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Way too early: Three teams that could return to the playoffs in 2022-23





In no particular order, here are three non-playoff teams that could make a return to the postseason as early as 2022-23.



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Vancouver Canucks


This has been a rollercoaster of a season for the Canucks who ended on a rather high note. Canucks fans came into this season with high hopes for a playoff push and expectations from their star players.


The first 2 months of the season were extremely rough for the Canucks who began 7-15-3 prior to firing head coach Travis Green and GM Jim Benning. They are now 31-15-8 since Bruce Boudreau took over.


It took until the final 30 games of the season for Swedish star Elias Pettersson to get red hot, setting career highs in points & goals. Captain Bo Horvat also put up a career best 31 goals before going down to an injury, putting the Canucks season to rest.


In the end, the poor start was too much for the Canucks to overcome as they head toward elimination from playoff contention for a second straight season, and the seventh time in eight seasons. Expect this team to come out of the gates hungry next year, as they look to rebound from this disappointing campaign.


J.T. Miller was the centerpiece of this Canucks push for a playoff spot, currently, Miller has 96 points in 77 games and has been consistently top 10 in NHL scoring all season.



My Prediction: 47-28-7, 6th in West




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New York Islanders


What a disappointing season for the New York Islanders, who at 35-34-10, currently sit 9th in the Eastern conference. The Islanders came into this season with high expectations following an impressive run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, where they fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games.


They ran into COVID-19 related issues for the majority of the season, which saw the Islanders with half a dozen games in hand for a large part of the 2021-22 campaign, all those games had to be made-up which made their schedule extremely difficult.


The Islanders key players also had an off year. Mathew Barzal only had 54 points in 70 games this season, which is below average for the star player.


The Islanders are closing out the 2021-22 season on a 5-game losing streak, so expect some big changes to be made in the offseason.


My Prediction: 45-29-8, 8th in East




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Winnipeg Jets


The Winnipeg Jets missing the post-season was a big surprise to me. How could a team with so much talent fail to qualify for the playoffs after an impressive 2020-21 campaign?


With elite talents in Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele leading the offense, expect a resurgence from this Winnipeg team next season.


The 25-year-old Kyle Connor could be a top-5 goal scorer in the league next season, he might just hit the 50-goal plateau for the first time in his career. This season so far, he has 45 goals with 3 games remaining.


Injuries to key players such as Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele have hurt the team, causing them to fall too far back in the tight wildcard race.



My Prediction: 44-30-8, 8th in West










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