Sporting Charts

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.

Methodology

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 19 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
           
Expected Cup Wins 0.665


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 0.335 (1-0.665). 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 8.194 22 13.806
Edmonton Oilers 1.324 5 3.676
Detroit Red Wings 8.194 11 2.806
Toronto Maple Leafs 8.194 11 2.806
New York Islanders 1.730 4 2.270
New Jersey Devils 1.730 3 1.270
Pittsburgh Penguins 2.123 3 0.877
Colorado Avalanche 1.324 2 0.676
Anaheim Ducks 0.665 1 0.335
Tampa Bay Lightning 0.707 1 0.293
Philadelphia Flyers 2.123 2 -0.123
Carolina Hurricanes 1.324 1 -0.324
Columbus Blue Jackets 0.400 0 -0.400
Minnesota Wild 0.400 0 -0.400
Winnipeg Jets 0.436 0 -0.436
Nashville Predators 0.473 0 -0.473
Florida Panthers 0.665 0 -0.665
Ottawa Senators 0.707 0 -0.707
Calgary Flames 1.730 1 -0.730
San Jose Sharks 0.752 0 -0.752
Dallas Stars 2.123 1 -1.123
Los Angeles Kings 2.123 1 -1.123
Phoenix Coyotes 1.324 0 -1.324
Washington Capitals 1.605 0 -1.605
Buffalo Sabres 1.873 0 -1.873
Vancouver Canucks 1.873 0 -1.873
St. Louis Blues 2.123 0 -2.123
Boston Bruins 8.194 6 -2.194
Chicago Blackhawks 8.194 5 -3.194
New York Rangers 8.194 4 -4.194

 

  • 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 418 NHL seasons while the Oilers aren't in danger for the next 114 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.