5 NHL teams that will face a “playoffs or bust” season in 2024-25

The NHL is an unforgiving league for head coaches and front offices, so the old “playoffs or bust” cliche will affect a few teams next year.
Buffalo Sabres v Edmonton Oilers
Buffalo Sabres v Edmonton Oilers / Lawrence Scott/GettyImages
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Each year, you have teams that will be in “playoffs or bust” mode, and the 2024-25 season will be no different. Some of the teams who were in that predicament this season include the New Jersey Devils and the Calgary Flames, a pair of organizations that made some dramatic changes this season. 

The Flames appeared to be mired with a mediocre record for the second year in a row, and it made sense for them to ‘sell’ some of their better-known players. Things should be no different this summer as the organization looks to at least retool for the future. 

New Jersey found themselves in a similar situation, firing head coach Lindy Ruff in March, before ‘selling’ at the trade deadline while acquiring a couple of fill-in goaltenders who weren’t going to save the season. 

Quite a few NHL teams will be in “playoffs or bust” mode next season

Now that the 2023-24 regular season is almost finished and the playoff positions are (almost) all but set, a few organizations will find themselves in a similar predicament next year if they don’t make the postseason. Since the phrase “playoffs or bust” is subjective to an extent, not every franchise listed below will be going through a complete dismantling and rebuild if they don’t make it to the 2025 postseason, but changes will be inevitable. 

Two teams might see a new general manager and head coach in charge, even if retooling or completely rebuilding the organization may not be necessary. Another pair of teams should see complete rebuilds if they don’t make the playoffs next season, while another on this list could go in either direction. 

So, which franchises have no choice but to make the 2025 postseason if they hope to keep their respective organizations moving smoothly? Let’s start with one of the league’s biggest disappointments.