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Your Call: Which Canadian team is closest to winning the Cup?

TSN.ca Staff
5/28/2013 12:50:51 PM
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When the Ottawa Senators were eliminated from the playoffs last week, the Stanley Cup drought in Canada was extended to 20 years.

Since the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Los Angeles Kings in 1993, no Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup.

The Vancouver Canucks have reached the final twice and the Senators, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers have made it once each.

This season, four Canadian clubs made the playoffs but only the Senators advanced to the second round. Next season, every team will go into training camp with the goal of winning a championship but some teams are closer than others.

Which Canadian team is closest to reaching its goal of winning the Stanley Cup?

Let's take a look at where each team stands heading into next season.

Montreal Canadiens

The surprising Canadiens finished with the highest point total among Canadian teams last season. They won the Northeast Division and earned the second seed in the Eastern Conference before being ousted by the Senators. With Carey Price in goal and Norris Trophy finalist PK Subban on the blue line, the building blocks are in place for improvement. Max Pacioretty leads a group of talented forwards that should all return with Michael Ryder being the only unrestricted free agent of note. The ascent was rapid and will be tough to duplicate next season and they won't take too many teams by surprise but in Montreal, the playoffs are a right, not a privilege.

Vancouver Canucks

For the second straight year, the Canucks enjoyed regular season success before suffering playoff disappointment, which cost head coach Alain Vigneault his job. As a result, there will be a time of transition behind the bench but there is no questioning the level of talent on the ice. One area that needs to be cleared up is in the crease where Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo currently co-exist. If one of them is dealt in exchange for other moving parts, the Canucks could make another run. Having said that, the window appears to be closing as the Sedins will turn 33 in the fall.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs' season resembled a rollercoaster ride with many highs and lows. Few expected a playoff berth when the team gathered in January so that was a pleasant surprise. And when the team fell behind 3-1 to the Boston Bruins in their first round series, there were still positive signs. But when the team battled back to force a Game 7 and held a 4-1 lead midway through the third period, there was hope in Leafs Nation. However, the Bruins scored three goals to send the game to overtime and then crushed Toronto's dreams. Regardless of the outcome, the playoff experience should come in handy next year. Unrestricted free agent Tyler Bozak remains a question mark for next season.

Ottawa Senators

The Senators were left for dead on more than one occasion this season but the work of Jack Adams finalist Paul MacLean helped the team make the playoffs. Top centre Jason Spezza missed all but five games after he underwent back surgery. Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson missed 31 regular season games after having his achilles tendon severed in February. And goaltender Craig Anderson was out for 18 games with a sprained ankle. Despite missing three big pieces for large chunks of the season, they lasted longer than any other Canadian team and the future looks bright in the nation's capital, especially if Daniel Alfredsson decides to put off retirement for another year.

Winnipeg Jets

The Jets came close to making their first playoff appearance since returning to Portage and Main. The top line of Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little was dominant at times and Evander Kane continues to improve up front. With a number of unrestricted and restricted free agents this summer, the Jets could have a different look next season when they move to the Western Conference. Moving from the Southeast Division to a division that includes the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues among others won't make things easier. But the Los Angeles Kings squeaked into the playoffs last year and won the Stanley Cup so anything can happen.

Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers must make the playoffs this season. Fans in the Alberta capital have been very patient with the rebuilding process but the future is now. With first overall picks Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov in the lineup and contributing, the goal is a playoff spot, not another high draft pick. Defenceman Justin Schultz looks to be a mainstay on the blue line and Devan Dubnyk has proven he can be a starting goaltender. There are also high expectations for new general manager Craig MacTavish. Maybe before the team leaves Rexall Place for their new digs in 2016-17, the Oilers will be reminding some of the halcyon days of the 1980's.

Calgary Flames

After years of knocking on the playoff door and coming up short, the Flames decided to deal captain Jarome Iginla at the trade deadline and commit to a complete rebuild. Aging goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff has hinted at retirement and high-priced forwards Michael Cammalleri and Alex Tanguay may be looked upon as assets that could get a return on the trade market. But look no further than the Senators, who have made the playoffs during their rebuilding process, and the wait in Calgary may not take as long as some might think.

So there's a quick look at where each Canadian team stands heading into the off-season. Free agency can have an immediate impact on a team's fortunes and the draft can offer help down the road. Ultimately, the goal of every team at training camp is to win it all next spring.

Which Canadian team is closest to reaching its goal of winning the Stanley Cup?

As always, it's Your! Call.

Senators celebrate (Photo: Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)


(Photo: Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
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