Top 10 Best NHL Teams of All Time


Do you want to know the ten best NHL teams of all time? Bet Station is here to help, as we have an opinion on everything. We have plenty of experience answering hockey’s most troublesome questions. We have detailed the best fights in the NHL and the best hockey players ever.

How did we decide which teams are the best in NHL history? To remove any bias, we looked at the cold hard stats. That means we examined regular season performances and how successful the team was in the playoffs. For those of you who don’t know, there seems to be a curse in the NHL. Most of the teams that dominated the regular season fell apart when competing for the Stanley Cup. While those teams set records, we are only interested in teams that ended the season with the biggest prize in hockey. 

Before we dive into the best NHL teams ever, make sure you check out the honorable mentions at the bottom. Unfortunately, there are more amazing teams than we have room to talk about. So, if your favorite did not make the top ten, ensure you read till the end to see if they made it. If we missed your favorite team, let us know via Twitter.

10. 1971-72 Boston Bruins


Starting our list at number ten, we have the 1971-72 Boston Bruins. There have been many incredible Bruins teams over the years, including the phenomenal regular season performance of the 2022-23 team. However, we only have room for the best, and any team with Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito is up there with the greats.

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This Bruins team had an excellent regular season and topped it off with a Stanley Cup win. They finished the season with 119 points and the most goals scored of anyone in the league with 330. The Bruins had two players with over 100 points scored. Esposito managed 133 points across 76 games and Orr got 117 in the same number of games. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972, rivaling the Montreal Canadiens in one of their most dominant eras.

  • Record: 54-13-11
  • Points: 119
  • Points Percentage: .763
  • Goals For: 330 / 1st
  • Goals Against: 204 / 4th

9. 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers


Next on our list is the Edmonton Oilers. This season marked the start of the Oilers' dominance at the hands of the best hockey player of all time, Wayne Gretzky. 1984 was the Oilers’ fifth season in the NHL. They capped it off with their first Stanley Cup Trophy. The team was a goal threat, setting the record again for most goals in a season with 446.

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The Oilers would beat the Islanders 4-1 in the series, the same margin they would win the next Stanley Cup against the Flyers. The early and mid-80s were the strongest Edmonton team the NHL has ever seen. They won five Stanley Cups over the next seven years. This season was notable as Gretzky totaled over 200 points, with Paul Coffey contributing 126 points as well. The team was lethal in front of the net, with a goal-per-game average of 5.58. The 1983-84 Oilers are the highest-goal-scoring team in NHL history.

  • Record: 57-18-5
  • Points: 119
  • Points Percentage: .744
  • Goals For: 446 / 1st
  • Goals Against: 314 / 10th

8. 1982-83 New York Islanders


The New York Islanders between 1980 and 1984 were almost unstoppable. They won four consecutive Stanley Cups, the last team in the NHL to do so. What makes this season a standout for the Islanders was the fact they had a mediocre regular season. Everyone had written them off when the goals dried up. They only scored 302 times, which put them 15th in the league. The defense was the saving grace for the team, as they had the best record out of anyone.

It was the defense that proved too much for the Oilers who lost the series 4-0 to Al Arbour’s side. The Islanders only scored 96 points all season, managing a points percentage of .600. They had Mike Bossy who contributed 118 points that season, plus Bryan Trottier added 89. Although New York did not have its strongest regular season, they still turned up when it mattered. To go on and win a fourth consecutive Stanley Cup cements their place in hockey history.

  • Record: 42-26-12
  • Points: 96
  • Points Percentage: .600
  • Goals For: 302 / 15th
  • Goals Against: 226 / 1

7. 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings


The seventh-best team in NHL history is another that defended the Stanley Cup. The Detroit Red Wings beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0 in 1997 before beating the Washington Capitals by the same margin a year later. In both seasons, the team came third in the Western Conference and second in the Central Division. They finished the season with 103 points in 1998, nine more than the season before.

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The Red Wings were not as much of a goal threat as the other teams on our list, as they did not have one player leading the way. Instead, they scored points across the entire team. At the top was Steve Yzerman, one of the best hockey players of all time, with 69 points. The next highest scorer was Nicklas Lidström with 59 points, as well as three teammates with 52 or more goal contributions. The Red Wings team from 1997 to 98 remains a popular choice among hockey fans to this day. They are the third most recent team in NHL history to win consecutive Stanley Cups.

  • Record: 44-23-15
  • Points: 103
  • Points Percentage: .628
  • Goals For: 250 / 2nd
  • Goals Against: 196 / 7th

6. 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens


In the mid-1970s, the Montreal Canadiens once again dominated the NHL. In the 1970s alone, the Canadiens won six Stanley Cups, including four in succession. The 77-78 team beat their toughest challenge yet, defeating Don Cherry’s Bruins 4-2. This Canadiens side had one of the highest point-scoring seasons in NHL history, registering 129 with 59 wins.

Looking at the stats, the Montreal Canadiens were unstoppable. They had the highest goal-scoring tally in the league with 359 as well as the best defense. They only conceded 183 goals all season with an average of 2.29 a game. The team’s winning percentage was .806, one of the best in hockey history. Leading the way was Guy Lafleur, one of the best right-wingers to play in the NHL. He scored 132 points that season ahead of Jacques Lemaire, who had 97 goal contributions.

The team was full of goals, but the defense is perhaps the most impressive part. Very few teams in hockey history have led the way on goals and had the best defense in the league. Just goes to show how hard each player was working, even out of possession.

  • Record: 59-10-11
  • Points: 129
  • Points Percentage: .806
  • Goals For: 359 / 1st
  • Goals Against: 183 / 1st

5. 1987-88 Edmonton Oilers


For the second time on our list, there is an Edmonton Oilers team in the top ten. The first Oilers team was at the start of the 80s, winning the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. By this point in the 80s, they had gotten a taste for it. They won five Stanley Cups in seven years, including multiple seasons with over 400 goals scored. However, this season, the team only scored 363 times, and they failed to win the NHL Smythe Division for the first time since 1981.

The expectation for the Oilers to keep the Stanley Cup diminished as the season went on. Especially as last season, they narrowly edged out the Flyers 4-3. However, the Oilers whitewashed the series four to nothing, demolishing the Bruins and any doubters out there. Gretzky contributed 149 points and teammate Mark Messier added 111 to the tally. Both Gretzky and Messier are on our list of the best NHL players of all time, and the squad has six players in the Hall of Fame.

  • Record: 44-25-11 
  • Points: 99
  • Points Percentage: .619
  • Goals For: 363 / 2nd
  • Goals Against: 288 / 8th

4. 1975-76 Montreal Canadiens


The 1975-76 Montreal Canadiens team was one of the best NHL teams of all time. That is because 1976 was the Canadiens' 28th appearance at the Stanley Cup Finals, taking home the title for the 19th time. This was an important year for the team as they interrupted the consecutive Flyers’ wins in the last two NHL Finals. However, head coach Scotty Bowman beat Fred Shero of the Flyers four nothing in the series.

Montreal is the best city in the world to play in if you win. If you don't win, it's hell.

- Guy Lafleur

The Canadiens won four Stanley Cups in a row from 1976 to 1979. The team rose to the top thanks to a powerful defense, only conceding on average 2.18 goals per game. They had the best defense in the league, letting in 174 goals all season. Leading the attack was Guy Lafleur with 125 points, followed by Pete Mahovlich with 105. There were five other Canadiens with 50 or more points on the team, including Steve Shutt, Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Lemaire, and Guy Lapointe. Although this team would dominate the league and playoffs in the next few seasons, it was the last time the Canadiens would stay on top. After these four years, the Canadiens would win two more Stanley Cups over the next 44 years.

  • Record: 58-11-11
  • Points: 127
  • Points Percentage: .794
  • Goals For: 337 / 4th
  • Goals Against: 174 / 1st

3. 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins


The Pittsburgh Penguins made their first Stanley Cup appearance in 1991, beating the Minnesota North Stars four games to two. Unfortunately, they diagnosed head coach Bob Johnson with brain cancer in the offseason. Johnson passed away in November 1991. Legendary coach Scotty Bowman would take control of the team, leading to what would be a season full of ups and downs. The Penguins lead the league offensively, scoring 343 goals. However, they conceded 308 goals throughout the season, leaving them 20th overall defensively.

The Penguins narrowly got into the playoffs, where most fans had written the team off after trading Paul Coffey. However, the Penguins surprised us all beating the Capitals, Rangers, and Bruins to reach the finals. After the poor regular season results, few had expected Pittsburgh to get a chance at defending their previous Stanley Cup win. Plus, they faced the Blackhawks who were on an 11-game playoff win streak. The Penguins would end up sweeping the Blackhawks, including a shutout in game three of the series. Against all odds, the team from Pittsburgh would win consecutive Stanley Cups in their first two NHL Finals appearances.

Looking at the Penguins’ team, there are a lot of fantastic players. Mario Lemieux led the scoring with 131 points and left-winger Kevin Stevens was close behind with 123. Joe Mullen had 87 points to contribute, plus Larry Murphy and Mark Recchi made significant offense contributions. The team also had a 19-year-old Jaromír Jágr who was finding his feet on the ice with 69 points. Jágr forged an unbelievable NHL career, ending up on our list of the best hockey players of all time. Say what you want about Pittsburgh, but the 1991-92 team achieved something many hockey fans dream about.

  • Record: 39-32-9 
  • Points: 87
  • Points Percentage: .544
  • Goals For: 343 / 1st
  • Goals Against: 308 / 20th

2. 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens


The final two teams on our list are in a league of their own. Both teams are stacked with amazing players in the prime of their careers. However, the second-best NHL team of all time is the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens. The team would set several records, including many that still stand to this day. The team only lost eight games all season, a record that nobody has threatened even with pandemic-shortened seasons and lockouts.

The 1977 Canadiens set a record for the highest point-scoring team to win the Stanley Cup. There are several teams across the past few decades to record outrageous regular seasons. However, only the Montreal Canadiens have been able to take this dominance into the playoff and win the Stanley Cup. The team led the league both in goals scored and the lowest number of goals conceded. They netted 387 times and only let in 171, resulting in an average of 4.84 goals scored per game and 2.14 conceded.

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Like many teams on our list, the Canadiens have various players in the Hall of Fame. Leading the way was Guy Lafleur with 136 points, Steve Shutt with 105, and Larry Robinson with 85. They also had Guy Lapointe, Jacques Lemaire, and five other players with 52 points scored. At the end of the season, the Canadiens would sweep the Bruins to maintain the Stanley Cup. In recent NHL history, no team has dominated the league for such a long period as the Canadiens. Only the 2023 Bruins have eclipsed the 132 regular season points, but they did not win the Stanley Cup in the end. That just goes to show how special this group of players were and what they achieved.

  • Record: 60-8-12
  • Points: 132
  • Points Percentage: .825
  • Goals For: 387 / 1st
  • Goals Against: 171 / 1st

1. 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers


The number one best NHL team of all time is the 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers came up at a time when the Canadiens dominated the NHL in the mid-70s, followed by the Islanders from 1980 to 1983. Both teams managed four consecutive Stanley Cups, meaning you would have to do something special to win the playoffs. Special is exactly what the Oilers did, thanks to the best hockey player of all time, Wayne Gretzky.

Gretzky scored over 200 points for the third time in his career and he remains the only player in NHL history to do so. He led an unbelievable offense to score over 400 goals that season, the fifth consecutive time they had done so. The Oilers also remain the only NHL franchise to score 400 or more goals in a season. Although Gretzky led the way with goals and assists, two other Oilers managed a season with over 100 points. Right winger Jari Kurri contributed 135 to the team and a 23-year-old defenseman, Paul Coffey, supplied 121. Only ten defensemen in history have scored four or more goals in an NHL game, Coffey being the most recent example.

The Edmonton Oilers might not have the highest points-per-game percentage or the best defensive record, but you knew they were going to score goals. If you were judging the best NHL team ever, nothing would be more intimidating than Wayne Gretzky in the form of his life. Sure, other teams on our list held the Stanley Cup for longer periods than the Oilers, but that does not matter. If you were to travel back in time and watch the best NHL team, it would have to be the Oilers. After all, hockey is all about scoring goals, and that is what Edmonton did better than everyone.

  • Record: 49-20-11
  • Points: 109
  • Points Percentage: .681
  • Goals For: 401 / 1st
  • Goals Against: 298 / 8th

Honorable Mentions

There you have it; the best NHL team of all time is the Edmonton Oilers from 1984 to 85. Sure, there are other Edmonton teams where that managed more points or scored more goals, but this team broke postseason records. Gretzky set the record for NHL assists and points in a postseason, and Kurri scored 19 goals in 18 games. Coffey shattered the NHL record for goals, points, and assists for a defenseman in the playoffs. The Oilers were not lethal just because of one man. Everyone on the team tried to get in on the act, something we have not seen for a very long time.

As great as these ten teams are, several other squads deserve some recognition. Below are some outstanding NHL teams we could not include. They are still fantastic hockey teams, but they fall short of the best NHL sides to play the game. Remember, if you want more of the greatest hockey lists; make sure you check out the 15 best hockey fights of all time.

  • 1957–58 Montreal Canadiens
  • 1986-87 Edmonton Oilers
  • 1987-88 Edmonton Oilers
  • 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings
  • 1988-89 Calgary Flames
  • 2000-01 Colorado Avalanche
  • 1993-94 New York Rangers
  • 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings

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