NHL Lockout: Ranking the Post-Lockout Stanley Cup Chances of Each Canadian Team
It is well-known that hockey is Canada’s game. However, it has been almost two decades since a Canadian team has won hockey’s biggest prize, the Stanley Cup. Teams have come close, even making it to the Stanley Cup Finals, but ultimately fall short.
That begs the question, who will be the next Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup?
Out of the seven Canadian teams there is clearly one team that is much better than the others. Let’s just get the fact that the Vancouver Canucks are No. 1 on this list out of the way.
What about the other teams? There is a steep drop in skill from Vancouver down to the No. 2 on this list.
From least likely to most likely to win, here are the chances every Canadian team has of winning the Stanley Cup.
7. Calgary Flames
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Strength of Prospect Pool: Seventh
The Calgary Flames have refused to rebuild over the past few years. Instead, they have continued to bring in veterans that never seem to lead them to the playoffs.
Miikka Kiprusoff provides the Flames with excellent goaltending and their defense is hugely underrated. The Flames’ weakness is their forward core. No matter who they bring in, it just never seems to work.
Calgary is getting better at drafting but they are feeling the effects of bad drafting and trading away picks over the years.
6. Winnipeg Jets
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Strength of Prospect Pool: Sixth
Winnipeg welcomed back the Jets last season with huge support. However, things could quickly turn bad if they don’t start winning soon.
The Winnipeg fans are going to want to see the playoffs sooner rather than later, and the way the Jets are built, they might get there but not last long once they do.
Other than Evander Kane and Andrew Ladd, the Jets forwards are largely spare parts placed together. The defense, led by Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom, has a good top three, but drops off after that.
Ondrej Pavelec gives the Jets a chance to win every game and is growing into one of the better goaltenders in the NHL.
The Jets are also paying the price for drafting. For years they brought their first-round pick straight to the NHL, leaving the prospect shelves rather bare when it comes to high-end talent.
5. Ottawa Senators
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Strength of Prospect Pool: Fifth
The Ottawa Senators, led by Daniel Alfredsson, surprised everyone by making the playoffs last season. They could do it again this season if the lockout doesn’t cost us another year of hockey.
If the lockout lasts all season, the Senators could lose their leader. Without Alfredsson, Jason Spezza will become the de facto leader and quite frankly, he’s nowhere near the leader that Alfredsson is.
The Senators team is young and will be good for a long time, but that leadership is going to be missed for the same length of time.
4. Montreal Canadiens
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Strength of Prospect Pool: First
The next three teams are pretty much equal in terms of likelihood of winning the Stanley Cup.
Montreal's present doesn’t look good but the future is definitely bright. Alex Galchenyuk leads the charge in terms of prospects, followed by Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi. If all three of them, and others, reach their potential, the Habs will be in a very good position.
Of course, having the best goaltender in Canada, Carey Price, doesn’t hurt.
3. Toronto Maple Leafs
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Strength of Prospect Pool: Second
While some might scoff at the Toronto Maple Leafs being this high, the Leafs future is bright. Most of their players now are only going to get better on both sides of the game.
The defense, which hasn’t been good at all the past few years, will get better with age. Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk will become better scorers as they enter their primes.
James Reimer, if he proves himself this season, will give the Leafs a quality goaltender for the foreseeable future.
The Leafs prospect pool is looking pretty good, with players like Morgan Rielly, Tyler Biggs, Brad Ross and Stuart Percy ready to take the reins in Toronto in a couple of years.
2. Edmonton Oilers
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Strength of Prospect Pool: Third
This ranking might seem crazy considering where the Edmonton Oilers have been the past few years. However, it is because of where they have been the last couple of years that they are in this position.
With Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz, the Oilers have the best young core in the league. It will take a while for all of them to reach their full potential, but when they do, Edmonton is going to be a very dangerous team.
The prospect pool is full of defensemen that will eventually move the Oilers to the No. 1 position on this list.
1. Vancouver Canucks
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Strength of Prospect Pool: Fourth
For now, the Vancouver Canucks own this position and will for another couple of years.
With the Sedin twins, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows, the Canucks have one of the best top two lines in the NHL. The defense, with the addition of Jason Garrison, is also one of the best in the league.
The Canucks have a great young goaltender in Cory Schneider that will keep Vancouver near the top of this list for at least the next decade.
While the prospect pool has its gems like Niklas Jensen and Brendan Gaunce, picking very late in the first round hasn’t led to them having a good amount of great prospects.