Greatest NHL Teams of All Time
Have you ever tried to make a “Top 10 greatest NHL teams of all time list?” by yourself or even with a group of friends? I guarentee you will get 20 different teams that can potentially make it into that list. The hard part is limiting the list to only ten.
There are teams that are so offensive, you could score seven goals against them, but they would still put up eight. There are teams that play with such a great defensive system, it is seemingly impossible to score against them. There are teams that are balanced both offensively and desensively, you could call them the complete team. Below is a list of my top 10 greatest NHL teams of all time. I challenge you to argue against any of them.
1. 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers:
The greatest offensive hockey team of all time.
It was another record breaking season for the Oilers. They set club records in wins (57) and points (118), as they won the Smythe Division for the 3rd straight season. Edmonton would break the NHL record for goals in a season, previously set by the Oilers the previous season, by scoring 446 times. This was an epic year for Canada sports betting too.
Wayne Gretzky would break the 200 point barrier for the 2nd time in his career, as he won the Art Ross Trophy for the 4th straight year with 205 points. Gretzky scored an NHL high 87 goals and 118 assists. Paul Coffey would put up 126 points, the 2nd highest point total ever by a defenceman, while Jari Kurri (113) and Mark Messier (101) would each break the 100 point mark for the club. Glenn Anderson would have a solid season, getting 54 goals, behind only Gretzky, and just miss the 100—point club as he finished with 99.
In the playoffs, the Oilers would make short work of the Winnipeg Jets, sweeping them in 3 games, and then face their Battle of Alberta rivals, the Calgary Flames for the Smythe Division finals. The Flames would push the Oilers to 7 games before Edmonton would defeat them for the 2nd straight year. The Oilers would sweep the Minnesota North Stars in the Campbell Conference final, setting up a Stanley Cup rematch against the New York Islanders. The Islanders, who swept the Oilers the previous year, were looking to win their 5th straight Stanley Cup, however, Edmonton had other plans, and after the teams split the first 2 games in New York, the Oilers would win 3 in a row to win the series in 5 games, and win their first Stanley Cup, becoming the first team from the WHA to win the cup. Mark Messier won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP.
2. 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens
This Canadiens team is regarded by most to be the greatest NHL team ever composed. The Canadiens won their 20th Stanley Cup in 1976–77, taking the NHL championship. They set an NHL record for most points in a season by a team with 132 points (60-8-12). They outscored opponents by 216 goals in 80 games for an average of 2.7 goals a game.
Of the 24 players on the roster, 14 were drafted by the Canadiens including: Pierre Bouchard, Rick Chartraw, Brian Engblom, Bob Gainey, Rejean Houle, Guy Lafleur, Michel Larocque, Pierre Mondou, Bill Nyrop, Doug Risebrough, Larry Robinson, Steve Shutt, Mario Tremblay, and Murray Wilson. The only player on the roster not developed by the Canadiens was Peter Mahovlich.
The Canadiens lost only two games throughout the entire playoffs before taking home the Stanley Cup!
3. 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings
The Wings scored 116 points, winning the Central Division, their third Presidents’ Trophy, and home ice throughout the playoffs. The team is considered one of the most talented teams of all time with 10 then future-Hall-of-Famers on the team, as well as a hall of fame coach in Scotty Bowman.
The 01-02 Red Wings were so good that some guy named Pavel Datsyuk was a 3rd-4th liner. The team was stacked to make a run for the Stanley Cup. The team included names such as Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille, Nicklas Lidstrom, Igor Larionov, Chris Chelios, and Dominik Hasek.
After a quick series against the division rival St. Louis Blues, Detroit met their old nemesis, the second-seeded Colorado Avalanche in the Conference Finals. They battled back and forth during the series, tying the series three times before reaching game seven in Detroit. The Wings came out firing and won the deciding game 7 – 0. After that the Wings fought the cinderella story Carolina Hurricanes for the Stanley Cup, winning in game five.
4. 2000-01 Colorado Avalanche
Another team put together for the sole purpose of winning a Stanley Cup. Key players were Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Chris Drury, Alex Tanguay, Milan Hejduk, Rob Blake, Adam Foote, Patrick Roy, and some guy named Ray Bourque.
The Avalanche finished 52-16-10-4 for 118 points; good for 1st in their division and the NHL. \
The Avs rolled through the Canucks in the first round. The Kings gave them a run for their money before losing in 7 games in Round 2. The Avalanche took down the Blues in the Conference finals, then defeated the Devils in a wild 7 game series to clinch their franchises second Stanley Cup.
5. 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins
This is another one of those teams when looking back at the roster, you can not help but be impressed. Names like Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Kevin Stevens, Bryan Trottier, Rick Tocchet, Ron Francis, Larry Murphy, Joe Mullen, Mark Recchi, and Tom Barrasso.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were coming off of their 1st ever Stanley Cup victory in 1990–91, as they defeated the Minnesota North Stars in the Finals in 6 games. The Penguins had five 30-goal scorers.
6. 1981-82 New York Islanders
This Islanders team featured some big names such as Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, Billy Smith, and Bryan Trottier. But the should be remembered for their incredible balance.
They were 2nd in goals for, 2nd in goals against, had 8 20 goal scorers, 13 10 goal scorers, #1 in Powerplay %, 4th in PK%, and were 33-3-4 at home. Just across the board their offense was so strong, their defense was led by their captain Denis Potvin, and if anything got past them, it was stopped by Vezina Trophy winner Billy Smith. This team got the best season of Bossy’s career, the best goal scoring year of Trottier’s career, and the only Vezina Trophy season from Billy Smith.
And they won the Stanley Cup…of course.
7. 1974-75 Philadelphia Flyers
This was one of the scariest most intimidating teams of all time.
Dave Schultz topped his mark from the previous season by setting an NHL record for penalty minutes (472 in all).Bobby Clarke’s efforts earned him his second Hart Trophy and Bernie Parent was the lone recipient of the Vezina Trophy. The Flyers as a team improved their record slightly with a mark of 51–18–11, the best record in the league. After a first-round bye, the Flyers easily swept the Toronto Maple Leafs, then took down the New York Islanders in seven games.
Facing the Buffalo Sabres in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Flyers won the first two games at home. Game 3, played in Buffalo, would go down in hockey lore as “The Fog Game” due to an unusual May heat wave in Buffalo which forced parts of the game to be played in heavy fog, as Buffalo’s arena lacked air conditioning. The Flyers lost Games 3 and 4, but won Game 5 at home in dominating fashion, 5–1. On the road for Game 6, Bob Kelly scored the decisive goal and Parent posted another shutout (his fourth of the playoffs) as the Flyers repeated as Stanley Cup champions. Parent also repeated as the playoff MVP, winning his second consecutive Conn Smythe Trophy. The 1974–75 Flyers were the last Stanley Cup champion to be composed entirely of Canadian-born players.
8. 1971-72 Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins of the early 1970s were a juggernaut. They won two Stanley Cup titles in 1970 and 1972, and it’s quite shocking that they did not win any others.
The Bruins were one of the most explosive teams of all-time, and they were led by Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. Orr is considered the greatest defenseman in the history of the game and may have been the greatest player in league history. Wayne Gretzky is considered his only competition.
The 1970 championship is considered Boston’s more famous title, since it concluded with Orr’s famous flying goal in overtime that gave the Bruins the title over the St. Louis Blues. However, the Bruins were a more mature and determined team in 1972. They had been upset the year before by the Montreal Canadiens, and they played the 1971-72 season with an edge. They were 54-13-11 during the regular season and finished the year with 119 points.
They rolled by the Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues in the first two rounds before defeating a powerful New York Rangers team in six games to win their second Stanley Cup in three years.
9. 1993-94 New York Rangers
The 1993–94 season was a magical one for Rangers fans, as Coach Mike Keenan led the Rangers to their first Stanley Cup championship in 54 years. Two years prior, they picked up center Mark Messier, who was an integral part of the Edmonton Oilers’ Cup-winning teams. Adam Graves, who also defected from the Oilers, joined the Rangers as well. Other ex-Oilers on the Blueshirts included trade deadline acquisitions Craig MacTavish and Glenn Anderson. Brian Leetch and Sergei Zubov were a solid 1–2 punch on defence. In fact, Zubov led the team in scoring that season with 89 points, and continued to be an all-star defenceman throughout his career. Graves would set a team record with 52 goals, breaking the old record of 50 held by Vic Hadfield.
The Rangers won their first Stanley Cup in 54 years, dating back to 1940, beating the Vancouver Canucks in seven games.
10. 2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks
The 2010 Stanley Cup Final was the best-of-seven NHL championship series of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs contested between the Western Conference champion Chicago Blackhawks and the Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia Flyers. It was Chicago’s eleventh appearance in the Final and their first since 1992, a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was Philadelphia’s eighth appearance in the Final and their first since 1997, a loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Chicago defeated Philadelphia four games to two to win their fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the 2010 playoffs, and was the first Blackhawks player to receive this honor.