It’s that time of year again. Preseason hockey is over and the regular season is just around the corner. All anyone seems to talk about during the off season is their list of top 10 defensemen, top 10 centers, top 10 wingers, top 10 this, and top 10 that. But it’s about time to get to one of the few rankings that is actually sort of relevant; The Power Rankings.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins
No, I am not putting the Penguins at the top because I’m a die-hard Pens fan. And no it’s not because I write for a site about the Penguins. The Penguins just came off of yet another season with the greatest trophy in all of hockey, the Stanley Cup. Yes, the Penguins have lost 5 players to free agency and another to the expansion draft but honestly, this offseason the Penguins have only gotten even more dangerous. With young talent Daniel Sprong and Zach Aston-Reese on the ready to fill any holes in the line up, the best offense in the league has just gotten better.
2. Columbus Blue Jackets
With the addition of Artemi Panarin to an already deep team, the Blue Jackets become one of the best in the league. With reigning Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky in net and defensemen like Seth Jones, Ryan Murray, Zachary Werenski, they have a strong defense that allowed the second lowest goals against in the 2016-2017 season.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
With captain, Steven Stamkos, finally back from yet another injury, the deadly team that we all thought we were going to see last year may finally be here. Most teams are either strong on defense or offense, but the Lightning can strike on both. As long as starting goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy is at least OK, the Lightning will be one of the most deadly teams in the league. With newly acquired rookie Mikhail Sergachev to their defense comprised of Norris trophy finalist Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman and others, their defense is looking even scarier. That defense paired with an offense including big names like Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Tyler Johnson is absolutely unbelievable. As long as their big names can stay healthy, they will be on top of the pack this season.
4. Edmonton Oilers
Any team with Connor McDavid, arguably the best player in the world, has a chance at the Cup. Now, Edmonton may not have one of the deepest of teams, but they have no shortage of offensive talent. With a supporting cast of Leon Draisaitl, and newly acquired weapons, Ryan Strome and aging Jussi Jokinen along with a very consistent goalie in Cam Talbot. With all of that offensive power and a deep run in the playoffs to build off of, the Oilers are certainly a team to be reckoned with.
5. Nashville Predators
Some may be surprised that the reigning Western Conference Playoff champions are listed this low, but with top pairing defensemen Ryan Ellis out until at least December, the real deal James Neal being taken in the expansion, and the retirement of former captain Mike Fisher, the Predators are left with a disturbing lack of depth. Although, with signings of former penguins Nick Bonino, and Scott Hartnell, they have tried to address these issues but there are certainly still a few holes in their lineup. The main reason they are this high is because they still have one of the best top 4 defensive cores in the league even without Ellis. Some would argue that they have 2 of the top 10 defensemen in the entire league.
6. Toronto Maple Leafs
In one year the Maple Leafs went from one of the worst teams in the league to one of the best teams in the league in a single year. I guess that is what happens when you get Auston Matthews, and Mitch Marner in the same draft, along with sophomore William Nylander. All their big guns are now one year older, one year more experienced, and one year better. With the signing of Patrick Marleau, the Leafs offense is extremely fast and skilled, and there is no limit to what they could do as long as their weak defense holds up. And if goalie Frederik Andersen goes down, the Leafs don’t really have an NHL caliber back up. As long as their defense holds up, the Leafs and their young guns could be among the best teams in the league.
7. Anaheim Ducks
Not much has really changed in the offseason, but not much really needed to as they made it to the Western Conference Final this past season. They dodged a bullet by making a deal with the Golden Knights to keep defensemen Sami Vatanen. They basically have the same lineup as last year, because hey, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
8. Washington Capitals
Now, here is an interesting team. They lost 6 players to free agency this year including key defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Karl Alzner. The Capitals still have a lot of offensive prowess but their defense is significantly weaker which is why they are so much lower than they would have been at this time last year. As long as Braden Holtby plays to his standard, the defense may not have to be as great as it’s former self. They certainly aren’t the same team that won the Presidents Trophy last year, but don’t rule them out of contention just yet.
9. Montreal Canadiens
Honestly, I have pretty much no idea how good this Canadiens team is actually gonna be, but they can’t be too bad with probably the best goalie in the league, Carey Price. Their defense seems to be pretty good, but who knows how good their offense will be. In arguably the biggest trade of the offseason, the Canadiens acquired Jonathan Drouin who is coming off of quite the season with the Lightning. The Canadiens could once again be one of the top teams in the Atlantic. But just as easily, they could completely miss the playoffs.
10. Chicago Blackhawks
Pekka Rinne single-handedly sent the Blackhawks into a panic attack. After only scoring 3 goals and getting swept in the first round of the playoffs, they made several large trades, receiving a key player from the 2015 championship in return but not without losing a few key players of their own. They lost Artemi Panarin, who was amazing along side Patrick Kane last year. Some of the key players the got in deals this off season were Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad. The Blackhawks are slowly getting worse and are falling behind in the rapidly improving Western Conference, but they aren’t out of the race yet.
11. Ottawa Senators
After a surprisingly deep run last season, the Senators have a few key losses to start off the season. First off, star defensemen Erik Karlsson‘s injury he received during the playoffs last year still hasn’t healed, and no one seems to know exactly when he is coming back. Honestly, he is the only reason the Senators even made the playoffs. If he is out for an extended time period, the Senators could be in a very unfortunate situation.
12. Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars made a ton of moves this season, fixing many of the glaring holes in their team. The biggest of these offseason acquisitions being goalie Ben Bishop. The Stars finally have a solid goalie to keep pucks out of the net. They have an even more improved offense with Alexander Radulov and Martin Hanzal, and a new top 4 defenseman in Marc Methot. The Stars are a dangerous team and easily could end up as one of the top few teams in the West.
13. St. Louis Blues
The Blues have now have 3 left wingers on IR with the news of Robby Fabbri missing the entire 2017-2018 season. Although they have aquired players like Brayden Schenn that will help fill those holes. The Blues have a great offense headed by superstar Vladimir Tarasenko. If goalie Jake Allen plays like he did at the end of the year and postseason as opposed to the earlier parts of the season, the Blues will once again be one of the top teams in the West.
14. Minnesota Wild
The Wild went on a tear about mid-season last year but soon fell off and didn’t show up for the rest of the season, getting knocked out in round 1. If they can find a way to get back to where they were, they will once again be a solid team. They probably won’t be one of the top teams in the West but they will still be good, especially if Devan Dubnyk plays at a high level like he did most of last season.
15. New York Rangers
After being one of the top teams in the East this past year, they find themselves in the bottom of the top half of the power rankings. Aging goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has started to show signs of wear, even though he was still pretty good in the playoffs. They are nowhere near as good as they were in past years. They really started to fall off in the second half of last season and that downward trend will probably continue this season. The signing of Kevin Shattenkirk is certainly going to help them but they just aren’t a powerhouse like they were several years ago.
16. San Jose Sharks
They managed to resign Joe Thornton but they lost Patrick Marleau to the Leafs. After going to the Finals in the 2015-’16 season, they had a disappointing playoff run, getting knocked out in 6 games by the Oilers this past season. They still have a good, yet, aging team in this now young and speedy league. It may be hard for the Sharks to keep up with the rest of the NHL.
17. Calgary Flames
The Flames arguably have one of the best defense cores in the league with the recent acquisition of Travis Hamonic. But their awful play in playoffs exposed some severe holes in net that they have tried to fill with Mike Smith. As long as Smith holds up, they should be okay. But if their demons in net haunt them again, the Flames are going to have yet another underwhelming season.
18. Philadelphia Flyers
After barely missing the playoffs last year, they are looking much better after getting the 2nd overall pick and selecting Nolan Patrick. The main issue is in net. They did sign Brian Elliot but he looked awful in the first round of the playoffs last year with the Flames. He doesn’t seem like much of an upgrade over former starter Steve Mason. If Elliot can have a bounce back year, they could easily make the playoffs. Currently, they are just going to be stuck as a bubble team again.
19. Carolina Hurricanes
Here is a team that could see a breakout this year. They have a solid, young defense and have improved their goaltending with Scott Darling. But will it really pan out? If Darling plays well and their offense finds a way to consistently score goals, they will be deadly and a potential playoff team that could surprise a lot of people.
20. Los Angeles Kings
Their team is getting old. Their youngest player is 25 and they have 8 players over 30. They just simply can’t keep up anymore. Their players that brought them their championships in previous years just aren’t as good as they were. They made several poor trades last season, as if they were going for a playoff run, but missed by a decent bit. Unless they change, they are going to be stuck here near the bottom for a while.
21. Boston Bruins
The Bruins aren’t that bad of a team. They shouldn’t be this low, but the league seems to have quite a large and relatively even middle group of teams this year. They were mediocre at best during the playoffs. If I had done this a week or two ago before the David Pastrnak deal, this would have been a very different. But they were able to get him under a good pay and good term for his worth. They still have pretty good goaltender in Tuukka Rask. The Bruins are probably going to have yet another season full of mediocrity.
22. New York Islanders
In any other year, I would say that if the Islanders goaltender held up, they could be a potential playoff team. There are just too many other good teams that a playoff appearance doesn’t seem to be in the cards for the Islanders. This is a big year for them, as they need to prove that they are a team that star John Tavares would want to resign with. If they lose Tavares they are going to be in a very bad position. In a stacked Metropolitan Division, it seems as if the Islanders just don’t have what it takes to keep up.
23. Winnipeg Jets
This team is such a hard team to rank, they have so many good players. Yet, for some reason, as a team they haven’t been able to perform. They have attempted to fix the goalie problem with the signing of Steve Mason, but will it be enough? Like a lot of other teams, their goaltending needs to be solid. If they get that, then this could be a scary team with lots of weapons like, Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, and Bryan Little. They should be a good team, but they just haven’t been able to prove they have what it takes. Hopefully this year they can change that.
24. Buffalo Sabers
Things are starting too look up for the Sabers. They have a new coach and a new general manager. They have a fair amount of weapons on offense, a decent defense, and decent goaltending. They just simply need to win, something that has eluded them over the past few years. With Jack Eichel in his contract year, he has even more incentive to step up and be the superstar that everyone expects him to become. I feel like a broken record, but if Eichel and crew steps up, they could be a team to reckon with in the Atlantic Division.
25. Arizona Coyotes
Here we have a team that has significantly changed this offseason. They have made several moves that have gotten them an much improved defense with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Jason Demers. Now they don’t seem to have any established offensive threats, but they are trusting that their young and unproven young guns can step up and help put pucks in the net. They also have a new face in net as they got rid of Mike Smith and acquired Antti Raanta. If Raanta proves to be a reliable starting goalie, they will be an extremely hard team to score on. They are going to need more than just good defense to move up the power rankings.
26. New Jersey Devils
Cory Schneider is the only reason the team is even this high, he is great goaltender that really helps make up for their abysmal defense. Now they have gotten Will Butcher. But that is still a really below average top 6. They have an okay defense, but they are still the worst team in the Metropolitan.
27. Vegas Golden Knights
And now we get to the teams that are actually bad. The Golden Knights do have an excuse as they are a brand new expansion team. They have a decent defense but they are going to have a really hard time scoring goals. They really don’t have any true first line worthy guys. They are just going to get smashed by the competition. Former Penguins goalie, Marc-Andre Fluery will help keep them in games, but you cant win games without scoring.
28. Detroit Red Wings
Here is a team, that desperately needs to rebuild, but is refusing to and keeps getting worse and worse. As of recently goaltending has been an absolute mess. Their goalies can’t seem to be consistently good or bad. Their defense doesn’t seem to be helping them. They are continuing to lose their ability to score and are quite simply just bad. With the need to rebuild, the Red Wings are coming in with a low rank early in the year.
29. Florida Panthers
I’m going to be honest, I have no clue what on earth the Panthers are doing. They have gotten rid of or just simply let go of 3 of their top 5 scorers last season. They just traded away Jason Demers for a bag of pucks. They paid Vegas to take a young 30 goal scorer from them in the expansion draft. They have a 38 year old Roberto Luongo in net, and then a seemingly intentionally awful defense and offense. I mean Alexander Barkov could have a good season but yikes. This team is becoming a dumpster fire real fast.
30. Colorado Avalanche
This team that has some talent, but can’t seem to do anything with it. They need to trade Matt Duchene soon so that they can get as much as possible for him. Whatever they get won’t help them this season. They need to try and load up on young guns and picks. Basically, they are going to be very bad this season.
31. Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks are in a very similar situation as the Avalanche, except pretty much all of their talent is old. They don’t have anyone like Matt Duchene that needs to be traded. They just need to tank and stick to the rebuild, which means they will also falter this season. I have no reason to believe otherwise. The Sedin twins are old and in their final year of their contract. They have average goaltending. They cant really score and can’t help their goalie out in their own zone.