NHL Power Rankings: Preseason Edition


Jun 13, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez (27) scores the game-winning goal past New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) during the second overtime period in game five of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

I figure that there have been enough mistakes made so far, goals scored, rosters tentatively improved upon, and injuries inflicted (sorry, Jordan Staal) to kick off our weekly power rankings.

Here at Howlin’ Hockey, we’ll give you a complete and updated power ranking every week. Depending on who gives you the ranking, you might agree and you might not- we want to hear what you have to say!

Week One: Preseason Rankings

30. Carolina Hurricanes

This one is almost a given. During the off-season, a lot of people were shocked by how little the ‘Canes did to improve upon a previously lackluster roster. It seemed like the team was pinning their hopes on a significant improvement from both Staal brothers on the roster… oh.

29. Ottawa Senators

You know, if you’re in my hometown team’s divison and I keep forgetting that you exist, you need to do something differently- and no, trading Jason Spezza wasn’t what I meant by that.

28. Winnipeg Jets

Evander Kane wants out. Blake Wheeler wants out. Blake Wheeler is calling out Evander Kane for wanting out (wait, what?). As a whole, this team has been poorly managed, poorly developed, and the players are unhappy. Barring a miracle, this team won’t make it out of my bottom five all season.

27. Buffalo Sabres

I can’t say that I hate the way the Sabres have conducted themselves this off-season. Brian Gionta pulled a Lebron, and that’s fantastic. Good for him. I still don’t think they’re going to be very good yet.

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  • 26. Florida Panthers

    Apparently, Florida was under the impression that if you pay Dave Bolland like a thirty-goal scorer, he’s going to be a thirty-goal scorer… until he’s so far past thirty he doesn’t remember what year it is. This was an incorrect assumption. Dave Bolland is not two million dollars better than Jarome Iginla. (Although, with all this spare money, maybe Florida should be talking to Ryan “Toews-money” Johanson?)

    25. Calgary Flames

    You know, my good friend over at Flame For Thought ranked Arizona dead last in the Pacific Division. I’m repaying the favor, but without the overlooking of Keith Yandle, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Sam Gagner, Max Domi, and Mikkel Boedker to make it seem petty. (Sorry, Len.)

    24. Nashville Predators

    James Neal is pretty good. Apparently, Mike Ribeiro is supposed to be, too? Whatever. I think this mish-mash of high-skill, low-self-control superstars is going to crash and burn more likely than not- even with Seth Jones there trying to prove his worth

    Sep 23, 2014; Stockton, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks defenceman Konrad Abeltshauser (51) checks Vancouver Canucks center Nick Bonino (13) in the third period of their NHL Preseason game at the Stockton Arena. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

    23. Vancouver Canucks

    Even Radim Vrbata might not be able to save this team. The Sedin twins grossly underperformed last season, but they’re still there. Ryan Kesler is gone, off to hang out with Dany Heatley in Anaheim. For a team who didn’t make the playoffs last year, these players were pretty quick to defend good ol’ Johnny Torts… but if he wasn’t the problem, what was? And more importantly, how did you fix it?

    22. Edmonton Oilers

    I’ve been raving up and down the streets about how amazing I think the Oilers are going to be this year, but I need to see it before I physically put them higher on my power rankings. After all, they’ve always had a dynamic looking offense- and they finished last in the West last year. Until I see them winning tons of games, the bottom ten is where they’ll remain.

    21. Toronto Maple Leafs

    Before you say “William Nylander“, I’m just going to say “Randy Carlyle” and let you think about what that means.

    20. New Jersey Devils

    To be fair, Cory Schneider is one hell of a good goaltender. Also to be fair, though, where is the Devils’ offense? They seem to think that because they were able to run with a powerhouse defense and a powerhouse netminder back in Brodeur’s heyday, things will work the same way with the former superstar gone. There are already rumors of tension with some of the team’s youth (re: the Gelinas issue) and I can’t have faith in the Devils until I see them finally accept that maybe, in order to be a cup contender again, they need to do some serious re-tooling.

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  • 19. Washington Capitals

    Alexander Ovechkin is still your capital, Washington. You cannot win a cup with Alexander Ovechkin as your captain- and if you do, I might stop writing about hockey forever. Unless Ovi gets a serious attitude overhaul- and the team figures out what kind of system they need to operate under to win- I can’t see things going well in the nation’s capital.

    18. New York Rangers

    “But, like, they made it to the Cup Final last year!” But, like, Stepan is hurt. Brian Boyle is gone. Brad Richards is gone (which we won’t know how that affects the team until the season begins). Rick Nash hasn’t shown that he’s back to his old form. YOU SIGNED TANNER GLASS. Are you kidding me? Worst off-season I’ve ever seen.

    17. Pittsburgh Penguins

    Maybe letting go of Neal was a necessary evil, but I think that letting go of Fleury would have been a more necessary evil? Maybe I’m crazy. This team treated 3-1 leads like they were a joke this past post-season, though, and then couldn’t find a coach for what seemed like ages. I think that Crosby’s cup window in Pittsbugh might have already closed- he just doesn’t know it yet.

    16. Detroit Red Wings

    This is probably going to be very wrong, because the wings always seem to push themselves into the postseason with an abysmally mediocre team. Pavel Datsyuk is injured, though, and out for the next month or so. Can’t be a good start to the season for the Wings.

    15. Philadelphia Flyers

    I still don’t trust this team’s two-mediocre-goalie system, but apparently they think that they’re headed for a cup with Zac Rinaldo? Of course, Philadelphia is still entering the season with the Schenn brothers, and butt-grabbing captain Claude Giroux, and… oh yeah! Michael Del Zotto! This team is in a weak Eastern Conference so they could pull ahead, but I don’t see them cracking my top ten.

    Sep 22, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings left wing David Van der Gulik (36) skates past Arizona Coyotes defenseman James Melindy (68) during the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

    14. Arizona Coyotes

    Truth hurts, Arizona. You can’t base a power-ranking off the hope that Sam Gagner has remembered how to score, though… and Max Domi literally hasn’t even been named to the final roster yet. What you have right now is what I’m working with, and it’s good- but not great.

    13. New York Islanders

    Jesus Tavares now has real goalies! Yay!

    12. Minnesota Wild

    The Wild may be a little confused in net, but they’ve still got a couple of really great players on the upswing. If Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle have the kind of season we’re all expecting them to, this team will do what it’s supposed to. Il Nino is being paid what he deserves- Coyle is not. He’s got everything to prove before he’s up for contract renewal, and I expect him to bring it.

    11. San Jose Sharks

    This team is a huge mess, but they have a lot of quality players. If this team doesn’t fall apart, it will be a cup contender for yet another season. If it falls apart, it’s going to plummet down the standings. I can see the Sharks going either way, really.

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  • 10. Colorado Avalanche

    Nathan MacKinnon has apparently been bulking up with John Tavares over the summer, and that scares me. In other news, Gabriel Landeskog is finally legally able to drink as a team captain, and his continuing maturity-both on and off the ice- should make this a lethal team. I’d like to see Semyon Varlamov do some more nice things in net, and maybe stay out of court? Paul Stastny could be a serious loss for the team, but there’s always that funny signing they had this July… apparently, this Iginla guy is pretty good. He, Matt Duchene, and Ryan O’Reilly might just carry this team to the finals.

    9. Montreal Canadiens

    You got rid of your captain, and replaced him with four co-captains? MONTREAL, WHAT ARE YOU DOING. No but really, so much of this team will bank on how their defense does beyond P.K. Subban.

    8. Tampa Bay Lightning

    Being the only team to get swept in the playoffs has to hurt a bit. Steven Stamkos is a pretty okay player, though, and apparently Ryan Callahan isn’t bad himself. This could be a good team, could be a bad team. I’ll wait and see.

    7. Columbus Blue Jackets

    Nathan Horton might eventually play half of a full season with these guys, and they’ll look reeeaaallllyyyy nice. Even if he doesn’t, they’ve got Scott Hartnell, and (I think) Ryan Johansen, and James Wiskniewski, and… yeah, they’ll be okay regardless.

    Sep 23, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens goalie Joey MacDonald (39) makes a save against Boston Bruins center Chris Kelly (23) as right wing Christian Thomas (60) defends during the third period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

    6. Boston Bruins

    This ranking is going to get me so much flack, but let’s sit down and talk for thirty seconds about how much they’ve lost this off-season. Jarome Iginla took thirty goals with him, and so far the team hasn’t done anything this summer beyond re-signing mediocre Matt Bartkowski and puck-possession dunce Jordan Caron, who hasn’t managed to show up to a game since joining the club. Reilly Smith sits without a contract. Torey Krug sits without a contract. At the moment, the only signed roster right wing is Caron. Unless Boston shapes up fast, things are going to go very poorly this season for last year’s President’s Cup winner.

    5. L.A. Kings

    These guys don’t like to go into beast mode until the playoffs, so here they’ll sit for now.

    4. Dallas Stars

    This seems really high, and to be fair, it probably is. But when you have such a jam-packed first line that Jason Spezza doesn’t slot in until your fourth or fifth spot? You know you’ve got a good thing going. Kari Lehtonen is pretty okay at his job, and Brenden Dillon and Jordie Benn are both poised to look even better. Dallas could be a real threat this year.

    3. Chicago Blackhawks

    They’ve got a not very good goalie, and I don’t see him getting better? They’ve also got Patrick Kane, so let’s all just leave this one alone.

    2. St. Louis Blues

    Paul Stastny.

    1. Anaheim Ducks

    BUT WE BEAT THEM 4-0 IN THE PRESEASON GAME LAST NIGHT! Yeah, okay. Without Ryan Getzlaf, or Corey Perry, or any kind of conceivable starter. Congratulations, our farm system beat their farm system. This means a whole fantastic lot of nothing. Stop.

    Tune in next week to see where we rank all thirty teams right before the season begins!