NHL Power Rankings
The NHL Divison races have started to take shape as most teams have played at least a third of their season. So what teams have gotten off to the strongest starts? Who are early candidates for a high draft pick? In this week’s power rankings we will count down from thirty-one to see who is the best of the best.
31. Ottawa Senators
It is no surprise that Ottawa is at the bottom of the NHL and their highly contested division. Every team in the North besides Ottawa has a roster that has the potential to make a run for the cup in the playoffs. Quite simply the Senators have not finished their rebuild phase. They have talented players like Tim Stutzle, Drake Batherson, and Joshua Norris who have shown glimpses of their talent, but still need some development.
This was evident in the World Juniors when Stuetzle managed to shine despite Germany’s poor performance. He was a top pick in the most recent draft and will take the league by storm in the coming seasons. They also have established players like Brady Tkachuk, Thomas Chabot, and Evgenii Dadonov; however, they need more help and that may be a few years away.
30. Detroit Red Wings
New Captain, Dylan Larkin, is the only Red Wing to record at least ten points this season. Detroit has gotten some production from their top six, but not enough to compete every night. The bottom six and their defense have not been good. Tyler Bertuzzi got off to a terrific start. He amassed 5 goals and 2 assists through nine games; however, he suffered an upper-body injury and has been out of the lineup since.
Like Ottawa, Detroit has not yet finished its rebuild and needs more development before they contend. Detroit’s 4th overall selection has not made his NHL debut. He will likely have a year or two of development below the NHL level before he makes an impact on the team.
29. Anaheim Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks have shown some success this season. Goaltender, John Gibson, has been fantastic some nights. In sixteen games, the veteran has five wins and three shutouts. Gibson has been in the net the majority of games. Their back-up goalie started four games this season and has one win. Twenty-two-year-old wing, Max Comtois, has been their most productive player. Comtois has eight goals and five assists in twenty games.
Anaheim needs more production from its veterans to help their younger players. Nineteen-year-old, Trevor Zegras, would definitely benefit if the team around him can perform. Zegras had a phenomenal World Juniors appearance and led the United States to victory over Canada in the gold medal game. So, Zegras is definitely capable of providing a spark to a team that should be near the end of their rebuild.
28. New York Rangers
The Rangers have an extremely talented roster. This includes Hart Trophy finalist Artemi Panarin; however, Panarin is taking a leave of absence due to a personal matter. He is facing allegations of assault of a nineteen-year-old girl back in 2011. His absence is a big blow to the Rangers. Their number one center has failed to produce at the level he needs to so far this season.
Additionally, Calder Trophy favorite Alexis Lafreniere has not performed well so far in his rookie campaign. Earlier in the season, they also sent Antony DeAngelo down to the minors after a locker room incident. It is unlikely he returns to the NHL as a New York Ranger. He came off a career year last season; however, his actions were unacceptable and the team is hurt as a result. Despite the problems for the Rangers, netminder Igor Shesterkin has shined ever since he got a shot before the pause last season.
27. Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver simply should be doing better with the roster they have, with guys like Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson. They have not been able to win on the road. The Canucks hold a 3-8-0 record away this season. At home, they have done better but not good enough. In Vancouver, they have a 5-5-2 record. After their playoff performance last season, a coaching change could definitely happen.
They have so much talent that their performance is inexcusable. As a result, the coach may be put to blame. The former Canadiens head coach is available because he was relieved of his duties on February 24th. He led the Canadiens to a surprising upset over the Penguins last season and may be able to help Vancouver get back on track.
26. Nashville Predators
Nashville has regressed ever since their 2018 regular season. Their offense has been mediocre and Juuse Saros has not been good in net. The only forward who has been reliable this season is Filip Forsberg. He is averaging around a point per game. Other players like Viktor Arvidsson, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Johansen must step up their game to succeed. These three have a combined point total of nineteen. Forsberg nearly has the same amount.
Goaltenders Pekka Rinne and Saros have split time in net. Rine has been solid but Saros needs work. For the last couple of years, Saros has had countless opportunities to get the starting job from the aging Rinne. Unfortunately, Saros is not developing into the goalie they originally thought he would be.
25. Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres have failed to get production outside of their top-six forwards and top defensive pair. This is a red flag because they don’t have the depth needed to compete against other teams in the East.
One thing that Buffalo has done well is scoring on special teams. The Sabres capitalize in one out of every three chances they have. Winger, Victor Olofsson, has led the charge on the powerplay for Buffalo. Olofsson leads Buffalo in power-play goals and points. 12 of his 14 points were when Buffalo was on the power-play. If Buffalo can up their five-on-five play, perhaps they can become more competitive.