Welcome to the 10th 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. L.A. Kings (16-12-5)
Last Week’s Rank: NA
While everyone knows the future is bright for the Kings thanks to their great prospect pool, most believed they would struggle in 2021-22. That hasn’t exactly been the case, however, as they have played some good hockey, particularly as of late, and are currently just one point behind the Edmonton Oilers for the second wild card position in the Western Conference.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 10
Outside of Anze Kopitar, the Kings haven’t had a ton of scoring this season. Instead, many of their wins have been the direct result of goaltender Jonathan Quick, who, after a number of down years, is having both an impressive and unexpected bounce-back campaign. If the 35-year-old is able to keep it going, the Kings may be able to sneak their way into the postseason.
15. Anaheim Ducks (17-11-7)
Last Week’s Rank: 14
Much like the Kings, not much was expected of the Ducks this season, but they have been fantastic thus far. They currently find themselves trailing only the Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific Division, a spot which no one had them in prior to the season beginning.
A ton of credit for their breakout season needs to go to Troy Terry as well as Trevor Zegras, who at this point may be the frontrunner for the Calder Trophy. One player who deserves to be mentioned as well however is backup goaltender Anthony Stolarz, who was relied on to make multiple starts prior to the league stoppage due to an injury to John Gibson. Stolarz, who is 27 and has been up and down from the American Hockey League over the years, owns a stellar 2.13 goals-against average (GAA) along with a .932 save percentage (SV%) this season.
14. Minnesota Wild (19-10-2)
Last Week’s Rank: 11
Early on this season, the Wild looked like legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, however, their play has fallen off as of late. They have lost five straight and aren’t playing with nearly the same confidence level they had months ago.
While players like Kirill Kaprizov, Ryan Hartman and Mats Zuccarello have all been fantastic in 2021-22, one guy they need more from is Cam Talbot. The 34-year-old is capable of much more than he has provided this season, as he currently owns an underwhelming 3.00 GAA along with a .909 SV%. Assuming he can get back to the level he was at a season prior, this team should be able to soon turn things around.
13. Nashville Predators (20-11-2)
Last Week’s Rank: 7
Despite losing their first two games after the NHL stoppage to the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets, the Predators got things back on track Saturday with a big 6-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. It continues what has been a fantastic start to the 2021-22 season for them.
It has been mentioned in this series before, but this team is finally finding ways to score goals thanks to players such as Roman Josi, Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen and others. One in particular who has been a big help in that regard is Tanner Jeannot, who coming into the season had only 15 career games under his belt but is on pace for over 20 goals.
12. Boston Bruins (16-10-2)
Last Week’s Rank: 15
If you were to glance at the league standings, it wouldn’t appear the Bruins are deserving of being on this list given that they currently sit 20th. The main reason for that however is less to do with their play, but the fact they have played in far fewer games than the majority of teams.
While they certainly haven’t looked like the dominating Bruins teams we have been accustomed to, they do look like a playoff team and are currently holding the second wild card position in the Eastern Conference. It sounds as though they will be getting goaltender Tuukka Rask back in the coming weeks, which should give them more confidence moving forward.
11. Vegas Golden Knights (22-12-1)
Last Week’s Rank: 4
While they currently hold the first spot in the Pacific Division, the 2021-22 season has been anything but smooth sailing for the Golden Knights. Injuries early in the year played a huge part in that, and unsurprisingly they have been much better recently as they were beginning to get healthier.
Unfortunately, the bad injury luck is continuing for them, as Max Pacioretty is out indefinitely after undergoing wrist surgery this past week. It is a tough blow for the 33-year-old, who has been fantastic when healthy this season with 12 goals and 21 points in 16 games. They will need others to step up offensively during his absence if they want to remain first in the Pacific.
10. Calgary Flames (17-7-6)
Last Week’s Rank: 12
After stumbling a bit prior to the league stoppage, the Flames appear to be back on track having won each of their first two games since. While some had doubts whether or not they could sustain their success early on, they have done enough by this point to prove that they are for real.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 9
Players like Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm have all been fantastic offensively, while Jacob Markstrom’s play has him in the Vezina conversation. However, the biggest reason for this turnaround is thanks to Darryl Sutter, who has instilled a great confidence level in this group. They won’t be an easy out when the playoffs roll around.
9. Colorado Avalanche (18-8-2)
Last Week’s Rank: 9
The Avalanche were a very hard team to rank on this list given the fact that they have played just once since Dec. 16. Heading into the stoppage however they were playing their best hockey of the season and continued that play with a 4-2 win over the Ducks on Sunday.
While both Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen have been heating up offensively, the biggest star on this roster this season has been Nazem Kadri, who has a ridiculous 39 points in just 25 games. Coming into 2021-22, the Avalanche were regarded by many as the favorites to take home the Stanley Cup, and they have certainly been living up to those lofty expectations as of late.
8. Pittsburgh Penguins (18-8-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 13
Heading into the 2021-22 season, many questioned how the Pittsburgh Penguins would fare. With an aging group, along with the fact that both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were both hurt, it seemed like this could be the first time in 16 seasons. Despite Malkin not yet returning, however, Crosby has, and that is a huge part of why they are the hottest team in the NHL right now with eight straight wins.
While Crosby has been fantastic with 20 points in 19 games, both Jake Guentzel and Evan Rodrigues deserve a ton of credit for this team’s success. With Malkin expected to return to the lineup soon, this team appears to be a near-lock for a postseason berth and has potential to go on a run if they can stay healthy.
7. New York Rangers (21-8-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 10
The Rangers had a big-time statement win on Sunday night, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 4-0. While the Lightning have been dealing with injuries throughout the season, they have still been one of the league’s best teams, making this victory a massive one for a much improved Rangers squad.
Picking up the shutout on Sunday was Igor Shesterkin, who has been the goaltender many expected he could become this season. He owns a 15-4-2 record on the year along with a 2.09 GAA and a .936 SV%. He will keep the Rangers competitive not only for the remainder of 2021-22, but many seasons to follow.
6. St. Louis Blues (19-9-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 8
After hitting a slump in November, the Blues have gotten back to the elite team they were to begin the season, going 7-1-2 over their past 10 games. They are starting to get healthy after a rough go injury-wise at the time of their slump, and are once again a serious threat in the Western Conference.
They have several players on their roster that are at or near a point per game level in Vladimir Tarasenko, Jordan Kyrou, Pavel Buchnevich, Ivan Barbashev and Robert Thomas, none of whom are being talked about enough around the league. That should change if they are able to keep winning at this current pace.
5. Washington Capitals (20-6-8)
Last Week’s Rank: 5
The Capitals found themselves without two of their top offensive threats in T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom on Sunday, which played a big part in them dropping an overtime game by a final score of 4-3 to the New Jersey Devils. Despite the loss, they still hold the top spot in the league currently, though several teams trailing have games in hand.
With 50 points in 34 games this season, Alex Ovechkin trails only Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in the entire league in that department. His goal total also sits just one shy of Draisaitl, a truly incredible feat for the ageless wonder. If he is able to continue this play for the remainder of the season, the Capitals will be in a great position to win their second-ever Stanley Cup.
4. Tampa Bay Lightning (21-8-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 2
Since returning from the NHL stoppage, the Lightning has struggled, winning just one of four games. While they were able to pick up a single point in two of those losses, the other game in embarrassing fashion, as they were hammered 9-3 by the Florida Panthers.
Despite the recent struggles, there is good news for the Lightning, as Brayden Point was able to return to the lineup recently and Nikita Kucherov is expected to be back soon. Once that happens, this team will be extremely dangerous and could very well win their third straight Stanley Cup this spring.
3. Toronto Maple Leafs (21-8-2)
Last Week’s Rank: 3
Much like the Avalanche, the Maple Leafs were a hard team to rank this week given the fact they have played in just one game since the league stoppage. However, they were able to keep their goalscoring up in that game, defeating the Ottawa Senators 6-0. It marked the 12th straight game they have scored at least three goals. During those 12 games, they have found the back of the net 56 times.
While questions will continue to surround this group until they find playoff success, there is no denying just how great of a regular season team they have become. Rightfully so, players like Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner get the majority of the credit offensively, players like John Tavares, William Nylander and Morgan Rielly have all been spectacular in that regard. Pair that with Jack Campbell’s 1.86 GAA and .939 SV% and you get what is currently one of the best teams in the league.
2. Florida Panthers (21-7-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 6
Heading into the league stoppage, the Panthers were struggling for the first time in 2021-22, having lost four of their five games. Thankfully for their sake, the time off appears to have rejuvenated them, as they have won three straight since returning.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 8
There are little to no holes on this roster, as they have great offensive talent and some very underrated defencemen. They have also gotten a nice bounce-back season from Sergei Bobrovsky, which bodes very well for their Stanley Cup odds.
1. Carolina Hurricanes (23-7-1)
Last Week’s Rank: 1
Despite being recognized as a very good team by most, it still feels as though the Hurricanes aren’t talked about enough when discussing the NHL’s top teams. While they may lack an elite point producer, they have several players who are capable of posting point per game numbers through an entire 82-game schedule.
On top of their well-spread offensive talent, they have what may be the best blueline in the entire league, and have been getting fantastic goaltending from Frederik Andersen. There may not be a more well-balanced team in the NHL this season, and as a result, they have found themselves on top of this list numerous times already.
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.