The Holidays are almost here, and I have decided to switch up from my regular thoughts on the Sens. I am focusing on ranking teams 1-15 on how likely it is they win the Stanley Cup. “Technically” speaking no teams are eliminated from playoff contention yet. So for this edition I will be ranking all 15 teams in the Western Conference. If you missed the East you can check it out here!
Teams With No Chance
These are the teams that just don’t have a chance of making playoffs, let alone winning a cup.
15. Arizona Coyotes
This seems like a very easy one. Currently at 19 points in 36 games. The Coyotes had one of the worst starts ever in the NHL, and nothing suggests they will suddenly play at a 135 point pace (which is what they probably need to get in).
Teams Just Hoping For Playoffs
Now on to the teams that are just looking to sneak into playoffs. Whether that be the Wild Card seed, or the 3rd seed in a bad division.
14. Colorado Avalanche
Colorado is nowhere near as bad as last year. Which isn’t surprising. However, they still look like a basement team for at least another year. On pace for 82 points and one of the bottom 6 teams in possession this season, I’d be pretty surprised to see these guys make playoffs, let alone win a Cup. It’s possible… I guess..
13. Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks got off to a hot start thanks to the Boeser-Baertschi-Horvat line. Those guys are now ALL injured (Edit: Boeser is back!). The Canucks really should be tanking to boost the already strong prospect pool they have. Shouldn’t be a surprise to many if these guys finish near the bottom still. A solid looking year, but probably not the season to make a comeback.
12. Edmonton Oilers
I still don’t think the Oilers are quite this bad. When you have McDavid on your team anything can happen. It does turn out that trading away your secondary scoring (or elite wingers..) for pennies on the dollar hurts you, huh? Their possession numbers are still 2nd in the league, and I’d be surprised if they didn’t improve from where they are now. However, the west is a tight conference, and it is a very tough climb back.
11. Minnesota Wild
The Wild currently sit in the 2nd wild card spot in the West. However, they are 30th in 5v5 CF%. HDCF% isn’t much better, and there is a very good chance a massive regression comes to the Wild. They have had some injuries this year, and that may factor into it. However, looking at how good the West is their team just doesn’t look like a Cup team. They may be fighting for a WC spot, but a cup seems a little far fetched.
Bubble Playoff Teams
These are the teams that are right on the edge of a playoff spot, or should be in a WC spot come the end of the season. The teams that if they miss the playoffs may only miss by 1 or 2 points, and if they make it may be by the same margin. They are just a step above the last tier of teams. You know what they say, make playoffs and anything can happen.
10. Anaheim Ducks
I would have this team way higher if they could just STAY HEALTHY. The team has been destroyed by injuries all year, and bad ones too. If the Ducks were healthy I would consider them a legit Cup favourite this year. However, injuries may derail the season. I have them as a bubble team because if this AHL team they have been playing can just stay afloat until they get healthy, they may be able to squeak into 8th like the Preds last year. If they do that I could see them going on a run. However, they have to get healthy, and that’s the key.
9. Chicago Blackhawks
The Hawks dynasty looks like it’s closed. They have been eliminated from the playoffs in the 1st round 2 years in a row, last year being swept by the Predators. This season they look fine, but a cup contender seems aggressive. They are in a tough division, and are going to be hard pressed to make playoffs. If they do manage to squeak in it is very possible to go on a run. However, this team lacks so much depth that it may be tough. Their rookies still have managed to help them out like crazy. Which is massive for the Hawks. If they want to do something big they’ll have to have a big trade deadline.
8. Dallas Stars
Dallas is currently 1 point out of a playoff spot, but 6th in CF%. They have so much talent up front, a good coach, an awesome Dman who can play big minutes, and average goaltending. I still think goaltending will be this teams downfall come playoff time. However, I feel good saying they can either snag a wild card spot or the 3rd divisional spot. They are in a division with the Jets, Predators, and Blues ahead of them which is tough. Being about half way through the league in terms of possible Cup winners is better than out of the playoffs like last year.
7. San Jose Sharks
A team that just doesn’t seem to age, the Sharks continue to play some decent hockey this year. Despite their core aging, and Patrick Marleau moving to Toronto the Sharks have been solid. Currently sitting just outside of a playoff spot the Sharks have been 4th in CF% this season. However, a lot of those shots seem to come from the outside, and from their defensemen, which may explain why their Corsi doesn’t match up with the goals going in. They should be fine going forward. I would expect them to either be in a 3rd spot, or a Wild Card spot this season. A return to the SCF seems unlikely, but possible.
6. Calgary Flames
The next team up is the Flames. A team that has been up and down this year. The Flames are currently -4 in goals differential, but 5th in CF%. They have lots of talent up front, and a great blue line. Smith has been solid when healthy, but the goaltending is still something to be cautious about. I like this team. They have lots of talent, and potential. The next 5 teams in the West are so good that a Cup is tough, but any team that the Flames get in playoffs will be in for a tough matchup.
Playoff Teams Looking For A Cup
These are the teams that would be pretty surprising if they miss the playoffs. These 5 teams all have at least some potential to win the cup. I could see any of these teams winning a cup too be honest. 4/5 have a better chance, but all 5 look very solid.
5. Vegas Golden Knights
This was a tough decision. I debated throwing these guys in the last tier, because I’m not 100% sure I want to call these guys a “contender”. But WOW have they looked good or what? The Knights are 1st in the Pacific, and are 13th in shot shares. The “Crazy regression” we were all expecting may not come.. I’m not sure I’d call them a division winner, but wow have they surprised everyone! Credit to George McPhee and team who got ripped for picking this team by everyone. Also, this says something about the rest of the leagues ability to evaluate talent right? Either way, I think the Knights have a much less chance of winning as the next 4, but I just couldn’t leave them out here. I think a playoff round or two would be more than enough for the fans of this franchise in their 1st season.
4. LA Kings
This is now where we get into the real heavy hitters of the West. The Kings have had an amazing bounce back year after getting rid of Sutter. Jonathan Quick has been amazing again (something I didn’t think would happen.. I was wrong), Anze Kopitar is back to the elite player we knew and missed last season. They are in the race for 1st in the Pacific, and have gone most the year without Jeff Carter. I would be pretty surprised if these guys didn’t make the playoffs. They definitely have the potential to go all the way.
3. Winnipeg Jets
The Jets have seemed to finally turn the corner we all thought they should have years ago. They finally got some goaltending. Even if it wasn’t from Steve Mason like they thought. The offense is deadly as ever. The possession stats were rough which was weird. They usually are amazing when it comes to that. However, they have picked it up in the past month or so. This Jets team should find themselves in a playoff spot. They should also be able to at very least win a single game in the postseason too… In all seriousness though, this team is solid. If they keep getting some good goaltending they may find themselves making a run in the postseason.
2. St. Louis Blues
The Blues have been a great team this year. Adding Brayden Schenn was massive, and that trade looks better and better all the time. They are currently dealing with injuries to key players. However, when healthy this team is great. A solid offense up front, an underrated blue line, and a decent goalie in Jake Allen behind them. It really is a shame they are missing Robby Fabbri again this season. He could’ve made this team deadly. However, a few additions at the deadline could push this team to where they need to be, and set them up for a chance at the cup.
1. Nashville Predators
The Preds look primed to go back to the SCF this season. After a great playoff run last year was ended they addressed their biggest need. That being Centre depth. They went and probably overpaid Nick Bonino in the offseason. However that was a much need addition for the 3rd line. They then went and got Kyle Turris in that 3 way trade. Turris is a good 2C, and has been killing it with them so far. They have played their way to first in the Central without awesome top 4 Dman Ryan Ellis. Once he is back this team should just be even better. Pekka Rinne has been great this season. They now have a great offence, defence, and good goaltending. They have a tough way to make it, but if there’s one team I’d choose to lift the Cup from the West, it would be the Nashville Predators.
That’s my rankings! What do you think? Who do I have too high? Too low? Let me know here or on Twitter @NHLsensandstuff!