NHL Power Rankings: Ranking Each Team Post-Free Agency

Tom Schreier@tschreier3Correspondent ISeptember 4, 2012

NHL Power Rankings: Ranking Each Team Post-Free Agency

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    I can’t tell you if there’s going to be hockey this year.

    I can’t tell you if the owners and players will reach a 50-50 split in revenue.

    I can’t tell you if Phoenix or Long Island will retain teams or if Kansas City, Seattle or Quebec City will have their own clubs in the future.

    And I can’t tell you if players will have longer restricted free agency or mandated shorter contracts.

    What I can tell you is that I know exactly where each team will be in the final league-wide standings at the end of the year, regardless of if the season is actually played.

    I don’t have a crystal ball or a time machine…just the amazing powers of prediction.

    And with this awesome power I will rank all 30 NHL teams based on how they will perform next season following free agency.

30. Columbus Blue Jackets

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    To be fair to Columbus, their defense isn’t horrible.

    James Wisniewski and Jack Johnson are proven NHL players and Adrian Aucoin is a decent pickup.

    If this team is going to have any semblance of success, New York imports Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov are going to have to be impact players.

29. New York Islanders

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    It’s going to be another long season on the Island.

    Forget notable additions like Matt Carkner and Brad Boyes, the success of this team rides on youngsters like John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Nino Niederreiter.

    If they step up big time the team will surprise people.

    If not, they’re going to crash and burn like Lubomir Visnovsky’s Ferrari.

28. Calgary Flames

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    Fans in Calgary certainly love the addition of former Jiri Hudler, Dennis Wideman and Roman Cervenka. We know what they’re going to get from Hudler and Wideman, which isn’t enough to vault them into the playoffs.

    Cervenka is more of a wild card.

27. Winnipeg Jets

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    The Winnipeg Jets have a pretty raw young core that’s talented but unproven.

    Most of them have a year of NHL hockey under their belt, but that’s not enough to get them out of the Southeast cellar.

    Having a veteran like Olli Jokinen around may expedite that process for guys like Evander Kane and Alexander Burmistrov.

26. Anaheim Ducks

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    Adding Sheldon Souray and Bryan Allen, two proven veteran defensemen, to a weak defensive corps and bringing aboard tough guy Brad Staubitz were good moves.

    Yet, it was hardly enough to get Anaheim out of the Pacific basement.

    Unless Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan all have career years, there is not enough scoring depth to get this team where it wants to go.

25. Florida Panthers

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    People wigged out when I dropped the Panthers, but you know this is coming.

    Carolina and Tampa are better teams now. They have better proven NHL talent.

    Sure, Peter Mueller could be a huge pickup, but he’s injury prone and hasn’t done well elsewhere.

    And you can talk prospects all you want, but nobody has any idea how green players will play against grizzled veterans that have been putting on a big league sweater for years now.

24. Montreal Canadiens

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    Montreal will improve a little bit just by nature of being so bad last year.

    They added a couple warm bodies, but are still far from being a playoff team this year.

23. Phoenix Coyotes

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    Shane Doan or no Shane Doan, the we-might-be-in-Seattle-in-the-near-future Coyotes are going to endure a drop this year.

    There’s no defending a Pacific Division title this year. LA has found a formula that works, the Sharks should be a little bit better than last year and Dallas improved enough to snatch a playoff spot away from the Yotes.

22. Nashville Predators

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    Scott Hannan isn’t Ryan Suter, but he’s not a scrub either.

    Retaining Shea Weber was imperative for the Preds and there’s always hope that the prospects do wonders, but on paper it’s hard to see Nashville anywhere by No. 4 in the Central.

21. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    The James van Riemsdyk trade may bear fruit in years to come.

    For the time being, however, it’s not enough to convince anyone that the Leafs are suddenly going to do something big.

20. Edmonton Oilers

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    Edmonton is probably only a year out from being a playoff team.

    You have to commend them for going out and getting Justin Schultz and there’s no denying that they have young talent. At the same time, it’s still going to be a year before we really see what Taylor Hall, Linus Omark, Jordan Eberle and Co. can do on the ice.

    (Plus they still could use a little beef on defense.)

19. New Jersey Devils

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    The Devils have lost Zach Parise and will remain behind two more popular teams in their region, the Philadelphia Flyers (supported by south Jersey) and New York (supported by most of New Jersey). They will also be behind the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    The Stanley Cup appearance was nice, but they’ll be no such playoff run in store for the li'l Devils this year.

18. Colorado Avalanche

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    Yeah, there are some whack jobs out there that think PA Parenteau is going to be an offensive force for the Avalanche and put them in the playoffs.

    Think again.

    That guy only got points because he was on a line with John Tavares and Matt Moulson on the Island.

    The fate of the Avs rests on young players like Matt Duchene and Erik Johnson.

    If they thrive, so will Colorado. If they don’t, they won’t.

17. Ottawa Senators

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    Guillaume Latendresse supposedly has upside, but like Peter Mueller in Florida, he’s unlikely to reach the potential everyone thought he once had.

    Ottawa didn’t improve enough and Tampa, Carolina and Buffalo did; so, a year after taking the Rangers to Game 7, they’re going to find themselves out of the playoff picture.

16. Carolina Hurricanes

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    Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin are big-time pickups for the Hurricanes.

    By getting them and throwing down on Jeff Skinner, it shows that the ‘Canes ain't messing around.

    They want to win. Now.

15. Dallas Stars

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    By adding Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr, the Dallas Stars now have enough veteran presence to help keep this team from folding down the stretch and get them through the playoffs as a late seed.

14. Minnesota Wild

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    Zach Parise and Ryan Suter have turned the Wild into a playoff team overnight.

    They’re probably not going to go very far right away, but there’s a lot of young talent that should help this team move in the right direction going forward.

13. Tampa Bay Lightning

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    The Lightning addressed two big needs by adding goaltender Anders Lindback and defenseman Matt Carle.

    After a disappointing season, this club is ready to get right back at it and make a little playoff run.

12. Buffalo Sabres

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    It’s simple in Buffalo.

    If Thomas Vanek, Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino live up to expectations, they will make the playoffs.

    If not, they won’t.

11. San Jose Sharks

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    The San Jose Sharks have relinquished the Pacific Division to the LA Kings and the addition of Brad Stuart and Adam Burish is not enough to get it back.

10. Philadelphia Flyers

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    I like the idea of putting the Schenn boys together, but the combination of losing out on Shea Weber, letting Matt Carle go and losing most of their defensive corps to injury is going to be only one thing.

    A disaster!

9. Detroit Red Wings

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    No Shea Weber. No Ryan Suter. No Zach Parise.

    Big problem.

    The Elderly Men of the Winged Wheel added a couple warm bodies over the summer, but not the guys they wanted.

    This means that St. Louis and Chicago now control the Central Division.

8. Washington Capitals

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    People are calling Mike Ribeiro “the center they’ve always wanted,” like he’s the perfect bride for the hard-luck Capitals that can’t quite find “The One.”

    The Caps may have found their “Mr. Perfect,” but they’re not getting a ring this year.

    (If it’s any consolation they still should win the Southeast Division title.)

7. Chicago Blackhawks

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    St. Louis is now the best team in the division, but the Blackhawks are bona fide contenders.

    Hockey fans in Chicago have to like that Suter and Parise went to Minnesota, not Detroit, and are begging Patrick Kane to put down the booze and hit the weight room.

    If their stars play like they are supposed to (i.e. Delinquent Citizen Kane stops getting sloppy drunk and starts scoring goals), this team could win another Cup this season.

6. Los Angeles Kings

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    The Kings know it ain’t broken so they ain’t going to fix it.

    Expect a division title and another run at Lord Stanley’s Mug.

5. St. Louis Blues

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    The time is now for the Baby Blues.

    They’ve got a talented young core and have suddenly become the team to beat in the Central.

    St. Louis should build off their playoff run last season.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    It’s simple in Pittsburgh.

    If Sidney Crosby and Co. stay healthy, they’re a contender.

    If not, they’re just a good playoff team, but nothing special.

3. Vancouver Canucks

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    The window is closing on the Canucks.

    Minnesota is improving, Colorado and Edmonton having promising young players on their roster and Calgary…well…umm…they’re not really a threat.

    Still, Vancouver has to make their move now or forever will wonder what could have been if that fateful Game 7 had gone a little differently.

2. Boston Bruins

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    Boston had enough talent on their roster last season to defend their title last year.

    Now they have to win sans I-don’t-want-to-go-to-the-White-House Timmy Thomas, but Tukka Rask can handle the job.

    There’s no reason that this team shouldn’t make a playoff run this year.

1. New York Rangers

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    New York was probably the best team on paper without Rick Nash.

    With him they should be favorites to win the Cup.