KHL Power Rankings – Week 1

The KHL 2013-2014 season kicks off today with a rematch between last year’s two finalists:  Dynamo Moscow and Traktor Chelyabinsk.  St. Petersburg SKA grabbed the first edition top spot as the best regular season team last year and then adding several players, including Ilya Kovalchuk.  The last spot goes to Metallurg Nk who gave up their top 11 skaters in the offseason.

Let’s not pretend this first run was an easy exercise.  With the NHL lockout, many teams had NHL players on their roster up until the last month of the KHL season.  A couple teams fell hard when they sent their players back.  Other teams were strong without any lockout guys.  Add in two new expansion teams, one full of former NHL and AHL players, and there are a lot of questions marks.  This is not meant to be a prediction of who will win the Gagarin Cup, make the playoffs, etc.  This is a first run at Power Rankings based on the offseason and last season’s work.

I plan to give Power Rankings weekly on Mondays, so stay tuned to see what changes over the 50+ scheduled games between now and Sunday.  Here we go….hockey season is in!

 

Rank

Team

Record

Trend

Comment

1

SKA St. PetersburgSKA St. Petersburg

N/A

One man doesn’t make a team, but last year’s best regular season team just picked up Ilya Kovalchuk.  Big improvement for an already stacked team.

2

Dynamo MoscowDynamo Moscow

N/A

Two championships in a row put Dynamo in the second spot.  They still have a strong team and should be competitive.

3

AK BarsAK Bars Kazan

N/A

Last year’s Best-in-the-East club lost a seven game series to Traktor. Still the best in the east on paper.

4

TraktorTraktor Chelyabinsk

N/A

Lost in six games to the eventual champs.  Traktor will be very competitive and could make a run at a top two seed and AK Bars.

5

CSKACSKA Moscow

N/A

Lost some big NHLers in the lockout, but also picked up some big names in the offseason. They could be a quick mover to the top.

6

AvangardAvangard Omsk

N/A

Avangard is not as good as they were last season and the Western teams below them have improved.  Starting off a little lower than they finished last season.

7

SalavatSalavat Yuleav Ufa

N/A

Salavat was strong last season without lockout players.  The pickup of Hartikainen and keeping their best guys is a recipe for an even better season than last.

8

BarysBarys Astana

N/A

Another team that was strong without NHLers.  They didn’t make many moves like Ufa, but they could move up quick if the teams with a lot of lockout players suffer.

9

lokomotivLokomotiv Yaroslavl

N/A

Anisimov is back with the Blue Jackets and they lost some other top guys from last season.  Still good after a tragic plane crash, but a step back from last year.

10

Metallurg MGMetallurg Magnitogorsk

N/A

Metallurg MG might drop from here quick. Lost a ton of games down the stretch when the NHL guys left.  GK Ahonen is gone, but they still have the league’s top scorer in Mozyakin.

11

MedvescakKHL Medvescak Zagreb

N/A

A team filled with AHL/NHL misfits playing half their games on a North American sized rink.  Better on paper than the other non-Russian clubs in the West.

12

SibirSibir Novosibirsk

N/A

They kept their top scoring Finnish duo intact, which is great for regular season results.  Will these guys be able to score in the playoffs if Sibir gets in?

13

slovanSlovan Bratislava

N/A

Slovaks play a great team game and these guys have kept their core together (minus Miroslav Satan), made up of countrymen.  Playoffs are still possible with not much pressure from the bottom.

14

LEVLev Praha

N/A

Lev gets Nik Zherdev; Nik Zherdev leaves a week before the season starts; Lev being stared down by Vityaz, Donbass and Medvescak.  Could they drop out of the playoffs?

15

severstalSeverstal Cherepovets

N/A

Severstal lost Bergfors in the expansion draft and a lot of other top scorers.  Didn’t do much to replace them.  Do they still have enough?

16

 NeftNeftekhimik Nizhnekamsk

N/A

42 point defender Mamashev and top scoring forward Koukal are still on board.  The d-men can score, but forward strength will need to be better to get to the top.

17

donbassDonbass Donetsk

N/A

Donetsk kept their top group and picked up a good contributor in Teemu Laine.  Others should slip and give the Ukranian club a playoff shot.

18

Atlant MoscowAtlant Moscow Oblast

N/A

Atlant couldn’t get rid of Zherdev in the expansion draft and dropped him for nothing after leading the team in scoring.  That is going to hurt.

19

YugraYugra Khanty-Mansiysk

N/A

The loss of Anton But could hurt a bit, though Skorokhodov and Sitnikov are still on board.  Didn’t do a lot to improve their roster, so they will need better play all around.

20

VityazVityaz Chekhov

N/A

Vityaz was the third worse team in the league last year, but they had a strong preseason.  Add Afinogenov and good things are in the making.

21

TorpedoTorpedo Nizhny Novgorod

N/A

Torpedo picks up Tim Brent from the Carolina Hurricanes, but not much otherwise.  They were better than Vityaz last year, but not sure the lockout guys leaving will be enough.

22

RigaDinamo Riga

N/A

Sandis Ozolins, Kyle Wilson and Marcel Hossa are all big time steps to get these guys out of the gutter.

23

 AvtomobilistAvtomobilist Yekaterinberg

N/A

Spirko left to Spartak, but they still need some help.  Will the returning roster be able to step up and compete?

24

MinskDinamo Minsk

N/A

Minsk lost some NHLers after the lockout, dropped some top scorers and refilled the team with Belarus league players.  Not a recipe for competitiveness.

25

AdmiralAdmiral Vladivostok

N/A

New expansion team went the expansion draft and young kids route in their inaugural season.  Could be competitive, but still a ways from the top.

26

SpartakSpartak Moscow

N/A

The Ruzicka loss is going to hurt a team that wasn’t very good last season anyway.  They won 2 of 3 games in the Moscow Mayor’s Cup, but that was preseason.  Maybe a mover, but not without improvement.

27

AmurAmur Khabarovsk

N/A

Amur is trying their hand with VHL juniors and the signing of Dmitry Bykov.  Might end up better than here, but probably not by much.

28

Metalurg NKMetallurg Novokuznetsk

N/A

Lost their top 11 scorers and filled in the holes with potential up and comers.  Definitely a rebuilding season for NK.

 

Tim Bourcier

Tim Bourcier

My name is Tim Bourcier and I am contributor for the Washington Capitals and hockey in Europe. Prior to working with The Hockey Writers, I worked with a professional hockey club in Budapest, Hungary. I also wrote articles for the MOL Liga and international hockey tournaments. I am near a PhD in Economics and I have eight years work experience as a statistician. You can check out my previous work, new stuff and wonky analysis over at my blog: bourciertm.wordpress.com. Also, check out my blog for the KHL team in my home city at www.bearshockeyblog.com
Tim Bourcier
Tim Bourcier

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One Comment

  1. I know it’s not easy to rank these teams, but I think Lev Praha will be significantly better than you rank them–I expect them to contend for the conference lead. Last year they were strong defensively but struggled scoring. They’ve upgraded in goal and 5 of their top 6 d-men have returned, and they have significantly upgraded their forward unit, with three strong lines up front. Sure Zherdev is gone but they now have Klepiš back, who was their leading scorer last year. Meanwhile, I think Slovan Bratislava will have trouble making the playoffs. They struggled mightily after Višňevský left last year and have not made any significant additions in the off-season.

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