There is no guarantee that a team winning the Presidents’ Trophy, awarded to the team with the regular season’s best record, will also win the Stanley Cup. In fact, more often than not the Presidents’ Trophy winner has failed in the postseason.
The Presidents’ Trophy was first awarded for the 1985-86 season, and has been awarded for every season since with the exception of the 2004-05 season, which was canceled due to the NHL lockout.
Below is a chart of Presidents’ Trophy winners and their ultimate playoff fate. The teams are listed in inverse order of year and their fates are color-coded, with orange for Stanley Cup winners, green for Stanley Cup Final losers, blue for Conference Finals losers and yellow for first-round elimination.
In the 35 prior years of the Presidents’ Trophy’s existence, the winner has gone on to win the Stanley Cup just eight times, the last being the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2012-13 season.
On the negative side of the ledger, Presidents’ Trophy winners have been eliminated in the first round seven times, with the most recent example being the Tampa Bay Lightning, who were eliminated in the first round of the 2019 postseason.
The Presidents’ Trophy winner has won the Stanley Cup 22.9% of the time, advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals 31.4% of the time and advanced to the Conference Finals 48.5% of the time.
On the flip side, the Presidents’ Trophy winners have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs 20% of the time. Capitals fans are hoping that this season is one where they can upset the Panthers and add them to the list of first-round Presidents’ Trophy winning flameouts.
By Diane Doyle