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How Long Has It Taken Expansion Teams To Reach The Stanley Cup Final?

It's taken the Nashville Predators 18 seasons. Do you know how long it took the NHL's other teams?

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

When the Nashville Predators defeated the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in team history.

After all, of the four franchises to be granted expansion status in 1997 - Atlanta Thrashers, Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets - the Predators were the first one to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

To date, the Predators will be the newest NHL team to advance this far in the playoffs.

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With the Golden Knights set to debut in the NHL this fall, we examine the league's other 30 franchises and how long it took them to reach the playoffs' final round.

It took the Predators 18 years. Of the 27 teams that have reached the Stanley Cup Final - Arizona, Winnipeg, Columbus and Minnesota are the four that haven't - the average time it's taken expansion teams is 11.9 years.

Do you know how long it took the other teams?

Video: A look at the 2017 Expansion Draft rules

 

Anaheim Ducks

First NHL Season: 1993-94
First Stanley Cup Final: 2002-03

Before rebranding as the Anaheim Ducks, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim made it to one Stanley Cup Final and lost in seven games to the New Jersey Devils in 2002-03. The Ducks only other trip to the Final came in 2006-07, where they defeated the Ottawa Senators in five games.

Arizona Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets

First NHL Season: 1979-80
First Stanley Cup Final: Never

Either as the original Winnipeg Jets or the Arizona Coyotes, this franchise has never played in the Stanley Cup Final. The closest it has ever come was 2011-12, when the Coyotes won the Pacific Division and lost to the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Finals.

Boston Bruins

First NHL Season: 1924-25
First Stanley Cup Final: 1926-27

The NHL's first American franchise, the Boston Bruins reached the Stanley Cup Final in their third season and fell to the original Ottawa Senators. Two years later, 1928-29, the Bruins made it back to the Stanley Cup Final and beat another expansion team, the New York Rangers.

Buffalo Sabres

First NHL Season: 1970-71
First Stanley Cup Final: 1974-75

In just their fifth NHL season, the high-flying Buffalo Sabres reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time and lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in six games. Buffalo also lost its only other Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1998-99 to the Dallas Stars.

Calgary Flames

First NHL Season: 1972-73
First Stanley Cup Final: 1985-86

Although they entered the NHL in 1972 as the Atlanta Flames, the Flames didn't reach the Stanley Cup Final until after they moved to Calgary. The Calgary Flames lost their first Stanley Cup Final to the Montreal Canadiens in 1985-86, but won their only Stanley Cup in a return match with the Habs in 1988-89.

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Carolina Hurricanes

First NHL Season: 1979-80
First Stanley Cup Final: 2001-02

Entering the NHL as the Hartford Whalers from the World Hockey Association in 1979, today's Carolina Hurricanes relocated to North Carolina and reached their first Stanley Cup Final in 2001-02. After losing in five to the Detroit Red Wings, the Hurricanes returned to the Stanley Cup Final in 2005-06 and defeated the Edmonton Oilers for the only championship in team history.

Chicago Blackhawks

First NHL Season: 1926-27
First Stanley Cup Final: 1930-31

Led by eccentric owner Major Frederic McClaughlin, the Blackhawks were not a stable franchise in their early seasons, frequently changing coaches and icing "unique" lineups, which were mostly predicated by their owner's desire to dress American players at a time U.S. NHL players were rare. Despite several moving parts, Chicago reached the Stanley Cup Final in its fifth season, 1930-31, but lost to the Montreal Canadiens. The Blackhawks made it back to the final in 1934, winning the first of the team's six Stanley Cups.

Colorado Avalanche

First NHL Season: 1979-80
First Stanley Cup Final: 1995-96

The Avalanche never advanced beyond the conference final during their 16-year run as the Quebec Nordiques, but won the Stanley Cup in their first season in Denver, 1995-96.

 

Watch: Youtube Video

 

Columbus Blue Jackets

First NHL Season: 2000-01
First Stanley Cup Final: Never

The Blue Jackets have gradually become a potent force in the NHL, and have now made a handful of playoff appearances. Columbus, however, is yet to advance out of the first round.

Dallas Stars

First NHL Season: 1967-68
First Stanley Cup Final: 1980-81

As the Minnesota North Stars, today's Dallas Stars reached the Stanley Cup Final in both 1980-81 and 1990-91, but lost to the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins, respectively. Their first trip to the Final after moving to Dallas in 1993 came in 1998-99, when they beat the Buffalo Sabres for the only championship in team history.

Detroit Red Wings

First NHL Season: 1926-27
First Stanley Cup Final: 1933-34

Playing their early seasons as both the Detroit Falcons and Detroit Cougars, today's Red Wings, as the Red Wings, reached their first Stanley Cup Final in their eight season, 1933-34, and lost to the Chicago Black Hawks, whose name was spelled in two words at the time. . Detroit won its first two Stanley Cups, back to back, in 1936 and '37.

Edmonton Oilers

First NHL Season: 1979-80
First Stanley Cup Final: 1982-83

While the other teams - Quebec Nordiques, Hartford Whalers, Winnipeg Jets - that joined the NHL from the World Hockey Association in 1979 struggled early, the Edmonton Oilers didn't, largely aided by a teenage Wayne Gretzky. Quickly adding several other future Hall of Famers - Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, et al - the Oilers reached the Stanley Cup Final in their fourth season and were swept by the New York Islanders. The following spring, the Oilers started a run where they won five Stanley Cups in seven seasons.

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Florida Panthers

First NHL Season: 1993-94
First Stanley Cup Final: 1995-96

Of all the 1990s NHL expansion teams, none reached the Stanley Cup Final quicker than the Florida Panthers, who were swept by the Colorado Avalanche in their third NHL season. Although that was the Avalanche's first season, it must be noted that Colorado's true expansion year came in 1979-80 as the Quebec Nordiques.

Los Angeles Kings

First NHL Season: 1967-68
First Stanley Cup Final: 1992-93

Before winning two Stanley Cups in three seasons starting in 2011-12, the Kings had only made it to the Stanley Cup Final one time in the team's 45-year history. That came in 1992-93, where despite three contests reaching overtime, Los Angeles lost to the Montreal Canadiens in five games.

 

 

Minnesota Wild

First Season: 2000-01
First Stanley Cup Final: Never

The Wild have yet to reach the Stanley Cup Final since entering the NHL in 2000-01, but reached the Western Conference in their third season, 2002-03, before losing to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

Montreal Canadiens

First Season: 1909-10
First Stanley Cup Final: 1915-16

Founded seven years before the NHL was founded as a member of the National Hockey Association, the Montreal Canadiens reached their first Stanley Cup Final in 1915-16 and defeated the Portland Rosebuds, who were largely the forerunner of today's Chicago Blackhawks. Transferring over to the NHL in 1917-18, the Canadiens first NHL Stanley Cup was won in 1923-24.

Nashville Predators

First NHL Season: 1998-99
First Stanley Cup Final: 2016-17

Becoming a Western Conference power coming out of the 2004-05 NHL Lockout, the Predators hadn't made it beyond the second round until this spring, where the team will be making its first Stanley Cup Final appearance.

New Jersey Devils

First NHL Season: 1974-75
First Stanley Cup Final: 1994-95

Beginning their existence as the Kansas City Scouts and becoming the Colorado Rockies before moving to New Jersey in 1982, the Devils franchise struggled for most of its existence prior to the early 1990s. That decade started a near two-decade run of success for the Devils, who reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 1994-95 and swept the Detroit Red Wings to win the first championship in team history.

New York Islanders

First NHL Season: 1972-73
First Stanley Cup Final: 1979-80

By their third year, the Islanders were Stanley Cup contenders, although a string of late playoff defeats in the late '70s kept them out of the Stanley Cup Final until 1979-80. That year, they defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in six games, winning the first of four straight Stanley Cups.

 

Watch: Youtube Video

 

New York Rangers

First NHL Season: 1926-27
First Stanley Cup Final: 1927-28

Although 1967, when the NHL doubled in size from six teams to 12, is recognized as the NHL's first expansion, there was previously expansion in 1926. That expansion brought in today's New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings, among others, although it was the Rangers who achieved the quickest success. In its second season, New York reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time and defeated the Montreal Maroons.

Ottawa Senators

First NHL Season: 1992-93
First Stanley Cup Final: 2006-07

Although an earlier team called the Ottawa Senators existed in the early 20th century and won several championships, the modern franchise was founded in 1992. It made its first trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006-07, losing to the Anaheim Ducks.

Philadelphia Flyers

First NHL Season: 1967-68
First Stanley Cup Final: 1973-74

Of all the teams that are recognized as being part of the NHL's modern expansion era, none won a Stanley Cup quicker than the Philadelphia Flyers. In their seventh season, 1973-74, the Flyers defeated the Boston Bruins to win the first of two straight Stanley Cups.

RELATED: Expansion history in pictures

Pittsburgh Penguins

First NHL Season: 1967-68
First Stanley Cup Final: 1990-91

The Pittsburgh Penguins mostly struggled early in the team's existence, up until Mario Lemieux joined the franchise as a rookie in 1984-85. By the early 1990s, the Penguins had added Jaromir Jagr and Ron Francis, among others, to the fold. Pittsburgh beat the Minnesota North Stars in its first trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 1990-91, and then the Chicago Blackhawks the following spring to win its second straight championship.

 

Watch: Youtube Video

 

San Jose Sharks

First NHL Season: 1991-92
First Stanley Cup Final: 2015-16

Despite several strong teams and first places finishes, the San Jose Sharks didn't reach the Stanley Cup Final until the franchise was 25 years old. San Jose lost its only Cup Final to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games last spring.

 

 

St. Louis Blues

First NHL Season: 1967-68
First Stanley Cup Final: 1967-68

Although it deserves a slight asterisk, the Blues reached the Stanley Cup Final in each of their first three seasons. The asterisk being that when the NHL expanded from six teams to 12 in 1967, the format guaranteed that one of the six new franchises would reach the Final. The Blues were the expansion representative in the Final in all three seasons under this arrangement, and were swept all three years. St. Louis hasn't made it back to the Stanley Cup Final since.

Tampa Bay Lightning

First NHL Season: 1992-93
First Stanley Cup Final: 2003-04

After badly struggling throughout most of their early seasons, the Lightning acquired talents such as Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards in the early 2000s. Led by coach John Tortorella and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, this crew became a force in 2002-03 and won a Stanley Cup in their first trip to the final in 2003-04.

Toronto Maple Leafs

First NHL Season: 1917-18
First Stanley Cup Final: 1917-18

The Toronto franchise had existed in various forms prior to its entry into the NHL in 1917-18, and a forerunner, the Toronto Blueshirts, won the Stanley Cup in 1914. However, the franchise general cites its origin as 1917-18, when as the Toronto Arenas they won the Stanley Cup in the NHL's first season. They first appeared in the Stanley Cup Final as the Maple Leafs in 1931-32 and defeated the New York Rangers.

Vancouver Canucks

First NHL Season: 1970-71
First Stanley Cup Final: 1981-82

Eleven years after entering the NHL, the Canucks made a Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1981-82 and were swept by the New York Islanders. The Canucks returned to the Stanley Cup Final in 1993-94 and 2010-11, losing to the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins, respectively. The Canucks have yet to win a Stanley Cup.

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Washington Capitals

First NHL Season: 1974-75
First Stanley Cup Final: 1997-98

Failing to make the playoffs their first eight seasons in the NHL, the Washington Capitals gradually became a perpetual Stanley Cup contender by the mid-1980s. They didn't, however, reach the Stanley Cup Final until 1997-98, when rookie general manager George McPhee led Washington to an Eastern Conference championship. The Capitals lost the 1997-98 Stanley Cup Final in four straight games to the Detroit Red Wings.

Winnipeg Jets/Atlanta Thrashers

First NHL Season: 1999-00
First Stanley Cup Final: Never

Winnipeg Jets 2.0, playing in Manitoba since 2011, entered the NHL as the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999. The franchise has yet to reach the Stanley Cup Final, having only reached the playoffs in 2006-07 and 2014-15.

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