Ranking the Most Likely Dynasties in the NHL Today
Over the last several seasons, the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings have been playing dueling dynasties for NHL supremacy this decade. The current total stands at three for Chicago—2010, 2013 and 2015—and two for Los Angeles—2012 and 2014—with four more seasons to go in the decade.
Can these two teams continue to dominate? Are there other teams building something special during the period Los Angeles and Chicago share the spotlight?
Here are eight teams that could one day lay claim to dynasty status.
Note: Rankings are based on how close each team is to winning a Stanley Cup. All teams have enough talent to eventually win two championships in short order. Chicago and Los Angeles are included because they can extend their current status.
8. Edmonton Oilers
What Do They Have That Makes Them Special? The Edmonton Oilers have four No. 1 overall picks in the past six seasons, including generational talent Connor McDavid from the most recent draft. Edmonton's treasure was procured during the worst period in team history.
What Do They Need? The Oilers finally have bona fide management and coaching with the arrival of Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan. The needs are substantial, including a No. 1 defenseman and two-way players up front. They may have their goalie issues covered with new hire Cam Talbot.
How Close Are They? Chiarelli had his Boston Bruins contending within two seasons, and they won the Stanley Cup in 2011, five seasons after he began working toward a championship. That seems like a reasonable timeline for the Oilers.
7. Buffalo Sabres
What Do They Have That Makes Them Special? The Buffalo Sabres enjoyed a watershed offseason this summer, and the entire direction of their team changed in a big way. Adding Jack Eichel at the draft, trading for Ryan O'Reilly and then signing him long term while picking up defender Cody Franson late in free agency mean this is a completely different team.
What Do They Need? The Sabres have some question marks in goal, where Robin Lehner will be expected to fill the No. 1 role after coming over from the Ottawa Senators. Lehner is a good, young goalie but is not proven and has had some injury issues.
How Close Are They? The build will take a while—Buffalo was one of the league's worst teams last year. The additions this summer, and men like Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian having a full season with the team, should mean a major rise in the standings. The Sabres will be a power by the end of the decade.
6. New York Islanders
What Do They Have That Makes Them Special? The New York Islanders are led by John Tavares, one of the best young centers in the game. Complementary talents abound, including Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy. There is also a substantial group of young emerging players, including Anders Lee, Ryan Strome and Ryan Pulock.
What Do They Need? New York's goaltending—led by Jaroslav Halak—is solid but unspectacular, and it is going to need some of its young defensemen to mature in a hurry.
How Close Are They? The Islanders are entering the window of opportunity for a Stanley Cup and should contend for the rest of this decade and into the 2020s. If they can win a championship early, we may see the first New York hockey dynasty since the Potvin Islanders of the 1980s.
5. Pittsburgh Penguins
What Do They Have That Makes Them Special? The Pittsburgh Penguins have two of the best players on the planet in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. This summer, they added impact scorer Phil Kessel and moved into Stanley Cup contention in a heartbeat. They also possess a group of young and talented defensemen and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who has been more consistent in recent seasons.
What Do They Need? The Penguins need to stop trading productive young defensemen away—Simon Despres being a recent example—and they need to make sure they can fit all this talent under the cap.
How Close Are They? Pittsburgh can win any season, but it's clear the addition of Kessel has given its offense a perfect-fit option for Crosby. This is the best team the Penguins have put together since their Stanley Cup winner in 2009.
4. Anaheim Ducks
What Do They Have That Makes Them Special? The Anaheim Ducks still have their two top playoff scorers from the 2007 Stanley Cup team—Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry—and as Travis Yost from TSN showed, one of the keys to success has been cutting back playing time for those two impact forwards. An emerging group of impressive young defensemen led by Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen and the innovative coaching of Bruce Boudreau are also key.
What Do They Need? The Ducks needed to add depth to overcome injury and erosion by older players. Adding Carl Hagelin could impact them in a big way, and smaller additions like Shawn Horcoff and goalie Anton Khudobin give the team cover in important spots.
How Close Are They? Anaheim could win the Stanley Cup in 2016 and is strong enough to enjoy a quality run through the rest of this decade. Perry and Getzlaf are 30, leaving the team a nice window to win two championships while its two impact players remain in their prime.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
What Do They Have That Makes Them Special? The Tampa Bay Lightning are locked and loaded for a long run at the Stanley Cup, from next spring through the end of the decade. Led by a stunning group of quality forwards that includes Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov and the emerging Jonathan Drouin, this is easily the strongest team in the Eastern Conference.
What Do They Need? The Lightning have to wait on some of these talents for maturation, but when they arrive it's going to be special. Victor Hedman's performance last season gives fans an idea about what kind of expectation should be placed on this team.
How Close Are They? Tampa Bay has quickly surrounded Stamkos with outstanding talent, to the point where some of the less famous players are now leading the way. If Stamkos can post one of his signature seasons and the rest of this roster maintains its excellence, the Stanley Cup will return to Tampa Bay at least once in the coming seasons.
2. Chicago Blackhawks
What Do They Have That Makes Them Special? The Chicago Blackhawks are already a dynasty—in modern terms, their run is special—and based on the age of their core group, they could pick up more hardware this decade.
What Do They Need? The Hawks have been able to turn over a lot of their support roster while riding Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook heavily each season. There may be a crossroads ahead with Kane—Chris Peters of CBS Sports expanded on several issues involving Kane—and that may require a major adjustment to the core group.
How Close Are They? Chicago won the Stanley Cup last season and is a threat again this season no matter what happens with Kane. General manager Stan Bowman and Hawks management have proven to be outstanding at making moves and keeping the roster elite.
1. Los Angeles Kings
What Do They Have That Makes Them Special? The Los Angeles Kings are among the most successful teams in the NHL and have two Stanley Cup victories in the last four seasons. The center of their talent cluster—Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty—is a few years from 30 and should be able to lead the team for five years before beginning to erode.
What Do They Need? The Kings added a major item in Milan Lucic, and the addition of Christian Ehrhoff gives them cover in regard to Slava Voynov's situation. Mike Halford of NBC Sports recently updated Voynov's circumstance.
How Close Are They? Los Angeles is primed to go deep again this season and has to be considered one of the early favorites to win. Additions like Lucic and Ehrhoff only add to the Kings' formidable roster, and opposition clubs know they're in for a rugged, physical battle every night.