Welcome to the third 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. Philadelphia Flyers (7-4-2)
Last Weeks Rank: 9
It was a bit of an odd week for the Flyers, as they lost to both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Dallas Stars by three goals each but were able to defeat an excellent Carolina Hurricanes team. On the surface, they look like a better team than they were in 2020-21, but there are still some concerns.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 4
Perhaps the biggest is that they have had serious trouble scoring goals, specifically as of late. Players like Travis Konecny and James Van Riemsdyk have been inconsistent, while Joel Farabee hasn’t taken the step forward many had expected to this point. The talent is there, and there is still plenty of time to ramp things up, but whether they can or not remains to be seen.
15. Anaheim Ducks (9-4-3)
Last Weeks Rank: NA
There were very little expectations placed on this Ducks club headed into the 2021-22 season, but early on, they have looked quite solid. In fact, they are currently the hottest team in the league as they find themselves on a seven-game winning streak.
That streak has helped them jump out to a 9-4-3 record through their first 16 games this season. Even better, it has them sitting second in the Pacific Division. It is fair to question whether or not this play will continue from them, but there is no denying that it has been an impressive start.
14. Colorado Avalanche (6-5-1)
Last Weeks Rank: 16
The Avalanche hasn’t been at their best so far this season, but this past week was undoubtedly their best yet. Despite playing in only two games, they scored 13 goals as they hammered the Vancouver Canucks and the San Jose Sharks.
The good news for this team is that this past week they looked like the Avalanche of 2020-21, who were legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. The bad news is that they will be without Nathan MacKinnon for roughly three weeks, as the 26-year-old suffered a lower-body injury against the Columbus Blue Jackets late last week. Their roster is good enough to continue to rack up wins without him, but given their inconsistencies early on, it remains to be seen as to whether or not that will happen.
13. Calgary Flames (8-3-4)
Last Weeks Rank: 7
The Flames followed up their six-game winning streak by dropping three straight, two of which came against teams they should have beat in the Sharks and Montreal Canadiens. They responded with a big 4-0 win over the Ottawa Senators Sunday afternoon, but that was expected given the COVID implications the Sens are dealing with right now.
It is tough to get a read on this team. When things were going well, they were clicking offensively and goaltender Jacob Markstrom was playing out of his mind. At other times, their offense has been nearly nonexistent and Markstrom has been just average. We will see if Sunday’s game was enough to get them back on the right track.
12. Nashville Predators (9-5-1)
Last Weeks Rank: NA
After years of being considered a perennial Stanley Cup contender, the Predators are viewed by most as a rather average roster now. They were able to sneak into the 2020-21 Stanley Cup Playoffs thanks to the red-hot play of Juuse Saros, who again is playing remarkably to start this season.
Thankfully for Saros’ sake, he is getting more help this season than last, as the Predators are filling the net at a better clip this season than they did in 2020-21. One player in particular responsible for that is Matt Duchene, who appears to be having a bounce-back campaign with nine goals and 16 points in 15 contests.
11. Vegas Golden Knights (9-6-0)
Last Weeks Rank: 15
After a slow start to the season, the Golden Knights appear to be figuring things out as they won all three of their games this past week. They are also slowly getting back to health, as Mark Stone returned Saturday night versus the Canucks after having missed the past month.
Perhaps the most pleasant surprise for them this season has been the play of Chandler Stephenson, who has become a highly impactful player since being acquired in a trade with the Washington Capitals during the 2019-20 season. He will remain the team’s number one centerman until Jack Eichel can return.
10. New York Rangers (9-3-3)
Last Weeks Rank: 12
A solid bounce-back week for the Rangers, who had lost three straight in the one prior. The one concern about them is that they still aren’t getting a ton of offensive contribution, particularly from young players like Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko, who many were hoping would take significant steps forward.
Early on, their unanimous MVP has been Igor Shesterkin, who has been phenomenal for them night in and night out. If he can keep it up and some of the younger players can start contributing more moving forward, this team could become a legitimate powerhouse.
9. Winnipeg Jets (8-3-3)
Last Weeks Rank: 10
The Jets have been going quietly about their business all season long and continued that this past week, picking up five out of a possible six points in games against the St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings, and the Sharks.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 3
This team is continuing to rack up wins even though two of their best players, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler, have combined for just one goal and eight points in 17 total games this season. Once those two get going, this team will be amongst the best in the league.
8. St. Louis Blues (8-4-2)
Last Weeks Rank: 6
While the Blues have had a great start to the 2021-22 season, they weren’t at their best this past week. In their four games, they went 1-2-1, including a 5-4 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.
Despite falling down the rankings slightly, however, they are still a very good team who you can expect to see in the playoffs by the season’s end. With the talent they have up front in players like Jordan Kyrou and Vladimir Tarasenko, they are a ton of fun to watch as well.
7. Tampa Bay Lightning (7-3-3)
Last Weeks Rank: 8
The Lightning is slowly starting to turn things up, as they had a statement win against the number one team in the standings in the Florida Panthers on Saturday evening. They were also able to pick up a point earlier in the week against the number two team in the standings in the Hurricanes last Tuesday.
Aside from Steven Stamkos, Alex Killorn and Victor Hedman, this team hasn’t quite hit their stride offensively just yet, though that should come soon enough. To no one’s surprise, Andrei Vasilevskiy has continued to play at an elite level, and that won’t change anytime soon.
6. Edmonton Oilers (11-3-0)
Last Weeks Rank: 2
The Oilers came into this past week with just one loss on the season but now sit at three losses after dropping games to the Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres. The confusing part about it was that they were able to beat what most people would consider stronger opponents in both the Blues and the Boston Bruins.
As long as Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl remain healthy, this team will stay near the top of power ranking lists for the entirety of the 2021-22 season. Of course, it doesn’t hurt for the time being that Mikko Koskinen has been fantastic out of the gates as well.
5. Minnesota Wild (10-4-0)
Last Weeks Rank: 4
The Wild could keep the good times rolling this past week, winning two of their three games. One thing worth noting was that their two wins game against weaker teams in the Arizona Coyotes and the Seattle Kraken.
That is the one knock against this Wild team early on, as they have had a very easy schedule to begin the 2021-22 season. That is no fault of their own, however, and they have looked very good early on nonetheless. They will have a great test next Saturday night as they are set to take on the Panthers.
4. Washington Capitals (9-2-4)
Last Weeks Rank: 11
After going through a bit of a tough stretch a couple of weeks ago, the Capitals are back to looking like one of the league’s best teams as they are currently riding a four-game winning streak thanks to a 6-1 shellacking over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday night.
3. Florida Panthers (10-2-3)
Last Weeks Rank: 1
After a red hot 10-0-1 start to the season, the Panthers were off this past week, losing all four games they had on the schedule. There is no reason to panic here as they have proven both this season and last that they have a ridiculous amount of talent in their lineup.
They will have a chance to get back on track Tuesday against a New York Islanders team who has struggled early on this season and then get the New Jersey Devils and the Wild to finish off their week. While the Wild look very much like contenders themselves this season, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Panthers win all three and prove to everyone just how good they are.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs (10-5-1)
Last Weeks Rank: 5
After an ugly start to the season, the Maple Leafs are red hot as of late, posting an 8-2-0 record over their past 10 games. Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews have gotten back to their point-producing ways, while John Tavares and William Nylander look great early on.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 1-2
Another huge reason they have turned things around is the play of goaltender Jack Campbell, who, through 13 starts, has a 1.82 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage. They should continue to be a great team for the remainder of the regular season, but as everyone knows, their real test will come in the playoffs.
1. Carolina Hurricanes (11-2-0)
Last Weeks Rank: 3
The Hurricanes are a true Stanley Cup contender, and they have been fantastic this season. This past week was more of the same, as they were able to defeat two difficult opponents in the Lightning and Blues, though they did suffer a loss to the Flyers.
The free-agent acquisition of Frederik Andersen has general manager Don Waddell looking like a genius, while Andrei Svechnikov is turning into a superstar caliber player up front. Barring injury, this team will be near the top, if not first place, in league standings by the end 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 likely 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: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, 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.