Welcome to the ninth edition of my weekly NHL Power Rankings for The Hockey Writers, where the league’s top half is evaluated. These rankings will focus on how the teams have performed in the past week of play and will significantly factor in their overall strength and where they are at the time in the standings. With that said, let’s take a look at the top 16 teams in the league at this moment.
16. Edmonton Oilers (18-11-0)
Last Week’s Rank: NA
After an ugly six-game losing streak, the Oilers won their final two games of the week against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Seattle Kraken. Neither of those opponents are regarded as strong teams, but they may have been exactly what this Oilers team needed to get back on track.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 9
Though they have slowed down a bit in recent weeks, both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have a ridiculous 49 points in 29 games. If they can get some offensive support from their teammates, they could be a very dangerous team down the stretch and one that could climb these rankings in a hurry.
15. Boston Bruins (14-10-2)
Last Week’s Rank: 13
Just when it looked like the Bruins were slowly beginning to get things together, they came out this past week and lost both of their games to the Vegas Golden Knights and the New York Islanders.
Guys like Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron are doing everything they can to rack up wins for this Bruins team, but they haven’t had a lot of help. In order to turn things around, players like David Pastrnak and Taylor Hall need to get going.
14. Anaheim Ducks (17-9-6)
Last Week’s Rank: 14
After a big 4-1 win over the Kraken on Wednesday, the Ducks were in a position to shoot up these rankings thanks to some great play as of late. However, a disappointing loss to the Arizona Coyotes a few short nights later stopped that from happening.
It remains to be seen whether or not their current play will be sustainable over the full 82-game season, but it is impressive nonetheless. The play of youngsters like Troy Terry and Trevor Zegras should have Ducks fans very excited about the future of this team.
13. Pittsburgh Penguins (17-8-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 16
The Penguins are red hot right now, having won seven straight contests. As it turns out, getting one of the best players in the world in Sidney Crosby back into their lineup has turned them into a much better team.
While a number of Penguins have had good starts to the 2021-22 season, the one who deserves a ton of recognition is Evan Rodrigues. The 28-year-old came into the season with a career-high 29 points and is on pace to shatter that as he is already up to 23 points in just 30 games.
12. Calgary Flames (15-7-6)
Last Week’s Rank: 12
This ranking is somewhat unfair because the Flames were unable to play a single game this past week due to a COVID-19 outbreak in their dressing room. However, before the stoppage, they had been struggling a bit with four straight losses.
As of now, the Flames are set to return to game action on Dec. 27 against the Oilers. Whether or not that game happens remains to be seen, but whenever this team does return, they should be able to make their way back to the top half of these rankings.
11. Minnesota Wild (19-8-2)
Last Week’s Rank: 9
The Wild are in a bit of a slump right now, having lost four straight, including Monday night’s 7-4 loss to the Dallas Stars. Both goaltending and defensive play have been a major cause of the skid, as they have given up 18 goals during that span.
The good news for the Wild is that they have some time to reset, as they won’t play again until Dec. 27. Hopefully, the time away gives them what they need to get back to the team they have been for the majority of the 2021-22 season.
10. New York Rangers (19-7-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 7
This past week, the Rangers defeated the Coyotes but lost to much stronger teams in the Golden Knights and Avalanche, hence them sliding down this list. Their only scheduled game this next week against the Montreal Canadiens was canceled, meaning they will be waiting some time until playing again.
Despite some inconsistent play as of late, there is some very good news for this team: Igor Shesterkin was activated from the injured reserve. The 25-year-old is very much in the Vezina Trophy conversation with a 2.05 goals-against average (GAA) and a .937 save percentage (SV%) and will provide a huge boost to this team going forward.
9. Colorado Avalanche (17-8-2)
Last Week’s Rank: 6
Due to the COVID situation going around the league, the Avalanche’s final game of the week against the Tampa Bay Lightning was canceled. However, they were able to play two prior, winning the first over the Rangers but losing the second to the Nashville Predators.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 8
Nathan MacKinnon has been a beast for this Avalanche team lately and will head into the Christmas break on a nine-game point streak. He, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, and Nazem Kadri have all been superb as of late and have this team looking like a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
8. St. Louis Blues (17-9-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 10
The Blues have won five of their last six, including two this week against the Stars. After a bit of a rough stretch in November, they appear to be back playing to their full potential and are looking very dangerous.
What makes their play as of late so impressive is the fact they have been extremely banged up. Players like David Perron, James Neal, Robert Thomas Jordan Kyrou, and Brayden Schenn have all been forced to miss time as of late, but it hasn’t impacted their team’s performance. Once they get healthy again, look out.
7. Nashville Predators (19-10-1)
Last Week’s Rank: 11
The biggest surprise team in the NHL to this point may very well be the Predators. Due to a lack of offense in recent years as well as their top players often struggling, not much was expected of this team in 2021-22. They have proven many doubters wrong, as through 30 games, they currently sit second in the Central Division.
As mentioned, players like Ryan Johansen, Matt Duchene, and Mikael Granlund had really struggled in recent seasons but have been fantastic this year. Their play, along with guys like Filip Forsberg, Roman Josi, and goaltender Juuse Saros, has the Predators looking like a contender once again out of the Western Conference.
6. Florida Panthers (18-7-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 1
After being at the top or right near the top of this list all season, the Florida Panthers have taken a bit of a dive due to some subpar play as of late. Not only have they lost four of their last five games, but one of them was an 8-2 shellacking against a less than stellar Ottawa Senators team.
This recent poor showing from them can be attributed in large part due to the injury to Aleksander Barkov. The 26-year-old hasn’t played since Dec. 6 due to an upper-body injury, though it isn’t expected to be anything long-term. They, like many teams, have been rocked hard by COVID and, as a result, won’t play until after the Christmas break.
5. Washington Capitals (18-6-7)
Last Week’s Ranking: 3
Like the Panthers, this past week was an off one for the Capitals. Though they were able to pick up a win over the Winnipeg Jets, they lost to both the Chicago Blackhawks and L.A. Kings, teams they are far more talented than.
The Capitals welcomed Nicklas Backstrom back to the lineup for the first time this season on Dec. 15, and he looked no worse for the ware with a power-play assist in 18 minutes of ice time. He has since been placed in COVID protocol, but should be good to go after the break.
4. Vegas Golden Knights (20-11-0)
Last Week’s Rank: 8
The Golden Knights are very much back after a slow start to the 2021-22 season. They have won five straight games and seven of their last nine.
Their play has turned around immensely in the last month, thanks in large part to getting some of their top players back from injury. One in particular is Max Pacioretty, who has been incredible when in the lineup with 12 goals and 20 points in just 14 games.
3. Toronto Maple Leafs (20-8-2)
Last Week’s Rank: 4
Despite not clicking as we have come to see from them over the years, the Maple Leafs are continuing to find ways to win games. That was the case again in their only game this past week, as they easily defeated the Oilers by a 5-1 final.
The story of their season continues to be Jack Campbell, who owns a spectacular 1.94 GAA along with a .937 SV% in 23 games. If he can keep this play up, the Maple Leafs have a great chance to finally get past the first round once the postseason begins.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (19-6-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 5
With a record of 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, the Lightning looks very much like the team who has won back-to-back Stanley Cups, which is a very scary thought for the rest of the league. This past week, they were solid again, defeating both the Kings and Senators in their only two games.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 7
This Lightning team has been racking up wins lately despite not having Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point in the lineup, however, that will soon change. Point is expected to be back after the Christmas break, while Kucherov is slated to return in mid-January. It wouldn’t be all that surprising if they could win a third straight championship this season.
1. Carolina Hurricanes (21-7-1)
Last Week’s Rank: 2
After a bit of a tough stretch in late November due to several of their players being placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol list, the Hurricanes have bounced back tremendously since and as a result have reclaimed the top spot on this list. They scored 10 goals in their two games this past week, and have won six of their last seven games.
This team has so many offensive weapons up front, including Sebastian Aho, who at this point may very well be the most underrated player in the entire NHL. They also have one of, if not the best blue line in the league, and a goaltender in Frederik Andersen, who is in the running for a Vezina Trophy right now. They should continue to stay near the top of these rankings for the remainder of the 2021-22 season.
Changes to Come
These rankings will continue to change each week throughout the season, as all teams go through highs and lows. Of course, the true contenders will like always remain on the list, but where they are ranked could change each and every week. Tune in at this time next week to see the changes.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Oil On Whyte, NHLtradetalk.com, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.