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Caps win! Here are the 12 NHL teams without a Stanley Cup

The Washington Capitals waited more than 40 years to hoist the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. Which team will be next to win its first-ever NHL championship?

Alex Ovechkin has his Stanley Cup and, just like that, the Washington Capitals’ four-plus decades of championship frustration is over. The Vegas Golden Knights, on the other hand, made the final in their first season of existence. Is it a sign of Stanley Cup success to come, or a trick the hockey gods play on expansion teams? (For clarity on that, see the St. Louis Blues below.)

Here are the 12 NHL teams without a Stanley Cup, ranked by the longest wait: 

ST. LOUIS BLUES
First NHL season: 1967-68
Take heed, Vegas. The Blues went to the Stanley Cup final as an expansion team in their first-ever NHL season – the league set it up so that one of the six new teams would make the championship series – but were swept by Montreal. Unbowed, the Blues returned to the Cup final the following spring, only to suffer the same result, another sweep at the hands of the Habs. Nevertheless, they persisted. St. Louis made it back to a third straight final in their third NHL season, only to lose in four straight, this time to Boston on Bobby Orr’s flying-through-the-air Cup winner. That was in 1970 and the Blues haven’t been back to the final since.

BUFFALO SABRES
First NHL season: 1970-71
Led by Gilbert Perreault, the Sabres got to the Cup final in their fifth NHL season in 1975, and they made it back – on the back of Dominik Hasek – in 1999. Neither championship series ended to Buffalo’s liking, especially the ‘No Goal’ debacle against Dallas.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS
First NHL season: 1970-71
The Canucks are 0-for-3 in Cup final appearances, although to be fair they were heavy underdogs in two of those attempts. After making the playoffs despite a losing record in 1982, Roger Neilson’s Canucks ran into the Islanders dynasty in the final. They made the post-season as .500 team in 1994, then got hot and rolled to the final, only to run into another New York team of destiny, this time Mark Messier’s Rangers. And in 2011, of course, Vancouver’s seven-game battle with Boston ended in a riot.

ARIZONA COYOTES
First NHL season: 1979-80
They’ve already been lapped by their desert rivals in Vegas. The Coyotes franchise, after 17 seasons in Winnipeg and 21 in Arizona, has never made the Cup final. The farthest they’ve gone was the 2012 Western Conference final. Shane Doan weeps.

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SAN JOSE SHARKS
First NHL season: 1991-92
They were Washington before Washington was Washington, a perennial contender with a superstar player who failed to get over the hump, year after year after year. But Joe Thornton and the Sharks shook the loser label with a run to the 2016 Cup final, even if they came up short against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.

OTTAWA SENATORS
First NHL season: 1992-93
The Senators lost 70 games in their first season, and have never ended a campaign by winning the big one. The best that Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza & Co. could do was a berth in the 2007 Cup final, where they fell to fan-favorite Teemu Selanne and the Anaheim Ducks.

FLORIDA PANTHERS
First NHL season: 1993-94
You know how this one goes. In their first-ever playoff appearance in their third-ever NHL season, the Cats pulled a rat trick and made the Cup final. But they had to face Colorado and it was an Avalanche. Since then, Florida’s playoff success has been, shall we say, quite modest.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS
First NHL season: 1998-99
It took them more than a decade to get out of the first round, but the Preds repped the West against Pittsburgh last year and look like a fearsome Cup contender for the foreseeable future. The next team on this list might have something to say about that, though.

WINNIPEG JETS
First NHL season: 1999-2000
Hard to believe, but the Jets’ (nee Atlanta Thrashers) first playoff-series victory was this spring, when they won two rounds before being grounded by Vegas. Like the Predators, whom they beat in Round 2, Winnipeg’s championship-contention window is wide open right now. 

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
First NHL season: 2000-01
The Blue Jackets made the playoffs once in their first 12 seasons, and were swept. They’re trending up with three post-season berths in the past five years, but they’re still looking for a way out of the first round.

MINNESOTA WILD
First NHL season: 2000-01
They almost went full Florida as an expansion team in their third season, upsetting their way to the Western Conference final in 2003. Minnesota has made the playoffs the past six seasons, but the veteran core is starting to show its age.

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
First NHL season: 2017-18
Was it all a dream?