Golden Knights boasted the greatest debut season for an expansion team in North American sports history by going to the Stanley Cup final. They lost to the Washington Capitals, but turned Vegas into the model expansion franchise.
After 16 games, Seattle is 4-11-1 for dead last in the Pacific Division and 10 points out of a playoff spot.
Time to end any further comparisons.