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Which NHL Teams Have Exceeded Stanley Cup Expectations?

How many Stanley Cups should your favorite NHL team have won? Has your team exceeded or fell short of expectations? As a fan you want your team to win every year but with 30 other teams in the league, one needs to be a bit more realistic about their expectations - for example, if all else was equal, a team is expected to win the Stanley Cup once every 30 seasons.

Depending on the number of seasons a team has played, and the number of teams in the league for each of those seasons, there is an easy way to get an expected number of cups for each team.

We decided to crunch the numbers and look at which teams have exceeded Stanley Cup win expectations and which teams have greatly fell short of expectations.


To calculate the expected Stanley Cup wins of a team, we simply took the total sum of the expected odds (1/number of teams in the league) of each season the team has been in the league.

For example, here is a look at how this was calculated for the Anaheim Ducks, who have been in the NHL for a total of 21 (20 completed) seasons: 

Season NHL Teams Exp. Odds
1993-1994 26 0.038
1994-1995 26 0.038
1995-1996 26 0.038
1996-1997 26 0.038
1997-1998 26 0.038
1998-1999 27 0.037
1999-2000 28 0.036
2000-2001 30 0.033
2001-2002 30 0.033
2002-2003 30 0.033
2003-2004 30 0.033
2005-2006 30 0.033
2006-2007 30 0.033
2007-2008 30 0.033
2008-2009 30 0.033
2009-2010 30 0.033
2010-2011 30 0.033
2011-2012 30 0.033
2012-2013 30 0.033
2013-2014 30 0.033
Expected Cup Wins 0.698

The Ducks won their first and only Stanley Cup in 2006-07, which gives them 1 Cup over an expected value of 0.665 or an Exceeded Cup Win Value of 0.302 (1-0.698). Based on the Ducks being ahead of expectations and the 1/30 chance of winning the cup each season, the Ducks aren't "expected" to win the Cup again until around the 2052-53 NHL season.

Expected Stanley Cup Win Total For Each NHL Team

We calculated the expected number of Stanley Cups for each NHL team with the Difference measuring the how many Actual Cups the team has won compared to the Expected Cups, with a positive difference meaning they exceeded expectations and a negative difference meaning they've missed expectations.

Team Expected Cups Actual Cups Difference
Montreal Canadiens 8.227 22 13.773
Edmonton Oilers 1.357 5 3.643
Detroit Red Wings 8.227 11 2.773
Toronto Maple Leafs 8.227 11 2.773
New York Islanders 1.763 4 2.237
New Jersey Devils 1.763 3 1.237
Pittsburgh Penguins 2.156 3 0.844
Colorado Avalanche 1.357 2 0.643
Anaheim Ducks 0.698 1 0.302
Tampa Bay Lightning 0.740 1 0.260
Philadelphia Flyers 2.156 2 -0.156
Los Angeles Kings 2.156 2 -0.156
Carolina Hurricanes 1.357 1 -0.357
Columbus Blue Jackets 0.433 0 -0.433
Minnesota Wild 0.433 0 -0.433
Winnipeg Jets 0.469 0 -0.469
Nashville Predators 0.506 0 -0.506
Florida Panthers 0.698 0 -0.698
Ottawa Senators 0.740 0 -0.740
Calgary Flames 1.763 1 -0.763
San Jose Sharks 0.785 0 -0.785
Dallas Stars 2.156 1 -1.156
Phoenix Coyotes 1.357 0 -1.357
Washington Capitals 1.638 0 -1.638
Buffalo Sabres 1.906 0 -1.906
Vancouver Canucks 1.906 0 -1.906
St. Louis Blues 2.156 0 -2.156
Boston Bruins 8.227 6 -2.227
Chicago Blackhawks 8.227 5 -3.227
New York Rangers 8.227 4 -4.227

The Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers are the two teams who have most exceeded expectations in winning the Stanley Cup with the Canadiens not in any danger of falling back to even expectations (Actual Wins - Expected Wins) unless they don't win a Stanley Cup for the approximately the next 417 NHL seasons while the Oilers aren't in danger for the next 113 seasons. Fans of these franchises have much less to complain about than others - but that won't stop them.

For the New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks, who were around when the league was just six teams, failed to meet expectations during this period and have only won 4 and 5 Stanley Cups, respectively, when both are expected to be in 8-9 Cup range. 

Among teams with 0 cup wins, it's the St. Louis Blues who are the most disappointing having failed to win the cup in any of their 45 seasons in the NHL. By the basic, Expected Cups measure, fans of the team should have enjoyed at least 2 cup wins so far.

To be fair, not every team has the same chances of winning the Stanley Cup each season - as some teams have clearly different talent levels and expectations going into the season. However, as a crude measure, this does give some indication.

One important thing to note, teams who were in the league with far fewer teams will have a much greater ability to both exceed and fall short of expectations as the expected odds (1/teams in the league) are far greater than when the league is at 30 teams - as illustrated by three original six teams being in at the bottom of expectations and Montreal being at the top who won 12 of their 22 cups when their were 10 or less teams in the league.


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