One of the most impressive things about the Blackhawks winning the 2013 Stanley Cup was that they became the first franchise to win it twice in the salary-cap era. And they did so in a short period of time.
Today's NHL is driven by a parity-inducing cap, which forces teams to part ways with assets they'd usually prefer to keep. In those conditions, it's hard to stand out season after season when tough decisions have to be made simply because of finances. Dynasties are dead ... or at least that's what we thought before last season.
At least 10 teams could make a strong case at winning the Stanley Cup this season, with the usual factors playing a big part -- health, goaltending, maybe a little luck.
But what goes into projecting success three seasons from now? It's a different formula predicting how strong teams will look in 2016-17. Nevertheless, positioning their teams for sustained success is precisely what NHL general managers seek to do each season. And that begs the question: Which teams are best positioned for the seasons ahead? To find the answer, we now debut the NHL Future Power Rankings.
To construct the rankings, we consulted with former NHL assistant general manager Frank Provenzano, who helped develop our categories -- as well as how they were weighted -- based upon his experience working in the front office for multiple NHL teams.
Then we asked a panel of six analysts to rate every NHL team in four key categories deemed most important to future success: roster, prospects, cap/contracts, owner/GM/coach.
Using a weighted formula -- illustrated in the sidebar to the right -- the final rankings were calculated. What follows is a ranking of the teams best positioned for success from now heading into the 2016-17 season, and analysis on why they find themselves in that position.
The Panel: ESPN Insider Craig Custance; former NHL assistant GM Frank Provenzano; advanced metrics guru Neil Greenberg; prospect analyst Corey Pronman; and Ryan Schwepfinger and Rob Vollman of Hockey Prospectus.
The bar graphs reflect the average points given by the voters for each category.