The “Close, But No Cigar” Team – NHL Players Who Barely Missed Out On Winning The Stanley Cup

Photo: Toronto Star

For NHL teams, it’s often ill-timed injuries that derail a team from winning a championship or even making the playoffs. For NHL players, it’s ill-timed trades, placement on waivers, or even contract expiration that causes them to leave a team who then goes on to win the Stanley Cup the very next season.

So here is a list of a few of the recent NHL players who came close, but left a team just before the team went on to win the Stanley Cup. (Only players remaining in the NHL after leaving their future Stanley Cup-winning team are considered here).

Karl Alzner – Alzner played for the Washington Capitals from 2008-09 through 2016-17. He signed a contract with the Montreal Canadiens as an unrestricted free agent before the 2017-18 season, missing out on the Capitals Stanley Cup of 2018.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Edouard-Bellemare played for the Colorado Avalanche in 2019-20 and 2020-21, the latter season the one before they won the Stanley Cup. He signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning who just won consecutive Stanley Cups in 2020 and 2021, thus, missing out on being part of the Stanley Cup-winning teams for both Tampa Bay and Colorado. He has been on the losing side in two Stanley Cup Finals, once in 2017-18 with the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the other time in 2022 with Tampa Bay.

Mattias Janmark – Jnmark played with the Las Vegas Golden Knights in 2020-21 and 2021-22 but signed with the Edmonton Oilers as a free agent before the 2022-23 season. Thus, he missed out on the Golden Knights’ 2023 Stanley Cup.

Dmitrij Jaskin – Jaskin played for the St. Louis Blues from 2012-13 through 2017-18. After being waived by the St. Louis Blues just before the 2018-19 season, he signed a contract with the Washington Capitals, the defending Stanley Cup Champions, missing out on the Blues’ Stanley Cup in 2019 and the Capitals’ Stanley Cup in 2018.

Photo: Getty Images/Will Newton

Marcus Johansson – Johansson played for the Capitals from 2010-11 through 2016-17. He was then traded to the New Jersey Devils before the 2017-18 season, missing out on the Capitals’ Stanley Cup of 2018. He was on the losing side when the Boston Bruins advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals and lost to the St. Louis Blues.

Photo: NHL

J.T. Miller – Miller, whom Tampa Bay originally acquired at the 2018 trade deadline, played for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018-19. After that season, he signed with the Vancouver Canucks as a free agent, missing out on the Lightning’s Stanley Cup in 2020.

Max Pacioretty – Pacioretty played for the Golden Knights from 2018-19 through 2021-22 after he was acquired in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens. Vegas traded him to the Carolina Hurricanes just before the 2022-23 season for salary cap reasons, missing out on the Golden Knights Stanley Cup in 2023. To make things worse, he missed most of the season with a torn Achilles tendon.

Nate Schmidt – Schmidt played for the Washington Capitals since 2013-14 but was exposed to the expansion draft after the 2016-17 season, where the Vegas Golden Knights selected him. The Capitals, without Schmidt, won the Stanley Cup in 2018. Schmidt, meanwhile, was part of the losing Las Vegas squad. The Golden Knights traded him after the 2019-20 season to the Vancouver Canucks who traded him to the Winnipeg Jets after one season. Schmidt has left the team three seasons before Las Vegas won their Stanley Cup.

Kevin Shattenkirk – Shattenkirk played for the St. Louis Blues from 2011 through 2016-17 when he was traded to the Washington Capitals at the 2016-17 trade deadline. After that season, he signed with the New York Rangers in free agency, missing out on the Capitals Stanley Cup of 2017-18. He ended up also being two seasons removed from the St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup win in 2019. He then signed with the Tampa Bay Lighting before the 2019-20 season. Fortunately, he won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning that season. But, after that season, signed with the Anaheim Ducks as a free agent for 2021-22 and missed out on Tampa Bay’s second consecutive Stanley Cup.

Photo: NHL

David Perron – The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired Perron, the long-time St. Louis Blues player from the Edmonton Oilers at the 2015 trade deadline, but then traded him to the Anaheim Ducks at the 2016 deadline. Perron missed out on the Penguins’ Stanley Cup in 2017. He finally did win the Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues during the 2018-19 season, but was with the Las Vegas Knights team that lost the Stanley Cup Finals to the Capitals in 2018.

By Diane Doyle

About Diane Doyle

Been a Caps fan since November 1975 when attending a game with my then boyfriend and now husband.
This entry was posted in Players, Trade, Washington Capitals and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The “Close, But No Cigar” Team – NHL Players Who Barely Missed Out On Winning The Stanley Cup

  1. Prevent Defense says:

    Diane thanks so much for this listing! Inspiring, informative, shows how “All Glory is Fleeting” to quote GEN George Patton. We can add some honorable mentions, for former Caps who got close, “but no cigar”:

    – Brian Bellows had to endure losing to the Mario Lemieux Penguins in the 1991 Stanley Cup Finals. Then he did it again on Ron Wilson’s team, losing to DET in 1998.

    – Dale Hunter got to the Conference Finals several times (1982, 1985) with QUE and to the SCF once with Washington in 1998

    – Joe Juneau reached the Conference Finals twice with BOS, then the SCF with Wash in 1998

    – Bill Ranford was Olie Kolzig’s backup on the 1998 runner-up Caps team. But he won the Stanley Cup with EDM in 1990

    – Chris Simon was also on the Caps’ runner-up squad in 1998. He got his name etched on the Stanley Cup when COL won in 1996

    – The best of the best was Esa Tikkanen. He was on the Caps’ runner-up team in 1998, but won four Stanley Cups with EDM and a fifth with NYR in 1994

    – Adam Oates? Runner-up with Caps in 1998. Conference Finals: BOS, 1992

    – One more: Kelly Miller achieved the Conference Finals with NYR 1986. He and a bunch of Caps from the 1998 SCF loss to DET were also on the famous “John Druce” Caps team of 1990 that lost to BOS in Conference Finals

    • Diane Doyle says:

      I’m sure we could add numerous near misses of different types. This includes the players you cited who only got as far as being on the losing side of the Cup Finals. And many from earlier eras. This particular piece focused on the relatively guys who left their team who went on to win the Cup in the season after departure..

  2. Diane Doyle says:

    The players cited here could also be a corollary to Murphy’s Law — being traded, waived, or not re-signed by the team who goes on to win the Cup. Definitely, some bad luck, here. The story of these guys, especially of Jaskin and Bellemaire, was like the story of a swimmer named Daniel Murphy. (Yes, that really was his name.)

    Daniels’s family played with Swim Team A. But his family moved within the same town and was geographically closer to the pool of Swim Team B. Hence, the family decided to switch. Team B had won their League championship the year before Daniel Murphy and his family joined the team while Team A had been a perennial mediocre to bad team. But after the Murphy family switched teams, Swim Team B had an off year while Swim Team A was league champions sans the Murphys. Team A went on to win their second consecutive championship. But Daniel Murphy’s story had a happy ending. In the third year of swimming with his new team, Team B returned to the championship circle.

  3. Jeff Brinston says:

    Marian Hossa ? Wings and Pens back to back SCF loses.

    • Diane Doyle says:

      Left the Pens to sign with Detroit and then Pitt won the Cup. But he finally got Cups with Chicago. (Seemed like Hossa knew where to go.) Admit he was out of the time frame I considered in my article.

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