Pity the poor Buffalo Sabres.

The Western New York-based franchise marked 50 years since its NHL arrival with one of the most woeful stretches in league history, going from mid-February to late March without a victory and essentially clinching that another Stanley Cup tournament will come and go without their participation.

Buffalo hasn't reached the playoffs in 10 straight seasons, tying a league record previously shared by the Florida Panthers (2001-11) and the Edmonton Oilers (2007-17).

But don't lose all hope quite yet.

NHL history is dotted with teams who've gone from the league's basement to the upper floors—if not the penthouse—in a single season thanks to prudent draft picks, timely trades and free-agent signings or just plain good fortune.

For example, the Oilers themselves traded history's greatest player, Wayne Gretzky, not long before the 1988-89 season and came back to hang a championship banner at the end of the subsequent 1989-90 campaign thanks in part to the haul they got from that deal.

With that as a high-profile precedent, the B/R hockey writing team got together to compile a list of the half-dozen greatest rebound seasons in NHL history. We looked at where the teams were, where they went and some of the storylines that made the standings spikes possible.

Take a look at our collection and drop a reaction or two of your own in the comments.

Carolina Hurricanes (2005-06)

Before: 2003-04

28-34-14, 6 OT Losses (76 points, missed playoffs)

After: 2005-06

52-22-8 (112 points, won Stanley Cup)

What Happened

First, and perhaps most importantly, the Hurricanes had a season to rebuild the team thanks to a labor lockout that scrubbed the entire 2004-05 schedule.

Rookie goaltender Cam Ward arrived to the NHL and became an instant stalwart, and the lineup in front of him was bolstered by the likes of veteran Rod Brind'Amour and a then-21-year-old Eric Staal.

Carolina spiked 36 points from 76 to 112 and went from missing the playoffs to earning the Eastern Conference's second seed. The Canes beat Montreal, New Jersey and Buffalo in six, five and seven games, respectively, to reach the Stanley Cup Final. There, they went up three games to one over Edmonton before having to hold on for a 3-1 victory in Game 7 at home and the franchise's first championship.

Montreal Canadiens (1943-44)

Before: 1942-43

19-19-12 (50 points, Fourth place)


After: 1943-44

38-5-7 (83 points, First place)


What Happened

The Canadiens weren't exactly a laughingstock in 1942-43, but they weren't particularly memorable either. Montreal finished fourth in a six-team league and ended the season with a five-game loss to Boston in the opening round of the playoffs. The following year, though. That's a different story.

Arriving fulltime to Les Habitants were both goal-scoring ace Maurice Richard and puck-stopping stalwart Bill Durnan. Richard scored 32 goals and had 54 points in his first complete NHL season, while Durnan played all 50 games as a rookie and had a 2.18 goals-against average with a pair of shutouts. 

Come playoff time, it translated to a five-game blitz of the Toronto Maple Leafs and a four-game sweep of the Bruins to win the fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history and first since 1930-31.