NHL Power Rankings: At the halfway point
Yes it is the halfway point of the season.
We have officially reached the halfway point of the 2023-24 NHL season as the overwhelming majority of the teams will have reached the 40-game mark on Thursday. Not sure where the first half of the season went (or 2023 for that matter) but here we are.
That also means it is a good time to get the NHL Power Rankings rolling again with a look at where things stand at the halfway point of the season.
There are definitely some surprises at the top of the league as the Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks make big statements, while the Florida Panthers show their Stanley Cup Final run a year ago was not a fluke.
There are also some of the usual teams near the top (Colorado, Boston) and some teams trying to put things together and make a run.
Let’s get into all of that and more.
On to this week’s NHL Power Rankings!!
1. Winnipeg Jets. Not really sure what is happening here. The most mid-team in the league for the past decade with a virtually identical roster has just … clicked. They have the best record in the league, the underlying numbers to match it and a great goalie. Sometimes you just simply can’t predict sports.
2. Florida Panthers. I did not have particularly high expectations for them at the start, but they are white-hot right now, have great possession numbers and are still waiting for Matthew Tkachuk to breakthrough. Watch out when he finally does. And he will.
3. Colorado Avalanche. They are one of the best teams in the league and their goaltending has mostly stunk. They still could use an upgrade at No. 2 center and maybe some depth, but they are still very much a contender.
4. Dallas Stars. Nearly identical to Colorado in that their overall performance is great and the goaltending is still lacking. It’s a little bit of a surprise here because Jake Oettinger, in theory, should be one of the best at the position. Not only are their veterans great, but there is also a really strong young core here with Jason Robertson, Wyatt Johnston and Thomas Harley. Really do love this team.
5. Boston Bruins. They keep winning, but there are some definite cracks in the foundation here. Goaltending is elevating this team up. Fortunately for them they have two No. 1s and both are playing great.
6. Vancouver Canucks. I am still trying to figure out what to make of this team, but they are fun to watch. There are some real depth issues here, but a team that has high-end stars, turns them loose and gets great goaltending can make a lot of noise. The scoring chance and possession numbers are a bit of a red flag, but as long as the goaltending holds up they should still find success.
7. Carolina Hurricanes. Not the start to the season that was expected, but they are starting to turn it on. A healthy Andre Svechnikov is really starting to light it up and Sebasian Aho is dominating right now. Still need some goaltending help.
8. Edmonton Oilers. Maybe you think this is too high given their place in the overall standings. But I am very bullish on this team right now. Connor McDavid is a machine, they are 18-6-0 in their past 24 games, they have the best 5-on-5 expected goal share in hockey and they still have a power play that has the potential to be unstoppable. Just give them decent goaltending. Vancouver has built a pretty big lead in the Pacific, but I am not ruling out Edmonton finishing in second place.
9. New York Rangers. The Rangers are very good. I question if they have the potential to be great. They still have a lot of the same problems as it relates to forward depth and 5-on-5 play, but they do have a significantly better coach (Peter Laviolette) than they did before (Gerard Gallant).
10. Los Angeles Kings. The Pierre-Luc Dubois experience is off to an underwhelming start. They have a lot invested in him and need him to be a difference-maker. Overall, though, this is an excellent team (second-best expected goals share in the NHL) that is also getting surprising play in goal from Cam Talbot and a nice breakthrough season from Quinton Byfield. I could see them going for in the West.