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Best Hockey Teams in Canada | NHL Rankings

Despite hockey being the national game of Canada, Stanley Cup success has evaded the Great White North in recent years. There are seven Canadian teams in the 32-team NHL format as of 2022-23, though there are always rumours of potential new teams joining in places like Quebec City or even Hamilton.

Of the seven Canadian NHL teams, who is the best of the bunch? Which team stands the best chance of ending the Stanley Cup drought that Canada has been suffering from over the last three decades? Read on, and you will find out the answer to the question, “What is the best hockey team in Canada?”

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When Was The Last Stanley Cup for Canada?

Even though hockey is Canada’s game, it has been a long time since a Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup. As a matter of fact, the last time the Cup came home to Canada was all the way back in 1993.

That year, the Montreal Canadiens – the most successful franchise in the history of the NHL – walked away as improbable champions. Since then, there have been a few teams that have come close – the Ottawa Senators in 2007, the Vancouver Canucks in 2011, and the Canadiens in 2020 – but losses in the Finals have been as close as they’ve gotten to bringing the Cup home.

Ranking the Best NHL Teams in Canada

When push comes to shove, who is the best hockey team in Canada? We took the time to rank the seven Canadian teams. We’ll find out more about who they are, where they stand, and what chance they have to win the Stanley Cup and end Canada’s drought. If you are also interested in betting on Canadian NHL teams, you can check the list of the best NHL betting sites.

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7. Montreal Canadiens

It has been a rough few years since the Canadiens improbably made the playoffs in 2021. Even that run to the Finals was extremely unexpected, as it has been some time since the Canadiens have been the best hockey team anywhere.

The Canadiens are still in full rebuild mode right now. They have added some truly promising young talent, but it will take time for that talent to grow. Top pick Juraj Salfkovsky still has quite a bit of growing to do. Cole Caufield showed uncanny scoring ability a year ago and has a promising future. Defenseman David Reinbacher was a high pick in the 2023 NHL Draft and figures heavily into future plans.

Perhaps the biggest question for the Canadiens is the status of long-time goaltender Carey Price. He has been missing for much of the last two years, battling persistent knee injuries. Many believe that he has played his last game in the NHL, and recent reports suggest that his knee will never be back in NHL shape.

The Canadiens have a lot of talent coming down the pike in the near future. Until that happens, they will continue to dwell near the bottom of the standings. At least they’ll be able to add more top talent to their already impressive prospect list.

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6. Vancouver Canucks

Though citizens of Canada talk about the Oilers and Leafs when mentioning disappointing Canadian teams, it might be hard for either of them to top the effort the Vancouver Canucks have put forth in the last several years.

For the last two years, Vancouver has had some of the most tantalizing young talent in the league. Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes have developed into bona fide superstars who are among the best at their positions in the entire league.

But the supporting cast has been lacking. Center JT Miller took a step back after a breakout 2021-22 season. The support behind Hughes on defence is lacking greatly, and goalie Thatcher Demko had an inconsistent 2022-23 NHL season. Simply put, there are too many holes to fill to be considered the best hockey team in Canada.

The top-end talent is certainly there. The further development of Andrei Kuzmenko as a secondary scoring option will certainly help things develop in a positive manner. Unfortunately, the Canucks are still quite thin, especially when compared to some of the other Canadian teams on this list.

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5. Calgary Flames

There is a lot of uncertainty in Calgary. Two years ago, Calgary may have been the best hockey team in Canada. But a lot can change in two years, and a lot has certainly changed since the Flames made a run to the playoffs two seasons ago.

There was the trade from last offseason, featuring a swap of winger Matthew Tkachuk for winger Jonathan Huberdeau – that left a bad taste in the mouths of Flames fans. Tkachuk went on to superstardom in Florida, while Huberdeau had one of his worst years ever.

Then, there is the potential for a mass exodus in the near future. Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanafin, and Mikael Backlund have all made it clear that they are unhappy. It leaves a ton of questions about how to proceed for Flames management.

For now, the Flames have a quality lineup and a former Vezina-candidate goaltender in Jacob Markstrom. If he can regain his form and return to Vezina candidacy, the Flames could make the playoffs once again. But with the spectre of next offseason hanging overhead, there are too many questions to confidently place Calgary anywhere near the top of the list for best hockey team in their own division, let alone in Canada.

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4. Winnipeg Jets

There are some who would argue that Winnipeg should be above Ottawa when considering the best hockey team in Canada. Given recent history, it would certainly appear that the Jets have had better results than their counterparts from the East.

Unfortunately, the Jets are in a time of uncertainty and transition. They still have impact players in Kyle Connor and Mark Schiefele. Young, talented players like Josh Morrissey and Cole Perfetti figure heavily into the team’s future plans as well.

But long-time leader and offensive staple Blake Wheeler is gone. Connor Hellebuyck, one of the top goaltenders in the league, has started to express a desire to leave.

The Jets have been a playoff team in recent years, but that will come into question this season. When we ask, “What is the best hockey team in Canada?” it may be some time before we answer, “The Winnipeg Jets.”

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3. Ottawa Senators

The 2022-23 season was supposed to be the breakthrough year where the Ottawa Senators would challenge as the best hockey team in Canada. Unfortunately, injuries and crushing expectations wound up creating one of the more disappointing seasons in the NHL last year.

The Senators, the chic pick to make the playoffs, finished sixth in the Atlantic Division with 86 points. Despite all that, Ottawa has all of the pieces needed to make that leap forward and make the playoffs in 2023-24. They might not be the best hockey team, but they will be a young, exciting team to watch.

The offensive talent in Ottawa is exciting. Tim Stutzle and Brady Tkachuk are both coming off breakout seasons. Veteran winger Claude Giroux looked renewed playing big minutes last season. Josh Norris, a strong two-way center, returns from an injury that kept him out most of last season.

At this point, the Senators need to put it all together. They have talent throughout the lineup that could become some of the best at their positions. It is time to take that youthful potential and take the step forward into playoff contention and beyond.

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2. Toronto Maple Leafs

On paper, it doesn’t make sense how the Leafs haven’t at least made the Stanley Cup Finals. But when you have a little history on the team, it comes down to a simple fact: the ghosts of time haunt the Toronto franchise.

The Leafs have a cadre of superstars led by the American-born Auston Matthews. He is one of the top goalscorers in the league and plays alongside one of the best playmakers in the league, Mitch Marner. They also have John Tavares and William Nylander to complete the quartet of elite scoring forwards.

The Leafs have had huge hills to climb. Prior to last year, it had been more than 20 years since they got out of the first round of the playoffs. Even after they climbed that mountain, they were summarily swept by the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Florida Panthers.

For the Leafs, there are no more excuses. The reality is that the window is closing for this Maple Leafs group, though Matthews did just re-sign for four years. They need to get out of the first round and the second round. They need a run to the Finals and to bring the Cup home for the first time since 1967.

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1. Edmonton Oilers

Of all the Canadian NHL teams, Edmonton holds the narrow edge for “best hockey team in Canada.” It is a tight race between the Oilers and Maple Leafs, both of whom are far more similar than either may care to admit.

The Oilers have arguably the two best players in the league, one of whom is the unquestioned best in the sport today. Connor McDavid would be that man, the most dominant forward in the NHL, maybe since former Oiler Wayne Gretzky. He is just 27 years old and has five Art Ross trophies as the NHL’s leading scorer.

Alongside McDavid is Leon Draisaitl, another forward who easily tops the 100-point threshold each year. They have a few other pieces that contribute at a high level – Zach Hyman may be the most underrated 80+ point player in the league – and finally found an important piece defensively in Mattias Ekholm.

The question for the Oilers is whether the supporting cast can get it done. Goaltending has been a major question mark, and they will need better goaltending and secondary scoring for the playoffs, where teams put all of their energy into stopping McDavid and Draisaitl. If any Canadian team is going to get it done, the Oilers have the best shot.

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Conclusion: What Is The Best Hockey Team in Canada?

NHL Expert

Rowan Fisher-Shotton

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Canada has plenty of talent among its seven NHL clubs. There are even a couple of teams – Edmonton and Toronto – that many feel could end the Stanley Cup drought. Sooner or later, the Cup will return to Canada. It is just a question as to how long it will be before that day comes. Who will become the next top Canadian NHL team?

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FAQs About The Best Hockey Teams in Canada

What is the best NHL team in Canada?

There is some debate about the best hockey team in Canada, but it is hard to argue against the Edmonton Oilers. They finished second in the Pacific Division last season, posting 109 points, though they were handled easily by the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Vegas Golden Knights.

What is the best Canadian hockey team?

Some feel that the best hockey team is Edmonton. Others feel that the Toronto Maple Leafs are the top Canadian team. Both are among the top teams in the standings each year and have several superstars.

Which NHL team is the most popular in Canada?

When it comes to the most popular team, the Toronto Maple Leafs stand at the top of the list. They are akin to the New York Yankees in Canada, garnering popularity and hatred all throughout Canada.

Which Canadian team has the best chance to win the Cup?

Both the Leafs and Oilers have the kind of roster built to win a Cup sooner rather than later. Most of the other Canadian teams are in something of a rebuilding stage, while the Oilers and Leafs intend to win as soon as possible.

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Rowan Fisher-Shotton

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Rowan is a highly accomplished sports betting journalist with a proven track record of over 6 years in the sports media industry. He is widely recognized for his insightful coverage and thought-provoking commentary on major leagues like the NBA, NFL, and NCAA.

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