The TWC Power Rankings is a weekly feature that will highlight the current rankings of all the NHL teams during that specific week. While their place in the standings will be taken into affect, each team’s’ weekly performances will have the greater effect on how high, or low, they end up ranking. Check back every Friday to see where your team ranks.
The season wouldn’t be officially starting unless there was some sort of ranking of the 31 NHL teams before anyone has played a regular season game. These teams will be ranked based off their weekly performances, but since we’ve been limited to a handful of preseason games, our initial rankings are based off the team’s’ potential for the upcoming season. Without further ado, in ascending order, The TWC Power Rankings:
31. Colorado Avalanche| 0-0-0
For a team that finished with one of the worst point percentages in the salary cap era, there is surprisingly a case to be made that this team actually got worse this offseason. When one of your main off season acquisitions is Nail Yakupov, you just know it’s going to be a long season in the Mile High City. #FreeDuchene
30. Vegas Golden Knights| 0-0-0
Vegas hockey is finally upon us. While some may assume the Golden Knights should be dead last, this team at least has enough NHL calibre defenseman to produce a top 6, a clear upgrade over Colorado. Expectations, like the odds to beat the house, are low, but the fan excitement level should counterbalance that.
29. Vancouver Canucks | 0-0-0
Personal bias aside, what is going on in Vancouver? While young players like Marcus Granlund, Bo Horvat, and Brock Boeser appear to be trending in the right direction, the signing of Thomas Vanek, Sam Gagner and Michael Del Zotto makes it seem like the ownership believes they has a legitimate shot to do well. Time will tell, but can a goalie tandem of Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson truly be your best option?
28. New Jersey Devils | 0-0-0
While Marcus Johansson and Nico Hischier could help boost a somewhat stagnant offence, losing Travis Zajac for a long period of time is going to be disastrous. While a bounceback year from Cory Schneider is to be expected, the Devils are still a few pieces away from being relevant again.
27. Detroit Red Wings | 0-0-0
Time to start a new streak in Detroit: consecutive seasons outside of the playoff picture. Highlights this year should include playing in a new arena named after a mediocre pizza chain, having Zetterberg continue to double back on playing out his contract, and of course wondering who jumps back to the number one goalie spot.
26. Florida Panthers | 0-0-0
Probably ranked a little too low on this list, there is lots to dislike about this team. Ignoring the fact that they sent Jagr packing, they curiously discarded Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith to Vegas. Losing two of your top five scorers is less than ideal, and who knows if Evgeny Dadonov can pick up the slack. On the plus side, it is great to see Dale Tallon back in charge after last season’s debacle.
25. New York Islanders | 0-0-0
After recovering from an atrocious start to last season and ending up missing the playoffs by just one point, having John Tavares’ contract talks looming large and losing Travis Hamonic on the backend poses a risk to the team’s success. On the plus side, fans should be ecstatic over watching Mathew Barzal and Josh Ho-Sang on a line together this year (sleeper Calder picks anyone?)
24. Arizona Coyotes | 0-0-0
I can’t believe I am saying this, but I genuinely think the Coyotes could surprise this year. Adding veterans Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, and Jason Demers to a team that already had promising rookies such as Clayton Keller and Dylan Strome could help the team finish higher than expected. While not a playoff team, I wouldn’t take the Coyotes too lightly this year (contingent on Oliver Ekman-Larsson not missing any time at all).
23. Buffalo Sabres | 0-0-0
This team’s success is based off of two words: Jack. Eichel. While not on the same level as the guy picked ahead of him, Eichel could be a point-per-game player. While he has a supporting cast that doesn’t raise many eyebrows, a full season of Eichel could help this team substantially. The addition of Phil Housley as a coach will surely change the energy we’ve been used to seeing from the Sabres over the past few years and give them a player friendly coach they have been begging to play under.
22. Philadelphia Flyers | 0-0-0
Nolan Patrick may struggle to find his place on the team, but sophomores Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny could avoid the sophomore slump and take a step forward. Claude Giroux on the wing may not last too long, but will be interesting to monitor. Bold prediction of the season: Brian Elliot shines as the 1a option and earns some Vezina votes. Still no playoffs for the city of brotherly love, though.
21. Los Angeles Kings | 0-0-0
Anze Kopitar should hopefully start living up to his massive contract, and having Jonathan Quick for (fingers crossed) a full season will help contribute to a talented group (excluding Dustin Brown). Will John Stevens be the appropriate successor to Darryl Sutter? Time will tell. In a strong Western Conference, the Kings are on the outside looking in this year.
20. Ottawa Senators | 0-0-0
I can just hear the screams from the Canadian Tire Center already over this, but there is reason to believe this team regresses. The Senators’ inspiring run last year was so unexpected that a repeat performance is tough to imagine. Losing Erik Karlsson’s defence partner, and potentially the man himself for a while may thrust rookie Thomas Chabot into a big time role to begin his career. While you love to cheer for Craig Anderson, Ottawa’s defense first approach may be combated more efficiently this year. I truly don’t know what to expect from this squad.
19. San Jose Sharks | 0-0-0
The window may have closed in San Jose. With Patrick Marleau taking a steal of a deal in Toronto, and losing key depth defenceman David Schlemko to Vegas, the team just doesn’t feel like it has a long postseason run left in them. While Brent Burns, and his bearded friend Joe Thornton, may have something to say about that, this could be the year the Sharks begin a re-tooling of sorts and join the Kings outside of the playoff picture.
18. Boston Bruins | 0-0-0
With not much change occurring in the offseason, and a full 82 games under Bruce Cassidy, this team should be making the playoffs. On the flipside, is standing still the best option? I think Charlie McAvoy will be an absolute anchor on the blue line this season and should be at the forefront of the Calder conversation. This season will rely heavily on the performance of Tuukka Rask and Brad Marchand, but at the moment there are stronger teams in the East.
17. St. Louis Blues | 0-0-0
Originally slotted to be much higher on this list, the list of injuries is proving to reduce the optimism surrounding the team. Brayden Schenn was the perfect acquisition at the draft, but losing Alex Steen, Jay Bouwmeester and now Robbi Fabbri for the whole season could seriously *hurt* this squad. Also, which version of Jake Allen is going to show up this year? He was spectacular in the playoffs and if that continues, he could carry his team up the standings.
16. Winnipeg Jets | 0-0-0
Is there a more underrated offence in the NHL? Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, and Nikolaj Ehlers all fall under the category of “players you think are just ok, but actually score a ton of points”. With Steve Mason somewhat stabilizing the net, look for the special teams to lead this group, finally, to some playoff wins this year.
15. Carolina Hurricanes | 0-0-0
The Hurricanes, or known to some as the ex. Blackhawks, should make some noise this season. Ron Francis was able to keep virtually his whole team together, while adding some key pieces such as Marcus Kruger, Trevor van Riemsdyk, and Justin Williams. Scott Darling could be the next Cam Talbot and Sebastian Aho could be the real deal / breakout player of the year candidate. With one of the most underrated defense corps in the league, the Canes will put up a fight in the tough Metropolitan division.
14. Montreal Canadiens | 0-0-0
What do we know about the Habs this year? Jonathan Drouin will be a star, Carey Price will be a star, and Shea Weber will break some bones with his slapshot. Unfortunately, the Canadiens just simply aren’t as good as they were in previous seasons. The loss of Radulov makes you wonder where the goal scoring is going to come from. The addition of Karl Alzner makes you wonder the same thing. That being said, when you have the best goalie in the world, sometimes these things don’t matter in the end.
13. New York Rangers | 0-0-0
Why do the Rangers simultaneously have the effect of making people think they are a worse team, but yet also making us think they have a shot in the playoffs? I don’t know how they do it. Big free agent defenseman contracts always scare me, but Kevin Shattenkirk should flourish in the city he coveted so strongly. Mika Zibanejad should serve as an excellent top line centre between Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello (potentially), but you get the sense that King Henrik’s window for a cup is closing fast.
12. Minnesota Wild | 0-0-0
The Wild surprised a lot of people last year by finishing second in the Central Division. In the months after flaming out in the first round, they ended up giving a lot of pieces to keep Vegas away from their young defenseman. While the team may have sacrificed in the long term, with the loss of Erik Haula and Alex Tuch, the Wild are a still a dangerous team that should not be overlooked.
11. Toronto Maple Leafs | 0-0-0
Can’t wait for the comments. Look Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander are STUDS. No doubt in my mind that they will be stars for many years to come, but I just cannot justify putting the Leafs higher. The league knows that this team is good, and rightfully so, but that means that if the Leafs want to contend they have to have repeat years from all of their young stars, which is difficult to expect. If this team made a move for a top 4 defenseman then I would be ready to put them higher. I’m biting my lip as I write this because it would not surprise me if they exceeded expectations.
10. Washington Capitals | 0-0-0
When you look at who this team lost in the offseason, you begin to understand why the team is ranked so much lower than in previous years. Losing 3 of their top 6 defenseman and two of their top forwards in Johansson and Williams, this team is just not the same as the one that won the Presidents Trophy last season. That being said, if the usual suspects show up then maybe, just maybe, these lowered expectations will finally lead to some results.
9. Columbus Blue Jackets | 0-0-0
While losing the defensive presence of Brandon Saad, the Blue Jackets were able to land a top talent in Artemi Panarin. It will be interesting to see how he fairs without Patrick Kane, but he has the skills to repeat his performances over the past few seasons. He should easily be able to replace the goals scored by Sam Gagner last year and help Columbus make it past the first round.
8. Calgary Flames | 0-0-0
I originally had these guys higher, but of course even though they are my team, I have cautious optimism. The Flames have assembled the best top 5 defence in the league, on paper. They have acquired a proven number one goaltender who can handle 60+games, on paper. These two factors will play a huge role in the team’s success and we have yet to really see how this will work on the ice for 82 games. While many forwards had “down” years I expect them to return to form and contribute a little more offence. The Flames look good and have given me lots of optimism this offseason, but again, I’m cautious. If the pieces fit, start lighting up the Red Mile.
7. Chicago Blackhawks | 0-0-0
CTRL+C, CTRL+V description of the Washington Capitals. Still an obvious contender, but an obvious regression over the previous seasons. While the defensive corps took and even bigger hit than the Caps, with the loss of Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brian Campbell, and Trevor Van Riemsdyk, I still feel as if our worries are irrelevant. It’s almost foolish to doubt the Hawks at this point.
6. Anaheim Ducks | 0-0-0
Even though they will be without Ryan Kesler, Hampus Lindholm, and Sami Vatanen for the beginning of the season, this team is relentless. While another division title is unlikely, this team will still finish higher in the standings and probably once again will beat the Flames on home ice. Corey Perry will bounce back this year and pick up the slack missing from Kesler. While I wish this team would fall, they are unlikely to do so.
5. Nashville Predators | 0-0-0
Everyone fell in love with Nashville last year and I’m hoping their success will continue into this season. Losing James Neal to expansion was a tough blow, but the addition of Nick Bonino and others will help work by committee to replace his goals. Ryan Ellis will be missed at the start of the season, but look for another deep run from the Predators (and who doesn’t want to watch playoff hockey in Nashville again?)
4. Tampa Bay Lightning | 0-0-0
How do you return the NHL Playoffs? A full season of Steven Stamkos should do the trick. This team nearly limped into the postseason last year, and I fully expect them to be back to contending in a few months. Watch out for Mikhail Sergachev, the kid has the skills to be a top defenseman in this league and I can’t imagine the Lightning not using that this year. Smart offseason additions and retaining the majority of their RFAs should lead to a very successful season in the Bay.
3. Edmonton Oilers | 0-0-0
This pains me to rank the Oilers this high because it breaks many of my moral codes, but I mean it is hard to bet against Connor McDavid. I rue the day the ping pong balls fell in the Oilers favor. McDavid is unbelievable to watch and with him the Oilers are a tough team to beat.
2. Dallas Stars | 0-0-0
No team had a better offseason than the Dallas Stars. It may be premature to rank them this high, but just look at the talent they added: Alexander Radulov, Martin Hanzal, Marc Methot, Ben Bishop. In addition to Ken Hitchcock behind the bench and bounceback seasons for Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, this could be a scary, scary team to face.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins | 0-0-0
Repeat Champs? Top team in the inaugural Weekly Win Column Rankings. While the team may have lost some key contributors, the Pens always find a way to pull no-names out of obscurity and have them score 15+ goals. While Marc-Andre Fleury may be out west in Sin City, you cannot discount the impact of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. I was having a conversation with a co-worker and he said “You don’t need a strong defense in order to win a cup, just look at Pittsburgh”. If you think about it, they won without their best defenseman and with their best defenseman. I don’t know how this team keeps doing it, but they are the best bet to make it back to the cup finals and potentially three-peat.
What are your thoughts? Disagree? Sound off in the comments below.
Follow me @johnmackinnon24 and The Win Column @wincolumnblog.
You must be logged in to post a comment.