25 Years Later: Can a Canadian NHL Team End the Stanley Cup Drought in 2018?
The last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup was the Montreal Canadiens in 1993. Since that Cup, a few Canadian franchises have come close but none have been able to win. The table below shows each Canadian that has made a Stanley Cup Finals appearance since 1993.
|Year||Winning Team||Canadian Team||Series|
|1994||New York Rangers||Vancouver Canucks||4 to 3|
|2004||Tampa Bay Lightning||Calgary Flames||4 to 3|
|2006||Carolina Hurricanes||Edmonton Oilers||4 to 3|
|2007||Anaheim Ducks||Ottawa Senators||4 to 2|
|2011||Boston Bruins||Vancouver Canucks||4 to 3|
Three of the seven Canadian NHL franchises have not made a Stanley Cup Finals in the last 25 years. The Montreal Canadiens last made the Stanley Cup Finals was in 1993, while it has been 51 years for the Toronto Maple Leafs since their last Cup appearance. The Winnipeg Jets have never made a Stanley Cup Finals in their franchises entire history.
NHL Stanley Cup Futures
Currently, on Sports Interaction, 25 teams have active Stanley Cup futures. Of the six teams without odds, four are Canadian clubs (Ottawa Senators, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks). Although no team is officially eliminated from the playoffs, the likelihood of any of the six teams without odds making the playoffs is so minimal, it is not worth wagering.
This means it is up to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets and to a lesser extent the Calgary Flames to end the Stanley Cup drought in Canada. The Jets and Maple Leafs both currently sit comfortably in a playoff spot, while some poor play over the last month has caused the Flames to fall down to tenth overall in the Western Conference.
Winnipeg Jets Stanley Cup Odds
Out of the three Canadian teams, the Winnipeg Jets have the best odds of winning the 2018 Stanley Cup. With one of the best young players in the NHL, stellar goaltending this season and top-shelf play on their home-ice, the Jets are the best Canadian team in the NHL this season.
The Jets best player this season is 19-year old Patrick Laine (although he will turn 20 in mid-April). Laine is one of just a few teenagers in NHL history to score 40-goals before turning 20. Laine moved into a tie with Alexander Ovechkin for the NHL lead in goals (side note, they face each other on Monday night, meaning there could be a new leader on Tuesday).
Laine is not the only offensive stud on the Jets. Blake Wheeler enters Monday’s game in a three-way tie for the NHL lead in assists with 58. The talent on the Jets offence has them ranked second in the Western Conference in goals and leading the NHL with 3.85 home goals per game.
Winnipeg is likely to have home-ice advantage in the first round (as they lead the Minnesota Wild for second in the Central Division by six points). The Jets are a great home team, leading the NHL with a +1.30 goal differential.
The Jets biggest challenge will come in the second round when they would most likely face the Nashville Predators. The Jets are 1-2-0 against the Predators this season, with two more games left on the schedule. The teams split their first two road meetings in Nashville. Overall in the last three seasons, the Jets are 2-3-1 in Nashville.
The Jets have a chance to beat Nashville and, barring any severe injuries are the best Canadian team going into the final few weeks of the NHL season. They are still missing a few pieces, but if their offence and goaltending get hot, they have a shot at winning the Cup.
Toronto Maple Leafs Stanley Cup Odds
The only Canadian team from the Eastern Conference with Stanley Cup odds remaining is the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs’ Stanley Cup chances this season are dependent on two factors. First is the health of Auston Matthews. Second is the play of goaltender Frederik Andersen.
Auston Matthews is currently on his second IR stint this season (although he could return for Maple Leafs game on Wednesday or Thursday). During his first time on the IR, the Leafs played well, going 6-4-0. However, the Leafs play has suffered during this latest stretch. The Leafs are 2-2-2 since losing Matthews to an upper-body injury. The Leafs need their young star to be fully healthy if they want to make a run at the Cup.
The second player of importance for the Leafs Stanley Cup chances in goaltender Frederik Andersen. Andersen was arguably the Maple Leafs best player in the playoffs last year. Andersen has 32 playoff starts with a 19-13 record. The problem for Andersen and the Leafs is Andersen’s heavy workload going into the postseason.
As the Leafs now sit seven points behind the Boston Bruins for second in the Atlantic Division and 12 points up on Florida for third in the East, the Leafs best strategy may be to decrease Andersen’s workload down the stretch.
Still, even with Andersen rested and Matthews healthy, the path to the Stanley Cup Finals in the East is very difficult. The Leafs would likely have to play the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins/Washington Capitals just to reach the Stanley Cup Finals.
Advancing a passed the first round of the playoffs would constitute a victory for the Maple Leafs. Much further is still a little unlikely. While the Maple Leafs are very talented offensively, they are still young and lack good depth on the blue-line.
Calgary Flames Stanley Cup Odds
Injuries to the Flames starting goaltender (Mike Smith) have derailed the club down the stretch. Going into Monday night’s games, the Flames sit two-points out of the final Wild Card spot in the West (with the two teams ahead of them having two games in hand).
The Flames have some good players, especially Johnny Gaudreau whose 79-points is tied for sixth in the league. However, they lack the top-end defence of a serious Stanley Cup contender. The Flames have the ability to get hot, having won seven straight games at one point this season.
Their final 12 games of the season are mainly winnable, but overall the Flames just do not have the overall talent to win four straight playoff series.
Will The Draught End In 2018?
While the Winnipeg Jets are Toronto Maple Leafs are arguably the best two Canadiens team in the same year since 2013 (when the Canadiens and Canucks each won their divisions), both teams are still a notch below the best teams in the league.
The best bet to win the Stanley Cup this season is the Tampa Bay Lightning. With depth across the ice, one of the best goaltenders in the NHL this season and more experience in the playoffs than either the Jets or Maple Leafs, the Lightning are deservingly the favourites this season.
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