Which NHL Club Will Be “Canada’s Team” in 2018-19?

by | Aug 26, 2018 | Soapbox | 10 comments

It’s been over 25 years since a Canadian NHL team won the Stanley Cup. Here’s a brief analysis of the seven clubs to determine which one stands the best shot of ending Canada’s Cup drought.

7. Montreal Canadiens. The last Canadian team to win the Cup enters this season with the least-likely chance of bringing home the big mug. They lack scoring punch, particularly at center. A knee injury has sidelined top defenseman Shea Weber until midseason. Goaltender Carey Price’s injury history is cause for concern. Even if everything somehow goes right and the Habs reach the playoffs, they lack the depth to stage a serious run for the Cup.

6. Ottawa Senators. A year after coming within an overtime goal of advancing to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, the Senators are far away from contender status. They missed the playoffs last season amid rumors of dressing-room tension and veiled threats of relocation by team owner Eugene Melnyk. Pending free agents Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone and Matt Duchene might not be with the club by season’s end. The Senators are a mess and a major rebuild appears to be on the horizon.

5. Vancouver Canucks. The retirement of the Sedins leave Alex Edler and Chris Tanev as the only links to the Canucks’ 2011  Cup finalist roster. In the midst of a rebuild, they have some promising assets in Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson and Thatcher Demko, while Bo Horvat has blossomed into a solid two-way center. Still, they lack experienced talent throughout their ranks, particularly in goal and on the blueline. The Canucks have a long way to go before they can be consider contenders again.

Connor McDavid is the NHL’s best player, but he’ll need help if the Edmonton Oilers hope to win the Stanley Cup in 2019. (Photo via NHL Images)

 4. Edmonton Oilers. Following a disappointing 78-point effort, the Oilers enter 2017-18 facing plenty of questions. Can they find a reliable right wing for superstar center Connor McDavid? Can their defense corps overcome the absence of sidelined Andrej Sekera? Will goaltender Cam Talbot, left wing Milan Lucic and blueliners Oscar Klefbom and Kris Russell have bounce-back performances? If the answer to most of these is “no”, the Oilers will be hard-pressed to reach the postseason next spring.

3. Calgary Flames. The Flames shook things up after missing the 2018 playoffs. They have a new head coach in Bill Peters, shipped defenseman Dougie Hamilton to Carolina in a multi-player trade that brought back Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm and signed veteran free-agent winger James Neal. Led by captain Mark Giordano and young forward stars Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, the Flames have the talent to be a playoff contender. Goaltending, however, remains their Achille’s heel. Starter Mike Smith is 36 and has a long history of injuries, which could once again become a factor over the long grind of the season.

2. Toronto Maple Leafs. The rising Leafs made the biggest splash in this summer’s free-agent pool, signing John Tavares to a seven-year deal. His addition bolsters an already impressive Leafs offense led by young stars Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander. Offense, however, won’t be enough to finally win the Cup. Their defense corps remains pretty much the same one that was picked apart by the Boston Bruins in last year’s playoffs. If starting goalie Frederik Andersen’s performance dips this season or the blueline fails to significantly improve, the Leafs’ championship drought will reach 52 years.

1. Winnipeg Jets. After years of patient building, the Jets marched to the 2018 Western Conference Final last season. With  solid goaltending from Vezina Trophy finalist Connor Hellebuyck, a blueline anchored by Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers and Josh Morrissey and an offense powered by Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connor, the Jets are Canada’s best hope to win the Stanley Cup. Their only real area of concern is at center, as they’ll have to find a suitable replacement for departed center Paul Stastny. If they can’t address that from within, management could go shopping once again near the deadline for help.

 








10 Comments

  1. The leafs signed Hayley wickenheiser she should be the toughest player on the team now and be the best in the playoffs………….oh wait

    • Should be Winnipeg and Toronto fighting it out for best Canadian team and then maybe Calgary and Edmonton trying to figure out who is a better middle of the road bubble team and then Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver squabbling over who is the biggest Canadian loser

    • Lol.
      Give her the “C”.

    • Oh yes! Nothing finer than casual sexism among the comments. I expect more from the readership here. Wickenheiser is one heck of a hockey player. One heck of an ambassador for the game. I’d imagine she will have a decent eye for talent. Maybe judge her on that instead of poking fun at her for being a girl and “soft”

  2. Obviously the Leafs and Jets will battle it out as the top point-producing Canadian team – but the question is “which NHL club will be Canada’s Team?”

    To which I ask, why should “Canada” embrace any of them as the “country’s team” when a healthy % of Canadians follow various U.S.-based teams? I can think of at least 5 in these threads that do that. And that’s OK.

  3. The quote about the oil finding a winger for mcdavid is sooo telling. Mcdavid is aces. But still is standing in Crosby’s shadow. Crosby makes his own wingers

    • Humm,
      Crosby is still the best, agree! But, let’s not forget that the chemistry between winger and centre is paramount. Who doesn’t remember the problems Kessel had trying to play with Crosby. Kessel is an elite sniper, and yet…
      It’s all about fit!

  4. Believe Sens and Canucks are in worse shape than Habs. Aside from the nasty environment in Sens locker room, the offense will suffer from Hoffman’s departure, the uncertainty of Karlsson’s contract/trade situation and Duchene in his last year. Canucks are in retooling mode.
    Habs, although not contenders have gone through an incredible “Murphy’s law” kind of year. This cannot happen two years in a row. However, the lack of depth on offense is still an issue.

  5. Habs suck