Weekly NHL Power Rankings: Where things stand at the halfway point
Looking at all 32 teams in different tiers of contention from the top Stanley Cup contenders to the lottery teams contending for Conor Bedard.
Believe it or not, but we are officially at the halfway point of the 2022-23 NHL season as every team in the league has played at least 41 games. Seems hard to believe, but here we are.
Some teams have met expectations (Carolina, Toronto, Tampa Bay), others have been massive surprises (New Jersey, maybe Winnipeg, Seattle), and others have been substantial disappointments for one reason or another (Vancouver, Colorado, Florida).
We are definitely at a point in the season where we should have some idea as to what these teams are, so let’s separate them into some different tiers of contention from the top Stanley Cup contenders to the lottery teams contending for Conor Bedard.
Where does your team sit?
To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!
The Serious Stanley Cup Contenders
1. Boston Bruins. When the season began I thought that maybe they were getting close to end of their run. And maybe in a year or two it will play out that way when Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci really do walk away and if they are ultimately unable to re-sign David Pastrnak. But right now? This season? Best team in hockey. By a mile. It is also one of the best half season performances we have seen from a team in quite some time. Just an unbelievable start. It is not easy to find a weakness here.
2. Carolina Hurricanes. The crazy thing about this team is I think a lot of their top players are capable of more. Nobody is really lighting things up individually. But the team itself as a whole? Pretty outstanding. My concern is that this seems to be a pretty common storyline with them every year and it ends up fizzling out in the playoffs. But Max Pacioretty is going to be a huge addition and might help change that.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning. Are we bored with them? We might be bored with them. But after three straight Stanley Cup Final appearances and seven years as the most successful organization in hockey seems to have made their play easy to overlook. We just sort of expect it. But while everybody has been so focussed on Boston and New Jersey and Toronto, Tampa Bay again has one of the best records in hockey and is still loaded with talent.
4. Dallas Stars. Am I overrating them? Maybe. But I have been high on them for a couple of years now and they have done a nice job addressing some of their weaknesses. They have the best top-line in hockey (or at least one of them), improved their forward depth around it, have a legit top-pairing defenseman in Miro Heiskanen, and a stud goalie in Jake Oettinger. I could see them winning it all.
The Second Tier Of Stanley Cup Contenders (Great Team, But Have A Question Or Two)
5. Toronto Maple Leafs. So we are doing this again. Until they win in the playoffs the skepticism will remain, but there is also no denying they are a good team. The goaltending has been better than expected so far, but I am still not sold on it entirely and I would like to see some depth added on the blue line.
6. New Jersey Devils. The biggest surprise in the NHL this year. I love their young talent and their young stars have arrived, but this is another team that gives me serious pause due to their goaltending. Is Vitek Vanecek really the guy to lead this team to a Stanley Cup?
7. Vegas Golden Knights. When he has been healthy Jack Eichel has been the player they hoped he would be. He needs to stay healthy, and they need Logan Thompson to keep being a solid starter in goal.
8. Winnipeg Jets. I absolutely love their top-end players, and Pierre-Luc Dubois is becoming the player I thought he would be in terms of an impact two-way center. Josh Morrissey’s breakthrough has helped solve a big hole at the top of the defense and their goalie, Connor Hellebuyck, is as good as anybody else in the league when he is on his game. I think I would just like to see a little more depth here.
9. Seattle Kraken. They are a top-10 team despite not having a goalie with a save percentage over .890. That speaks volumes as to how good this team actually is. It is excellent. Massive leap forward from their debut season.
10. New York Rangers. This is very similar to last year’s team. The results are there, but the process behind the results is sketchy at times. Great top-end players, including in goal, but they need more 5-on-5 scoring depth to really take the next step. They hit some home runs at the trade deadline a year ago with Andrew Copp and Frank Vatrano coming in, and they need to find a way to do that again.
11. Los Angeles Kings. Pheonix Copley has helped give them some decent goaltending for the first time this season, but he is not the answer. But he has shown what this team is capable of when it does get competent goaltending. They spent big money the past two offseasons to bring in veterans like Kevin Fiala, Viktor Arvidsson, and Phillip Danault, and they are carrying the offense.
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