- Twelve NHL teams are searching for answers after making early exits from the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs
- The Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers suffered shocking first-round losses
- Boston may have to rebuild its aging championship core following a second-round defeat to the Islanders
Some teams enter the Stanley Cup Playoffs with low expectations and proceed to blow up everyone’s hockey pools, like the Montreal Canadiens and New York Islanders this year. But there are other clubs that take a hammer to the hearts of their fans, making early exits from the postseason after promising regular seasons.
We’ll take a look at a few of those underwhelming franchises and speculate on what might be in store in the offseason. But before we do, be sure to check out our NHL betting tips page for advice on how to wager on hockey.
What’s next for Leafs and Oilers?
This exercise starts and ends with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who haven’t advanced past the first round of the postseason since 2004 and are still looking for their first Cup since 1967. The blow of blowing a 3-1 series lead to the Canadiens may have been softened a bit by Montreal’s subsequent sweep of the Jets, but Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are under fire after once again failing to deliver under pressure.
There’s already been speculation that Leafs GM Kyle Dubas could ship Marner or William Nylander to Columbus for Seth Jones after the star defenseman informed Blue Jackets brass he plans on testing free agency at the expiration of his current contract.
Justin Bieber and Auston Matthews arriving at #UFC263 👀
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) June 13, 2021
After losing both their captain John Tavares and lockdown defenseman Jake Muzzin to injury, Toronto at least has a good excuse for getting knocked out of the playoffs. The Edmonton Oilers, on the other hand, got swept by Winnipeg (who were then swept by Montreal) despite having the past two Hart Trophy winners on their roster.
To avoid squandering the once-in-a-generation pairing of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, Oilers GM Ken Holland will have his hands full this summer as he looks to rebuild a thin team that could get even thinner on the blueline if unrestricted free agents Tyson Barrie and Adam Larsson pack their bags.
Will Bruins rebuild or reload?
While the Bruins have been one of the most successful franchises in the NHL over the past 11 years, winning the Stanley Cup in 2011 and losing in the Cup Finals in both 2013 and 2019, they have only advanced past the second round of the playoffs once since that 2013 season.
After letting longtime captain Zdeno Chara walk last offseason, Boston may choose to say goodbye to playmaking center David Krejci and goaltender Tuukka Rask, who will have offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip and won’t be back until January at the earliest. Both are free agents who say they don’t want to play anywhere else, but the Bruins could have other plans.
Tuukka Rask: "I'm not gonna play for anybody else but the Bruins. This is our home. We have three kids. … At this point in my life, I don't see any reason to go anywhere else. Hopefully it works out." pic.twitter.com/IXsFlQRRCN
— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) June 11, 2021
Bruins GM Don Sweeney will likely look to sign trade-deadline acquisition Taylor Hall on the cheap, but he also needs to make a move for a top-four blueliner and add toughness. A bully throughout their 2011 Cup run, Boston was pushed around by the Blues in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final and couldn’t match the Islanders intensity in this year’s playoff disappointment.
See below the top sportsbooks where you can wager online and choose the best one for you: