As of July, a LOT of things have changed since June, when the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. Here is my Power Rankings, counting down from 30.
30. Arizona Coyotes
Mike Smith is simply not good enough at this point in his career, and they don’t have anything close to and elite forward yet.
29. New Jersey Devils
Their forward corps is a mess, and their young(er) D still has to develop.
28. Toronto Maple Leafs
Without Phil Kessel, Toronto’s offense will have to step-up, Big Time. Plus, their 1st rounder’s still have to develop. Watch for JVR and their young D-men.
27. Carolina Hurricanes
It’s time to trade Eric Staal. Carolina has a budding starting goalie in Eddie Lack, but not much else that’s NHL ready. Watch for Noah Hanifin and Sergey Tolchinsky.
26. Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers simply don’t have a good enough Defense and enough depth on Offense. Their bottom 6 forwards are mediocre.
25. Buffalo Sabres
In a couple years, the Sabres will about 15 spots ahead of this, but for now even with Ryan O’Reilly and Evander Kane, their D and goaltending as well as Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel need to grow.
24. Florida Panthers
The NHL is too deep for the Panthers to make the Playoffs. Their D is going through rebuild (Ian McCoshen and Mike Mathenson transitioning in for Ed Jovanaski and Willie Mitchell) and Aaron Ekblad isn’t enough to carry the back end. Their young forwards have a ton of potential though, so expect a playoff berth soon.
23. Vancouver Canucks
Losing Eddie Lack and Kevin Bieksa didn’t make the Canucks any better in a tough Western Conference. They have a good pool of prospects but their Defense and Top 6 Offense are entering their mid/late thirties, so they don’t really have a shot at winning now.
22. Ottawa Senators
Unfortunately for sens fans, it’s hard to see Ottawa go 20-1-2 at the end of the year to make the playoffs again. Thier group of young forwards are due for some growing pains, and their Defense needs to improve behind Erik Karlsson.
21. Nashville Predators
Although they have an outstanding Defensive core plus and Elite goalie in Pekka Rinne, the Predators offense looks like it might take a major step back. They didn’t exactly make any game changing signings so far, and I don’t see Mike Ribero having another 60+ point season at this point in his career. Also, Filip Forsberg slowed down significantly in the 2nd half of 2014-15.
20. Detroit Red Wings
They lost Mike Babcock. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are in their late 30’s, and Anthony Mantha’s progress has been halted. Enough said?? Goaltending is a bright spot though, and their Defense has improved.
19. Winnipeg Jets
Winnipeg’s future is bright with a truckload of high-ceiling prospects on their way. They have a solid defense headlined by Tyler Myers and Dustin Byfuglien, and they have some nice young netminders in Michael Hutchinson and Connor Hellybuyck.
18. Boston Bruins
What ever Don Sweeny was thinking at the Draft cannot be explained, but we do know that Boston is poised to take a step back this year. Matt Irwin cannot replace Dougie Hamilton, and Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara will have to step up their game to fill the gap on the D. Also, Matt Belesky will be pressured to fill Lucic’s hole in the roster.
17. Columbus Blue Jackets
Although CBJ lost Artem Ansimov and Marko Dano in the Brandon Saad trade, Saad will be an elite winger and Columbus still has Ryan Johansen and Brandon Dubinsky down the middle. Their back end is reasonable, featuring youngster Ryan Murray and Jack Johnson.
16. Colorado Avalanche
Nathan McKinnon and Matt Duchene are both Elite players and they are poised to display that this year. The Avalanche went through some growing pains last year, and they hope to rebound. On Defense, Semyon Varlamov is a good young ‘tender, plus Colorado added a nice shutdown defender in Francois Beauchemin.
15. Edmonton Oilers
When the Oilers won the McDavid sweepstakes, everything changed. They now have a top of the line management group, a competitive defense headlined by Andrej Sekera and Griffin Reinhart, not to mention a formidable offense, with youngster Leon Drasatil on the way. Connor McDavid will make an immediate impact in the NHL.
14. Montreal Canadiens
Sure, Montreal has the best goalie in the world in Carey Price, but can he repeat his Incredible 2014-15 season. Odds are not in his favor. Besides P.K Subban and the aging Andrei Markov, the Habs Defense is barely competitive. Also, Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais must improve and be more consistent if Montreal wants a cup.
13. LA Kings
A couple months golfing will give LA some rest, but do they have the depth to win another cup? They bought out their cup-winning 2nd line center Mike Richards and lost Justin Williams to free agency, although the addition of Milan Lucic should solve that. And, it doesn’t help that Slava Voynov is in jail and they failed to resign Andrej Sekera. But they have one of the best defenders in the world in Drew Doughty, and they still have Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Marian Gaborik in front.
12. NY Islanders
The Islanders had a great season last year, and look to build on that this year. Prospects Ryan Pulock (D) and Michael Dal Colle (RW) both have a shot at making the Big League this year, and will join youngsters Anders Lee and Brock Nelson who both had terrific 2014-15 seasons. Their defense still needs to grow a bit, but their forwards are scary, led by John Tavares, one of the best players in the world.
11. San Jose Sharks
Although Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are entering the twilight of their careers, The Sharks have a budding star in Logan Coture. Also, San Jose made some solid signings in Joel Ward and Paul Martin, which makes them even more formidable. Is Martin Jones a capable starter?
10. Minnesota Wild
The Wild have a deep attack headlined by Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund, Jason Pomminville and Charlie Coyle. Also, Ryan Suter leads an underrated but solid D. The main question is if Devan Dubnyk can hold the fort like he did last year. Can this team compete with other West powerhouses?
9. St. Louis Blues
Losing T.J Oshie will hurt, but St. Louis did get Troy Brouwer back. Alex Pietrangelo had a down year last year, and he will look to rebound. St. Louis’s offense is deep, but only has one pure sniper in Vladimir Tarasenko. The real question is: How far can Jake Allen and Brain Elliot take this team?
8. Dallas Stars
A healthy Tyler Seguin = goals, goals, and more goals. And don’t forget about 2014-15 Art Ross winner Jamie Benn and 2nd line center Jason Spezza. And it’s only gotten better this month as they acquired Patrick Sharp. If you haven’t realized, the Stars are stacked up front. Their defense however, has room for improvement but newcomer Johnny Oduya and youngsters Julius Honka and Jamie Oleksiak should help out. The duo of Antti Niemi and Kari Lethonen is also a big upgrade.
7. Calgary Flames
Wow is this rising team ever looking good! They have one of the best Defense’s in the league, featuring Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, and Kris Russel. Also, Sam Bennet joins a exciting group of youngsters in Sean Monahan, Jonny Gaudreau and Hamilton. Also Jonas Hiller isn’t a bad goalie.
6. NY Rangers
The Rangers have made it to the Eastern Conference Finals 3 times in the past 4 years, and now they look to capture the Cup. They have a rock solid defensive core, captained by the ever-solid Ryan McDonaugh and backstopped by the ‘king’ himself Henrik Lundqvist. In order to be a true contender Rick Nash will have to crack 30 goals again, Emerson Etem must continue to improve and Derek Stepan must solidify himself as the blueshirt’s No.1 center.
5. Pittsburgh Penguins
The addition of Phil Kessel gives the Penguins, who suddenly have an abundance of talented wingers (Kessel, Perron, Hornqvist , Kunitz, Dupis) a bad ass Offence, which also includes the best hockey player in the world, Sidney Crosby and the best 2nd line center in the world, Evgeni Malkin, down the middle. If Marc-Andre-Fluery can get over his playoff hump and they can sign a good Defender, the Pens are a serious contender.
4. Washington Capitals
The Capitals, led by Alex Ovechkin & Niklas Backstrom, looked like a dangerous team last year and look lethal this year with the additions of T.J Oshie and Justin Williams. The Caps have one of the best Defenses in the Eastern Conference, featuring Matt Niskanen and John Carlson, as well as a top netminder in Braden Holtby. They are a true Cup contender
3. Chicago Blackhawks
The 2014-15 Cup winners are still going strong. Even though Marian Hossa is in his final years and Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad had to be traded away, the Blackhawks got themselves a long-term 2nd line center in Artem Ansimov, and an exciting young prospect in Marko Dano. And don’t forget about Teuvo Teravainen, Conn Smythe winner Duncan Keith and that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are still both in their primes.
2. Anaheim Ducks
Have great forward depth with the additions of Carl Hagelin and Chris Stewart, And also a dangerous 1-2 punch down the middle (Getzlaf & Kesler). Young D-Men are flourishing and John Gibson and Fredrik Anderson are only getting better.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa has the best Offense in the NHL, headlined by their “Triplets” line (Palat-Johnson-Kucherov) and Steven Stamkos. They have a formidable defense led by Victor Hedman, and an Elite Goalie in Ben Bishop. Oh, and they made the Stanley Cup Finals last year.
Hope you guys enjoyed 🙂