The NHL is back! To start the season off, we’ve got our first Power Rankings of the year. Check back every two weeks for updates throughout the season and click here for our division previews!
1 – Vegas Golden Knights
It would only be right to start our first NHL Power Rankings with the defending Stanley Cup champs. They lost an original Golden Knight when Reilly Smith went to the Penguins in the offseason, but for the most part, this team is the same one that took home the Cup last year. They’re still super strong through the middle and at defence, and in today’s NHL, that’s a winning recipe. It’s very tough to repeat in this league, but when your roster looks like this one does, you certainly have a chance.
2 – Carolina Hurricanes
The Hurricanes have been knocking on the door for years now and only got better in the offseason. Not only did they keep most of the team intact and sign Sebastian Aho to a long-term deal, but they also added Michael Bunting, Dmitry Orlov and Tony DeAngelo. With Orlov and DeAngelo joining an already stacked blueline, this team should be extremely tough to score against this year. Many people point to their lack of superstar forwards as the reason that they can’t get over the hump in the playoffs, but if Andrei Svechnikov and Nino Neiderreiter had been playing in the conference finals, things could have gone very differently last year.
3 – Colorado Avalanche
The Avs may be easy to underestimate after falling to the Kraken in the first round of the postseason last year, but this team is still loaded. In the offseason, they added to their forward depth with pickups like Jonathan Drouin, Thomas Tatar and Ryan Johansen. It’s unfortunate that they’ll most likely have to go another full season without Gabriel Landeskog in the lineup, but Mikko Rantanen, Nathan Mackinnon and Cale Makar should be able to keep the offence going again.
4 – Toronto Maple Leafs
Despite their very well-documented failures in the postseason, the Toronto Maple Leafs are still a very good team in the NHL. They come in at fourth in our Power Rankings due to the consistent level of play they’ve had in the last few regular seasons and the moves they made during this offseason. It feels stupid to ever say that this might be the year for Toronto, but with Bertuzzi and Domi adding some sandpaper and skill to the lineup, they’ll be tough to beat each and every night.
5 – New Jersey Devils
After last year’s surprising arrival to the upper echelon of the NHL, the Devils will be hungry to repeat and get another chance in the playoffs. The team is loaded with young talent and will be a threat for years to come, but the one thing they still lack compared to other teams is playoff experience. With the Hughes brothers leading the way and a sneaky addition of Tyler Toffoli to an already very dynamic offence, expect a lot of scoring for the Devils this season.
6 – Edmonton Oilers
It’s Cup Finals or bust for the Oilers this season, as Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are both in the prime of their careers. With 97 and 29 in the lineup, the offence and powerplay will always be at the top of the league. However, if they want to go the distance, they’ll need to get more from their back end and goaltending. It’s been the same issue for years in Edmonton, but if they can’t find a way to be a little better in the postseason, the result will most likely be the same for the Oilers.
7 – Tampa Bay Lightning
For the first time since 2019, the Tampa Bay Lightning have had a full offseason to recover and gear up for the new season. Even in their first-round loss to the Maple Leafs last year, the Bolts were dominant and probably more deserving of a series win. The bounces didn’t go their way, and now the team is hungry to prove themselves once more. Two months to start the year without Vasilevskiy will be tough, but if any team can handle it, it’s Tampa Bay.
8 – Dallas Stars
The Stars were defeated in six games in last year’s Western Conference Finals, but there’s a chance that they could be even better this season. The young core highlighted by guys like Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, Miro Heiskanen and Jake Oettinger will once again be very strong, but if veteran forwards Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Joe Pavelski and Matt Duchene have one more good year in them, this Stars team will be very tough to beat. They’re big, they’re deep, they’re strong defensively, and they’re experienced.
9 – Florida Panthers
Many people don’t think that the Panthers can repeat last year’s stunning Cup run, but they still deserve a spot in the Power Rankings for now. However, things could go downhill quickly if they’re not ready to go right away. Both Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad are out to start the season, which leaves much to be desired on the back end. Matthew Tkachuk and Alex Barkov still have the ability to drive the bus on offence, but with the injuries on the backend, Florida will need to get contributions from their depth scorers as well.
10 – Boston Bruins
It was a tough end to the season last year for Boston and an almost equally tough offseason. After a stunning exit in the first round, the Bruins saw Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Tyler Bertuzzi, Taylor Hall and Dmitry Orlov all leave for retirement or new teams in the summer. They still have some star power and solid goaltending, but for the Bruins to remain a threat in the East, they’ll need to plug some holes at centre. With Bergeron and Krejci gone, it’s probably their weakest spot on the ice.
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