Sunday, March 29
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All-Time NHL Franchise Rankings, 2015-16 Edition

I like to get these franchise ranking lists out before the start of the season but that didn’t happen this year. But no matter, all the tabulations are complete and I’m ready to go with my updated rankings of all 30 active NHL franchises, from best to worst.

Last year’s list is here, and you can see all my great sports-related rankings and lists here.

The Criteria

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, current as of the start of the 2015-16 NHL season.


Detroit Red WingsThe Top 10

#1. Montreal Canadiens (#1 last year) — 18.18 avg.

#2. Philadelphia Flyers (#2) — 13.85 avg.

#3. Boston Bruins (#3) — 13.63 avg.

#4. Detroit Red Wings (#4) — 12.52 avg.

#5. Edmonton Oilers (#5) — 11.03 avg.

#6. New Jersey Devils (#6) — 10.63 avg.

#7. New York Islanders (#7) — 9.19 avg.

#8. Colorado Avalanche (#8) — 8.43 avg.

#9. Ottawa Senators (#9) — 8.32 avg.

#10. Pittsburgh Penguins (#10) — 8.19 avg.

No changes in the top 10 this year, and only the Red Wings and Penguins managed to increase the per-season point averages. The Oilers and Devils continue to have a hard go of things lately and continue to lose points at decent clip.

I opined last year that the Penguins could be poised to pass the Senators, but that didn’t happen. They have, however, closed the gap to just .13 points.

Vancouver Canucks The Mediocre 10

#11. Toronto Maple Leafs (#10 last year) — 7.92 avg.

#12. Chicago Blackhawks (#14) — 7.90 avg.

#13. Dallas Stars (#12) — 7.51 avg.

#14. San Jose Sharks (#15) — 7.30 avg.

#15. Buffalo Sabres (#13) — 7.30 avg.

#16. Vancouver Canucks (#19) — 6.66 avg.

#17. St. Louis Blues (#16) — 6.62 avg.

#18. Anaheim Ducks (#18) — 6.57 avg.

#19. New York Rangers (#20) — 6.49 avg.

#20. Calgary Flames (#17) — 6.38 avg.

Lots of jostling in the middle of the pack, with only one franchise (Anaheim) staying put from last year’s rankings. Vancouver moved up more than any other team this year, thanks mostly to gaining 15 points thanks to not having a losing regular season since 1998-99.

Their western Canadian neighbors, the Calgary Flames, dropped three spots despite a winning record and a playoff round win last year.

Tampa Bay Lightning programThe Bottom 10

#21. Washington Capitals (#21 last year) — 5.73 avg.

#22. Minnesota Wild (#22) — 5.43 avg.

#23. Los Angeles Kings (#24) — 4.72 avg.

#24. Tampa Bay Lightning (#25) — 4.64 avg.

#25. Nashville Predators (#23) — 4.44 avg.

#26. Carolina Hurricanes (#26) — 3.11 avg.

#27. Arizona Coyotes (#27) — 2.17 avg.

#28. Florida Panthers (#28) — 1.90 avg.

#29. Winnipeg Jets (#29) — 0.93 avg.

#30. Columbus Blue Jackets (#30) — -0.21 avg.

This was the least active group in terms of positioning, as only the Kings, Lightning, and Predators moved places from last year’s list. Tampa Bay, however, wins this year’s award for most improved team with a +1.21-point average increase. That puts them quite close to the Kings, who inched up just .05 points from the 2014 rankings.