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Canadian teams early season Report Cards

We are giving a letter grade to all seven Canadian NHL clubs, with an explanation as to why they've earned the letter they receive.

All teams will be placed in order from worst-best, based on how well they've performed since the 2023-24 season began.

Winnipeg Jets: D-

The Winnipeg Jets have struggled, to say the least. They currently sit 29th in the NHL with a 1-3-0 record, and a -6 goal differential.

Their home record of 1-2-0 to start the season is a concern. There were some expectations for Winnipeg going into the 2023-24 campaign. They've got elite offensive production from Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor, exciting young talent in Cole Perfetti, 2022-23 Norris candidate Josh Morrissey and their Vezina caliber goaltender Hellebuyck locked down for another 7 seasons.

The Jets had some tough opponents right out the gate. Facing the two Stanley Cup finalists from last year, as well as difficult matchups against the Kings and Flames.

While 1-3-0 is certainly not the start they hoped for, there is plenty of time for improvement as this season evolves.

Edmonton Oilers: D

The Oilers were placed ahead of the Jets due to having more road matches to start the year, despite having nearly identical stats to the Jets through four games.

Their 1-3-0 record has been surprising despite coming into the 2023-24 season as favorites to win the Stanley Cup by many. Their home record of 0-1-0 is no reason to raise any alarms, as it was a closely fought match with the Canucks, who were outperformed in nearly every way despite winning the contest.

McDavid has been off to a relatively slow start for his standards, posting just 2 goals and 6 points through 4 games.

Goal scoring for the Oilers has been low despite all the offensive weapons this team boasts. They have scored just 11 goals through 4 games (2.75 GF/Game), while surrendering 17 (4.25 GA/Game).

Goaltending has been a main concern for this team in its opening stretch. Between Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell, both goalies have struggled between the pipes early on.

Expect the Oilers to catch fire real soon, as this is certainly a high scoring team capable of causing headaches for other clubs.

Montreal Canadiens: D

At 1-1-1 through their first three games, the Canadiens are certainly meeting the lowly expectations placed on them going into the 2023-24 campaign.

They've got some phenomenal players such as Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki and young defenseman Kaiden Guhle. However, their roster is filled with flaws in goaltending and defense.

Losing Kirby Dach will hurt the team offensively, and leaves a massive hole down the middle for this team as he has been ruled out for the remainder of the season.

Is Montreal going to be a playoff team? It's unlikely due to the tough competition in the Atlantic division this year, with talented teams such as Ottawa and Detroit knocking on the doorstep of the powerhouse clubs such as Boston, Toronto and Tampa Bay. We did not even mention Buffalo and Florida. This Atlantic division might just be the toughest in hockey, and the Canadiens are likely the odd ones out.

Calgary Flames: C+

The Flames have started their season 2-2-1 through 5 games, with a -3 rating and a 1-2-1 road record.

Calgary has came into this season with something to prove. They've got a hungry Jonathan Huberdeau who is ready for a major bounce back following a lowly 2022-23 campaign, and a young Matt Coronato ready to make his mark in this league.

They've got the pieces to build a successful team. They've got decent goaltending from Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar, a solid defensive core built around Noah Hanifin, MacKenzie Weegar and Chris Tanev, as well as several offensive weapons. They're rolling four lines with talent scattered amongst them, with potentially one of the best bottom-six's in the league.

They're struggling to score goals early on, with just 14 goals through 5 games (2.8 GF/game) putting them in the bottom-10 in the league in scoring. Their 19 goals-for thus far is currently the fourth highest in the league.

The Flames are likely to finish as a playoff team. They've got great depth and some players ready to make an impact after a difficult 2022-23 season which saw Calgary miss the postseason.

Vancouver Canucks: C+

Improvement was expected for this young Canucks team following their disastrous 2022-23 campaign that saw them 0-7-1 to start the year, and the major personnel changes that soon followed.

A 2-2-0 start signifies that there is hope once and for all. The Canucks have exorcised their early-season demons and found a way to come out the gates hot.

They started strong with an 8-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers, and this was soon followed by another 4-3 road victory to spoil the Oilers home opener. Then they headed out east and things took a drastic turn. They would lose to the Flyers and Lightning in consecutive contests, showing that despite their bolstered defense, there were still holes in this team that need to be filled before they can call themselves a true contender.

Thatcher Demko has put up Vezina-Caliber numbers so far this year. With an impressive 2.57 GAA and .930 SV%, he is certainly ready to elevate his game to another level.

Elite offensive weapons such as Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser, Andrei Kuzmenko and puck-moving defenseman Quinn Hughes have brought fans to the edge of their seats every night. This is a talented roster with players who are ready to win.

Pettersson wants to win now, and has made it clear that his future in Vancouver is based on the Canucks success this season. If they are to miss the playoffs once again, Vancouver may lose its best player since the Sedin twins. The Canucks time is now to show the league they're ready for the postseason.

Toronto Maple Leafs: B-

Despite being second on our list of Canadian teams letter grading, the Leafs have not lived up to their early-season expectations at 2-2-0.

Auston Matthews has been electric, recording back-to-back hattricks to open the season. The rest of their offensive production has been solid, scoring nearly 4 goals per game thus far.

Goaltending for the Leafs has been a major point of concern. Samsonov has struggled with a 3.67 GAA and .861 SV%, and he is not showing flashes of his 2022-23 self who went 27-10-5 with the Leafs last year.

Their defense has been questionable thus far. Jake McCabe and John Klingberg have been struggling as a unit, with some of the lowest 5-on-5 numbers in the league. Here's a brief breakdown of their numbers as a pair.

Meanwhile, the Reilly-Brodie defensive pairing ranks amongst some of the best in the league in several advanced stats categories.

While the Leafs have been one of the better Canadian teams, they've also had their share of struggles.

Ottawa Senators: A

Was anyone truly surprised to see the red-hot Senators top the list of Canadian team report cards to start the 2023-24 season?

at 3-1-0, Ottawa has been simply dominating their opponents. Their 19 goals-for ties them for third most in the NHL, and their +9 goal differential is the third best amongst all teams.

They currently sit 4th in the NHL standings with some elite company. Their offense has been firing on all cylinders led by the young superstar Tim Stutzle, captain Brady Tkachuk and scoring-machine Josh Norris.

Their defense is stacked. Led by the young sophomore sensation Jake Sanderson, recently acquired Jakob Chychrun and Thomas Chabot.

Anton Forsberg has started two games between the pipes so far, recording a 2-0 record, 1.50 GAA and .933 SV%. Both impressive numbers. Joonas Korpisalo will be a solid backup goaltender for the Senators, coming off a solid season with the LA Kings.

They've also recently acquired Vladimir Tarasenko during the offseason, who is looking to help the Senators make their long anticipated return to the NHL playoffs.

I can certainly see this team making a run for a top-3 spot in the Atlantic this year. They've got a great group of guys, and are playing some of the most exciting hockey we've seen from any team early on this season.

Which Canadian team is most likely to win the Stanley Cup this year?

  • Ottawa Senators

  • Vancouver Canucks

  • Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Edmonton Oilers


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