NHL Rankings – October

Steven Stamkos

Steven Stamkos

 

My version of the NHL’s “Power Rankings” to start the 2014-2015 Season:

(1) Chicago

Hard to rank anyone else at #1 – the Hawks return with virtually the same team which was an OT goal away from beating LA in game 7 of the Western final. Their depth up front is equaled only by Los Angeles, and not sure that any team can top their big-4 of Kane, Toews, Sharp, and Hossa. Their one weakness last year was depth up the middle, which they addressed by adding Brad Richards, whom they got at a bargain for only $2M. Chicago has drafted well in recent years, so they have plenty of assets to barter with should they need to load up at the trade deadline.

Key Additions: Brad Richards  |  Key Losses: Nick Leddy |  Key Injuries: None

(2) Los Angeles

Like the Blackhawks, the champs are back with virtually the same roster. Their depth at every position remains outstanding, particularly at forward, where it appears that no team aside from Chicago can challenge them. The defence did take a hit with the loss of Willie Mitchell, but there are others who can fill his role. Again, like Chicago, the Kings have drafted well over the years, and have plenty of assets should they need to patch up the defence at the trade deadline. Many see Chicago and LA on a collision course – destined to meet in the Conference Final for the 3rd straight year; as far as I see it, there’s only one team who’s likely to change that fate.

Key Additions: None  |  Key Losses: Willie Mitchell  |  Key Injuries: None

(3) St. Louis

The Blues have been the team on the rise for more than a few years now. After a disappointing first round exit to Chicago last year – where they blew a 2-0 series lead – the team decided it needed a player who could better help spark the offence. They signed Paul Stastny – a legitimate #1 centre who will help ignite their attack. He joins a core group that includes other vets like Steen, Oshie, Backes, and Bouwmeester, as well as a group of rising stars led by Pietrangelo, Shattenkirk, Schwartz, Allen, and Tarasenko

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While the Blues still don’t quite have the scoring punch of Chicago, or the dominant puck possession game of LA, their defence may be the best in the league, and gives them the ability to beat any team in a 7-game series.

Key Additions: Paul Stastny  |  Key Losses: Vladimir Sobotka  |  Key Injuries: None

(4) Pittsburgh

Roster changes were aplenty in Pittsburgh this off-season. After years of salary cap constraints weakening their depth, new GM Jim Rutherford pulled the trigger on a deal with Nashville, acquiring Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling in exchange for talented, egocentric winger, James “the real deal” Neal. While it may be a downgrade in talent, Hornqvist will replace most of Neal’s offence, and without any of the off-ice distractions, or on-ice incidents. 

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They also added some size and grit in free agency with Blake Comeau and Steve Downie. Collectively, the new wingers complement an already-strong group down the middle – Crosby, Malkin, Sutter, Goc. On the back-end, the Pens did lose Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik in free agency, but in their place, the Pens now have Christian Ehrhoff, plus the return of a healthy Kris Letang, who played only 37 games last season after suffering a stroke. Given the (lack of) competition in the Eastern Conference, the Pens should waltz through the regular season – and with the Bruins losing some key players, I think they’re well positioned to make a run. The only question mark is in goal, where Marc-Andre Fleury continues to man the crease despite three straight years of lackluster playoff performances.

Key Additions: Christian Ehrhoff, Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling, Steve Downie

Key Losses: James Neal, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik  |  Key Injuries: None

(5) Boston

The Bruins are still a very good team, but they may not be the powerhouse they once were. The team that won the Stanley Cup in 2011 has since lost solid veteran d-men like Andrew Ference,  and more recently, Johnny Boychuk; and at 37 years of age, Zdeno Chara is slowly moving away from his Norris-Trophy form. The club has also lost a few key wingers in the past two seasons – Nathan Horton, and Tyler Seguin. Horton was initially replaced with Jarome Iginla, but he too is now gone. The question for them is whether their young players – particularly on D, with Hamilton, Krug, Bartkowski, Miller – are able to fill the void left by the recently departed. Like Pittsburgh, Boston will have no trouble during the season, but it’s hard to imagine they’ll have enough scoring to beat a top Western Conference foe like Chicago.

Key Additions: None  |  Key Losses: Jarome Iginla, Johnny Boychuk  |  Key Injuries: David Krejci (DTD)

(6) Tampa Bay

THE team on the rise in the East –  the Lightning have an intriguing mix of talent up front, led by last year’s rookie of the year runner-up’s, Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson, and uber-talented young winger, Jonathan Drouin. 

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Add a pair of solid veterans – Ryan Callahan and Valtteri Filppula, and the league’s top goal scorer, Steven Stamkos, and you have a very strong foundation up front. The Bolts got strong goaltending from Ben Bishop throughout last season, but the one area where they needed improvement was on the back-end. Steve Yzerman addressed this by signing Anton Stralman, and dealing for Jason Garrison. Now, Tampa goes into the season expecting not only to make the playoffs, but to make a deep run. If they get the same kind of goaltending from Bishop again this season, I wouldn’t bet against them.

Key Additions: Anton Stralman, Jason Garrison, Brian Boyle

Key Losses: None |  Key Injuries: Jonathan Drouin (DTD)

(7) San Jose

The Sharks are an interesting team to watch this year. After their historic 1st round collapse to the Kings this past April, where they blew a 3-0 series lead, rumours swirled that captain Joe Thornton and lifetime Shark, Patrick Marleau, were on their way out of town. While many report that the Sharks looked into the trading them, neither player can be traded without their approval, as each holds a no-trade clause. That said, the Sharks made a small but contraversial move, stripping Thornton of the captaincy, but keeping him as an Associate Captain. Off-ice issues aside, San Jose actually has an excellent mix of promising young talent and accomplished veterans. Couture, Hertl, Nieto, Demers, Braun, and Stalock are all players on the rise, and the Sharks should reach the playoffs comfortably. 

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The question with this group is always at playoff time, where the leadership group has been under fire for nearly a decade, but never more so than this past off-season.

Key Additions: None  |  Key Losses: Dan Boyle  |  Key Injuries: None

(8) Anaheim

The Ducks made a splash in the off-season, acquiring Ryan Kesler in a trade with Vancouver. While Kesler is still a big name, his production in recent years has been underwhelming – in fact, he hasn’t topped 50 points in the past 3 years. (Though injuries have been a factor). If Kesler can’t find his old form – he had back-to-back 70-point seasons from 2009-2011 – Anaheim may take a step back offensively, as they lost a lot of depth at centre, with Nick Bonino going to Vancouver in the Kesler trade, and Mathieu Perreault leaving as a free agent. The Ducks also have a very young goaltending tandem, which bodes well for the future, but is rarely desirable for a team which considers itself a contender. John Gibson is the best young goalie prospect since Carey Price, but at 21 years of age, it may take him some time before he finds the consistency needed to take this team past the LA’s and Chicago’s of the Western Conference.  Also the Ducks managed the league’s second best record last season with 116 points, despite average possession numbers and mediocre special teams. Regression-to-the-mean may be a theme in Anaheim this coming year.

Key Additions: Ryan Kesler  |  Key Losses: Jonas Hiller, Nick Bonino, Mathieu Perreault  |  Key Injuries: None

(9) Dallas

Perhaps the most improved team in the NHL, the Stars added a pair of veteran scorer in the off-season, signing Ales Hemsky as a free agent, and getting former Sens captain Jason Spezza in a trade with Ottawa. The new additions bolster an already potent attack – Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are amongst the best duos in the NHL today – and provide the kind of depth normally reserved for the league’s elite teams. They’re strong in goal as well, as Kari Lehtonen is one of the more talented, and perhaps underrated goaltenders in the league. The one area where Dallas falls short is on the back-end, where they lack any consensus top-end defencemen. Their blueline isn’t bad per se, but the absence of a true top-pairing may prevent them from matching up against the top teams in the West. Overall, Spezza and Hemsky should help the powerplay – which was a problem for the team last year – and also help them convert more chances at even strength, where the Stars already had strong possession numbers.

Key Additions: Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky  |  Key Losses: None  |  Key Injuries: Valeri Nichushkin (DTD)

(10) Colorado

The Avs had a number of interesting storylines last year – goaltender Semeon Varlamov had a great season and was nominated for the Vezina Trophy, Nate MacKinnon won the Calder as rookie of the year, Patrick Roy won the Jack Adams as coach of the year in his inaugural season, and the team made a dramatic turnaround in the standings, going from 29th in 12-13, to 3rd the following season. By contrast, this season should be pretty boring. With an incredible core of young talent, led by Duchene, MacKinnon, Landeskog, O’Reilly, and Barrie, it may only be a matter of time before this team becomes a true cup contender. But with so many key players in their early 20’s, and an underwhelming group defensively, we may have to be patient. Furthermore, many expect the Avalanche to take a step back this year – losing Paul Stastny will hurt a little, possession numbers were awful last year for a playoff team (again, natural regression), plus the division is a little stronger across the board, especially in Dallas and Nashville. One local media member made an insightful comment, suggesting the Avs could be just as good a team this year, yet still fall back in the standings based on some of the factors above.

Key Additions: Jarome Iginla  |  Key Losses: Paul Stastny |  Key Injuries: None

(11) Montreal

Is P.K worth it? The Habs will pay Pernell-Karl $9M per year over the next 8 seasons, and hope that he continues to provide Norris-quality play as he did in 12-13. The Habs will also try to build on last year’s playoff success, where they knocked off their historical rivals – the Boston Bruins – in the second round. The major pieces of the puzzle remain unchanged in Montreal, so in order to get to the next level, they’ll be counting on improvements from young players like Alex Galchenyuk and Brenden Gallagher. While Carey Price always gives Montreal a chance with his top-notch goaltending, some believe the Habs are just a big fish in a small pond, playing in the Eastern Confernece. And while there are no big holes on the roster, the lack of star power up front makes it hard to envision them going any further than they did last season.

Key Additions: P-A Parenteau  |  Key Losses: Josh Gorges  |  Key Injuries: None

(12) New York Rangers

No team got hit harder this off-season than the New York Rangers. Not only did they lose 1/3 of their top-9, with the departures of Richards, Pouliot, and B.Boyle, but they also lost an underrated defenceman, Anton Stralman. To make matters worse, top-line centre Derek Stepan broke his leg, and will miss most of October, meaning that Derick Brassard will move from line 3 to line 1 and shoulder a tremendous offensive load until Stepan returns. That said, the Rangers will still be very competitive, as the defence remains excellent – especially with the emergence of Ryan McDonagh as a full-fledged star – and Henrik Lundqvist is money in the bank. The question is whether newcomers like J.T Miller, and teenage winger Anthony Duclair can provide the kind of depth on Broadway that made them so successful last year.

Key Additions: Dan Boyle  |  Key Losses: Brad Richards, Anton Stralman, Benoit Pouliot, Brian Boyle  |  Key Injuries: Derek Stepan (week-to-week)

(13) Minnesota

One of the most interesting teams in the league, the Wild have tremendous potential with their blend of youth and veterans. There’s the 30+ club, led by Suter, Parise, M.Koivu, Pominville, and free agent winger, Thomas Vanek – quite an enviable group. And then there’s the burgeoning young talent – Mikael Granlund, Jonas Brodin, Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, and Darcy Kuemper. 

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Not only do they have a nice mix age-wise, but also in terms of overall versatility – size, grit, two-way play, finishers, vision and playmaking, etc. Up front, the Wild are a force to be reckoned with. Beyond Suter, the defence is young, but they acquitted themselves well last year, particularly in the playoffs. The main question is in goal, where former starter Niklas Backstrom (not to be confused with Caps’ centre Nicklas Backstrom) has had hip problems in recent years, and last year’s early-season evelation, Josh Harding, suffers from MS. Darcy Kuemper may run with the ball this year, and while he got the job last year in round 1 versus Colorado, he isn’t battle tested over a full season. The Wild also had some poor numbers as a team last year, especially in terms of possession, and penalty killing, so it’ll be interesting to see if the team metrics improve significantly, or if they’re just not as good as they look on paper.

Key Additions: Thomas Vanek  |  Key Losses: Clayton Stoner  |  Key Injuries: None

(14) New Jersey

I didn’t think New Jersey was a very good team until I looked at the numbers. As it turns out, the Devils had the 5th best possession numbers in the entire league last year, to go along with excellent special teams. However, because they don’t have the high-end skill of a team like Colorado – who made the playoffs despite awful possession numbers – they weren’t able to capitalize on a lot of the chances they were generating. They also had a historically bad OT record, losing 13 games in the shoot-out – 17 straight going back to the previous season. As a result, the Devils went out and got a proven sniper in Mike Cammalleri, who should help them in both areas, as well as Marty Havlat, who is well past his prime, but might help in the shoot-out. But regardless of how they perform this year, there isn’t much hope for the future on the current roster. While the Devils have a young, franchise goaltender with Cory Schneider, and a few good young centres – Henrique and Zajac – they are easily the oldest team in the league, boasting several 35+ players like Jagr, Elias, Zidlicky, and Salvador.

Key Additions: Mike Cammalleri  |  Key Losses: Mark Fayne  |  Key Injuries: None

(15) Vancouver

No team underwent a more dramatic change this off-season than Vancouver. Fortunately for Canucks fans, most things were changed for the better. After the circus that was the team of Mike Gillis and John Tortorella was mercifully ended, Trevor Linden was brought in as Vice-President to give credibility to the front-office. 

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He hired former Bruins Assistant GM, Jim Benning to be the team’s new General Manager, who then hired a quiet yet personable, and well-respected hockey man to coach the team – Willie Desjardins. As far as the on-ice product, Benning set to work there as well, shipping Ryan Kesler to Anaheim and getting a nice return, which included the underrated Nick Bonino. Then he signed the bigest free agent goaltender, Ryan Miller, and kept the agreement to a reasonable, three-year term. He also brought in long-time Phoenix Coyote, Radim Vrbata, who should be a great fit alongside the Sedins. When all the dust settled, the Canucks are left with a team with strong goaltending, solid defence, and a top-line which should help buoy the offence. They also have a number of strong two-way players like Bonino, Higgins, Matthias, and Richardson. The Canucks don’t have the offence to overwhelm their competition, but they will compete night-in, night-out, and will definitely be in the playoff hunt.

Key Additions: Ryan Miller, Radim Vrbata, Nick Bonino  |  Key Losses: Ryan Kesler  |  Key Injuries: None

(16) Detroit

The Red Wings underwent a semi-rebuild last year, as a number of young players were thrust into their lineup due to injuries. The results were overwhelmingly positive, as a number of players established themselves as NHL’ers, like Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, and Tomas Jurco. But the biggest break-out performer was Gustav Nyquist, who scored at a 40-goal pace, potting 28 goals in only 57 games.

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Now, the bigger question lies in whether the Red Wings key veterans can stay healthy and surround the young talent on the roster. Unfortunately, they’re off to a bad start, as Pavel Datsyuk may start the year on the shelf.

Key Additions: None  |  Key Losses: None  |  Key Injuries: Pavel Datsyuk (DTD)

(17) Nashville

The Predators roster underwent a makeover this past off-season, as GM David Poile finally acknowledged that his team might actually need offensive players up front. It started with the acquisition of James Neal from Pittsburgh. While Neal has a negative reputation off the ice, no one questions his ability to put the puck in the net. Then the Preds signed Mike Ribeiro, whose vision and passing ability are a natural fit with Neal’s size and shot. They also signed Olli Jokinen and Derek Roy to provide more offensive depth. Perhaps the biggest gain of all for Nashville is the return of former Vezina nominee, Pekka Rinne – a marquee, #1 netminder.  There’s also optimism about the blueline, especially after 19-year-old Seth Jones dominated the World Championships last spring en route to being named the top defenceman in the tournament.

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Ryan Ellis is a talented young defenceman, Roman Josi is amongst the most underrated d-men in the league, and Shea Weber is a perennial Norris Trophy nominee, so the Preds are in good hands on the blueline. If the forwards – led by Neal, Ribeiro, and Craig Smith – can get things going up front, the Preds will be a difficult team to beat. If you through them in the Eastern Conference, they’re probably a playoff team, but playing in the Central division against Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Colorado, and Minnnesota, they’re in tough to make the post-season.

Key Additions: James Neal, Mike Ribeiro  |  Key Losses: Patric Hornqvist  |  Key Injuries: None

(18) Washington

The Capitals are one of  the more unpredictable teams in the league. They added two relatively big-name defencemen in the off-season, signing Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen for over $50M collectively. And while the overall wisdom of those long-term deals could certainly be questioned, it’s likely to help them in the short-run. But while no on doubts the scoring punch of the top-line, led by the pair of Ovechkin and Backstrom, the team lacks scoring depth. They were also an awful puck-possession team, and rely heavily on their powerplay to help them turn the tide. Furthermore, they don’t appear to have a good goaltending tandem, as Braden Holtby and Justin Peters don’t have strong NHL resumes thus far. All the said, in a division where no one really stands out beyond Pittsburgh, the Caps have a good opportunity to get back to the post-season.

Key Additions: Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik  |  Key Losses: Mikhail Grabovski  |  Key Injuries: None

(19) New York Islanders

Like Nashville and Vancouver, the Islanders underwent their own makeover, particularly in the days leading up to opening day. Back in late June, they traded for their #1 netminder, Jaro Halak, and then signed Grabovski and Kulemin in free agency. However, they recognized a need to solidify their defence. With cap trouble in Boston and Chicago, the Isles managed to snag Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy respectively, solidifying a decent group, which had previously been rather awful. With a wide open Metropolitan division, the Islanders have a chance to make some noise, and will lean heavily on John Tavares and Kyle Okposo to lead the way offensively. If the key players can stay healthy, they might make their way back to the post-season for the second time in three years.

Key Additions: Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Jaroslav Halak, Mikhail Grabovski  |  Key Losses: None  |  Key Injuries: None

(20) Philadelphia

The Flyers are still hurting from the last few moves made by Paul Holmgren. The signings of Vinny Lecavalier and Mark Streit were poor financial commitments, and the Van Riemsdyk trade of a few years ago (for Luke Schenn) robbed them of a high-end winger, in exchange for a plodding, #5 defenceman. Fast forward to today, and the Flyers have lost a lot of their depth up front, and are left with an expensive group of defencemen, which isn’t particularly young or promising. (The loss of Kimmo Timonen to a blood clot further weakens their D.) Beyond the top line, led by the world-class play of Claude Giroux, the Flyers are heavily dependent on young players like Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier to be a lot more than they’ve shown thus far. Overall, it looks like the Flyers are regressing a bit – or at best running in place – while several teams around them have gotten better.

Key Additions: R.J Umberger  |  Key Losses: Kimmo Timonen, Scott Hartnell  |  Key Injuries: Kimmo Timonen (Indefinitely)

(21) Winnipeg

The Jets are a decent team in a tough spot. Put them in the East, and they probably sneak into the playoffs, but when pitted against many of the NHL’s top teams – Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Colorado, and Minnesota, the Jets will find it hard to compete. While the top-9 has improved significantly with the emergence of Mark Scheifele, the addition of Mathieu Perreault, and moving Byfuglien up to wing, the defence is well-below average, and Ondrej Pavelec’s struggles over the years have been well documented. The silver lining for this club lies in their young talent, which is as good as any in the league.

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Key Additions: Mathieu Perreault  |  Key Losses: Olli Jokinen  |  Key Injuries: None

(22) Columbus

The Blue Jackets took a big step forward last year, making the playoff for only the second time in their history, and giving the Penguins about as much as they could handle in the first round of the playoffs. Satisfied with their promising, young group, Jarmo Kekelainen was pretty quiet in the off-season, though he did acquire Scott Hartnell from Philadelphia. However, Columbus has received a wave of bad news lately on the injury front. Nathan Horton – whom they signed last off-season, is out indefinitely with a degenerative back condition; Boone Jenner is out a few weeks with a broken hand; Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Murray are likely to miss opening day with injuries, and Ryan Johansen – who just recently re-signed with the club, missed all of training camp while negotiations were ongoing. With more problems than solutions, it’s hard to imagine that the Blue Jackets get off to a good start. However, if they can weather the storm early, they’ll be a solid team again once they get their lineup back (likely minus Horton).

Key Additions: Scott Hartnell  |  Key Losses: None  |  Key Injuries: Boone Jenner (week-to-week), Brandon Dubinsky (DTD), Ryan Murray (DTD), Nathan Horton (Indefinitely)

(23) Toronto

The team that finished last season with the second-worst possession stats in the entire league – second only to the laughing-stock Buffalo Sabres – made quite a few changes, without adding anyone of great significance. The Leafs’ strength lies in their top-6, which is filled with skilled players like Lupul, Kadri, Van Riemsdyk, Bozak, and of course, Phil Kessel. Jonathan Bernier is also a very talented young goalie. However, their defence – both on the blueline, and as a group – remains incredibly suspect, and seems capable of turning any potential opponent into an offensive force. As long as that trend continues, the Leafs will continue to be an also-ran.

Key Additions: Mike Santorelli, Stephane Robidas, Roman Polak, Leo Komarov

Key Losses: Dave Bolland, Mason Raymond, Carl Gunarsson, Nik Kulemin

Key Injuries: Cody Franson (DTD)

(24) Phoenix

A team that was low on skill last year got even less skilled this past off-season. They bought out Mike Ribeiro – who they had just signed to a 4-year deal the previous off-season, and let Radim Vrbata walk via free agency. Now, they’re depending on an incredibly weak group of forwards to produce against extremely difficult opponents in the Western Conference. While the defence remains strong, and Mike Smith is a good goaltender, the Coyotes aren’t going anywhere good this season.

Key Additions: Sam Gagner |  Key Losses: Mike Ribeiro, Radim Vrbata  |  Key Injuries: None

(25) Edmonton

The Oilers will improve significantly this season, but may still fall far from the playoff picture. While their defence is now half-decent, after adding a nice player from New Jersey (Mark Fayne), and the goaltending tandem is improved, with Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth, neither of those areas could even be considered average at this point. Furthermore, their depth at centre is atrocious, as 2/4 centres have collectively played <50 NHL games. (Leon Draisaitl, Mark Arcobello). Unfortunately, beyond the top-line of Hall-Nuge-Eberle, there’s nothing impressive about this young team.

Key Additions: Mark Fayne, Benoit Pouliot |  Key Losses: None  |  Key Injuries: Jeff Petry (DTD)

(26) Florida

After last season, where the team finished 2nd last in the league, the Panthers look like they’ve bottomed-out. With a young group led by varied talents like Huberdeau, Bjugstad, Barkov, and Ekblad, the Panthers actually have a tremendous amount of promise. Furthermore, GM Dale Tallon has done a good job in surrounding them with veteran mentors, like Willie Mitchell, and strong goaltending, with Roberto Luongo. It’s premature to expect a solid season overall, but the team may show flashes, especially as the skilled young forwards begin to assert themselves.

Key Additions: Roberto Luongo, Willie Mitchell, Dave Bolland, Jussi Jokinen |  Key Losses: None  |  Key Injuries: None

(27) Ottawa

With the departure of Jason Spezza, the Ottawa Senators have almost fully turned the page on their former greatness. Now, the only player that remains from the solid teams of the mid-2000’s is Chris Phillips, and there are very few players left on this team that could legitimately be called veterans. Beyond Erik Karlsson, Bobby Ryan, and Kyle Turris, there aren’t many good, established players on the roster, and with the loss of Spezza, a team which struggled to keep pucks out last year may also struggle to score this coming season. Perhaps Erik Karlsson will pull them up a little higher than this, but it’s hard to imagine them getting close to the playoff picture with such a young, unproven group.

Key Additions: David Legwand, Alex Chiasson  |  Key Losses: Jason Spezza  |  Key Injuries: None

(28) Calgary

The Flames are trying to make the best of their rebuild. While Gaudreau and Monahan give the fans hope for the future, Hiller and Giordano will try to keep the team competitive in what should be a difficult season in Calgary. 

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For what it’s worth, the Flames actually have a solid blueline, and a decent pair in goal, but their veteran talent up front is pitiful, and their chances of making the playoffs are about as low as any team in the NHL, excluding Buffalo.

Key Additions: Jonas Hiller, Mason Raymond  |  Key Losses: Mike Cammalleri  |  Key Injuries: None

(29) Carolina

On paper, the Hurricanes aren’t necessarily the second worst team in the NHL, but that’s my best-guess as to where they’ll end up. Below-average in most key categories last year – possession, special teams, goaltending, etc, the Hurricanes will be tested even further and with a rash of key injuries to Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner. Considering the lack of depth in the organization, the Hurricanes are in big trouble if Staal and Skinner are out for any great length of time. A tough start to the year seems likely,and with a weak defence, and no depth up front, no one is going to fear the Hurricanes this season.

Key Additions: None  |  Key Losses: None  |  Key Injuries: Jordan Staal (Indefinitely), Jeff Skinner (Indefinitely)

(30) Buffalo

Easily the worst team in the NHL, with no strength at any position on the roster. That said, Sabres management may faint on draft day assuming they get a top-2 pick, and the privilege to select either Connor MacDavid or Jack Eichel, both of whom are generational talents according to the scouts.

Key Additions: Josh Gorges, Brian Gionta, Andrej Meszaros  |  Key Losses: None  |  Key Injuries: None

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And here’s a chart designed for people with Aspergers. Needless to say, it requires some explanation.

Legend

Fin – Finish last season (i.e lost in a certain round of playoffs, or place in the standings during the season)

GF – Goals for (per game)

GA – Goals against (per game)

+/- difference between goals for and against

Fen – Fenwick Close – similar to Corsi, Fenwick is an estimate of puck possession for and against. The “close” indicates that the figures are only measured when teams are tied, or within a goal (as possession in a blowout game usually throws off the numbers in favour of the losing team)

STF – Special Teams Factor – simply added up the percentages for the PP and the PK to get an idea of how strong the team is on special teams

Ov – Notice how there are ranks next to Points, +/-, Fenwick, and Special Teams. The “Ov” aggregates those 4 areas and gives a slightly better idea of how good the teams were during last year’s regular season

 

While all the data in the chart is from last season, the order of the teams is a projection for this season.

Rk Team Div Fin Pts Rk GF GA +/- Rk *Fen Rk PP% PK% *STF Rk Ov
1 CHI Cen Rd 3 107 7 3.18 2.58 0.6 4 55.2 2 20 81 101 11 4
2 LAK Pac Won 100 9 2.42 2.05 0.4 7 56.7 1 15 83 98 23 7
3 STL Cen Rd 1 111 4 2.92 2.29 0.6 3 53.1 7 20 86 106 3 2
4 PIT Met Rd 2 109 6 2.95 2.49 0.5 6 50.2 15 23 85 108 1 5
5 BOS NE Rd 2 117 1 3.15 2.08 1.1 1 54.1 4 22 84 105 5 1
6 TBL NE Rd 1 101 8 2.83 2.55 0.3 10 51.7 10 19 81 99 16 10
7 SJS Pac Rd 1 111 5 2.92 2.35 0.6 5 54.6 3 17 85 102 9 3
8 ANA Pac Rd 2 116 2 3.21 2.48 0.7 2 50.2 16 16 82 98 21 8
9 DAL Cen Rd 1 91 16 2.82 2.72 0.1 12 51.9 9 16 81 97 25 16
10 COL Cen Rd 1 112 3 2.99 2.63 0.4 8 46.7 27 20 81 101 13 12
11 MTL NE Rd 3 100 10 2.55 2.45 0.1 13 48.4 22 17 85 102 8 13
12 NYR Met Rd 4 96 12 2.61 2.32 0.3 9 53.6 6 18 85 104 7 6
13 MIN Cen Rd 2 98 11 2.43 2.42 0.0 16 48.6 21 18 79 97 26 21
14 NJD Met 20th 88 19 2.4 2.38 0.0 15 53.9 5 20 86 106 2 9
15 VAN Pac 25th 83 25 2.33 2.63 -0.3 23 52.2 8 15 83 98 20 22
16 DET NE Rd 1 93 15 2.65 2.7 -0.1 18 51.2 11 18 83 101 12 14
17 NSH Cen 19th 88 20 2.61 2.84 -0.2 21 50.7 14 19 80 99 14 18
18 WSH Met 17th 90 17 2.74 2.79 -0.0 17 47.5 25 23 82 105 4 17
19 NYI Met 25th 79 26 2.63 3.18 -0.6 27 49.6 18 18 78 96 28 25
20 PHI Met Rd 1 94 13 2.84 2.77 0.1 14 48.2 23 20 85 105 6 15
21 WPG Cen 22nd 84 22 2.67 2.82 -0.2 19 49.6 19 15 83 99 19 23
22 CLB Met Rd 1 93 14 2.76 2.61 0.2 11 50.8 12 19 82 101 10 11
23 TOR NE 23rd 84 23 2.71 3.07 -0.4 25 41.5 29 20 78 98 22 26
24 ARI Pac 18th 89 18 2.56 2.73 -0.2 20 50 17 20 79 99 18 19
25 EDM Pac 28th 67 28 2.43 3.26 -0.8 28 43.6 28 17 82 99 17 27
26 FLA NE 29th 66 29 2.29 3.2 -0.9 29 49.5 20 10 76 86 30 29
27 OTT NE 21st 88 21 2.79 3.15 -0.4 24 50.8 13 18 81 99 15 20
28 CGY Pac 27th 77 27 2.46 2.9 -0.4 26 47.3 26 16 82 97 24 28
29 CAR Met 24th 83 24 2.5 2.76 -0.3 22 48.2 24 15 82 96 27 24
30 BUF NE 30th 52 30 1.83 2.96 -1.1 30 41 30 14 81 96 29 30