Which Canadian hockey teams represent the very best in the NHL? Read on to find out.
The NHL has a total of 32 competing teams, and Canada is home to only seven of them. Of those seven teams, there are three that stand head and shoulders above the rest, at least when it comes to historical achievements, recent performances, and potential for future success.
Deciding which of the three goes above or below the others was a painstaking process, but it’s safe to say that our final podium is carefully considered. The rankings that follow take several significant factors into account, from current roster composition to the latest hockey betting odds. So, now that our brief introduction is out of the way, let’s move on to our top three choices for the best Canadian teams in the NHL.
Beginning our top three is none other than the Calgary Flames, home to hockey legends like Jerome Iginla and Mikael Backlund. Smart trades and renewed contracts have greatly bolstered the team’s defense in recent years, and the current team composition has a clear focus on preventing goals and suffocating offense-focused teams.
The results have been more than satisfactory, and the decision to play defensively led to several critical clean sheets last season. The end result was a clinched division for the Flames, who ended the 2021/22 regular season with 50 wins, 111 points, and a goal difference of 85.
All that being said, the team’s offense is a little thin compared to other divisional champions, which could lead to a few challenges in terms of goal-scoring capability. A second-line center or a first-line winger would be ideal for rectifying the situation, but it all depends on the priorities and mindset of management.
Executive decisions have led to favorable outcomes in recent years, barring the occasional hiccup every now and then. And with eight divisional championships, two Presidents’ Trophies, and 11 Hockey Hall of Famers, the team certainly has what it takes to withstand the intense pressure of top-flight hockey.
Last season, the Toronto Maple Leafs came second in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. They won 54 games in the regular season and attained a total of 115 points, with a goal difference of 62.
Currently composed of high-end elites, the Maple Leafs make goal-scoring look effortless. Still, that goal difference is an area of concern, especially when you consider that the Florida Panthers, last season’s division champions, had a much higher goal difference of 94.
Oddly enough, the Maple Leafs are dealing with a similar problem to the Flamers; only it’s in reverse. Instead of a shortage of offensive players, the Maple Leafs are in need of a more robust defense – one that can prevent counter-attacks reliably and also keep that goal difference moving in a positive direction.
The Maple Leafs come closer to a championship victory with every passing season. The franchise hit several records in the 2021/22 season, including the most points, the most wins, and the most home wins. If the defense can be bolstered for the upcoming season, there’s no telling how far the Maple Leafs can go.
In first place, we have the franchise with the most consistency and the highest concentration of talented players – the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers came second in the Pacific Division last season, ending on 49 wins, 104 points, and a goal difference of 38.
The last three seasons have all ended with the Oilers in second place, and the franchise will be looking to hit the ground running next season. They have a well-balanced team and capable leadership, and the history of the franchise proves that they have what it takes to bring home a long-awaited title.
Multiple adjustments to the squad in the off-season, such as the re-signing of Evander Kane, for example, have made the Oilers into a team that has the potential to surprise any opponent, which will definitely be a powerful card to play when the regular season begins.
When you combine the aforementioned addition of Kane with the likes of Zack Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, it’s easy to see why this franchise is the top favorite for the 2022/23 season. The back end is the only potential weakness at present, but that shouldn’t be an issue as long as the Oilers can keep injuries to a bare minimum.