The Top 8 NHL Players Who Have Yet to Make the Playoffs

Keith Kinkaid (left) and Jack Eichel [Photos by Lisa Gansky Photography]
One hundred percent of NHL players will tell you that their top goal is to hoist Lord Stanley’s Mug over their head, skate around in a circle screaming, and wondering who they’re gonna spray first in the face with champagne. OK, cool squad goals bro. I can say 100% because Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Semin are playing in the KHL these days, and they only give a damn about money. The second goal for every player is to make the playoffs; just to get that extra patch on their jersey and at least play some late-April hockey. 

Now that Ron Hainsey’s Ultimate Ironman Streak of playing so many seasons on so many bad teams —  and having made his tee time on the golf course by April 15 — is over, let’s look at the top eight players currently in the NHL who have yet to make the playoffs and could take up Ron’s mantle of misfortune:

8. Keith Kinkaid 

Keith Kinkaid 
Keith Kinkaid [Photo Credit: Lisa Gansky Photography]
Games Played: 69 
Wins: 23 
Losses: 27 
Overtime Losses: 8 
Goals-Against Average: 2.68 
Save %: .912 
First NHL Season: 2012-13 *
(*Note: All stats in this article are through the 2016-17 season)

7. Connor Hellebuyck 

Connor Hellebuyck 
Connor Hellebuyck [Photo Credit: Winnipeg Jets / NHL]
Games Played: 82
Wins:  39 
Losses: 30 
Overtime Losses: 6 
Goals-Against Average: 2.71 
Save % 9.10 
First NHL Season: 2015-16

We start the list with two goalies. There’s only 60 of these jobs in the league, so if you can’t cut it and make those timely saves, then you’re likely out of the NHL pretty darn quick. But both of these players hover around league-average in lifetime Goals-Against Average and Save Percentage, which is more that I can say for Cam Ward. Connor Hellebukyck has played a full season worth of games for the Jets with an above .500 winning percentage, and Keith Kinkaid has somehow stuck around with the Devils organization since 2012!  They must be doing something right; but just not right enough.

6. Max Domi

Max Domi
Max Domi [Photo Credit: Arizona Coyotes / NHL]
Games Played: 140
Goals: 27
Assists: 63
Points: 90
First NHL Season: 2015-16

5. Patrik Laine

Patrik Laine
Patrik Laine [Photo Credit: Winnipeg Jets / NHL]
Games Played: 73
Goals: 36
Assists: 28
Points: 64
First NHL Season: 2016-17

4. Jack Eichel

Jack Eichel
Jack Eichel [Photo Credit: Lisa Gansky Photography]
Games Played: 142
Goals: 48
Assists: 65
Points: 113
First NHL Season: 2015-16

Here’s a core of young players who have only been in the league a short while, but have put up impressive numbers on some unimpressive teams.  Max Domi is off to a great start with the ‘Yotes, who flipped the script this offseason and are probably ready to have him primed as a full time NHLer. Patrik Laine certainly has the fewest number of games among non-goalies on this list, but probably the best numbers in that time; three hat tricks is nothing to sneeze at, either. Meanwhile, Jack Eichel is lauded as a generational talent in the same breath as Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews. Eichel finished his second season with Buffalo, but has yet to drag his team anywhere near the postseason. Don’t worry, he got help from….

3.  Evander Kane

Evander Kane
Evander Kane [Photo Credit: Buffalo Sabres / NHL]
Games Played: 496
Goals: 157
Assists: 143
Points: 300
First NHL Season: 2009-10

Currently the front runner for not having made the postseason in eight seasons, Evander is more than halfway to reaching Ron Hainsey’s 907 game streak. While he’s been hyped as having plenty of potential and burst of hockey greatness all the way back to his days is Atlanta (that’s Thrashers for you young folk; not the Flames for you old timers), personality issues seem to have weighed him down. Can he put that behind him and pull the Sabres to a playoff berth, or will he get traded again to another desperate team?

2. Jeff Skinner

Jeff Skinner
Jeff Skinner [Photo Credit: Michael Miller]
Games Played: 497
Goals: 180
Assists: 150
Points: 330
First NHL Season: 2010-11

Skinny, the smiling, dimple-cheeked cherub of Carolina, had a great start to his career in the sightless-eye with an All-Star nod and the Calder Trophy, but was soon plagued with concussions and some questionable on-ice antics that besmirched his name throughout much of the league. Also, he had to play on some crappy ‘Canes teams. But he managed to turn his game around and soon found himself a leader on the ice and in the locker room after Eric Staal’s trade and hasn’t looked back since. Can he push this team over into the postseason for this first time in his career?Dear God, please say yes. I’m so tired of watching this team lose!

Skinner is really good for having never made the playoffs but I have to give the broken Burger King crown to….

1. Taylor Hall 

Taylor Hall [Photoshop chicanery by Sal Barry]
Games Played: 453
Goals: 152
Assists: 229
Points: 381
First NHL Season: 2010-11

It could have been a coin toss between Jeff and Taylor, especially since they came from the same draft, but I felt so bad for Hall for getting traded away from the Oilers after being such good soldier for them through some rough years. He tried valiantly to pull those teams in Edmonton to victory, but were doomed most likely by poor management. After so many trying seasons, it looked like the sun was finally going to shine on his postseason career with the addition of McDavid, only to be screwed by management yet again by getting shipped off to a shattered team in New Jersey. And unfortunately, it doesn’t seem likely that Hall will have a shot in the 2017-18 season either with the Devils seated low in the points vacuum that is the Metro Division. One thing is for sure: Hall is a damn rabbit’s foot for teams wanting to win the draft lottery. 

Did I miss anyone? Let me know in the comments below. 

Jim Howard is a Carolina Hurricanes fan and reformed baseball card collector who is trying to keep the hockey collection from becoming overwhelming. And while he wishes he could give Crosby the business with his mitt, he is in fact NOT the goalie for the Red Wings. 

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