All-Time NHL Franchise Rankings, 2016-17 Edition

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After several years of ranking all active NHL franchises on my other site, I’ve decided to move it here. In addition to the list having a new home, I’ve upped my game introduced some new technology to the process — namely, Tableau data visualizations. Other than making things look snazzy, however, the methodology behind how I’m ranking all NHL franchises remains pretty much intact. So for those who don’t know the rules, here they are again:

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; -1 point for a losing 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 (0,2,3).

Under the current points system, the best possible season (before the winning regular season bonus is applied) nets a team 43 points — a winning season (1), regular season points champion (3), a playoff berth (2), four playoff round wins (12), and a Stanley Cup win (25).

A few of the main goals of my system are 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 2016-17 NHL season. Last year’s ranking is shown in parentheses. Clicking on the graph will take you to my Tableau page were you can look at other NHL charts and play with the parameters.

All-Time NHL Franchise Rankings, 2016-17 Edition

The Top 10

#1. Montreal Canadiens (#1) — 17.83 pts.
#2. Boston Bruins (#3) — 13.13 pts.
#3. Philadelphia Flyers (#2) — 13.04 pts.
#4. Detroit Red Wings (#4) — 12.27 pts.
#5. Edmonton Oilers (#5) — 10.36 pts.
#6. New Jersey Devils (#6) — 9.76 pts.
#7. New York Islanders (#7) — 8.79 pts.
#8. Pittsburgh Penguins (#10) — 8.69 pts.
#9. San Jose Sharks (#14) — 8.04 pts.
#10. Colorado Avalanche (#8) — 7.833 pts.

The Penguins moved up 2 spots thanks to winning their fourth Stanley Cup last season. The San Jose Sharks, meanwhile, made an improbable run to the Cup Finals and used it to spring five spots into the top 10.

Elsewhere, the  Senators dropped out of the top 10 thanks in part to not making the playoffs for the second time in three years. There wasn’t much movement at all in the middle of this group.

The Mediocre 10

#11. Toronto Maple Leafs (#11) — 7.827 pts.
#12. Chicago Blackhawks (#12) — 7.697 pts.
#13. Ottawa Senators (#9) — 7.696 pts.
#14. Dallas Stars (#13) — 7.25 pts.
#15. Buffalo Sabres (#15) — 6.76 pts.
#16. St. Louis Blues (#17) — 6.54 pts.
#17. Anaheim Ducks (#18) — 6.50 pts.
#18. New York Rangers (#19) — 6.39 pts.
#19. Vancouver Canucks (#16) — 6.11 pts.
#20. Calgary Flames (#20) — 6.02 pts.

Only about half this group made the playoffs, which I guess fits the very definition of mediocre. The Blues and Rangers both moved up a spot, although only St. Louis won a playoff series.

The Bottom 10

#21. Washington Capitals (#21) — 5.63 pts.
#22. Minnesota Wild (#22) — 5.27 pts.
#23. Los Angeles Kings (#23) — 4.67 pts.
#24. Tampa Bay Lightning (#24) — 4.65 pts.
#25. Nashville Predators (#25) — 4.24 pts.
#26. Carolina Hurricanes (#26) — 3.03 pts.
#27. Florida Panthers (#28) — 2.05 pts.
#28. Arizona Coyotes (#27) — 2.03 pts.
#29. Winnipeg Jets (#29) — 0.81 pts.
#30. Columbus Blue Jackets (#30) — 0.13 pts.

There really isn’t much to say with this group. I suppose the one bit of positive news is that the Blue Jackets finally moved their franchise point average into positive territory. The Capitals had a chance to make some real noise in the rankings but bowed out of the playoffs in the second round after claiming the Presidents’ Trophy.

Team of the Decade (So Far)

We’re now well into the 2010s and it looks like we have a tight race between the Blackhawks, Kings, and Bruins for the best team of the decade. The Penguins are within striking distance as well. Click on the image to see how the other decades shaped up.



  • Despite Montreal being comfortable on top of this list, it’s been a lean few decades for them, relatively speaking. They’ve averaged fewer than 6 points in each of the last two decades.
  • The Islanders continue to coast on the strength of their incredible 1980s dynasty, as do the Oilers.
  • The Blue Jackets are 15 regular season wins away from 500 for their history. By way of comparison, the Canadiens have almost 3,300.
  • The oldest and newest stadiums in the NHL going into this year: Madison Square Garden in New York City (opened 1968) and Rogers Place in Edmonton (opened September 8, 2016).