Welcome to the fifth 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. Boston Bruins (9-6-0)
Last Week’s Rank: NA
It has been a slow start to the season for the Bruins, but they are slowly starting to trend in the right direction. While Sunday night’s 4-0 loss versus the Calgary Flames was ugly, they were able to defeat both the Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens in convincing fashion earlier in the week.
One player they could use more from is Taylor Hall, who has been average at best in the early going with four goals and nine points in 15 contests. Though he may not be the Hart Trophy caliber player he was back in 2017-18, he still has a ton of talent and is capable of producing more.
15. Philadelphia Flyers (8-5-3)
Last Week’s Rank: 16
Flyers fans have to be thrilled with Carter Hart’s start to the season. In 2020-21, he had a disastrous 3.67 goals-against average (GAA) along with a .877 save percentage (SV%) in 27 starts. Thankfully, the 23-year-old has turned things around in a massive way, as through 11 starts this season he owns a 2.25 GAA and a sparkling .932 SV%.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 5
While Claude Giroux and free-agent signee Derick Brassard have been very good, there are too many passengers on this roster right now. Players like Travis Konecny, Joel Farabee, and James Van Riemsdyk will need to get it going if this team hopes to contend for a Stanley Cup.
14. Colorado Avalanche (8-5-1)
Last Week’s Rank: 14
It was a quiet week for the Avalanche, who played in just two games. They looked solid in both, beating the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 on Wednesday and the Seattle Kraken 7-3 on Friday. Those are two teams that are really struggling, however, hence the Avs remaining in the same slot on this week’s ranking.
The Avalanche received some very good news on Sunday as Nathan MacKinnon resumed skating for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury just over two weeks ago. Though an exact date isn’t clear, he is expected to return to the lineup soon, which will obviously help this team out a ton.
13. Anaheim Ducks (10-5-3)
Last Week’s Rank: 15
What is going on here? Heading into the 2021-22 season, the Ducks were viewed as a lottery team. However, thanks to an eight-game winning streak that finally ended on Thursday, they find themselves in third place in the Pacific Division.
A big reason for their success is the play of Troy Terry, who is currently on a 16 game point streak and has 22 points on the season. On top of that, both Ryan Getzlaf and Adam Henrique appear to have found the fountain of youth and are playing excellent hockey for the Ducks. Whether or not this will last remains to be seen, but this team is one of the best stories so far in this 2021-22 season.
12. St. Louis Blues (9-6-2)
Last Week’s Rank: 8
After a red hot start to the season, the Blues are struggling as of late. They are just 3-5-2 in their last 10 games and struggled this past week losing two of three, including one to a very bad team in the Arizona Coyotes.
On paper, this appears to be a solid team, so it shouldn’t surprise anybody if they are able to figure things out. Thankfully the great start gave them a bit of breathing room early on in the standings, but they will need to get going as they have slid down to third in the Central Division.
11. Winnipeg Jets (9-4-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 9
The week started off great for the Jets, as they were the much better team in a 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Those same Oilers bounced back in their next matchup two nights later, however, winning 2-1 in a shootout. They then went on to lose to a struggling Canucks squad on Friday night, although it was on a back-to-back.
This group hasn’t quite hit their stride yet but is so talented that they have a very solid record regardless. One player in particular who has struggled is Blake Wheeler, who is goalless and has just five helpers through 12 games on the season.
10. Vegas Golden Knights (11-7-0)
Last Week’s Rank: 11
The Golden Knights are slowly getting healthy, and as a result, are beginning to pick things up from what was a slow start. They will have a big test later on this week, as they take on the Oilers Saturday night.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 4
Given the fact they have been able to put up 11 wins given all their injury troubles early on this season shows just how deep this team is. If they are able to get back to full health, they will be a very scary team and one that will very much be in contention for the Stanley Cup.
9. Minnesota Wild (11-6-1)
Last Week’s Rank: 5
The Wild have had a great start to their season, though it is impossible to ignore the fact that they have had a very nice schedule in the early going. This past week gave them two of their toughest opponents yet in the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, and while they didn’t look overmatched in either contest, they did drop both.
The issue with the Wild to this point has been goaltending, as both Cam Talbot and Kaapo Kahkonen have struggled. Talbot’s track record suggests he should be able to turn things around, but it is a bit of a concerning start from the 34-year-old.
8. Calgary Flames (11-3-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 13
After a 2-1 overtime loss to the Flyers on Tuesday night, the Flames were able to score goals in bunches for the remainder of the week, racking up 14 in three contests. It appears as though the 2020-21 season was more of an outlier than anything else, as this team looks very confident in themselves right now.
While many individuals on this Flames roster have had great starts to their seasons, the one who is deservedly being talked about the most is Jacob Markstrom. The 31-year-old has a ridiculous five shutouts in just 14 starts and is likely the current frontrunner for the Vezina Trophy.
7. New York Rangers (11-4-3)
Last Week’s Rank: 10
The Rangers were able to win two games this week against lesser teams in the Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres but dropped their other game in a tougher opponent in the Toronto Maple Leafs. Nonetheless, it was another solid week for a team who most would agree is the most improved in the league this season.
The one concern for this team right now is the play of backup goaltender Alex Georgiev, who through six starts sports a cringe-worthy 4.08 GAA and a .858 SV%. Thankfully Igor Shesterkin has been stellar as the team’s number one, but the Rangers will need Georgiev to be better moving forward so they can give Shesterkin some rest.
6. Washington Capitals (11-3-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 4
After back-to-back shutouts against the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks, the Capitals were set to be higher on this list. However, a 5-2 loss at the hands of the Seattle Kraken resulted in them slightly sliding down.
In the Capitals defense, the loss to the Kraken was on the second half of a back-to-back. There is nothing to worry about with it, as this team, led by Alex Ovechkin’s ridiculous 15 goals and 30 points, are true Stanley Cup contenders.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs (13-6-1)
Last Week’s Rank: 2
It was a solid week for the Maple Leafs and in particular, their goaltenders, who allowed just three goals over four games. They now sit second in the Atlantic Division with 27 points.
Jack Campbell has been this team’s MVP to this point, as his 1.66 GAA along with his .944 SV% have him getting some Vezina talk as well. Both Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews haven’t been great for their standards, and that should change soon. If/when that does, this team will be even more dangerous.
4. Tampa Bay Lightning (10-4-3)
Last Week’s Rank: 7
The Lightning appear to be rounding into form. They were able to win three of four this past week and are sitting in third place in the Atlantic Division.
One concern to monitor going forward is how this team will deal with their injuries. As everyone knows, they are without Nikita Kucherov and will be for some time moving forward. That in itself is a tough pill to swallow, but it got even worse for them on Sunday as it was announced that Brayden Point is out indefinitely. The good news for them is that they have a deep roster, but those are two massive blows.
3. Edmonton Oilers (13-4-0)
Last Week’s Rank: 6
Given that they were swept by them in the playoffs, it seemed as though the Jets truly had the Oilers figured out after beating them rather handily on Tuesday night. On Thursday however, thanks to some late-game magic from Connor McDavid, the Oilers were finally able to defeat the Jets.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 3
They followed up their win against the Jets with a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. What both McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are doing right now is something the NHL hasn’t seen in decades, as they have a combined 67 points in just 34 games. This team is as good as any in the league right now.
2. Florida Panthers (13-2-3)
Last Week’s Rank: 3
Last week I suggested that the Panthers had a good chance at winning all three of their games this past week, and they were able to do just that. Their offense looked incredible in all three, as they racked up a combined 15 goals.
One major concern regarding the Panthers was an injury to Aleksander Barkov, who took a vicious knee from New York Islanders Scott Mayfield. It is being reported that Barkov will miss approximately 3-4 weeks, though that feels like a blessing given how serious the injury looked at the time. He was also spotted skating during an optional practice on Saturday, so he may return even sooner than originally thought.
1. Carolina Hurricanes (14-2-0)
Last Week’s Rank: 1
It is hard to find a single flaw with this Carolina Hurricanes team right now. They were able to win all three of their games this past week and as a result, have a league-leading 14 victories.
Some believed that losing Dougie Hamilton to free agency would hurt this team, but that hasn’t been the case as Tony DeAngelo has been a terrific replacement with 15 points in 16 games. Their offense, defense, and goaltending are all clicking tremendously right now, and there is no reason to expect that to change.
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: 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.