I'll bet you're wondering how this whole rebuild thing is going to work out for the Buffalo Sabres? Will all this suffering or as the new regime calls it, "patience", be worth it? Will it result in the Sabres winning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history?
I have no idea but recent history might make you feel better about the future. The last four Cup winners all fell to the bottom of the NHL for multiple seasons before rising to the top.
The Chicago Blackhawks won the Cup last year and back in 2010 but prior to that it was sad to see just how far the once proud, original six franchise had fallen. When the Blackhawks missed the playoffs back in 1998, it ended a streak of 28 straight years with a post season appearance. It also kicked off a stretch where the Hawks made the playoffs just once in 10 years.
In 2004, Chicago bottomed out with 59 points, the second worst point total in the league. In 2006 they finished with 65 points and 28th out of 30 teams but in that year's draft, Chicago selected Jonathan Toews with the 3rd overall pick. In 2007 the Hawks ended up with 71 points leaving them 26th but were able to grab South Buffalo's Patrick Kane with the top choice in the draft. Three years later the Hawks were skating around the ice in Philadelphia with Lord Stanley's Cup.
The Los Angeles Kings won the Cup in 2012 but went through their own extended suffering. LA missed the playoffs for six straight years from 2003 through 2009. They had back to back 40 plus loss seasons in 2007 and 2008, finishing 28th and then 29th in the NHL. LA moved up to 26th overall in 2009.
They had drafted Dustin Brown in the first round in 2003 and Anze Kopitar in round one in 2005. Jonathan Quick was a third round selection in 2005 and Drew Doughty was taken second overall in 2008. The team was built through the draft but the final pieces to the puzzle came via big trades that brought Mike Richards and Jeff Carter out west.
For the Boston Bruins, who won the Cup in 2011 and lost in the Finals last year, the down time wasn't as long. It was really only two years. The Bruins were 26th in the league in 2006 and 23rd in 2007 but made the playoffs the next three years before winning the Cup. They built through the draft but not necessarily with high picks. David Krecji, Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic were all second rounders and Brad Marchand was a third round pick. The top part of the draft addition was Tyler Seguin, who Boston grabbed with the number two choice in 2011.
The shining example of bottoming out and using the upper reaches of the draft to bring a franchise back to life is the Pittsburgh Penguins. They missed the playoffs from 2002 through 2006 and finished 26th, 29th, 30th and 29th. But the Penguins were rewarded for all of that misery. They used the first overall pick in the 2003 draft to take Marc-Andre Fleury and jn 2005, Sydney Crosby. In 2004 and 2006, the Penguins had the number two overall slot and grabbed Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal respectively. They were back in the playoffs in 2007, lost in the finals in 08 and won the Cup in 09.