Photo Credit: Montreal Gazette

By Zane Miller

In this article, I’ll be taking you through all 31 current NHL teams, ranked from worst-to-first based on each team’s overall history.

The point system that I base this list on uses a ‘three true outcomes’ format, where winning a championship is worth two points, and finishing runner-up in a championship is worth one point, however finishing dead last in the entire league is negative two points. Let’s get started.

31. Ottawa Senators

The Senators struggled right away, finishing dead last for their first four years in existence before finally being able to find some footing. While they did make it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007, it wouldn’t be enough to undo their poor start as a franchise, and finishing dead last again this past season doesn’t help matters either.

Championships: 0

Runner-Ups: 1 (2007)

Dead Last: 5 (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2019)

Final Score: -9

30. Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres were doing so-so until this decade hit, as they took three last place finishes in the 2010’s to drop them to second-to-last on this list.

Championships: 0

Runner-Ups: 2 (1975, 1999)

Dead Last: 4 (1987, 2014, 2015, 2018)

Final Score: -6

29. Chicago Blackhawks

Probably not going to make too many friends with this one, but despite the Blackhawks having a massively successful decade in the 2010’s all things considered with three Stanley Cups, they started off so far in the negative with seven last place finishes in the 1950’s that it makes it hard to come back from.

Championships: 6 (1934, 1938, 1961, 2010, 2013, 2015)

Runner-Ups: 7 (1931, 1944, 1962, 1965, 1971, 1973, 1992)

Dead Last: 12 (1928, 1929, 1939, 1947, 1948, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957)

Final Score: -5

27. Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche have done relatively well since relocating to Colorado, earning a pair of Stanley Cups near the beginning of their run as the Avalanche. However, most of their struggles came when they were the Quebec Nordiques, as they finished last place three consecutive years towards the end of their run as the Nordiques, with another dead last in Colorado tacked on.

Championships: 2 (1996, 2001)

Runner-Ups: 0

Dead Last: 4 (1989, 1990, 1991, 2017)

Final Score: -4

27. Winnipeg Jets

The Jets are another relocated franchise, starting out as the Atlanta Thrashers, who promptly stumbled at the start with a pair of dead last finishes, and never really caught on in Atlanta as they relocated to Winnipeg. While the Jets haven’t been bad since the move to Winnipeg, they are still searching for their first Stanley Cup appearance.

Championships: 0

Runner-Ups: 0

Dead Last: 2 (2000, 2002)

Final Score: -4

26. Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning are another expansion team that easily could have spiraled out of control at the start, but were able to get back on track before total disaster struck. They also managed to rebound from back-to-back last place results to win the Stanley Cup not long after.

Championships: 1 (2004)

Runner-Ups: 1 (2015)

Dead Last: 3 (1998, 1999, 2008)

Final Score: -3

24. Columbus Blue Jackets

Here’s my favorite team, I wish I could put them higher on the list, but that isn’t the case. As far as expansion teams go, it could have been worse, I’ll say that.

Championships: 0

Runner-Ups: 0

Dead Last: 1 (2012)

Final Score: -2

24. Arizona Coyotes

It’s only fitting that my two favorite teams would be tied with each other for the same spot, however the Coyotes’ only dead last season came during their time as the original Winnipeg Jets. The 1980-81 season saw them as one of only two teams since the Original Six era to have a single-digit number of wins in a season.

Championships: 0

Runner-Ups: 0

Dead Last: 1 (1981)

Final Score: -2

19. San Jose Sharks

The Sharks did finish in last as the first of seven NHL expansion franchises in the 1990’s, however they turned it around quickly with their first playoff series victory just two years later with an upset over the #1-seeded Detroit Red Wings. They also made it to their first Stanley Cup Finals in 2016.

Championships: 0

Runner-Ups: 1 (2016)

Dead Last: 1 (1992)

Final Score: -1

19. Washington Capitals

The Capitals were the other team to get a single-digit win record, coming in their first season in 1974-75. They finished last again, but got their feet under them after that, making their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 1998 and culminating a number of strong regular season runs with a Stanley Cup in 2018.

Championships: 1 (2018)

Runner-Ups: 1 (1998)

Dead Last: 2 (1975, 1976)

Final Score: -1

19. New York Rangers

While the Rangers have a few championships, they have double that amount in last place finishes, with five of them coming in the 1940’s. The Rangers have also struggled in terms of bringing home the Stanley Cup once they make it to the Finals with an overall 4-for-11 record, third-lowest among teams with at least five appearances.

Championships: 4 (1928, 1933, 1940, 1994)

Runner-Ups: 7 (1929, 1932, 1937, 1950, 1972, 1979, 2014)

Dead Last: 8 (1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1949, 1953, 1960, 1966)

Final Score: -1

19. Dallas Stars

The Stars started out as the Minnesota North Stars, who weren’t fantastic but still made it to the Stanley Cup Finals twice despite three dead last finishes. Since moving to Dallas, the Stars won their first Stanley Cup and made it back again the next season.

Championships: 1 (1999)

Runner-Ups: 3 (1981, 1991, 2000)

Dead Last: 3 (1969, 1978, 1988)

Final Score: -1

19. Florida Panthers

The Panthers were the most successful of the 1990’s expansion teams right out of the gate, with an unlikely Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 1996. However, since then the team has not had much success, dropping to a last place finish in 2013.

Championships: 0

Runner-Ups: 1 (1996)

Dead Last: 1 (2013)

Final Score: -1

18. Minnesota Wild

The Wild are the only team to have a goose egg in every category on this list. As such, they win my award for Least Interesting Team in the NHL.

Championships: 0

Runner-Ups: 0

Dead Last: 0

Final Score: 0

14. Vegas Golden Knights

The 1918 Toronto HC (Maple Leafs), 1968 Blues and 2018 Golden Knights are the only three teams to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals in their first season in existence.

Championships: 0

Runner-Ups: 1 (2018)

Dead Last: 0

Final Score: 1

14. Nashville Predators

The Predators are one of only three teams to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals as a #8-seeded team, as they did just that in 2017.

Championships: 0

Runner-Ups: 1 (2017)

Dead Last: 0

Final Score: 1

14. Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks are the highest-ranked team on this list without a Stanley Cup. Despite having a number of strong teams and avoiding the dead last spot for the most part, they’ve never quite been able to break through to get a championship.

Championships: 0

Runner-Ups: 3 (1982, 1994, 2011)

Dead Last: 1 (1972)

Final Score: 1

14. Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes were an emotional roller coaster in the 2000’s. They’re the only team since the Original Six era to win the Stanley Cup, lose the Stanley Cup and finish dead last all in the same decade. They’re also the only team since 1919 to go directly from making the Stanley Cup Finals to finishing in dead last the very next season.

Championships: 1 (2006)

Runner-Ups: 1 (2002)

Dead Last: 1 (2003)

Final Score: 1

13. New Jersey Devils

The Devils started out as the Kansas City Scouts, who didn’t do much, then relocated to become the Colorado Rockies, who finished dead last in three out of their six seasons. The team moved to New Jersey in 1982-83 and never looked back, as the team has not finished last since the move and has made five Stanley Cup Finals appearances, winning three of them.

Championships: 3 (1995, 2000, 2003)

Runner-Ups: 2 (2001, 2012)

Dead Last: 3 (1979, 1980, 1982)

Final Score: 2

9. New York Islanders

The Islanders found their dynasty status with four straight championships, but have been shut out of the Stanley Cup Finals since the mid-1980’s. Despite three total dead last finishes, the amount of success they had in the early 1980’s is enough to hold on to a top-10 spot on this list.

Championships: 4 (1980, 1981, 1982, 1983)

Runner-Ups: 1 (1984)

Dead Last: 3 (1973, 2001, 2009)

Final Score: 3

9. Anaheim Ducks

While the Ducks only have one championship, they’ve been able to avoid having any dead last finishes, the only one of the 1990’s expansion teams besides the Predators to do so. Making it to the Stanley Cup in 2003 didn’t hurt either.

Championships: 1 (2007)

Runner-Ups: 1 (2003)

Dead Last: 0

Final Score: 3

9. St. Louis Blues

The Blues took advantage of the NHL’s decision to put all of their expansion teams into one conference, leading to them making the Stanley Cup Finals three years in a row. 49 years later, they finally broke through with their first Stanley Cup.

Championships: 1 (2019)

Runner-Ups: 3 (1968, 1969, 1970)

Dead Last: 1 (2006)

Final Score: 3

9. Los Angeles Kings

The Kings were a middle of the road team history-wise until the 2010’s came, leading to them grabbing two Stanley Cups to add to their only other Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 1993.

Championships: 2 (2012, 2014)

Runner-Ups: 1 (1993)

Dead Last: 1 (1970)

Final Score: 3

8. Calgary Flames

The Flames are probably the most consistent team on this list. While they haven’t racked up a lot of championships in their existence, they’re the longest-tenured team to not have any last place finishes, with a couple of added Stanley Cup Finals appearances to boot.

Championships: 1 (1989)

Runner-Ups: 2 (1986, 2004)

Dead Last: 0

Final Score: 4

7. Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins struggled until the 1990’s saw them take back-to-back Stanley Cups. They followed it up in 2009 with another championship and went back-to-back again in the 2010’s. The Penguins have the best record in the Stanley Cup Finals with a minimum of five appearances, going 5-for-6. Fun fact, the Penguins have still never won a Stanley Cup at home; all five of their Stanley Cups were won on the road.

Championships: 5 (1991, 1992, 2009, 2016, 2017)

Runner-Ups: 1 (2008)

Dead Last: 3 (1983, 1984, 2004)

Final Score: 5

5. Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers have the worst record in the Stanley Cup Finals (minimum of five appearances) as they’ve gone 2-for-8; however, their six runner-up finishes along with just one last place finish puts them just inside the top five.

Championships: 2 (1974, 1975)

Runner-Ups: 6 (1976, 1980, 1985, 1987, 1997, 2010)

Dead Last: 1 (2007)

Final Score: 8

5. Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers turned themselves into a dynasty just a few years after joining the NHL, winning four Stanley Cups in the 1980’s, with another one tacked on at the start of the 1990’s. While they’ve gone mostly quiet since then, two back-to-back dead last finishes are all that hold them back from finishing closer inside the top five.

Championships: 5 (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990)

Runner-Ups: 2 (1983, 2006)

Dead Last: 2 (2010, 2011)

Final Score: 8

4. Boston Bruins

The Bruins have won a lot championships over the course of their tenure as the oldest American NHL team, they also hold the record for the most Stanley Cup runner-up finishes. While that isn’t the worst category to be in first in, I’m sure that they’d rather be in first in the Stanley Cup championships category instead.

Championships: 6 (1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, 1972, 2011)

Runner-Ups: 14 (1927, 1930, 1943, 1946, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1988, 1990, 2013, 2019)

Dead Last: 8 (1925, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1997)

Final Score: 10

3. Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs were the first team to win the Stanley Cup during the NHL era, and won 12 more after that. The Maple Leafs now have the longest active Stanley Cup drought at 52 years and counting. However, the championships that they did win, coupled with the relatively few dead last finishes, puts them solidly inside the top five.

Championships: 13 (1918, 1922, 1932, 1942, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1967)

Runner-Ups: 8 (1933, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1959, 1960)

Dead Last: 4 (1919, 1958, 1985, 2016)

Final Score: 26

2. Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings barely eke out the Maple Leafs for the second-place spot despite having two less championships, but the Red Wings have more total Stanley Cup Finals appearances with 24 to the Maple Leafs’ 21, with the same number of last place finishes putting the Red Wings just out in front.

Championships: 11 (1936, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008)

Runner-Ups: 13 (1934, 1941, 1942, 1945, 1948, 1949, 1956, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1995, 2009)

Dead Last: 4 (1927, 1959, 1977, 1986)

Final Score: 27

1. Montreal Canadiens

Sorry to be anticlimactic with the number one spot on the list, but the Canadiens are the obvious choice with no one else coming close. Over the course of their existence since joining the NHL, the Canadiens have amassed 23 Stanley Cups, while finishing in dead last only three times. Multiple generations have passed since the last time the Canadiens came in last place. True, they’ve been locked out of the Stanley Cup Finals since 1993, but even then, I don’t think any team will be passing them for a very long time.

Championships: 23 (1924, 1930, 1931, 1944, 1946, 1953, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1986, 1993)

Runner-Ups: 8 (1925, 1947, 1951, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1967, 1989)

Dead Last: 3 (1926, 1936, 1940)

Final Score: 48

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