Last year I took a look at the best and worst franchises in NHL history, split across two posts. This year, on the eve of the 2014-15 season, I’m making it easier for you, dear reader, to quickly learn the truth about all 30 National Hockey League teams in one handy list. (Don’t forget to check out all my other fantastic sports lists as well.)
I didn’t see the need to introduce any major changes to my calculation system. However, I did go back and correct some minor data entry errors I discovered from the previous year. None of this had a noticeable impact on the rankings, so fret not.
The categories and point values are as follows:
- 25 points for a Stanley Cup championship (or an NHL title prior to 1927), and 15 points for a Stanley Cup Finals loss.
- 2 points for a playoff berth, counted only from the 1967-68 season forward.
- 3 points for each playoff round win, counted only from the 1967-68 season forward.
- 3 points for finishing the regular season with the most points.
- 1 point for a winning season.
- Consecutive winning regular seasons are worth 2 points starting with the second, 3 points for the third, 4 points for the fourth, and so on. The counter is reset after any non-winning season. So if a team has three winning seasons in a row, they get a total of 5 points.
The main goal of my system is to reward consistently good play in the regular season, and to not give older franchises too much of an advantage just by virtue of being around for so many years. I’ve always felt that using Stanley Cups alone to measure a franchise’s quality is taking too narrow a view.
That’s about it! Let’s get to the rankings, good through the end of the 2013-14 season.
The Top 10
#1. Montreal Canadiens (#1 last year) — 18.25 avg.
#2. Philadelphia Flyers (#2) — 13.96 avg.
#3. Boston Bruins (#3) — 13.69 avg.
#5. Edmonton Oilers (#5) — 11.38 avg.
#6. New Jersey Devils (#6) — 10.92 avg.
#7. New York Islanders (#7) — 9.29 avg.
#8. Colorado Avalanche (#8) — 8.62 avg.
#9. Ottawa Senators (#9) — 8.38 avg.
#10. Pittsburgh Penguins (#11) — 8.11 avg.
Say hello to the newest member of the Top 10 Club — the Penguins! Despite winning just one playoff round in 2013-14, Pittsburgh did enough to leap past the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs, meanwhile, are sinking like a stone thanks to making the playoffs only once since the last league lockout.
Elsewhere in the top 10, there’s not a lot of movement from last season. The biggest drop in average came out of Edmonton (down by .38 points), which is still in this group thanks to the golden years of Gretzky and Messier.
I wouldn’t expect a much different look to this group next year, although Pittsburgh moving past Ottawa is a very real possibility.
The Mediocre 10
#11. Toronto Maple Leafs (#10 last year) — 8.01 avg.
#12. Dallas Stars (#12) — 7.65 avg.
#13. Buffalo Sabres (#13) — 7.49 avg.
#14. Chicago Blackhawks (#14) — 7.41 avg.
#15. San Jose Sharks (#15) — 7.09 avg.
#16(t). Anaheim Ducks (#18) — 6.50 avg.
#16(t). St. Louis Blues (#17) — 6.50 avg.
#18. Calgary Flames (#16) — 6.39 avg.
#19. Vancouver Canucks (#19) — 6.35 avg.
#20. New York Rangers (#20) — 6.29 avg.
Other than the Leafs getting relegated to the second tier, every club that was in this group last year is still here. The Rangers and Sharks both turned successful seasons into big point gains, moving their averages up .35 and .38 points, respectively.
The only teams from this group to see their point averages drop were the aforementioned Leafs (-.05), Stars (-.10), Sabres (-.20), and Flames (-.18). Not coincidentally, the Stars were the only squad here to make the playoffs.
The Bottom 10
#21. Washington Capitals (#21 last year) — 5.46 avg.
#22. Minnesota Wild (#22) — 5.00 avg.
#23. Los Angeles Kings (#24) — 4.67 avg.
#24. Nashville Predators (#23) — 4.40 avg.
#25. Tampa Bay Lightning (#25) — 3.43 avg.
#26. Carolina Hurricanes (#26) — 3.24 avg.
#27. Arizona Coyotes (#27) — 2.26 avg.
#28. Florida Panthers (#28) — 1.95 avg.
#29. Winnipeg Jets (#29) — 0.50 avg.
#30. Columbus Blue Jackets (#30) — -0.08 avg.
Bottom feeder teams be bottom feedin’. This list is unchanged save for the Stanley Cup champion Kings moving up one spot and raising their average nearly one whole point in the process.
That said, all but three of these franchises improved their averages from 2013-14. Other than the Kings, the best of the bunch was Columbus, who gained .42 points thanks to making the playoffs for just the second time in their history. One more good year and they’ll move out of negative territory!