If you’ve been following my pro sports franchise rankings — and I’m sure you have — then you know the drill by now. The intent of these rankings is to quantify the success (or failure) of a team over the years, and to remove emotions or feelings from the equation. The setup is simple: I assign point values for certain team achievements and then average them over the life of a franchise to determine which teams are objectively the best or worst in NHL history.
Of course others would place more or less emphasis on certain achievements, but I think my system does a good job. So let’s see what the rankings look like as we head into the 2017-18 NHL season.
(Last year’s list is here.)
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 streak 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).
One note about this graphic: The darkness of each bar represents the age of the franchise. The darker the bar the longer the team has been around. Take this into account when considering the average scores. You can click on the graphic to see more graphs and play around with them.
The Top 10
#1. Montreal Canadiens (#1) — 17.66 pts.
#2. Boston Bruins (#2) — 13.13 pts.
#3. Philadelphia Flyers (#3) — 12.98 pts.
#4. Detroit Red Wings (#4) — 12.08 pts.
#5. Edmonton Oilers (#5) — 10.22 pts.
#6. Pittsburgh Penguins (#8) — 9.55 pts.
#7. New Jersey Devils (#6) — 9.48 pts.
#8. New York Islanders (#7) — 8.66 pts.
#9. San Jose Sharks (#9) — 8.36 pts.
#10. Ottawa Senators (#13) — 8.00 pts.
The Penguins moved up yet another two spots thanks to winning their fourth Stanley Cup and second in a row. In the process the leapfrogged the Devils, who have been mired in somewhat of a slump in recent years.
One year after dropping out of the top 10, the Ottawa Senators return to the upper echelon thanks to reaching the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Mediocre 10
#11. Chicago Blackhawks (#12) — 7.76 pts.
#12. Toronto Maple Leafs (#11) — 7.73 pts.
#13. Colorado Avalanche (#10) — 7.54 pts.
#14. Dallas Stars (#14) — 7.06 pts.
#15. Anaheim Ducks (#17) — 6.83 pts.
#16. St. Louis Blues (#16) — 6.69 pts.
#17. Buffalo Sabres (#15) — 6.52 pts.
#18. New York Rangers (#18) — 6.50 pts.
#19. Washington Capitals (#21) — 5.95 pts.
#20. Vancouver Canucks (#19) — 5.93 pts.
The middle tier welcomes two new tenants, from opposite sides of the spectrum. The Colorado Avalanche dropped from the #10 spot after turning in the worst performance of the 2016-17 season, while the Washington Capitals finished with the most points in the regular season. That and a playoff series win were enough to move them from the bottom tier.
The Canucks avoided dropping down to the last group thanks to finishing just three-thousandths of a point ahead of the Flames.
The Bottom 10
#21. Calgary Flames (#20) — 5.93 pts.
#22. Nashville Predators (#25) — 5.72 pts.
#22. Minnesota Wild (#22) — 5.44 pts.
#23. Los Angeles Kings (#23) — 4.71 pts.
#24. Tampa Bay Lightning (#24) — 4.67 pts.
#26. Carolina Hurricanes (#26) — 3.00 pts.
#27. Florida Panthers (#28) — 1.91 pts.
#28. Arizona Coyotes (#27) — 1.89 pts.
#29. Winnipeg Jets (#29) — 0.82 pts.
#30. Columbus Blue Jackets (#30) — 0.31 pts.
Other than the Capitals moving out of this group and the Flames moving in, there wasn’t a lot of movement at the bottom. The Nashville Predators have turned in a few good seasons and look to claw their way out of the tier fairly soon.
Team of the Decade (So Far)
We’re into the home stretch of the 2010s and it looks like we have a three-way race between the Blackhawks, Kings, and Penguins for the best team of the decade. The Bruins have fallen a little behind the pace. The Buffalo Sabres have had the worst decade of any franchise so far, and did themselves no favors by being the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference last year.