NHL Power Rankings: Where Every Team Stands Heading Into Training Camp

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured Columnist IIISeptember 21, 2022

NHL Power Rankings: Where Every Team Stands Heading Into Training Camp

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    RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

    No, really. It's almost here.

    Another sign that puck drop on the NHL's 2022-23 regular season is imminent comes with training camps opening around the league. Rookies have been trickling into various cities over the last several days and veterans are expected by the end of this week.

    The actual schedule gets underway on Oct. 7 and 8 in Prague—where the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks will play a pair—before the North American slate gets going on October 11 with a pair of games on ESPN and the following night with two more on TNT.

    The fever for sticks, skates and pucks has reached the B/R hockey staff, too, which prompted the writing types to crank out the late summer's inaugural set of power rankings. Our four staff members voted on Nos. 1 through 32 as they examined each team's preseason outlook.

    It's the second time around in a 32-franchise format as the sophomore Seattle Kraken and 30 others try to wrest the Stanley Cup from the Colorado Avalanche.

    Click through to see where your favorite squad wound up on the eve of full-on season prep, and feel free to drop a thought or two of your own in the comments section.

Nos. 32-26: Coyotes, Kraken, Flyers, Blackhawks, Canadiens, Sabres, Devils

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    32. Arizona Coyotes (Last Ranking: 30th)

    The transaction domino that's been looked at since last spring's trading deadline—a deal for defenseman Jakob Chychrun—still hasn't fallen, so he'll likely begin the season with the Coyotes until it's revisited at the next deadline. Everything else in the summertime was future-focused, and Arizona now has six picks in the first two rounds of the next two drafts.

    31. Seattle Kraken (Last Ranking: 29th)

    The optimists thought the Kraken could be in the lower-end mix for the playoffs last season. They were wrong. It probably won't happen this year either, but Seattle should get more offense thanks to some prudent signings. They'll need something better than what they got from big-ticket goalie Philipp Grubauer (3.16 goals-against average, .889 save percentage).

    30. Philadelphia Flyers (Last Ranking: 31st)

    It'll be a fun press room with John Tortorella as coach, but it's not quite so ebullient a picture when it comes to the on-ice product. Missing out on Johnny Gaudreau and seeing the local kid wind up in Columbus will sting for a while, particularly when the leading scorer among your returning players (Travis Konecny) had all of 52 points last season.

    29. Chicago Blackhawks (Last Ranking: 32nd)

    The Blackhawks have seven picks in the opening two rounds of the next two drafts, but lot of talent walked out the door over the summer and the signature faces of their dynasty—Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews—seem to be on borrowed time. Maybe a scrappy team gels and succeeds, but it's more likely to be a difficult watch.

    28. Montreal Canadiens (Last Ranking: 27th)

    Every team in the Atlantic Division was either already good or has gotten tangibly better since last season, which means it's an uphill battle for the Canadiens after they were a distant eighth. But Martin St. Louis was a moderately respectable 14-19-4 in 37 games after elevating to head coach, so there's a reason for at least moderate optimism in Montreal.

    27. Buffalo Sabres (Last Ranking: 24th)

    The Sabres reside in a hockey-mad town, but they'll operate under the sports fan radar for the time being while the Buffalo Bills chase a Super Bowl championship. Once the focus returns to the ice, the success of a rising young team will depend largely on the goaltending of veterans Craig Anderson and Eric Comrie and prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

    26. New Jersey Devils (Last Ranking: 26th)

    Tom Fitzgerald has been nothing if not busy in the general manager's office the last two summers, scooping up defenseman Dougie Hamilton as a free agent last year and grabbing Ondřej Palát this year after his second straight title in Tampa Bay. A holdover young core that includes Jack Hughes indicates the Devils are due to at least be relevant at the start.

Nos. 25-21: Sharks, Ducks, Jets, Blue Jackets, Islanders

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    25. San Jose Sharks (Last Ranking: 25th)

    There's not been a lot to go on for new Sharks GM Mike Grier, but it's been an eventful offseason anyway. Franchise icon Brent Burns is now in Carolina, and the team's tumultuous relationship with Evander Kane was ended when the parties settled their contract termination issues. On the ice, well, let's just say there's been a low bar lately and it hasn't moved.

    24. Anaheim Ducks (Last Ranking: 28th)

    The Ducks were an enigmatic bunch in 2021-22, surging from the gate to find themselves in playoff contention into December before a second-half implosion that led them to a 23rd overall finish. It should be somewhere in the middle this year after offseason deals netted veterans Ryan Strome and John Klingberg to surround a core of promising young forwards.

    23. Winnipeg Jets (Last Ranking: 21st)

    Rick Bowness is the new coach. Blake Wheeler is no longer the captain. And Pierre-Luc Dubois is still on the roster, at least for the time being. But none of those change the reality that the Jets remain among the league's biggest mysteries. They're talented and deep but missed the playoffs after reaching round two in 2020-21. Things could go either way.

    22. Columbus Blue Jackets (Last Ranking: 19th)

    Whaddya know? The Blue Jackets were authors of the league's biggest offseason surprise when they lured Gaudreau to central Ohio on a seven-year, $68.25 million deal and beat out a field of would-be suitors. They also reeled in Patrik Laine for another four years at $8.7 million apiece. That's a lot of cash for two guys and it's on them to generate a playoff pursuit.

    21. New York Islanders (Last Ranking: 23rd)

    The most important thing the Islanders have going for them in 2022-23 is that it's no longer 2021-22. They never really recovered after a 13-game road sojourn to start the season and frequent COVID-19 issues didn't help matters any. Coach Barry Trotz was dismissed after a playoff miss and one of his assistants, Lane Lambert, gets his first chance to run a team.

Nos. 20-16: Senators, Canucks, Red Wings, Golden Knights, Predators

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    20. Ottawa Senators (Last Ranking: 20th)

    Looking for the GM who won the offseason? You could do a lot worse than Ottawa's Pierre Dorion, who lured Claude Giroux as a free agent and swung deals that brought in Alex DeBrincat and Cam Talbot. Giroux and DeBrincat add street cred to a prodigious forward group and Tabot shores up the net after an uneven ride with Matt Murray.

    19. Vancouver Canucks (Last Ranking: 18th)

    Like St. Louis in Montreal and other arrivals in other cities, Bruce Boudreau injected new life into a floundering Vancouver team and provides a jolt for the outlook now that he's here at the start. Brock Boeser re-signed for three more years and $19.95 million and J.T. Miller is still in town, too. Add in young, talented goaltender Thatcher Demko and the hope is legit.

    18. Detroit Red Wings (Last Ranking: 17th)

    If Ottawa's Dorion has a close rival for the summertime GM champion trophy, it's Detroit's Steve Yzerman thanks to a series of solid, if not earth-shattering acquisitions. Ville Husso shores up the net and Ben Chiarot does the same on the blue line, while Dominik Kubalik, David Perron and Andrew Copp all provide quality to the forward group.

    17. Vegas Golden Knights (Last Ranking: 22nd)

    It'd be easy to either buy too high or sell too low on the Golden Knights, who missed the playoffs after two division titles and a Stanley Cup Final berth in their first four years. A healthy Jack Eichel provides reason to expect big things, though the season-long absence of Robin Lehner leaves the goaltending to Laurent Brossoit, Logan Thompson and Adin Hill.

    16. Nashville Predators (Last Ranking: 16th)

    GM David Poile said retaining Filip Forsberg was a priority, and he got it done to the tune of eight years and $68 million, but the trade that brought in 33-year-old defenseman Ryan McDonagh for the remaining four years and $27 million on his deal may not age quite as well. Goalie Juuse Saros is elite and the team isn't bad, but it's not a Cup contender either.

Nos. 15-11: Stars, Capitals, Kings, Penguins, Bruins

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    15. Dallas Stars (Last Ranking: 15th)

    The Stars shored up the net for the next three years by agreeing to a $12 million deal with Jake Oettinger after he emerged from a crowded goal-crease pack. They also grabbed rugged forward Mason Marchment at $18 million over four years. Still on the to-do list, though, is locking down prolific winger Jason Robertson, who scored 41 goals last season.

    14. Washington Capitals (Last Ranking: 8th)

    A Stanley Cup-winning goalie arrives in Darcy Kuemper, who'll presumably end the assembly line in the net since Washington's own title in 2018. That's the good news for a team that'll start the season without caustic winger Tom Wilson after he underwent reconstructive knee surgery and center Nicklas Bäckström after he went under the knife to repair a balky hip.

    13. Los Angeles Kings (Last Ranking: 10th)

    If you're looking for a team now that'll be far better in a year or two it's probably the Kings, who pushed the Edmonton Oilers to seven games last spring then added Kevin Fiala in the offseason. They boast one of the league's most prodigious crops of youngsters and veteran defenseman Drew Doughty returns after missing the playoffs following wrist surgery.

    12. Pittsburgh Penguins (Last Ranking: 9th)

    The Penguins looked on the verge of losing foundational pieces Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang to free agency, but GM Ron Hextall managed to keep both for a combined $12.2 million per year and also brought in Jeff Petry and Ty Smith from Montreal and New Jersey, respectively, to work the blue line alongside Letang. The opening is narrow but the window hasn't closed.

    11. Boston Bruins (Last Ranking: 13th)

    It's a similar situation in Boston, where GM Don Sweeney enticed Patrice Bergeron to stay another year for $2.5 million and got David Krejčí to commit for $1 million after he'd spent the 2021-22 schedule overseas. David Pastrňák is among the league's best and is signed for one more season, so the Bruins will be in the mix for as long as they're healthy.

Nos. 10-6: Blues, Wild, Oilers, Rangers, Panthers

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    10. St. Louis Blues (Last Ranking: 11th)

    The Blues arrive to 2022-23 as a potential dark horse in the Western Conference. They handled the Minnesota Wild in the playoffs before running into a title-bound Avalanche and lost David Perron, but they've got a Cup-winning goalie in Jordan Binnington, veteran skill in Ryan O'Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko and spectacular youth in Jordan Kyrou.

    9. Minnesota Wild (Last Ranking: 14th)

    The Wild looked like that dark-horse team until they ran into the Blues in the opening round and found themselves watching after just six games. Fiala was dealt to Los Angeles to ease some salary cap issues and Talbot was shipped to Ottawa after Minnesota locked up Marc-Andre Fleury for two more seasons. And Kirill Kaprizov? He's pretty good, too.

    8. Edmonton Oilers (Last Ranking:7th)

    The Oilers were just 8-8 in the playoffs, but it's no surprise the fan base is flush with excitement after that record translated to a Western Conference final berth. Having two of the world's best players doesn't hurt in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. And GM Ken Holland boosted morale, too, by keeping Evander Kane in town and bringing in Jack Campbell from Toronto to be the starting goalie.

    7. New York Rangers (Last Ranking: 6th)

    Like the Oilers' embarrassment of riches up front, the Rangers have a nightly reason for positivity thanks to Vezina-winning goaltender Igor Shesterkin and his 2.07 goals-against average and .935 save percentage. Forward Vincent Trocheck was the main offseason arrival from Carolina and helps offset Ryan Strome's exit to Anaheim and Andrew Copp's to Detroit.

    6. Florida Panthers (Last Ranking: 5th)

    To say the Panthers went all in last season would be a large understatement. And to say their second-round exit was disappointing would veer closer to huge. Claude Giroux and Ben Chiarot left via free agency, but the blockbuster trade that brought Matthew Tkachuk from Calgary for Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar shifts the focus back to forward for 2022-23.

Nos. 5-1: Flames, Maple Leafs, Lightning, Hurricanes, Avalanche

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    5. Calgary Flames (Last Ranking: 12th)

    You've got to respect the job Calgary GM Brad Treliving did in resurrecting the offseason after losing Gaudreau. Instead of watching Tkachuk follow suit as a free agent, he cajoled the Panthers into returning a 115-point scorer in Huberdeau and a sturdy defenseman in Weegar, then got Nazem Kadri as a late free-agent pickup. For now, he's the MacGyver of the NHL.

    4. Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Ranking: 4th)

    Having a 60-goal scorer like Auston Matthews up front with a cadre of highly-skilled and productive teammates prompts a lot of smiles. But this is Toronto, so expect the bulk of the focus to be on the net, where Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov will try to be the tandem that ends a title drought that'll reach 56 years unless there's a banner-raising at the Scotiabank Arena.

    3. Tampa Bay Lightning (Last Ranking: 3rd)

    There's a lot to like about a team that won a pair of Cups and reached a third final across the last three seasons. Particularly if it has an all-world goalie in Andrei Vasilevskiy and proven veteran performers across the lineup. Meanwhile, GM Julien BriseBois eyed the future with offseason extensions for Mikhail Sergachev, Anthony Cirelli, Nick Paul and Erik Cernak.

    2. Carolina Hurricanes (Last Ranking: 2nd)

    File the Hurricanes with the Panthers and Maple Leafs as the top disappointments of the 2021-22 playoffs—though Carolina has a strong case for No. 1—because it was bounced by the Rangers and not the then-two-time defending champion Lightning. But the rebound in the offseason yielded both Burns from San Jose and Max Pacioretty from Vegas, so it could pay off in 2023.

    1. Colorado Avalanche (Last Ranking: 1st)

    Losing Kadri and Kuemper would be disqualifying blows for some teams as they aim for a repeat title. But the Avalanche aren't just some team. They boast the Norris Trophy winner in Cale Makar, the league's highest-paid player in Nathan MacKinnon and loads of talent across the board. If Alex Georgiev holds up as a No. 1 goalie, there's no reason to dismiss a repeat.

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