NHL Power Rankings: Where Every Team Stands After the Draft

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2021

NHL Power Rankings: Where Every Team Stands After the Draft

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    Handshakes have been exchanged. Victory laps have been skated.

    And the Tampa Bay Lightning have dived headlong into another championship offseason.

    But while that means Lightning players need to get rings sized and days with the Stanley Cup planned, it also means the rest of the teams in the NHL have begun the chase for a title in 2021-22.

    The standings for each of the 32 clubs—welcome, Seattle Krakenwill officially read 0-0 until play begins on Oct. 12, but that doesn't mean everyone's starting from the same spot.

    The next generation of superstars was virtually introduced to the hockey-watching world across seven rounds of the NHL draft Friday and Saturday. Some teams certainly bolstered their chances at making progress from 2020-21, while some others may have stagnated or fallen back.

    The B/R ice hockey think tank convened several times before and during the playoffs, and it got together once again following the draft to assess where everyone stands now that the picks are made and the countdown toward next season has begun in earnest.

    We placed the teams in order from No. 32 to No. 1, combining results from last season with noteworthy additions, subtractions and changes made in the meantime.

    Read on to see where your favorite club sits, and feel free to drop a comment to let us know your thoughts.

Nos. 32-26: Kraken, Sabres, Ducks, Sharks, Devils, Coyotes, Blue Jackets

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    32. Seattle Kraken

    The Kraken made Michigan center Matthew Beniers their first pick at No. 2 overall, but it will be a while before he arrives in the Pacific Northwest. Until then, coach Dave Hakstol will attempt to build a team that's sure to have a strong defense thanks to the likes of Mark Giordano and Jamie Oleksiak. 

             

    31. Buffalo Sabres

    Mammoth defenseman Owen Power went first overall to the Sabres in the franchise's fourth turn in the No. 1 slot. He hasn't decided on returning to college in the fall, so general manager Kevyn Adams is cleaning house in the meantime, dealing Rasmus Ristolainen to the Flyers and Sam Reinhart to the Panthers while also waiting on trade proposals for captain Jack Eichel.

              

    30. Anaheim Ducks

    Teen center Mason McTavish went third overall to the Ducks and added to an impressive stockpile of young talent that already included recent picks Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale. Zegras, just 20, had 13 points in 24 games in his NHL debut last season, and Drysdale averaged better than 19 minutes per game as a rookie.

               

    29. San Jose Sharks

    The Sharks plucked Swedish winger William Eklund at No. 7—their first time drafting in the top 10 since 2015—and will ultimately count on him to provide skill up front while playing a conscientious game on the defensive side. Eklund had 11 goals and 23 points in 40 games in the Swedish league last season.

            

    28. New Jersey Devils

    Two-thirds of the NHL's Hughes Dynasty now resides in Newark, New Jersey, where the Devils are looking forward to their latest addition—fourth overall pick Luke Hughes—joining 2019's No. 1 overall choice Jack Hughes. New Jersey has not finished out of the league's bottom third since 2017-18, when it was 15th. 

                

    27. Arizona Coyotes

    The Coyotes got back into the first round at No. 9 by trading Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland for three players and the pick. Arizona had lost its initial slot at No. 11 after the league found predraft violations in 2020. Their choice, winger Dylan Guenther, had 12 goals in 12 junior games in 2020-21. 

                 

    26. Columbus Blue Jackets

    The Blue Jackets got a bona fide playmaker at No. 5 when they picked center Kent Johnson from Michigan. They're in full-blown retooling mode elsewhere, shipping defenseman Seth Jones to Chicago and getting forward Jakub Voracek from Philadelphia for veteran forward Cam Atkinson, their longest-tenured player.

Nos. 25-21: Senators, Red Wings, Kings, Flames, Canucks

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    25. Ottawa Senators

    It was a mixed bag of reviews for the Senators, who drafted winger Tyler Boucher—son of former NHL goalie Brian Boucher—at No. 10, well above where he was expected to go. A member of the U.S. national development team, Boucher is a hard-nosed type who had 11 points in 12 games in 2020-21.

              

    24. Detroit Red Wings

    A coincidence that a team overseen by executive Steve Yzerman pulled the trigger on drafting a Swedish defensive prospect? Probably not. The longtime teammate of Nicklas Lidstrom, a seven-time Norris Trophy winner, grabbed 6'4", 198-pounder Simon Edvinsson at No. 6 to help backstop the rebuild.

               

    23. Los Angeles Kings

    The Kings are frequently ranked near the top of the league when it comes to prospect pipelines, and GM Rob Blake added blue-line size to the mix by selecting 6'2", 185-pounder Brandt Clarke at No. 8. Before the draft, Blake made a splash by acquiring productive forward Viktor Arvidsson from Nashville.

                 

    22. Calgary Flames

    The Flames got themselves a blue-chip scoring prospect in winger Matthew Coronato, who's committed to play at Harvard this fall and had 48 goals in 51 junior games for Chicago of the USHL last season. On the current roster, there's a big void created by the loss of team captain Giordano to the Kraken.

                   

    21. Vancouver Canucks

    The Canucks were outside of the first round, but they got in the mix with Russian forward Danila Klimovich at No. 41. As mentioned earlier, though, Vancouver was involved by trading the No. 9 pick to Arizona for Ekman-Larsson and Garland. Ekman-Larsson is signed for six years; Garland is a restricted free agent.

Nos. 20-16: Blackhawks, Predators, Flyers, Stars, Rangers

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    20. Chicago Blackhawks

    Defenseman Nolan Allan was the final pick of the first round at No. 32 for the Blackhawks, who had already made their first-round news earlier in the day with the trade that netted them Jones from Columbus. Allan is big at 6'2" and 195 pounds and can skate at a high level. Look for him in Chicago in a few years.

                   

    19. Nashville Predators

    The Predators made more waves with their second first-round pick than their first one, grabbing winger Zachary L'Heureux after trading a pair of second-round selections to get to slot No. 27. He's a fiery character who can score, as evidenced by 39 points in 33 junior games in 2020-21.

                

    18. Philadelphia Flyers

    It's already been a busy offseason for the Flyers. Philadelphia dealt defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere to Arizona the day before the draft and then got Ristolainen from the Sabres a few hours before the first picks were made. Voracek for Atkinson continued the stream, and don't forget Ryan Ellis from Nashville too.

                 

    17. Dallas Stars

    The Stars' pick of center Wyatt Johnson at No. 23 is a testament to long-term scouting considering he didn't play at all last season after the OHL schedule was canceled. Speaking of the long term, Dallas locked up 22-year-old defenseman Miro Heiskanen for eight seasons at $8.45 million apiece.

                    

    16. New York Rangers

    A draft after picking first overall and grabbing high-profile junior stud Alexis Lafreniere, the Rangers were 15 picks back in the pack and grabbed winger Brennan Othmann at No. 16. Othmann turned heads with the Canadian world junior team with his speed and assertiveness on the forecheck.

Nos. 15-11: Canadiens, Oilers, Blues, Jets, Capitals

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    15. Montreal Canadiens

    The Canadiens created a stir by picking Logan Mailloux at No. 31 after he had requested teams not select him, but they retained the services of goalie Carey Price after leaving him unprotected in the expansion draft. Price underwent a recent knee surgery too but will apparently be ready for the start of the season.

                  

    14. Edmonton Oilers

    The Oilers lost Adam Larsson to the Kraken and traded youngster Caleb Jones to Chicago in exchange for the 38-year-old Duncan Keith, making more news for those deals than the pick of center Xavier Bourgault at No. 22. Word is that they will ink Toronto's Zach Hyman when free agency begins Wednesday.

                  

    13. St. Louis Blues

    The Blues needed to add to their pipeline at center and did so by grabbing Zachary Bolduc at No. 17. He's from Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the same team that produced Lafreniere in 2020. He'll need to add some muscle to a lanky 6'1" frame, but the offensive skill is already there.

                 

    12. Winnipeg Jets

    The Jets have a need on the blue line after a series of recent defensive departures, but they drafted an offensive skill player at No. 18 in center Chaz Lucius. Still, that position could be a target when it comes to engineering trades or pursuing free agents, thanks to better than $21.3 million in cap space.

                

    11. Washington Capitals

    The Capitals didn't have a first-round choice, but they were clearly devoted to defense and selected blueliners with four of their six picks. Vincent Iorio was the first of the quartet at No. 55 in Round 2. Now, signing would-be free agent Alex Ovechkin becomes the top organizational priority.

Nos. 10-6: Penguins, Maple Leafs, Wild, Bruins, Islanders

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    10. Pittsburgh Penguins

    The Penguins were another team without a first-round pick, meaning they sat on the drafting sidelines until grabbing center Tristan Broz, a University of Minnesota commit, at No. 58. In the meantime, GM Ron Hextall will address the exits of wingers Jared McCann (via trade) and Brandon Tanev (expansion draft).

              

    9. Toronto Maple Leafs

    The Maple Leafs had only three picks overall and none until No. 57, where they got winger Matthew Knies. Elsewhere, the team has resigned itself to losing Hyman to the Oilers via free agency, but GM Kyle Dubas remains committed to the core of Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner and William Nylander. 

             

    8. Minnesota Wild

    There were high marks all around for GM Bill Guerin after he traded up to No. 20 to draft high-end goaltending prospect Jesper Wallstedt and returned six picks later to grab Canadian defensive prospect Carson Lambos. But the nearer-term issue is re-signing Calder Trophy winner Kirill Kaprizov.

               

    7. Boston Bruins

    Not only did the Bruins land a worthy Swedish prospect in winger Fabian Lysell at No. 21 in the first round, but they also got some important business done by re-upping would-be free agent Taylor Hall for four years and a total of $24 million. Hall had 14 points in 16 games with Boston after arriving via trade from Buffalo.

                  

    6. New York Islanders

    The Islanders may have gotten a steal with their second-round grab of Finnish prospect Aatu Raty, a 6'2", 185-pound center who had been projected as a first-rounder before a difficult 2020-21 season in Finland's premier league. Post-draft, GM Lou Lamoriello shifts focus to nine restricted/unrestricted free agents.

Nos. 5-1: Panthers, Hurricanes, Golden Knights, Avalanche, Lightning

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    5. Florida Panthers

    The University of Michigan's influence reached all the way down to pick No. 24, where the Panthers grabbed Wolverines commit Mackie Samoskevich to augment their forward pipeline. But it was the trade that brought Reinhart to Florida that stole headlines, a deal GM Bill Zito called a "win every day" move.

                  

    4. Carolina Hurricanes

    The Hurricanes didn't have a first-round pick, but they were all in for Round 2, where they grabbed defensemen Scott Morrow and Aleksi Heimosalmi and forward Ville Koivunen with picks 40, 44 and 51. Now, it's all about deciding on pending free agent Dougie Hamilton and getting a goaltender signed.

                

    3. Vegas Golden Knights

    The Golden Knights dipped their toes in the first round by grabbing center Zach Dean at No. 30 and projecting him as a versatile player who can play special teams and five-on-five. In terms of free agents, it's the waiting game for the team to see if it'll sign defenseman Alec Martinez before he hits the market.

                     

    2. Colorado Avalanche

    Swedish winger Oskar Olausson was a future project available at No. 28, but the team's aim is to build on a 2020-21 Presidents' Trophy with a Stanley Cup. It will be harder if imminent free agents Philipp Grubauer and Gabriel Landeskog leave. D-man Cale Makar will stay after signing for six years and $54 million.

                

    1. Tampa Bay Lightning

    The Lightning went all-in on repeating as champions, trading picks for players and leaving themselves with just one choice in the first four rounds. Yanni Gourde was lost to the Kraken in the expansion draft and Barclay Goodrow was traded to the Rangers because of salary-cap concerns, and they won't be the only ones to leave.

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