All throughout the off-season teams have been making moves to try and bolster their teams, and with the curveball of a new expansion team, and the reshuffling of teams to accommodate the newest addition, the league has largely shifted in terms of a power ranking. Some teams have moved up through the rankings and look ready to break back into playoff contention, while others have fallen through the rankings after the division realignment. Here are our updated rankings for each division before the 2021-2022 Season.
Atlantic Division Rankings
1st. Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning have won the Stanley Cup the past two seasons, and even after shedding the required salaries to meet the leagues’ cap space requirements, they still look strong. With the addition of veteran Corey Perry, the team continues to look strong, with a wealth of young players such as Mathieu Joseph and Cal Foote. As well, the team still has one of the best goalies in the league, and a fair bit of depth to their system, it really isn’t out of the question that Tampa could look to pull off a triple.
2nd. Boston Bruins: The Bruins are a strong team, and currently have a couple of lines worth of elite forward players. While the Bruins defence is not quite as strong as before the free-agent window, as well as having lost their starting goalie of Tukka Rask, and backup goalie of Jaroslav Halak, the team will likely look to outscore any issues that the situation may bring up. As well, the Bruins have added a strong leader to their team with the acquisition of Nick Foligno.
3rd. Toronto Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs won their division during the 2020-21 season and looked strong before the playoffs started. The Leafs have made some solid signings, including the acquisitions of goalie Petr Mrazek and forward Ondrej Kase that may see the Leafs make a more solid playoff push, as the team looks to finish in the top of their division.
4th. Florida Panthers: The Florida Panthers had an amazing season last season, and managed to finish second in a division containing the Stanley Cup winner, as well as finishing above the Dallas Stars. Overall, the team looks increasingly strong as Spencer Knight looks to take on the position of starter, and the whole team looks increasingly ready to make a playoff push and may shock many fans this season with more stellar performances.
5th. Montreal Canadiens: The Canadiens advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, however, with the loss of captain Shea Weber and forward Paul Byron, the team looks to be in a slightly weaker position to start the season. The Canadiens will need to look to instil new leadership, which may see a slightly tumultuous season, that will set them up for stronger ones in the future. Overall, the team is still strong with a future hall of fame player in the net in Carey Price, and some of the best young players in the league.
6th. Detroit Red Wings: The Red Wings have looked to improve in the off-season, including one of the most shocking moves in the league, in acquiring Calder candidate Alex Nedeljkovic. This team could surprise people and is the most likely team to pull off a surprise and move up in the rankings, however, based on last season’s figures, the team may still need more time to build line chemistry and get into position for a top finish.
7th. Ottawa Senators: The Senators have had a hard time putting up points for the past few seasons, something that looks likely to continue for the foreseeable future, as they are a largely young team that may need some time to build the performances that would see them come in the top of the division like they were in the early 2000s.
8th. Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres have been looking to rebuild the organization for a while now, and are likely still not at a point where they can be expected to take on much competition after almost setting a new record for the most consecutive losses last season. The team will hope to continue their journey towards redemption as they look to complete their rebuild for a season that doesn’t see them finish bottom of the league.
Metropolitan Division Rankings
1st. New York Islanders: The Islanders have done well for themselves in the past season and advanced far in the playoffs. The team hasn’t suffered a large number of losses in the offseason. The team overall seems strong, with fast forwards, and a solid defensive core that could see the team finish top of their division. The team made it the farthest in the Stanley Cup playoffs, knocking out the Bruins and making it to the semi-finals before going out to the Stanley Cup champions. The key to their system this year is going to have to be the raising of their young players, with some absolute stars like Mathew Barzal looking ready to fire on all cylinders.
2nd. New Jersey Devils: The Devils have made some real high-quality acquisitions in the offseason that may see them become a real powerhouse team, including that of defensemen Dougie Hamilton and Ryan Graves. Overall the team has a solid chance of making an impact, especially with the contributions of young goalie Mackenzie Blackwood, who is likely to reclaim the starting position this season. As well, the team signed forward Tomas Tatar who will likely bolster their depth and help with his goal-scoring performances.
3rd. Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes have been a solid team for the past few seasons, but have mixed up their defence this season, as well as having a full change in net with the signings of Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta. Overall the team may be in a weaker position than they were last season, but as they gain more line chemistry and their youth continues to develop there is a high chance that the team will continue to finish high in their division.
4th. Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins are a fairly solid organization, with the Stanley Cup playoffs performance being a surprise to many fans. The organization will look to solidify itself again this season, and they have made some important changes, as well as put in some extra training hours for young goalie Tristan Jarry.
5th. New York Rangers: The Rangers had a rather tricky season last year, as multiple players with the organization faced allegations on multiple fronts. This season the team will look to solidify their performances with their forward and defensive depth. The key to this team will likely be the continued performance of star players such as Adam Fox and Artemi Panarin, as well as looking to perform well under new head coach Gerard Gallant.
6th. Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers had a rough go of it last season, as young star goalie Carter Hart underperforming in the net, and the rest of the system collapsing around him. The team has since bolstered their depth this offseason but may need some time to build chemistry between these players, as well as for Hart to regain his confidence between the pipes. The additions of Rasmus Ristolinen, Ryan Ellis, and Cam Atkinson could see the team move up in the ranking during the season, but for the moment they look like they might have a fairly quiet season.
7th. Washington Capitals: The Capitals have taken some real blows this off-season and have looked almost lacklustre as they have tried to claw themselves back. The team takes a lot of penalties which sees their game weakened as they try to play a man down. Overall, the team will need to look to get some youth into the organization due to a large number of veteran players, as well as look to stay out of the penalty box and play more at full strength.
8th. Columbus Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets have suffered some real losses, as well as having a generally bad atmosphere which has seen many players requesting to leave, as well as the departure of head coach John Tortorella. The team will look to reshape themselves and rebuild some chemistry under a new head coach, in a reorganization that may take a while to really set in.
Central Division Rankings
1st. Colorado Avalanche: The Avalanche went out of the playoffs surprisingly early last year, as the team was expected by most to take home the cup. The team lost their starting goalie to the Seattle Kraken but acquired veteran Darcy Kuemper who has been a solid player between the pipes for a fair few seasons. Overall, the team looks to just continue getting stronger as their young players develop more, bringing up the team with continual development. The team is largely considered to have one of the best defences in the league with young superstars Cale Makar and Bowen Byram both looking solid and ready to make their mark.
2nd. Minnesota Wild: The Wild has looked rather impressive this past season with the stellar performances of young players Kaapo Kahkonen and Kirill Kaprizov really bolstering the team. With the resigning of Kaprizov looking imminent, the team looks ready to put up another solid season, as well as having shed some of the ageing players from their organization, allowing young stars to move forward in the lineup.
3rd. Winnipeg Jets: The Jets are a strong team overall, with one of the best goalies in the league playing behind them, and some star forwards who are able to play with grit upfront. The team will likely look strong again this season, with the catalyst of their performances likely being young players Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers upfront, and Connor Hellebuyck in the net.
4th. Dallas Stars: The Stars have looked solid this offseason, as they sign veteran netminder Braden Holtby, as well as veteran defensemen Ryan Suter. The team is likely to put up some tough performances which may see them move up the rankings, as well as the expected point output of young star Jason Robertson. The drawback for this team currently is the loss of starting goalie Ben Bishop due to injury, but with the newly acquired depth in net, the team may be able to get by for the season.
5th. St. Louis Blues: The Blues have had a controversial off-season, as star player Vladamir Tarasenko wants to leave the team. As well, during the season goalie Jordan Binnington looked to be interested in becoming a fighter when he is one of the smallest goalies in the NHL. The teams’ performance this year will rely on new signings Pavel Buchnevich, and Brandon Saad, as well as Binnington hopefully getting the chip off his shoulder and going back to doing what he does best, covering his angles and stopping pucks from hitting the back of the net. Should this happen, the team will once again have a truly elite goalie backing them up, and could look to move up the rankings.
6th. Chicago Blackhawks: The Blackhawks have suffered a lot of losses this off-season, including that of veteran defenseman Duncan Keith. The team has since signed Seth Jones, however, it is unknown how the player will fit into the Blackhawks system. As well the team will rely on veteran netminder Marc-Andre Fleury, the goalie is an amazing player, and may see the team move up in the rankings should he be able to maintain the form he had in Vegas.
7th. Nashville Predators: The Predators have lost some key players in the offseason, including defenseman Ryan Ellis, and retired goalie Pekka Rinne. When this is combined with the early playoff exit that the team suffered, and the competitive division they play in, the team may not see the playoffs again this year. The team will look to continue the growth of their youth during the season, such that they may see future glory in the seasons to come.
8th. Arizona Coyotes: The Coyotes have lost a lot of talent in the off-season, including both their starting and backup goalies, which sees the team that was in the middle of the table, face the likelihood of a rebuild status in the coming seasons. As well, the team faces a crumbling organization as there are known to be many financial troubles and a reportedly hostile work environment in play that could see the team need to face a complete reorganization, and possible buy-out.
Pacific Division Rankings
1st. Vegas Golden Knights: The Golden Knights have had a stellar season and made it deep into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The team is likely to continue to perform, with the team staying largely the same as last season, other than the loss of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Overall, the team still looks strong with players Alex Pietrangelo, Robin Lehner, and Max Pacioretty being expected to continue their stellar performances from last season.
2nd. Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks were heavily affected by COVID-19 last season, as well as playing rather poorly when they did get the opportunity as a lot of their team was injured. This season the team looks back to full strength and has acquired talent to bolster the squad should there be injuries. The acquisition of goalie Jaroslav Halak will likely help push the organization forward as they look to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs this season.
3rd. Seattle Kraken: The Kraken seems to have done extremely well in the expansion draft, acquiring top goalies, a solid defense, and a good selection of forwards. If the team gels together well, this team will look to make a strong impact in their division and could finish high in a playoff spot.
4th. Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers have the looming threat of their top players being ready to leave should the team not start to preform. The acquisitions of Zach Hyman, Warren Foegle, Duncan Keith, and Cody Ceci may see the team get deeper into the playoffs, however, until the team signs a stronger goalie tandem, they will likely continue to not come top of their division or make it to the cup finals.
5th. Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks had a rough season last season, however, with the expected performance of Trevor Zegras, and Jamie Drysdale. The team will look to solidify their performances through their youth, as well as star goalie John Gibson.
6th. Calgary Flames: The Flames are set to have an interesting season after having lost their captain in the expansion draft, a move which weakened their defence, but allowed room for youth to rise up. The team will likely rely on star goalie Jacob Markstrom, as their defence will need time to build chemistry and settle in to their new arrangement. As well, forward Matthew Tkachuk is expected to continue to be a key part to the teams performance.
7th. San Jose Sharks: The Sharks have looked rather shakey for the past few seasons despite having some of the best defensive players in the league. There is a chance that the team could perform better, but with the loss of their goalies, and likelihood of starting Adin Hill who doesn’t have much experience in the NHL, the team is likely to continue on a downward trend.
8th. LA Kings: The Kings weakness has been continually relying on aging players who are starting to not be able to play as many minutes, or move as fast as they used to. The team may start to integrate youth through rookie Quinton Byfield, and younger goalie option Cal Petersen, the players will still take time to get used to playing at the higher level of the NHL, and as such sees the Kings at the bottom of the ranking in their division.
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