4 teams that have never played in the Stanley Cup Final
The Nashville Predators are making their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
Prior to Monday, the Predators were one of just five NHL teams to have never punched their ticket to the final. Now just four teams remain in the hunt for their first shot at the final round:
The longest drought belongs to the Coyotes, who joined the NHL as the Winnipeg Jets in 1979 before uprooting and heading to the desert 17 years later.
In all, it counts for 38 seasons in which the Coyotes have not advanced to the final. The franchise made its closest bid to win it all in 2012 before falling to the Los Angeles Kings in Round 3, missing the final by three wins.
The good news is that the future is bright in Arizona, with a host of young talent led by the likes of Max Domi, Brendan Perlini, Clayton Keller, and Jakob Chychrun, among others, so the team's winning ways shouldn't be too far off.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Leading up to 2017, the Blue Jackets were a laughingstock, missing the playoffs in all but two seasons in their 15-year history. That all changed this year.
Under the guidance of coach John Tortorella, the Blue Jackets embraced a style of play that led them to their best season in franchise history, finishing with 108 points for the NHL's fourth-best record.
And while the Blue Jackets were bounced early in the playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins, this season was simply a preview of what's to come in the Ohio capital, where the Blue Jackets have established one of the league's most exciting cores built around Alexander Wennberg and Zach Werenski.
The Wild were somewhat of a surprise this season, their first under new bench boss Bruce Boudreau. He brought eight division titles with him to St. Paul and nearly had another in his first season with the Wild prior to a late-season slump.
While Minnesota wasn't able to translate its regular-season success to the spring, falling to the St. Louis Blues in five games in the opening round, Wild fans still have much to be happy about.
Boudreau breathed new life into the Wild, getting the most out of veteran players like Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, and new addition Eric Staal, while overseeing promising progress from youngsters Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter.
After a single playoff appearance in their first 11 years as the Atlanta Thrashers, the Jets have advanced to the postseason just once since their relocation to the Manitoba capital. But hope is on the way given the team's rising stars.
With young talent like this, visions of Lord Stanley are hard to ignore.
The Jets boast arguably the NHL's best crop of young talent, and the franchise was lucky enough to add to it last summer with rookie Patrik Laine, as the Finnish freshman scoring 36 times in his inaugural campaign. That type of player just happens to roll through Winnipeg every so often.
(Photos courtesy: Action Images)