The NY Islanders have one of the longest Stanley Cup Final droughts in the NHL

2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Seven
2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Seven / Patrick Smith/GettyImages

The Stanley Cup Final gets underway later tonight as the Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers meet for the right to hoist Lord Stanley and accomplish a first for their respective franchises. Neither the Panthers, who joined the NHL in 1993 nor the Golden Knights, a 2017-18 expansion team, have won the Stanley Cup.

Both came close in their early years in the NHL, with the Panthers behind goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 1996 before being swept by the Avalanche in their first season in Colorado. Meanwhile, Vegas remarkably reached the final in their first season but lost to Barry Trotz and the Washington Capitals in five games.

2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five
2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Whenever we reach this time of year, we're reminded of which teams have never won the Stanley Cup. That list includes 12 of the NHL's 32 teams, from recent expansion and relocated teams to organizations that have been around for over a half-century.

Here is the complete list of teams without a Stanley Cup:

  • Buffalo Sabres (1970)
  • Vancouver Canucks (1970)
  • San Jose Sharks (1991)
  • Florida Panthers (1993)
  • Arizona Coyotes (Jets, 1972, Coyotes, 1996)
  • Nashville Predators (1998)
  • Winnipeg Jets (Thrashers, 1999, Jets, 2011)
  • Minnesota Wild (2000)
  • Columbus Blue Jackets (2000)
  • Vegas Golden Knights (2017)
  • Ottawa Senators (1992)
  • Seattle Kraken (2021)

But there's another list, the list of the longest drought for NHL franchises without reaching the Stanley Cup Final, and that's where we, unfortunately, find our New York Islanders.

There are only two teams that have gone longer than the Islanders without playing a best-of-seven series for Lord Stanley - the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Jets/Coyotes. The Leafs, infamously, have not won the Stanley Cup since 1967, and that's also the last time they've reached the Final. They've come close on four separate occasions, losing in the Conference Final in 1993, 1994, 1999, and 2002. The Jets turned Coyotes reached the Western Conference Finals in 2012, losing to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings in five games.

New York Islanders v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Seven
New York Islanders v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Seven / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

As for the Islanders, after 19 consecutive playoff series wins, they haven't been back to the Final since 1984 when they lost in five games to Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, and the Edmonton Oilers, just falling short of the Drive for Five. They reached the Wales Conference Final in 1993 after a memorable playoff run but lost in five games to the Montreal Canadiens, the last team north of the border to win the Stanley Cup. It was then 27 long years before the Isles advanced again to the Conference Finals, doing it in consecutive seasons in 2020 and 2021, losing to the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in six and seven games.

It's been 40 years since the Islanders won a Stanley Cup - four decades! That's a long time, but next season will mark 40 years without reaching the Final as well - a dubious distinction they only share with two other NHL franchises.