NHL Power Rankings: Where Every Team Stands Ahead of Opening Night

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured Columnist IIIOctober 7, 2022

NHL Power Rankings: Where Every Team Stands Ahead of Opening Night

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    SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 9: Logan Couture #39 of the San Jose Sharks takes a face-off against Colton Sissons #10 of the Nashville Predators at SAP Center on November 9, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Brandon Magnus/NHLI via Getty Images

    The time has arrived.

    No matter which cliche you attach, the bottom line is simple:

    The NHL's 2022-23 regular season is here at last.

    The San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators are in the Czech Republic and will officially kick things off with games on Friday and Saturday in Prague, a few days before the rest of the league pulls back the curtains with TV doubleheaders on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    That all means a return to voting for the keyboard-wielding members of the B/R hockey staff as we take a final look at where every team stands in advance of Opening Night.

    Each of the four writers ranked the teams from 1 to 32 and points were awarded in reverse order—32 points for No. 1, one for No. 32—to compile the list from bottom to top. Both the movement from last week's rankings and the collection of votes are listed with each team.

    Click through to see where your favorite squad wound up and feel free to drop a thought or two of your own in the comments section.

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

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    BERLIN, GERMANY - OCTOBER 04: Erik Karlsson #65  of the San Jose Sharks skates during the second period of the NHL Global Series Challenge Germany game against Eisbaren Berlin at Mercedes-Benz Arena on October 04, 2022 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Amanda Cain/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Keeping Erik Karlsson healthy is a top priority for the San Jose Sharks (Amanda Cain/NHLI via Getty Images)

    32. Philadelphia Flyers (Move: -2 / Votes: 32, 32, 30, 31)

    John Tortorella has pledged to go all-in with youth as the Flyers try to erase an abysmal 2021-22. Among those not making the final cuts, however, was 2019 first-rounder Cam York. “Mental toughness, to me, is handling situations and taking control of it," Tortorella said. “I have not seen that.”

    31. Chicago Blackhawks (Move: -2 / Votes: 31, 31, 31, 32)

    It can’t be too encouraging for new coach Luke Richardson that his team had won just once in its first four preseason games while being outshot 123-87. “We've looked pretty organized on the breakouts and endzone and had opportunities,” he said, “but we haven't pulled the trigger to get it in."

    30. Arizona Coyotes (Move: +2 / Votes: 30, 29, 32, 30)

    It’s not exactly stellar news that the Coyotes’ goaltending collective of Karel Vejmelka, Jonas Johansson and Ivan Prosvetov was deemed worst among the 32 teams in a preseason ranking by ESPN. Arizona allowed 313 goals last season and had the league’s worst goal differential at minus-106.

    29. Montreal Canadiens (Move: -1 / Votes: 28, 30, 29, 27)

    The Canadiens were already 0-5-1 with a minus-11 goal differential in the preseason before the announcement that captain Nick Suzuki would miss time with an upper-body injury. He’ll be reevaluated Monday and is considered day-to-day ahead of Montreal’s opener with Toronto on Wednesday.

    28. Seattle Kraken (Move: +3 / Votes: 27, 28, 28, 29)

    The Kraken suffered in many ways in their inaugural run through the league last season, not the least of which was offensively thanks to a goal-scoring total that was fourth from last. But it ought to be a little different in 2022-23 with a full season teed up for recent draft picks Matty Beniers and Shane Wright.

    27. San Jose Sharks (Move: -2 / Votes: 29, 27, 27, 28)

    Erik Karlsson is a two-time Norris Trophy winner as the league’s best defenseman, but he’s not played more than 56 games in a season since 2017-18. Keeping him healthy is a priority for new coach David Quinn, who’s been tweaking the 32-year-old's penalty-kill time in the preseason to manage his minutes.

    26. Buffalo Sabres (Move: +1 / Votes: 26, 25, 25, 24)

    Optimism is plentiful in Western New York as the season approaches, and the Sabres have done little to temper it, winning four times in five games while allowing just 11 goals. Buffalo allowed the 10th-most goals (290) and the ninth-most shots (33 per game) last season and needs back-end improvement.

Nos. 25-21: Ducks, Devils, Blue Jackets, Red Wings, Senators

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    Anaheim Ducks' Trevor Zegras skates during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues Sunday, April 24, 2022, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
    Calder Trophy runner-up Trevor Zegras is day-to-day after leaving a preseason game (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

    25. Anaheim Ducks (Move: -1 / Votes: 23, 24, 26, 26)

    There’s been a collective held breath in and around Anaheim for about a week now as Calder Trophy runner-up Trevor Zegras recovers from an upper-body injury suffered during a preseason game with Arizona. He’s begun skating and is listed day-to-day but won’t be rushed before Wednesday’s opener.

    24. New Jersey Devils (Move: +2 / Votes: 25, 23, 24, 25)

    A Stanley Cup parade is not expected in New Jersey this season, but improvement is. And the attitude brought by newcomers like Ondrej Palat is tangible. “When you bring in guys like that who expect to be competitive and expect to make a push,” GM Tom Fitzgerald told The Athletic, “it’s contagious.”

    23. Columbus Blue Jackets (Move: -1 / Votes: 21, 22, 23, 23)

    Russian-born winger Yegor Chinakhov was a first-round pick in 2020 but did precious little in his rookie season that’ll be remembered. That could change in 2022-23, however, if the four goals in six preseason games are any indication. The 6’1”, 189-pounder had seven goals and 14 points in 62 games in 2021-22.

    22. Detroit Red Wings (Move: -4 / Votes: 24, 26, 19, 19)

    The Red Wings are finally getting a look at their intended second line this week now that Andrew Copp has recovered from abdominal surgery and can skate with David Perron and Jakub Vrana. Both Copp and Perron arrived as free agents to join Vrana, who had 13 goals in 26 games in 2021-22.

    21. Ottawa Senators (Move: -1 / Votes: 18, 21, 22, 22)

    It’s been blissful for the hyperactive Senators as they assemble a lineup with their many new personnel toys, but the joy was interrupted with news that recently acquired goalie Cam Talbot will begin the season on the shelf with a broken rib. That leaves the No. 1 role to Anton Forsberg. Gulp.

Nos. 20-16: Islanders, Jets, Canucks, Golden Knights, Predators

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    ELMONT, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 02: Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders carries the puck past Olle Lycksell #62 of the Philadelphia Flyers during the first period at the UBS Arena on October 02, 2022 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    No Islander has more points than Mat Barzal's 315 over the last six seasons (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    20. New York Islanders (Move: +1 / Votes: 22, 20, 20, 20)

    It was a sleepy offseason for the Islanders, who are laying low following a disaster in 2021-22. But things perked up this week when they announced the long-term signing of forward Mat Barzal, who’s now locked up through 2031. No Islander has more points than his 315 since the start of 2016-17.

    19. Winnipeg Jets (Move: +4 / Votes: 20, 19, 18, 21)

    A return to relevance will require an uptick from a blue-line corps that surrendered 33.2 shots on goal per game and a penalty-kill unit that allowed a 25-percent success rate. In the crosshairs, too, is goalie Connor Hellebuyck after he posted pedestrian goals-against (2.97) and save percentage numbers (.910).

    18. Vancouver Canucks (Move: +1 / Votes: 19, 18, 16, 18)

    The Canucks were looking for some late preseason positivity and they finally got it on Wednesday night with a 5-4 defeat of visiting Edmonton. Vancouver had been winless in five straight games during which they were outscored 22-7. They’ll face the Oilers again in their regular season opener next week.

    17. Vegas Golden Knights (Move: 0 / Votes: 15, 17, 21, 16)

    With Robin Lehner on the shelf for the season following hip surgery, it’s every man for himself in the battle to be the starting goalie in Vegas. Shortly after coach Bruce Cassidy said the job was Logan Thompson’s to lose, Adin Hill responded with 50 saves against Arizona on Tuesday.

    16. Nashville Predators (Move: 0 / Votes: 16, 16, 14, 17)

    While Filip Forsberg was the top-line offseason signing, it’s been just as important that GM David Poile went out and got Nino Niederreiter, who scored 24 goals for Carolina last season. “(He’s) been an unbelievable player his whole career,” forward Matt Duchene said. "Just a great two-way guy."

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

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    CALGARY, AB - MAY 15: Jason Robertson #21 of the Dallas Stars in action against the Calgary Flames during Game Seven of the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome on May 15, 2022 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Flames defeated the Stars 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
    Jason Robertson signed a four-year, $31 million deal Wednesday (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

    15. Washington Capitals (Move: -1 / Votes: 17, 14, 15, 15)

    Burly winger Tom Wilson is out indefinitely after injuring a knee during last spring’s playoffs, so newly acquired Connor Brown is slotting in alongside Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov on Washington’s first line. Brown arrived in an offseason trade with Ottawa after scoring 47 goals in three seasons there.

    14. Boston Bruins (Move: -3 / Votes: 14, 13, 17, 12)

    They were roughly 4,000 miles from their birthplace in the Czech Republic, but the line of David Pastrnak, David Krejci and Pavel Zacha looked right at home on Wednesday in their first game as a unit at Madison Square Garden. The trio combined for eight points and scored four of Boston’s five goals.

    13. Dallas Stars (Move: +2 / Votes: 10, 15, 13, 14)

    Rest easy, Stars fans. There’ll be no late-stage trades or offer sheets for prolific young forward Jason Robertson. The 23-year-old signed a four-year, $31 million deal Wednesday after leading the team with 41 goals last season. “Jason is an integral part of the present and future of our team,” GM Jim Nill said.

    12. Pittsburgh Penguins (Move: 0 / Votes: 13, 8, 12, 13)

    Veteran forward Jeff Carter in on track to make his preseason debut in the team’s final game on Friday following an extended stay on the shelf with an upper body injury. Carter, who’ll turn 38 on New Year’s Day, had 19 goals in his first full season with Pittsburgh after a 2021 trade from Los Angeles.

    11. Los Angeles Kings (Move: +2 / Votes: 11, 12, 11, 7)

    It was an uneven return for Cal Petersen on Wednesday after he’d missed more than a week with a lower-body ailment. The Kings were up 4-2 midway before Petersen allowed three goals in the final 30 minutes of a 5-4 loss. The 27-year-old begins a three-year deal worth $5 million annually this season.

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

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    WINNIPEG, CANADA - OCTOBER 1: Dylan Holloway #55 of the Edmonton Oilers carries the puck down the ice during a second period breakaway on goaltender Connor Hellebuyck #37 of the Winnipeg Jets during pre-season action at the Canada Life Centre on October 1, 2022 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Dylan Holloway may have earned a top-six role with a strong preseason (Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

    10. St. Louis Blues (Move: 0 / Votes: 9, 11, 10, 9)

    Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou are the future. They combined for 152 points in 2021-22 and each signed $65 million extensions. “You don’t have an ownership willing to commit that type of money if there’s not a belief that these guys can grab the flag and lead the charge,” GM Doug Armstrong said.

    9. Minnesota Wild (Move: 0 / Votes: 7, 10, 9, 8)

    Some will try to topple the Avalanche by outscoring them, but it’ll be a clampdown strategy in Minnesota. Winger Kirill Kaprizov was a 108-point scorer last season, but the Wild won with a deep unit on the blue line and strong goaltending. Marc-Andre Fleury returns for a 19th season in the net.

    8. Florida Panthers (Move: -2 / Votes: 12, 9, 7, 6)

    Who’s had a more tumultuous six months? They went all-in at the deadline to get Claude Giroux and Ben Chiarot, flopped out of the playoffs in the second round, watched Giroux and Chiarot walk as free agents, then got Matthew Tkachuk in a big deal with Calgary. It’ll be a fascinating chemistry project.

    7. Edmonton Oilers (Move: +1 / Votes: 3, 6, 8, 10)

    Sloppiness has been among the not-so-good takeaways for an Oilers preseason that’s seen them rack up 40 minor penalties in seven games. Meanwhile, on the plus side, rookie winger Dylan Holloway has played himself into a top-six gig with six points and may have made Jesse Puljujarvi expendable.

    6. New York Rangers (Move: +1 / Votes: 5, 4, 3, 11)

    Coach Gerard Gallant will decide before the opener whether Sammy Blais or Jimmy Vesey slots in alongside Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad on the first line. Blais played 14 games last season thanks to a knee injury, while Vesey is on a PTO this fall and played 240 games with the Rangers from 2016-19.

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

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    Colorado Avalanche's Evan Rodrigues, left, congratulates teammate J.T. Compher on his goal in the third period of an NHL preseason hockey game against the Vegas Golden Knights Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/Geneva Heffernan)
    Evan Rodrigues didn't come with fanfare but he'll play an important early role in Colorado (AP Photo/Geneva Heffernan)

    5. Tampa Bay Lightning (Move: -2 / Votes: 6, 5, 6, 5)

    The names change but the mantra remains for Jon Cooper, whose team has played in three straight Cup finals without winning a division. “Our sole goal is to get in, it doesn’t matter where we finish," he told the Tampa Bay Times. “But, while doing that, you are getting your team in order for the playoffs.”

    4. Calgary Flames (Move: +1 / Votes: 8, 7, 5, 2)

    Who thought Brad Treliving would get a preseason nod for 2022-23 executive of the year in the hours after Johnny Gaudreau pulled up stakes and bolted for Columbus? No one. But the GM has a legit Cup contender on his hands after reeling in Jonathan Huberdeau, Mackenzie Weegar and Nazem Kadri.

    3. Toronto Maple Leafs (Move: +1 / Votes: 4, 2, 4, 4)

    It may just be a temporary thing based on who’s available to skate but seeing winger William Nylander taking shifts at center was enough to raise eyebrows in Toronto. The 26-year-old is a veteran of 439 NHL games and hasn’t been in the middle with regularity since his prospect days with the AHL’s Marlies.

    2. Carolina Hurricanes (Move: 0 / Votes: 2, 3, 2, 3)

    Rod Brind’Amour thrived under pressure as a player, and it yielded a Stanley Cup in 2006 when he was captain of the Hurricanes. Now, his players seem hardly concerned that Carolina is on a short list of title contenders. “We have high expectations for the whole team,” forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi said. “Hopefully we can reach them.”

    1. Colorado Avalanche (Move: 0 / Votes: 1, 1, 1, 1)

    Evan Rodrigues wasn’t the highest-profile signing of the offseason, but the one-year deal he inked last month has ticked up in importance with the absence of Gabriel Landeskog due to injury. “He’s going to be a real nice addition,” coach Jared Bednar said, “especially when you’re looking at some of the guys that we may have out of the lineup to start the season.”

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