I didn't originally plan on writing fraud rankings in the NHL this year, I had planned for it to be NFL only, but the way the season has started has forced my hand. Specifically, the Vancouver Canucks have almost single-handily made me write an NHL edition of my fraud rankings.
So, it's time for me to rank the top five most fraudulent and overrated teams in the NHL.
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Most Overrated Teams in the NHL
5) Vegas Golden Knights
It's tough to call the defending Stanley Cup champions frauds. After all, how could they be frauds if they won it all last year? Well, we're focusing on this season only and there's a pretty strong argument to be made that they aren't nearly as good as their 13-4-2 through their first 19 games indicate.
You'll see what I'm talking about if you compare their actual goal differential and their expected goal differential. Their actual goal differential this season is +0.88 per 60 minutes while their expected goal differential is only 0.00 per 60 minutes. That expected goal differential is just 18th in the NHL.
Their success has largely been due to their goaltending and high shooting percentage. Adin Hill has stood on his head in between the pipes for them all season and they also rank inside the top 10 in shooting percentage at 11.33%.
I expect regression from the defending champs at some point this season.
4) New York Rangers
The Rangers are another team that has benefited from great shooting and goaltending, ranking in the top three in both those categories. If they want to keep winning they better continue to post anomalies in those two categories because their play between the blue lines hasn't been nearly as good.
They're just 22nd in the league in CORSI%, which measures all types of shot attempts for and against, along with 12th in expected goal differential per 60 minutes. Their expected goal differential drops even further, down to 20th at -0.17 per 60 minutes if you look at just 5-on-5 play.
Not exactly the numbers you'd expect from a team that's sitting at 12-2-1.
3) Toronto Maple Leafs
As a diehard Maple Leafs fan, I'm fully qualified to call this team fraudulent. They are, in my opinion, the most overvalued team in the NHL in the betting market, continuously set as bigger favorites than they deserve to be.
They get out-coached on a nightly basis, their defense is clueless, and they fail to find any level of consistency in the net. Sure, they can score and they're electric when they get the puck in their opponent's end of the ice, but they're 21st in the league in 5-on-5 expected goals against and their breakout plays are uninspired and predictable.
They'll suffer an early exit in the NHL Playoffs once again.
2) Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins picked up right where they left off last season, being one of the most fraudulent teams in the NHL and we all saw what happened to them in the first round of the playoffs against the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Their goaltender continues to carry them as their +1.42 actual goal differential per 60 minutes doesn't lineup whatsoever with their +0.4 expected goal differential. That's more than an entire goal difference between those two numbers, which is in no way sustainable.
I correctly labeled them frauds last season and I'm making that claim once again.
1) Vancouver Canucks
The team that inspired me to make these rankings is none other than the Vancouver Canucks. Unlike the other teams who are on this list who are still overall good but have inflated records, I don't even think the Canucks are that good of a team.
There is a stat in the NHL called "PDO" which combines shooting percentage and save percentage and many analysts refer to this stat as the "luck" stat. The Canucks have a PDO of 1.062, which is the highest mark in the NHL by a mile. The next closest is the Bruins at 1.041.
The Canucks have a NEGATIVE expected goal differential at -0.1 per 60 minutes of play but yet have an actual goal differential of +1.65. That's a difference of +1.75 goals per 60 minutes between expected and actual goals. That's unbelievable and in no way, shape, or form is that sustainable. I don't think I've ever seen a team in North American professional sport overperform to the level of the Canucks this season.
Sell all your Canucks stock immediately, this team is going to come crashing down in a hurry.