25 greatest teams in NHL history

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There are many teams deserving of being named one of the best NHL teams of all-time. To be regarded as the best team in a single season is a considerable achievement but being known as one of the top NHL teams ever is another level.

Best NHL teams of all-time

The greatest NHL teams of all-time are not always the ones with the best individual players. It is instead about how the overall team dominated the league for a single season.

Teams on this list are those that were able to put it all together in both the regular season and the playoffs. It does not mean that every team had to finish the regular season in first and sweep every playoff round. The teams on this list are the ones that were much better than their competition and looked like the better team almost every single night.

It is asking the question, which team in NHL history would you pick to win the Stanley Cup in one full season?

25. 2013 Blackhawks

There could be a debate that the 2013 Blackhawks would be much higher on this list if not for the lockout-shortened season. Chicago finished the regular season with a record of 37-7-5.


Chicago came back from being down in a series twice in the playoffs. In round two, the Blackhawks were down 3-1 against the Red Wings before winning three straight games to advance to the third round. They won three straight again in the Stanley Cup Final after being down 2-1 to the Boston Bruins.

Patrick Kane was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.

24. 1974-75 Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers dominated the Clarence Campbell Conference throughout the 1974-75 season. Philadelphia finished the regular season with a league-best 51 wins and 181 goals against.

The team was led by captain Bobby Clarke and goaltender Bernie Parent. Philadelphia began the playoffs by sweeping the Maple Leafs, before defeating the Islanders in seven games.

The 1974-75 Flyers would put themselves among the best NHL teams of all-time by taking out the Sabres in six games in the Stanley Cup Final.


23. 1968-69 Canadiens

One of the best NHL teams ever, the 1968-69 Canadiens finished first in the regular season with 103 points in 76 games.

The team dominated their competition come playoff time. In the first round, Montreal swept the New York Rangers 4-0. They faced their toughest test in the semi-finals, defeating the Boston Bruins 4-2, with three of the four wins coming in overtime.

The Canadiens would finish the postseason on a six-game winning streak, as they swept the St. Louis Blues to capture the Stanley Cup.

22. 1969-70 Bruins

The 1969-70 Boston Bruins were led by Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. The team finished the regular season with a league-best 277 goals, which was 27 more than the second most.

Nobody could stop the high-scoring offense when the playoffs arrived. Boston scored 4+ goals in 11 of their 14 playoff games that season. The Bruins would drop only two games on the way to their Stanley Cup victory.

Esposito led all scorers with 27 points in the playoffs.

21. 1995-96 Red Wings

Although they are the only team on this list to not win the Stanley Cup, Detroit’s 1995-96 regular season alone puts them as one of the top NHL teams ever. The Red Wings finished with 131 points, which is the second-most in league history.

The team was led by Sergei Fedorov and Steve Yzerman. Along with those two, the Red Wings had four other players with at least 65 points in the regular season. Detroit finished the regular season with a record of 62-13-7 and a goal differential of +144.

Detroit’s incredible season would come to an end in the Western Conference Finals, losing to the Avalanche in six games.

20. 1972-73 Canadiens

The Canadiens were the best team by far throughout the 1972-73 season. They finished with 120 points in 78 games, which was 13 more than the second-best team.

Montreal only lost 10 games that season and finished with a goal differential of +145. The team was led by Jacques Lemaire, Frank Mahovlich, and Ken Dryden.

In the playoffs, the team continued to dominate as they defeated the Sabres and Flyers in the first two rounds. In the Stanley Cup Finals, the Canadiens defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 to capture their second Cup in three years.

19. 2006-07 Ducks

The 2007 Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks had plenty of big names. Teemu Selanne, Andy McDonald, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Ryan Getzlaf, and Corey Perry all played a key role on the team.

The Ducks’ playoff run is the main reason why they are one of the best NHL teams of all-time. Anaheim won three of their four playoff series in five games while winning the other in six games.

The 4-1 series victory over the Ottawa Senators gave the Ducks their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

18. 2009-10 Blackhawks

Led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Duncan Keith, the 2009-10 Blackhawks put it all together to win their first of three Stanley Cups in the 2010s.

The team finished the regular season with 52 wins and had four players with at least 60 points. The Blackhawks began their playoff run with a 4-2 win over the Predators, before beating the Canucks 4-2 as well. In the Conference Finals, Chicago swept the Western Conference-leading Sharks.

The Stanley Cup run was completed with a 4-2 series victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

17. 1973-74 Flyers

The best Philadelphia Flyers team in NHL history, the 1973-74 Flyers had 50 wins and 112 points in the regular season.

Rick MacLeish, who had 77 points in the regular season, took his game up another level in the playoffs. He scored 13 goals and had 22 points in just 17 playoff games. Philadelphia would sweep the Atlanta Flames in the first round and then defeat the Rangers in seven games to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

They would capture the franchise’s first Stanley Cup championship with a 4-2 series victory over the Boston Bruins in the Final.

16. 1975-76 Canadiens

Although overshadowed by the 1976-77 team, the 1975-76 Montreal Canadiens are one of the greatest NHL teams of all-time.

Montreal dominated in the regular season with 127 points, which is the fifth most in NHL history. The team continued the momentum into the postseason, going 12-1 en route to another Stanley Cup championship.

Montreal’s goaltender Ken Dryden would go on to win the Vezina Trophy that year, while Guy Lafleur took home the Art Ross Trophy.

15. 1977-78 Canadiens

Another great Montreal Canadiens team, the 1977-78 Canadiens powered their way to a third straight Stanley Cup. They finished the regular season with 129 points, which is the third-most ever in the NHL.

Montreal began their playoff run with a 4-1 series win over the Red Wings. They would continue the momentum in the second round, sweeping the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In the Stanley Cup Final, the Canadiens and Bruins would split the first four games before Montreal pulled away to win the series in six games.

14. 1993-94 Rangers

The 1993-94 Rangers put together one of the best seasons ever in 1993-94, ending their 54-year championship drought.

New York finished first in the regular season with 52 wins and 112 points. In the postseason, the Rangers won eight of their first nine games to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. New York was down 3-2 to the Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals but won two games in a row, which included a double-overtime win in game seven, to advance to the Final.

New York would complete their magical run with a game seven victory over the Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final.

13. 2001-02 Red Wings

With 51 wins and 116 points, the Detroit Red Wings were the best team heading into the 2002 playoffs.

The team was filled with talent, which included Dominik Hasek, Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Brendan Shanahan, and Sergei Fedorov. Detroit faced many tough battles in the playoffs, including being down in three different series. They battled back each time however and defeated the Carolina Hurricanes in five games to win the Stanley Cup.

Lidstrom would go on to win the Norris and Conn Smythe Trophy that season.

12. 1981-82 Islanders

The 1981-82 New York Islanders went 33-3-4 at home in the regular season en route to capturing the Presidents’ Trophy.

The team, led by Mike Bossy and Brian Trottier, had a 15-game winning streak over the course of the regular season, which was an NHL record at the time. In the playoffs, the Islanders narrowly escaped a first-round matchup, defeating the Penguins 3-2 in the series.

The Islanders would go on to win 10 of their next 12 games after the first round, which included a sweep in both the Wales Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final.

11. 2000-01 Avalanche

The 2000-01 Avalanche team with superstars Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic was one of the best NHL teams of all-time. Colorado won 52 games that season and finished with a league-leading 118 points.

Their playoff run began with a sweep of the Canucks before defeating the Kings in seven games. Colorado would win in five games against the Blues to set up a Stanley Cup matchup with the Devils. The Avalanche found themselves down 3-2 in the series before outscoring New Jersey 7-1 in the next two games to capture the Stanley Cup.

Sakic won the Hart and Lady Byng Trophy that year, while Roy took home the Conn Smythe Trophy.

10. 1988-89 Flames

The 1988-89 Calgary Flames were full of talented players. Al MacInnis, Doug Gilmour, and Joe Mullen were included in the group of eight players that had more than 50 points that season.

The Flames won the Presidents’ Trophy with 117 points in the regular season. In the playoffs, the team had three players averaging at least a point per game.

Calgary had a 16-6 record in the postseason, which included a 4-2 series win against the Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final. It was the team’s first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

9. 1997-98 Red Wings

The depth of the 1997-98 Red Wings, along with their great playoff run, are the main reasons why they are regarded as one of the best NHL teams of all-time.

The team featured stars like Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Chris Osgood, and Brendan Shanahan. In the postseason, Detroit wrapped up all four series in six games or less. In the Stanley Cup Finals against the Washington Capitals, the Red Wings would sweep the Capitals to win back-to-back Stanley Cup championships.

The team had seven Hall of Famers on their roster that year.

8. 1987-88 Oilers

Although they didn’t have an amazing regular season, finishing with 99 points, the 1987-88 Oilers dominated in the playoffs.

Edmonton had five players who had at least 25 points in the playoffs that season. Wayne Gretzky led the team with 12 goals and 31 assists in 19 postseason games.

The Oilers only lost two games in the playoffs as they swept the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final.

7. 1986-87 Oilers

The 1986-87 Oilers finished top of the league standings with 106 points in the regular season.

Edmonton had three players with more than 100 points that season as Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, and Mark Messier all got over the century mark. The team featured seven Hall of Fame players.

The Oilers breezed through the first three rounds of the playoffs, winning each one of them in four or five games. They faced some trouble in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Flyers but secured a game seven victory to go down as one of the best NHL teams of all-time.

6. 1971-72 Bruins

The Boston Bruins cruised to their second Stanley Cup in three years during the 1971-72 season.

In the regular season, Boston finished with 54 wins in 78 games. The team was led by superstars Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr, who had 133 and 117 points respectively.

They showed why they were the team to beat in the playoffs, as they rolled through the first two rounds with only one loss. In the Stanley Cup Finals, the Bruins defeated the New York Rangers in six games.

5. 1983-84 Oilers

Winning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history, the 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers were one of the best NHL teams of all-time.

The team finished with 57 wins in the regular season, which included winning 10 games in three different months that season. The Oilers had four players with more than 100 points, while Glenn Anderson had 99 points.

In the postseason, Edmonton struggled against the Flames in the Smythe Division Final, winning in seven games, but was dominant outside of that series. The Oilers finished the playoffs winning nine of their final 10 games, which included defeating the Islanders 4-1 in the Stanley Cup Final.

4. 1982-83 Islanders

Although the regular season wasn’t amazing, the 1982-83 New York Islanders are one of the best NHL teams ever.

The reason for their high ranking on this list is because of their playoff performance to capture their fourth Stanley Cup in a row. After defeating the Capitals 3-1, Rangers 4-2, and Bruins 4-2, the Islanders were up against the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Oilers were loaded with talent, as the roster featured seven players who are in the Hall of Fame. It didn’t matter though, as the Islanders would go on to sweep Edmonton, outscoring them 17-6 in the series.

3. 1991-92 Penguins

It doesn’t get much better than the 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins.

The team featured seven Hall of Famers, not including future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr. The team struggled in the regular season, but things changed come playoff time.

They began the postseason with an upset of the Capitals in seven games. In the second round, after being down 2-1 against the Rangers, the Penguins would become unstoppable. They went on to win 11 straight games, which included sweeps in the final two rounds, to capture a second straight Stanley Cup.

2. 1984-85 Oilers

The best Edmonton Oilers team in history, the 1984-85 team featured the best playoff performance by a single player ever.

After a 208-point regular season, Wayne Gretzky dominated the competition in the playoffs. In 18 postseason games, Gretzky registered 47 points, which is the most in NHL history.

The Oilers finished the playoffs with a record of 15-3 as they captured their second straight Stanley Cup.

1. 1976-77 Canadiens

The greatest NHL team of all time is none other than the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens.

With a record of 60-8-12, the team holds the NHL record for fewest losses, most points, and best point percentage in a regular season. The team finished with an outstanding 132 points in 80 games.

The Montreal Canadiens capped off their record regular season by sweeping the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final. Nine players on the roster would end up being inducted into the Hockey of Hall of Fame, including the late great Guy Lafleur.

2 thoughts on “25 greatest teams in NHL history”

  1. With a record of 5 stanley cups in a row, the 1957–58 Montreal Canadiens deserve a place on this list.

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