The NHL Microcore Index for 2016-17

The teams that have the best shot at contending for the Stanley Cup tend to have a strong microcore, consisting of the No. 1 center, No. 1 defenseman and starting goalie. Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

It was a phrase Kings general manager Dean Lombardi used following the team's 2014 Stanley Cup. He had a few roster decisions to make, as most Cup champs do, but felt confident in his team’s ability to contend as long as his microcore was intact. We hear a lot about the core of a team, but he had drilled it down to the microcore: the No. 1 goalie, No. 1 defenseman and No. 1 center. He liked his chances in Los Angeles as long as Jonathan Quick, Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty were healthy and playing well.

Teams with those positions in place tend to be championship contenders. It’s certainly played out that way the past several years.

The consistent quality of the Stanley Cup winners is that they’ve all had a franchise center, franchise defenseman and strong goaltending. Pittsburgh had Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang playing at a high level last spring. There’s Kopitar and Doughty, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara. The list goes on.

So as we try to identify teams with the best chance of winning it all during a time in the NHL when parity is at its highest, the microcore is a good place to start.

What follows is a ranking of the microcores of all 30 NHL teams.