The disparity between the seven Canadian franchises in the National Hockey League is at a pretty significant margin while the desperation for one of these franchises to bring Lord Stanley's Cup back to Canada is also looming overhead.
Fact: the last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup was in 1993 when the Montreal Canadiens hoisted the trophy. For reference, there were only 24 teams in the NHL at that time. Three of which were named the Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques and Minnesota North Stars. Adding some salt to the wound, all three of those franchises have since won Stanley Cups following relocation. The Colorado Avalanche (formerly the Quebec Nordiques) won twice in 1996 and 2001. The Minnesota North Stars moved to Dallas and won in 1999 and the Hartford Whalers relocated to Carolina, becoming the Hurricanes, and won in 2005-06.
Enough of a history lesson. The bottom line is, a Canadian champion is due.
Heading into the 2019-20 season, the odds looked bright. There were some teams drawing serious expectations whether it be thanks to offseason moves or strong finishes to their 2018-19 campaigns; there was hope. Now we find ourselves one quarter into the newest NHL season and while still early, we are starting to see which teams' offseason dreams were the real deal and which ones were real fake.
Here are your Canadian teams' power rankings, the good, the bad and the ugly.
1. Edmonton Oilers (14-6-3)
This was easy. The Oilers are definitely Canada's best team right now and the most likely to win the Stanley Cup should they continue their hot start.
They are tied for second in the league in terms of points and hold a three-point lead over the Arizona Coyotes in the Pacific Division heading into Thursday. Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid have been nothing short of the best duo in the league to this point — currently sitting at Nos. 1 and 2 on the points leaderboard with 44 and 43, respectively.
Draisaitl is on pace to be the first player since Mario Lemieux in 1995-96 to reach 160 points in an NHL season. Only Lemieux (four times) and Wayne Gretzky (nine times) have ever accomplished that feat.
2. Winnipeg Jets (13-8-1)
The Winnipeg Jets find themselves battling once again in arguably the toughest division in the NHL, top to bottom. And, once again, the Jets are showing they can outbattle opponents in said division.
With a 4-1-0 divisional record, Winnipeg sits third in the division. The Jets have yet to face the division-leading St. Louis Blues, but head-to-head wins in the division help steal crucial points away from the competition. After ending October on a 2-5 stretch, the Jets have gone 7-1-1 in November.
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) November 20, 2019
Should they find themselves in the playoffs again, it could be another epic seven-game series with another Central Division contender.
3. Montreal Canadiens (11-6-5)
The Montreal Canadiens were not one of the highly-touted Canadian teams this offseason. They swung and missed — hard — on Sebastian Aho and then failed to really do much of anything this offseason after that. Perhaps doing nothing was exactly what they needed because now, Montreal finds itself in the thick of things in the Atlantic Division.
Sitting in third, if the season ended today, the Habs would face the Florida Panthers in the first round of the playoffs, but the hope now is to continue to build on their successes as of late. Gaining points in 10 of their last 12 games, the Canadiens look like Canada's best surprise team in 2019-20. The biggest? Probably not. There are a few teams still remaining who are surprisingly bad — or ugly.
4. Vancouver Canucks (10-8-4)
If there's was an "okay" or a "we'll see" category, the Vancouver Canucks would own it. Unfortunately, there isn't, so they find themselves at the top of the "bad" category which is the best spot to be if you have to be there.
Vancouver started off 8-3-1 and contrary to the teams listed above them, they have fallen flat as of late instead of kicking it into high gear. They are now on a 2-5-3 losing skid in their last ten, including a disheartening 6-1 loss in Dallas on Tuesday. The good news is they are just a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights for third in the Pacific. The bad news? They are within a game's reach of dropping down from No. 4 to No. 6.
In desperate need of righting the ship, Vancouver will look to regain its early-season success in order to jump up into the "good" column.
5. Calgary Flames (10-11-3)
Instead of getting into what a fall it has been from where they were last year, let's simply look at this year, shall we?
The Flames have managed just a single point in their last five games (0-4-1). Their superstars Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau are tied for 27th and 44th in the league in points, respectively. There's been little to like so far this season and overall, the team has the second-worst goals-per-game average in the league at 2.50 through 24 contests.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) November 1, 2019
Fortunately, Calgary has been able to muster extra points when games exceed 60 minutes, winning two games in overtime and two via shootout. Should they have lost those games, the Flames would be sitting at 19 points and among the league's worst.
But for now, they are just bad.
6. Ottawa Senators (10-11-1)
Congratulations, the Ottawa Senators are exceeding expectations. However, that does not mean they are not ugly.
If there was a team coming in with little to no excitement for a Stanley Cup run this year, it was Ottawa — and one-fourth of the way down the stretch, we can see why. Luckily for the fans, they are still winning some games and a 6-4-0 record at home isn't too shabby. Worth the pretty penny of admission? Maybe so.
Last year was abysmal. The Sens (29-47-6) finished last in the league with just 64 points. This year they are on pace for 74 and while there is still not much hope for a postseason berth, the only thing that's hurting is their chances for landing the No. 1 overall pick.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs (9-10-4)
Here we are. Look around Toronto, this is not where you want, nor expected, to be. Most likely, that's what drove management to pull the plug on Mike Babcock Wednesday. Now, at the helm is Sheldon Keefe, a man who knows a thing or two about winning but has no head coaching experience in the NHL.
Are the Leafs worse than the Senators? On paper, no; in fact, on paper, they're one of the best teams in the entire league. Perhaps that explains why the expectations were so high for a team with Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner and William Nylander. You should be winning games, but you aren't. You have fewer wins than the Sens with more games played. Sure, your point total is higher, but that's because you lost in fashion (overtime or shootout).
Injuries have definitely affected the team with Marner missing at least three more weeks with a high-ankle sprain and Tavares missing time with a broken finger earlier in the season, but other players have to step up. Without getting too into comparisons (because every team is structured differently), it's worth pointing out the Avalanche's misfortune with players going down and they have still managed to hold onto their spot near the top of the standings with Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen each missing time as well as two starting goalies, Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz.
Back to the Leafs, there's still plenty of time to turn things around but the urgency needs to be there. Losing six games in a row isn't the end of the world, but it's not something you want to make a habit of. And a coaching change on the anniversary of the Blues promoting Craig Berube to interim head coach is interesting. Will lightning strike twice? The depth on this roster is possibly the best in the NHL and it's time to start using it to light some lamps and put some W's in the win column.