NHL Power Rankings: Where every team stands entering the season

NHL Power Rankings: Where every team stands entering the season

This is the preseason edition of theScore’s NHL Power Rankings for the 2023-24 campaign. Check back for updated rankings every other Monday during the regular season.

In this edition, we look at how the teams stand following preseason play as we prepare to enter the season.

1. Colorado Avalanche

Offseason rank: 2

Is there anything more terrifying than a motivated Avalanche squad? Colorado tore through the league en route to the Cup in 2022, and after a disappointing first-round exit in the spring, the determination to prove doubters wrong is back. A lineup featuring as many as six new forwards gives a different flavor to this Avs team behind the elite trio of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Cale Makar.

2. Vegas Golden Knights

Offseason rank: 1

Aside from Reilly Smith, the 2023-24 Golden Knights will be virtually the same team that just won the Stanley Cup. None of us has ever been an NHL general manager, but we would’ve done the exact same thing. There was no overthinking here: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

3. Carolina Hurricanes

Offseason rank: 3

The Hurricanes responded to a humiliating playoff sweep by signing the most coveted unrestricted free agent (Dmitry Orlov) and a versatile forward with top-line experience (Michael Bunting). The reigning Metropolitan Division champs also locked up their franchise player (Sebastian Aho) and brought back their veteran duo in goal. Carolina should be a powerhouse yet again, and young netminder Pyotr Kochetkov is still waiting for a prolonged shot if anything happens to Frederik Andersen or Antti Raanta.

4. New Jersey Devils

Offseason rank: 4

The Devils won’t take anyone by surprise this year, but they look talented enough to squash any notions that last season’s breakout was a fluke. New Jersey is stacked up front, solid on the blue line, and should be battling for home ice in the divisional playoff race.

5. Dallas Stars

Glenn James / National Hockey League / Getty

Offseason rank: 6

The Stars’ already deep forward group gained more depth with the savvy offseason addition of Matt Duchene. There are questions on the blue line behind Miro Heiskanen and Esa Lindell, so Dallas will count on progression from Thomas Harley and Nils Lundkvist. Having Jake Oettinger in net should help hide any defensive hiccups, though.

6. Edmonton Oilers

Offseason rank: 5

The Oilers were a wagon after the addition of Mattias Ekholm last season. Edmonton went 18-2-1 with the Swede in the lineup during the regular season and gave the eventual Cup champion Golden Knights their toughest test of the playoffs. As long as Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are around, the Oilers will be must-see TV.

7. Toronto Maple Leafs

Offseason rank: 7

Much to the chagrin of a portion of the Maple Leafs fanbase, Toronto’s core forward group of Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, and John Tavares is still intact. This time, it’ll be bolstered by a snotty supporting cast of Tyler Bertuzzi, Ryan Reaves, and Max Domi. Maybe “piss and vinegar” are the keys to advancing past the second round.

8. New York Rangers

Offseason rank: 8

The Rangers still have elite players in all three positional groups with Igor Shesterkin in goal, Adam Fox on defense, and the likes of Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, and MIka Zibanejad up front. New York has some promising youth, too. The upstart Devils sent the Blueshirts packing in seven games last spring, but the team in the Big Apple still boasts plenty of talent and promise.

9. Los Angeles Kings

Offseason rank: 10

The Kings boast arguably the league’s best center depth with a three-headed beast of Anze Kopitar, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Phillip Danault to anchor impressive talent on the wings. Goaltending will be the X-factor again for Los Angeles this year, but the playoffs should be a shoo-in with just league-average play between the pipes.

10. Florida Panthers

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Offseason rank: 11

The Panthers are out to prove their miraculous Stanley Cup Final run was no fluke. But they’ll be in tough without their two top defensemen in Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour until December. Matthew Tkachuk, Aleksander Barkov, and Co. will have to step their games up even further in order to weather the early-season storm.

11. Pittsburgh Penguins

Offseason rank: 12

Kyle Dubas made a significant impact on the Penguins’ roster in short order. Pittsburgh’s new president and general manager completely reformed the team’s bottom six this summer and rounded out the top six by scooping up Reilly Smith from the Golden Knights. But the clear statement move of the offseason came when Dubas landed Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson. With an injection of new faces, does this aging Penguins core have one last hurrah in them?

12. Boston Bruins

Offseason rank: 13

The 2023-24 Bruins won’t be the same dominant force that just set single-season records in wins (65) and points (135). Boston lost its top two centers – Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci – this offseason and will rely on Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle to fill the void. They’re surely hoping reigning Vezina Trophy winner Linus Ullmark doesn’t regress too much.

13. Tampa Bay Lightning

Offseason rank: 9

The Lightning still have all their star skaters – namely Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and Victor Hedman – but losing injured goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy for the first two months of the season will present a major challenge. The Bolts’ core is also aging as only Point is under 30 among the quartet. Tampa Bay should still be competitive, but this squad’s days as a truly elite group appear to be in the rearview mirror.

14. Seattle Kraken

Offseason rank: 14

The Kraken should be a factor in the Western Conference playoff picture again on the strength of their depth, but their goaltending will need to be better. Seattle reached the postseason in 2022-23 despite boasting two primary netminders with sub-.900 save percentages.

15. Buffalo Sabres

Bill Wippert / National Hockey League / Getty

Offseason rank: 15

The Sabres are banking heavily on internal growth to snap the NHL’s longest active playoff drought of 12 seasons. Buffalo only acquired Connor Clifton and Erik Johnson this offseason despite having loads of cap space and trade assets. That’s underwhelming, to say the least. But after missing the playoffs by a point a year ago, this core is close.

16. Minnesota Wild

Offseason rank: 16

It was a quiet summer for the Wild. GM Bill Guerin’s lone addition of note was Pat Maroon. However, business has picked up as of late with extensions for Mats Zuccarello, Ryan Hartman, and Marcus Foligno. Minnesota should comfortably compete for a postseason spot but will need internal growth from young guns such as Marco Rossi and Brock Faber to take another step.

17. Ottawa Senators

Offseason rank: 17

Is this the year the Senators get over the hump? Ottawa used an outlandish seven goaltenders in 2022-23. Joonas Korpisalo is hoping to stabilize things this season after signing a five-year, $20-million deal in July. The young Senators project to be an exciting team to watch, but they’ll have their work cut out for them to make the playoffs in an incredibly competitive Atlantic Division.

18. Calgary Flames

Offseason rank: 22

The Flames’ big front-office and coaching changes should allow them to reboot after disappointing in 2022-23. But the Pacific Division club also traded away leading scorer Tyler Toffoli for an underwhelming return. Calgary was among the league’s best teams in terms of possession and shots on goal last season but needed to win more close games. This club will only rise in the standings if they can win those contests.

19. Winnipeg Jets

Offseason rank: 21

Winnipeg has a promising new look after trading Dubois and buying out Blake Wheeler. However, the Jets face immense pressure to perform this coming season as stars Mark Scheifele and Connor Hellebuyck play out the final year of their respective contracts. It could be now or never in Manitoba.

20. New York Islanders

Mike Stobe / National Hockey League / Getty

Offseason rank: 18

The Islanders are perennially one of the NHL’s least sexiest teams, yet they’ve made the playoffs four times in the last five years. A full season with Bo Horvat should help, but New York will need Ilya Sorokin to play out of his mind once again in order to have a fighting chance.

21. Detroit Red Wings

Offseason rank: 20

Can the Red Wings finally get back into contention for a playoff spot? GM Steve Yzerman again splashed the cash in free agency to bring in J.T. Compher, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Justin Holl, but the biggest moves of Detroit’s offseason came via trade. The addition of Alex DeBrincat significantly upgrades the team’s top six, while Jeff Petry should take some of the onus off Moritz Seider.

22. Washington Capitals

Offseason rank: 19

The Capitals were totaled by injuries last season and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2013-14. Alex Ovechkin will be one motivated man this year, and that should scare 31 other NHL teams. The offensive-minded Spencer Carbery will look to right the ship in his first gig as a big-league head coach.

23. Vancouver Canucks

Offseason rank: 25

The Canucks added some depth players over the summer, but Vancouver’s core group essentially remains the same. Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes have ascended to superstardom, and 39-goal scorer Andrei Kuzmenko has sworn off waffles. There’s promise here, but the Canucks are still finding their way back to being a consistently competitive club.

24. Nashville Predators

Offseason rank: 24

Nashville is stuck between a full rebuild and a modest re-tool, but the Predators could climb this list throughout the year if Juuse Saros carries over last season’s dominant form. The star netminder is good enough to win games single-handedly, and he’s likely to save the Preds from being a bottom-feeder in the league standings.

25. St. Louis Blues

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

Offseason rank: 26

The Blues will look to bounce back after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2017-18. Significant internal improvement will be required to get back to the postseason as Kevin Hayes was the only notable offseason addition. It all starts with Jordan Binnington, who was awful with a .894 save percentage last season.

26. Columbus Blue Jackets

Offseason rank: 23

Mike Babcock’s hiring and firing are distractions from what should be a very fun Blue Jackets team. Adam Fantilli headlines a group of young up-and-comers, while Damon Severson and Ivan Provorov comprise a brand-new top-four pairing. Expectations remain low, but a bounce back from Elvis Merzlikins could see Columbus begin to surge back up the standings.

27. Arizona Coyotes

Offseason rank: 27

Fans who enjoy a little schadenfreude every now and then will probably have to look outside Arizona this season. No, really, the Coyotes actually added functioning players. Like, to help them win games. Crazy, right? They brought in the likes of Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba, but youngster Logan Cooley headlines the new guard. Let the next step of the rebuild begin.

28. Montreal Canadiens

Offseason rank: 28

The Canadiens won’t be very good or very watchable this season, but at least they have Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki. Caufield was on pace for nearly 50 goals when he got hurt last season, while Suzuki made strides of his own donning the “C.” The Habs still have a long way to go in their rebuild, but they do have some promising pieces.

29. Chicago Blackhawks

Offseason rank: 29

Chicago’s upcoming campaign is, rightfully, all about Connor Bedard. The phenom’s rookie season is one of the top storylines of the campaign, and hockey fans would be foolish to do anything but soak in as much as they can.

30. Anaheim Ducks

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

Offseason rank: 30

The good news is that restricted free agents Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale signed before opening night. The bad news? This roster still has no chance of competing in 2023-24. That may be a good thing in the long run, though, as another high draft pick would go a long way to boosting an already-loaded farm system.

31. Philadelphia Flyers

Offseason rank: 31

GM Daniel Briere started to make his mark on the Flyers’ roster this summer by trading Kevin Hayes and Ivan Provorov. The return of Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson from injury is a nice boost for the fanbase, but the focus in Philadelphia will be on who does and doesn’t get moved before the deadline.

32. San Jose Sharks

Offseason rank: 32

The Sharks were bad bad last season, and they don’t even have Erik Karlsson anymore. The most interesting part of San Jose’s 2023-24 campaign will be if general manager Mike Grier opts to trade Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Kevin Labanc, Anthony Duclair … the list goes on and on. Keep an eye on those draft lottery odds.

(Analytics sources: Evolving Hockey, Natural Stat Trick)

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