The NHL has existed since 1917 and has certainly entertained the masses for generations. A lot of fans have watched various dream teams form over the course of the NHL’s lengthy history. When fate comes into play and some of the best players in the league get on the same team, some fans think they will surely have the upper hand throughout the season.
That very team that was predicted to take most the wins in the league may have fell short of the hype. Getting a solid lineup of talented players is one thing, but you must also possess superior coaching and healthy athletes when you’re up against all odds in the NHL.
The dream team that they assembled looked sharp and agile but didn’t meet the expectations of the fans. The chemistry might have been off or maybe their schedule was too difficult for their roster. Whatever the reason, there have been countless dream teams that have banded together to give their attempt at the championship. The odds looked in their favor at the beginning of the season, but quickly turned as the season progressed.
Here is a list of 15 dream teams that ended up being nightmares.
15. New York Rangers (2014-2015 season)
The New York Rangers have been notoriously robbed during the playoffs by underdog teams. That is no secret, they have appeared in the playoffs every year since 2011. Although, they have been coming short for the Stanley Cup, they certainly know how to form a solid team of ideal players.
The Rangers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the playoffs. Soon after, they sent the Washington Capitals home packing. Two of the best teams in the league they beat, most NHL fans were expecting the Rangers to get the Stanley Cup. However, the Rangers couldn’t hold their own in the conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lighting excelled past the Rangers in the fiery series and won it 4-3. The Rangers unexpectedly fell apart during the most important and crucial game, leaving most of the fans shocked.
14. Tampa Bay Lightning ( 2014-2015 season)
The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup in 2004, but that wasn’t the only time they had an all-star team on the ice. During the 2014-2015 season, the Lightning had one of the best lineups in the league. They had Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat. Stamkos had 43 goals and 29 assists that season, certainly an impressive stat. But, Johnson was the one with 29 goals and 43 assists, which I think is more mind-blowing.
The Lightning placed second in the Atlantic division and were hungry for that second Stanley Cup to add to their collection. They managed to defeat the Detroit Red Wings in the first-round of the playoffs, then took care of the Montreal Canadiens in the second-round. The Lightning were charged up after those two wins and eliminated the New York Rangers in the conference finals. They had to go up against the Chicago Blackhawks, but fell short and lost the series 4-2.
13. Los Angeles Kings (2012-2013 season)
The Los Angeles Kings were the underdogs the previous season, but had one of the biggest upsets during the Stanley Cup finals versing the New Jersey Devils. The Kings were trying to do a repeat this season by going 27-16-5 and acquired second-place in the Pacific division. They didn’t have a lot of scoring power on their team, but had excellent team chemistry to surpass their rivals.
The Kings’ dream team roster consisted of Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Justin Williams and Mike Richards. The team’s highest scorer was Carter, who had 26 goals and seven assists. He was the only teammate to get over 20 goals, which is surprising for a team that just won the Stanley Cup and almost won it again. The Kings eliminated the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks in the playoffs, creating a spot for them in the conference finals. Except, they had to get by the Chicago Blackhawks to get to the Stanley Cup finals. The Kings didn’t stand a chance against the Blackhawks and lost the series 4-1.
12. Pittsburgh Penguins (2012-2013 season)
The mighty 2012-2013 Penguins took form and couldn’t be stopped by most of the teams in the NHL. Their elite team consisted of Chris Kunitz, James Neal, Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis. Each player brought a unique ability to the Penguins that gave them their edge of the opponent. Crosby during the regular season had 41 assists, for example. Sure, he didn’t get the most goals on the team that season, but he was all about setting up his teammates with the perfect shot.
The Penguins had a record of 36-12-0 and placed first in the Atlantic division that season. During the playoffs, they defeated the New York Islanders first and won the series 4-2. In the semi-finals, they had to go up against the Ottawa Senators. But, they were no match for the Penguins, clearing the way to the conference finals. The Penguins unexpected downfall was caused by the Boston Bruins, defeating them in a painful four game series blow out.
11. Washington Capitals (2010-2011 season)
The Capitals had assembled a dream team for the 2010-2011 season by having Alex Ovechkin, veteran Mike Knuble, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin. Ovechkin was on fire that season with 32 goals and 53 assists. The Capitals had a record of 48-23-11 and finished first in the Southeast division.
The Capitals defeated the New York Rangers in the conference quarter-finals with ease by winning the series, 4-1. With that momentum, their fans truly thought no one could stand in their way. The Capitals were paired up against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who had a record of 46-25-11. The Lightning, being the underdogs, were expected to fold against the Capitals’ star players. However, unexpectedly, the Lightning won the semi-finals by shutting them out in the series, 4-0.
10. Vancouver Canucks (2010-2011 season)
The Canucks had a fully-stacked team for their 2011 season. Unfortunately, they couldn’t secure the Stanley Cup after all the hard work they put into that season. The Canucks went up against the Boston Bruins, who had a record of 46-25-11. The series went to game seven and the Bruins came out on top.
The Canucks had one of the best teams that year by having left-wing, Alexandre Burrows, Ryan Kesler at center and Daniel Sedin. The trio seemed unstoppable and had one the best seasons in their careers in 2011. Sedin and Kesler both had 41 goals that season, which is an incredible feat. While, Burrows had 26 goals and 22 assists as well. Despite bringing their A-game, the 2011 Canucks were defeated, but not forgotten.
9. San Jose Sharks (2008-2009 season)
Despite having three of the best players in the league on their team, they didn’t achieve the Stanley Cup. The Sharks had Devin Setoguchi, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau. They were in their prime, with a combined goals scored of 94. Other players on the team were also essential in making the team’s victories more consistent, such as Joe Thornton and Milan Michalek.
Although they had all these skilled players that made a dream team of sorts, they couldn’t outplay the Anaheim Ducks in the conference quarter-finals. Most NHL fans everywhere were in shock to see the Sharks go home without the Stanley Cup. They had a record of 53-18-11, but the team chemistry fell apart in the playoffs.
8. Ottawa Senators (2006-2007 season)
The Senators were looking like Stanley Cup champions during their 2006-2007 season. They had fully-loaded team and seemed unbeatable. With remarkable players, Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson, they were breezing by the competition. They ended up with a record of 48-25-9, the Senators were destined for the Stanley Cup it seemed.
The Senators continued their triumphant streak of winning into the playoffs. They defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils, and Buffalo Sabres throughout the playoffs, each team only won one game against them in their series. Ironically, the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup series 4-1 against the Senators.
7. Buffalo Sabres (2006-2007 season)
During the offseason, the Buffalo Sabres were able to pull some strings and formed a team that had the manpower and skills to potentially make it to the championship. The previous season, they didn’t even come close to making the playoffs, so this season was definitely one to remember. They had team captain powerhouses, Daniel Briere and Chris Drury to lead the team to victory throughout the season.
But, Briere and Drury couldn’t have gotten the Sabres as far as they did without the support from Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville and Derek Roy. They all played spectacular that season and had their sights on the Stanley Cup. The Sabres placed first in the Northeast division and were ready to take on whoever stood in their way. They eliminated both New York teams in the playoffs to earn their spot in the conference finals against the Ottawa Senators, but inevitably choked in the series 4-1.
6. Boston Bruins (2013-2014 season)
The Boston Bruins have had countless runs at the Stanley Cup with numerous different dream teams. The one that particular sticks out is the 2013-2014 Bruins. They went 54-19-9 and had team captain, Zdeno Chara, who had 17 goals that season. That might not be an impressive stat, but Chara had other players to make up for the lack of goals he scored. The Bruins firepower consisted of Patrice Bergeron, Jarome Iginla and David Krejci to name a few star players.
Despite having all these athletes on their side, fans were shocked to see them get knocked out of the playoffs so early. The Bruins easily beat the Detroit Red Wings in the first-round, 4-1. However, it wasn’t until they had to face the Montreal Canadiens that they started struggling and eventually got knocked about because of them. The Bruins lost the close series, 4-3.
5. New Jersey Devils (1997-1998 season)
The New Jersey Devils come up short the majority of the time in the playoffs, especially as of recently. Back during the 1997-1998 season, they managed to accumulate some the best players in the league on their team. They were one of the fiercest teams in the league and had a record of 48-23-11. They obtained first-place in the Atlantic division and had the future Hall of Famer, Scott Stevens, on their team.
The Devils also had Bobby Holik, Scott Niedermayer, Doug Gilmour and Randy McKay to increase their odds of winning. Most fans thought that the Devils would go far in the playoffs or even win the Stanley Cup. The Devils made it to the quarter-finals and were predicted to win against the Ottawa Senators, the underdogs. However, the Senators astonishingly beat the Devils in the series, 4-2.
4. Washington Capitals (2015-2016 season)
The Washington Capitals have a slight upper-hand on their competition by having Alex Ovechkin on their team. Arguably one of the best players in the league, during the 2015-2016 season the Capitals had a top-tier roster. Besides Ovechkin, they had Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom and Justin Williams. The Capitals even had a fantastic goalie in the net, Braden Holtby, who helped them obtain the record of 56-18-8.
The Capitals acquired first place in the Metropolitan division with the assistance of coach, Barry Trotz. Although, they seemed to have a team capable of winning the Stanley Cup, they didn’t make it past the second round in the playoffs. The Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round but they couldn’t withstand the Pittsburgh Penguins and allowed them to win the series 4-2.
3. Colorado Avalanche (1996-1997 season)
This dream team turned into a nightmare in the conference finals of the playoffs. They had superior support from Peter Forsberg, Valeri Kamensky and Adam Deadmarsh for starters. The Avalanche had great camaraderie that season and gained the record of 49-24-9. Their versatile team roster was what propelled them through the playoffs.
The Avalanche’s captain, Joe Sakic, had a solid season by getting the second most assists on the team. They placed first in the Pacific division, the Avalanche had the skilled players to win the Stanley Cup easily. Colorado found their kryptonite when they had to face the Detroit Red Wings in the conference finals, they lost the series 4-2.
2. Detroit Red Wings (1995-1996 season)
In 1995-1996, the Detroit Red Wings got together some of the best athletes that could withstand and outplay the rest of their competitors in the league. The Red Wings had Sergei Fedorov, Steve Yzerman, Vyacheslav Kozlov and Keith Primeau on their roster to increase their chances of winning the Stanley Cup.
The Red Wings that season were looking like THE ultimate team that were unrivaled. They vanquished the other teams in the central division to secure first place and also went 62-13-7. Although the Red Wings had a paragon team, they met their match during the playoffs. Once they eliminated the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues, they had to face the Colorado Avalanche. The perfect Red Wing team deteriorated during the conference finals and lost the series 4-2.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs (1993-1994 season)
The Toronto Maple Leafs have won 13 Stanley Cups since their inception. In the 1993-1994 season, they had coach Pat Burns and team captain Wendel Clark to help motivate their team to the championship. The Maple Leafs finished in second-place in the Central Division, but went on to outplay a couple of the better teams in the playoffs. The Maple Leafs at the time had Dave Andreychuk, Doug Gilmour and Glenn Anderson. They were some of the top-quality athletes during that time and were a huge part of their success that season.
Andreychuk and Clark had 99 goals combined that regular season. A grand achievement, but during the conference finals the Maple Leafs lost their momentum. After they triumphed over the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks, there was only one team in their way of the Stanley Cup finals, the Vancouver Canucks. The Maple Leafs’ dream team was crippled by the Canucks skills and fell apart, losing the series 4-1.