Stanley Cup: Will 30 be a lucky number for Canada’s NHL teams?
It is fair to say that the fans of Canada’s seven NHL teams have not had too much to cheer about over the past 29 years.
The Montreal Canadiens were the last team to win the Stanley Cup in 1993, comfortably defeating the Los Angeles Kings to clinch the prestigious trophy.
In a recent interview with Betway, former Montreal star Denis Savard highlighted three teams he thought had a genuine chance of wining the title next term.
Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs were the three teams in question and several leading bookmakers agree with Savard’s viewpoint.
With the trio prominent in the latest outright NHL odds from Betway to make it 30th time lucky for Canada in the Stanley Cup, we take a closer look at the chances of all seven of their teams.
With star forward Connor McDavid in their ranks, the Oilers are regularly in the conversation about potential Stanley Cup winners.
However, their roster has often flattered to deceive, leaving McDavid looking like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders.
They bounced back from a miserable start to progress to the Western Conference Finals last season, but found Colorado Avalanche too hot to handle.
If the Oilers can acquire a few missing pieces to their roster this summer, another deep play-off run should not be beyond them.
Toronto Maple Leafs
‘Long-suffering’ does note begin to describe what Toronto fans have had to endure in the NHL for more than five decades.
The Maple Leafs last won the Stanley Cup in 1966/67 and are widely ranked as one of the biggest underachieving franchises in the league.
They were fancied to end their drought last season, but were beaten 4-3 in the first round of the play-offs by Tampa Bay Lightning.
Signing a quality netminder this summer will be the key factor in determining whether the Maple Leafs can finally get their hands on the Stanley Cup again.
The Flames were largely unconsidered as play-off contenders at the start of last season, but defied the odds to claim top spot in the Pacific Division.
They edged past Dallas Stars in the first round of the post-season, before finding the Oilers too hot to handle in round two.
They have plenty of issues to resolve with their roster this summer, with pending unrestricted free agent Johnny Gaudreau’s future top of the agenda.
While progressing to the play-offs again should be feasible for Calgary, it is difficult to see them being ready to win the Stanley Cup just yet.
The Canucks had a poor start to last season, before showing plenty of signs of improvement when Bruce Boudreau replaced Travis Green as head coach.
They went 32-15-10 under Boudreau – extending that record out over a full campaign would be enough to get the Canucks into the play-offs.
The resurgence of key players such as Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat and several others undoubtedly bodes well for Vancouver next season.
However, with the team still susceptible to making slow starts in games, reaching the first round of the play-offs may be the best they can hope for.
After missing the play-offs for the first time since 2016/17, the Jets face a crucial summer if they are to have a chance of bouncing back next term.
Mark Scheifele’s future is the number one topic for discussion in Winnipeg right now, with the 29-year-old refusing to commit to the Jets at the end of last season.
Regardless of what happens with Scheifele, improvements in defence are sorely needed if the Jets are serious about returning to the play-offs.
Winnipeg fans may have to wait at least another season to see their team reach the post-season, with the 2022/23 campaign likely to be a year of transition for the franchise.
The Senators have not come close to qualifying for the play-offs in the past five seasons and that is unlikely to change next time around.
They have made miserable starts to the last two campaigns and look incapable of forcing their way back up the standings any time soon.
Goaltending has been a massive issue for the Senators, although it would be wrong to blame all their troubles on that department.
With some promising youngsters coming through the Senators have hope for the future, but it would be a major surprise if they are anywhere near the play-offs next season.
The Canadiens are coming off the worst season of their 113-year history, so their fans will have to be really patient before things improve significantly.
With little wriggle room with the salary cap, general manager Kent Hughes will find it difficult to be active on the unrestricted free agent market.
The trade market is Hughes’ best bet of turning the Canadiens’ fortunes around, as he has a few useful chips he can bargain with.
Plenty of NHL teams have bounced back from adversity in the past, but anyone hoping for a quick fix in Montreal will be left feeling very disappointed.
The Final Word
Given Canada’s rich ice hockey history, it seems unthinkable that no team from the country has lifted the Stanley Cup since 1993.
Toronto and Edmonton are their biggest hopes of ending the drought, although both have work to do this summer if they are to make it happen.
The Leafs are second favourites with the bookmakers to get the job done and would enhance their chances if they can acquire a top-class netminder.
However, the Oilers showed tremendous improvement towards the end of last season and should be in contention to win the Stanley Cup if they can add a little more quality to their roster.