NHL power rankings: Barkov, Bennett drive the Panthers to the no. 1 spot
Now that the 2021-22 season is underway, it’s time for some updated NHL power rankings to get a sense of where teams really stand, based in large part on what we saw in week one and what transpired in free agency.
It has been quite a week so far, with key injuries, signings and rookies making an impact early in the season. We’re getting looks at what teams’ strengths are, and what they’ll be working on as the season progresses.
Without further ado, here are Sportsnaut’s NHL power rankings as we look ahead to the 2021-22 campaign.
NHL power rankings: Florida Panthers start season hot
1. Florida Panthers (Previous Ranking: 8)
Undefeated in the first two games this season, the Panthers are looking like a solid, complete team. They are getting solid leadership from captain Aleksander Barkov, scoring from all areas of their lineup, and excellent goaltending from Sergei Bobrovsky.
The club has scored five goals in each of their contests thus far, edging the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4 in overtime and the New York Islanders 5-1. Aaron Ekblad is back manning the blue line after a terrible injury last season, and Sam Bennett is playing well in his new home. And, we haven’t even seen young goaltender Spencer Knight in action yet. In short, Florida looks like a real contender this season.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (Previous Ranking: 15)
Despite injuries to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin , the Penguins are still putting up points and gathering wins. They have yet to record a regulation loss, suffering only an overtime loss to the Florida Panthers in the season opener. They are getting solid game play from Kasperi Kapanen, from goaltenders Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith, and things will only get better when their superstar players return. With a 90% penalty kill percentage, too, this team has the added benefit of being essentially settled into their lineup, and can jump right into quality hockey.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (Previous Ranking: 2)
With Steven Stamkos tied for league leader in points so far this season, the Bolts are already playing the hockey we’ve come to know from the back-to-back champs. They have a 90% penalty kill efficiency and a 33.3% power play percentage. Andrei Vasilevsky has let in a few questionable goals, though, and has an .890% save percentage and and a 3.25 goals against average. While it likely won’t be permanent, it’s certainly unlike him and a cause for the Lightning to drop slightly in the NHL power rankings.Also Read:
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4. Toronto Maple Leafs (Previous Ranking: 5)
As promised, Michael Bunting is really delivering for the Leafs. He has a pair of goals and an assist in four games with the club, and is generating tons of offensive opportunities. The problem, though, is that Petr Mrazek is already injured, but Jack Campbell has been standing on his head in Mrazek’s place. Auston Matthews missed the first few games for the club, but that didn’t seem to stop them offensively–despite a loss to the Ottawa Senators. Campbell is carrying this team already. But as the season goes on, this will likely change.
5. Carolina Hurricanes (Previous Ranking: 18)
Despite losing Dougie Hamilton and all of their goaltending corps, the Canes don’t seem to be slowing down. Led by Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov, the offense is succeeding, with nine goals against in two games. The defense, populated by Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce, is solid, and Freddie Andersen has been impressive so far in the season. If they keep this up, they can really compete for the top of the Metropolitan division.
6. Edmonton Oilers (Previous Ranking: 13)
It’s hard to bet against Connor McDavid. It’s even harder to bet against Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. There was some concern swirling around the ages of goaltender Mike Smith and defenseman Duncan Keith, but that doesn’t seem to affect the club too much. They are undefeated in two games, both of which were divisional matchups, and have only allowed two goals in each game. Many predict McDavid will break an NHL record and score at least 150 points this season, which will certainly help the club.
7. Colorado Avalanche (Previous Ranking: 1)
With captain Gabriel Landeskog’s two-game suspension , and Nathan Mackinnon’s positive Covid test, as well as several injuries to their defensive and goaltending corps, the Avalanche are hurting. Their already emaciated lineup has gone 1-1-0 so far, but suffered a brutal loss to the St. Louis Blues over the weekend. They’re competing, sure, but are hardly playing the hockey we’ve come to expect from the club. It’s unlikely this will continue as players return to the lineup, though, so look for the Avalanche to return to their place higher up in the NHL power rankings.
8. Vegas Golden Knights (Previous Ranking: 6)
A key injury to Mark Stone, sustained early in the club’s second game, is the reason for the Knights’ drop in the NHL power rankings. In his only complete game of the season, Stone registered three assists and was huge for his team’s offense. While it’s still unclear how long he’ll be hurt for, the offense has Max Pacioretty, William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault to rely on. It’s far from a bad group, but there’s something missing when your captain isn’t there on the ice. The evidence is in their terrible power play, which has yet to capitalize on a man-advantage opportunity, and the 60% penalty kill effectiveness.
9. Washington Capitals (Previous Ranking: 9)
Not shockingly, Alex Ovechkin re-signed with the Caps before free agency officially opened, which keeps them sitting in the top 10 in the NHL power rankings. He’s still chasing that goal record, surpassing Marcel Dionne and climbing higher in the all-time goals record. Despite his chase, the club has a victory and one overtime loss, and only plus-3 goal differential. It could be that they’re missing Brenden Dillon, it could be that Tom Wilson is playing more careful hockey, or it could just take some time to swing into things.
10. Boston Bruins (Previous Ranking: 3)
The main reason that the Bruins are so low on the NHL power rankings is because we’ve seen very little of them. They inked Charlie McAvoy to a huge contract, and have given blue paint duties to rookie standout Jeremy Swayman. Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron will have to lead the offensive charge, with Taylor Hall contributing, of course. Will that be enough to help them see victory again? Will Swayman live up to the expectations and continue his impressive efforts? Only time will tell.
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11. New York Islanders (Previous Ranking: 4)
The Isles have fallen significantly in the NHL power rankings, largely because goaltender Ilya Sorokin has not played the way many expected him to in Semyon Varlamov’s absence. Fourth line fixture Matt Martin is also injured , though nearing a return, and his veteran presence is really missed on the ice. The Isles have been blown out in both games, and they’ll need to figure something out quickly if they’re going to play to the level we all expect them to be at.
12. Winnipeg Jets (Previous Ranking: 10)
The Jets are winless in their first two contests thus far, and have a -4 goal differential. It’s a far cry from the expectations many had for the club, and definitely not a testament to what they’re capable of. Mark Scheifele returned from his suspension, but was virtually ineffective in his season debut. While many Jets players have one point, none have yet to really tally offensively, and they seem somewhat discombobulated in the season so far.
13. St. Louis Blues (Previous Ranking: 12)
While the club is undefeated, they have yet to really face a worthy opponent. Their victories come against an injured Avalanche club and the Arizona Coyotes, and both have been high-scoring contests. Pavel Buchnevich is a welcome addition the club’s forward corps, and slightly alleviates the pressure in the Vladimir Tarasenko saga (the star forward requested a trade shortly after the season ended, but nothing has come of it to date).
Jordan Binnington needs to play like he did when he led the Blues to the Stanley Cup, and Jordan Kyrou needs to continue his offensive production in order for this team to go anywhere.
14. Montreal Canadiens (Previous Ranking: 14)
Losing Carey Price indefinitely is a huge blow for the club, as he’s a key component for the club’s success. They seem to be faring well enough so far, though, which is why they’re still in the top half of the NHL power rankings. Jake Allen is a solid back up option, but it’s unclear if he can sustain his performance for the long term. Regardless, the club will need to work on their special teams, as they have yet to record a point on the power play and have only a 61.5% penalty kill rating.
15. Seattle Kraken (Previous Ranking: 7)
Off to a rocky start, the league’s newest club is almost exactly in the middle of the NHL power rankings. Philipp Grubauer had a tough night against the Philadelphia Flyers, but Brandon Tanev has been a bright point so far in the season. Through four games, he has three goals–including one on the power play–and has seen an increased role offensively, alongside Alex Wennberg. When Yanni Gourde returns, though, it will likely energize the team and get them back in the above .500 column.
16. Minnesota Wild (Previous Ranking: 17)
The Wild have been one of the middling clubs in the league for a long time, and they have some promise and hope this season. After buying out Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Wild have a new lease on life, and on rookies. They’ll look to Kirill Kaprizov to continue his thrilling offense, and hope Matt Dumba and Jared Spurgeon can hold the blue line down.
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17. Columbus Blue Jackets (Previous Ranking: 28)
18. Philadelphia Flyers (Previous Ranking: 20)
19. New York Rangers (Previous Ranking: 19)
20. Dallas Stars (Previous Ranking: 16)
21. Vancouver Canucks (Previous Ranking: 22)
22. Chicago Blackhawks (Previous Ranking: 11)
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23. Detroit Red Wings (Previous Ranking: 26)
24. New Jersey Devils (Previous Ranking: 21)
25. Nashville Predators (Previous Ranking: 24)
26. San Jose Sharks (Previous Ranking: 29)Also Read:
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27. Ottawa Senators (Previous Ranking: 25)
28. Arizona Coyotes (Previous Ranking: 30)
29. Anaheim Ducks (Previous Ranking: 31)
30. Calgary Flames (Previous Ranking: 23)
31. Los Angeles Kings (Previous Ranking: 27)
32. Buffalo Sabres (Previous Ranking: 32)