Welcome to the seventh 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. Detroit Red Wings (13-9-3)
Last Week’s Rank: NA
Through 25 games this season, the Red Wings sit in the first wild card position in the Eastern Conference. After several years of struggles, it appears things may finally be turning around for this group.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 7
The biggest reason for the solid start is the play of rookies Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond. Through 25 games, Seider has an impressive 17 points. Meanwhile, Raymond, who is just 19-years-old, has 10 goals and 22 points and is the frontrunner for the Calder Trophy at this point. Whether or not this team is in the playoffs by season’s end remains to be seen, but it is obvious that they are improving.
15. Boston Bruins (12-8-1)
Last Week’s Rank: 13
This Bruins roster should be better than they have been to start the 2021-22 season. They currently trail the Pittsburgh Penguins by two points for the final wild-card position in the East, a spot no one would have imagined them being prior to the season starting.
While players like Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron have continued being their elite selves, this team has had far too many passengers to this point. Guys like Taylor Hall, Craig Smith, and Erik Haula are all capable of giving far more than they have early on, and they will need to step it up to get their team back into a playoff position.
14. Dallas Stars (12-7-2)
Last Week’s Rank: NA
After a very slow start, the Stars are currently the hottest team in the NHL, thanks to a current six-game win streak. However, despite the great play recently, they still sit a point back of the San Jose Sharks for the final wild-card position in the Western Conference.
The Stars have been beating some very good teams during this win streak, and that continued this past week when they defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. They were able to win their second and final game of the week on Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets and have a chance to extend their winning streak to seven as they take on the Arizona Coyotes Monday night.
13. Colorado Avalanche (12-7-2)
Last Week’s Rank: 10
Most expected that the return of Nathan MacKinnon would have this team playing like the Stanley Cup contender they thought they were, but that hasn’t been the case. In MacKinnon’s first game back this past Wednesday, the Avalanche got lit up 8-3 courtesy of the Toronto Maple Leafs. They were able to win the very next night against the Montreal Canadiens, but they lost 6-5 in overtime to a struggling Ottawa Senators team.
There have been several players on the Avalanche who have disappointed early on. One is MacKinnon, who has just one goal in 11 games this season. Another is Darcy Kuemper, who many pegged as a potential Vezina Trophy winner after being acquired in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes this summer. Through 15 games, he has been anything but, as he owns an uninspiring 2.84 GAA along with a .903 SV%. They need him to figure things out right away.
12. St. Louis Blues (12-8-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 12
It’s tough to get an accurate read on this Blues team. They looked like Stanley Cup contenders early in the season, as everything seemed to be clicking for them. That has changed since due to inconsistencies, which once again haunted them this past week.
In the Blues defense, they had a very tough schedule this past week with two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and the other against the Florida Panthers. They were able to defeat the Lightning in their first meet up but fell 4-2 a few nights later. They also fell to the Panthers in a shootout on Saturday but have a chance to exact revenge on them this coming Tuesday.
11. Winnipeg Jets (12-8-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 16
The Jets had an ugly start to their week as they were shut out by a very weak Arizona Coyotes team. That seemed to light a fire under them, as they went on to score a combined 14 goals in their next two games versus the New Jersey Devils and Maple Leafs.
This team hasn’t truly hit their stride yet this season but appears to be moving in the right direction as of late. Players like Kyle Connor, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Andrew Copp have all been exceptional, while both Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele appear to be heating up.
10. Vegas Golden Knights (14-10-0)
Last Week’s Rank: 12
It has been a frustrating start to the season for the Golden Knights, and that continued in their first game of the week this past Wednesday when they were defeated 6-5 by the Anaheim Ducks. However, they were able to respond in a big way on Friday, as they defeated the Coyotes by a final of 7-1 and picked up a huge win on Sunday versus the Calgary Flames.
After having a rough go injury-wise early in the season, this team is starting to get healthy once again. Expect that to result in more wins for them going forward, as they are simply too talented to continue being a middling team they have been thus far.
9. Edmonton Oilers (16-7-0)
Last Week’s Rank: 7
The Oilers have been ravaged by injuries lately, particularly their blueline, as they had been forced to play without four of their regular defenceman in recent games. Thankfully, their workhorse in Darnell Nurse was able to return to action versus the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday, but it didn’t help as they fell by a final score of 5-1.
The Oilers have been struggling at even strength for some time now and are relying too much on their special teams as of late to bail them out. This is a very talented roster and one that should get back on track, but they have been in a bit of a rut as of late. Of course, their current injury situation has also played a significant role in that.
8. Carolina Hurricanes (16-6-1)
Last Week’s Rank: 3
The Hurricanes are another team that has had a rough time staying healthy as of late. At the time of writing this, both Tony DeAngelo and Brett Pesce remain on the NHL’s COVID-19 Protocol List, while Jordan Martinook and Andrei Svechnikov are also banged up.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 6
While they still sit eighth in league standings, the Hurricanes haven’t been their dominant selves recently and have a record of just 5-4-1 over their last 10 games. This week was more of the same as they lost to both the Stars and Senators before picking up a win on Saturday versus the Buffalo Sabres. This next week won’t be easy for them as they play the Jets, Oilers, and the red-hot Calgary Flames.
7. Tampa Bay Lightning (15-5-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 8
No Nikita Kucherov or Brayden Point? No problem, apparently. Despite being without two of their most talented players, the Lightning continues to find ways to win games. After a tough shootout loss to the Blues on Tuesday, they responded by winning their next two to close out their week.
Some of their other superstar talents in Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, and Andrei Vasilevskiy, have really stepped up in the absences of Kucherov and Point. Even without those two, they still look like a very good team, and it is scary to think how lethal they will be once they get healthy.
6. Toronto Maple Leafs (17-7-2)
Last Week’s Rank: 4
After thumping the Avalanche 8-3 on Wednesday, the Maple Leafs lost two straight in a back-to-back set versus the Jets and the Minnesota Wild. The good news is that after a somewhat slow start to the season, Auston Matthews is back to his old ways as he is riding a six-game goal-scoring streak and has eight during that period.
If there is one concern with this Leafs team right now, it is the play of their blueline. Guys like Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl need to be better moving forward.
5. Calgary Flames (15-5-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 9
After a down 2020-21 season, many expected Flames general manager Brad Treliving to blow up his core. However, he clearly believed in the roster he had assembled, and to his credit, it appears he was right to trust in them as they have been one of the league’s best teams all season long.
The style of hockey head coach Darryl Sutter has instilled in the Flames makes them a nightmare for opposing teams to suit up against. Not only are they both tight-checking and great defensively, but they have had no issues putting the puck in the net, either.
4. Minnesota Wild (17-6-1)
Last Week’s Rank: 5
The Wild are not getting the respect they deserve. This team has been playing great hockey all season long and have been incredible as of late, with a record of 7-2-1 over their last 10 games.
They were able to win all three of their games this past week against the Devils as well as the Coyotes and Leafs. They are currently leading the Central Division and are very much Stanley Cup contenders at this point, even if many fail to recognize them as such.
3. New York Rangers (16-4-3)
Last Week’s Rank: 6
This Rangers team is one of the most exciting to watch in the entire league. With offensive weapons such as Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, and even Adam Fox on the blueline, they are a very scary lineup for opposing teams to suit up against.
While they have a ton of talent, there is no doubt that Igor Shesterkin has been their MVP a quarter way through the season. Unfortunately, the 25-year-old was placed on the injured reserve with a lower-body injury this past week. It sounds as though he won’t miss a ton of time, but for now, the Rangers will need the struggling Alexandar Georgiev to be at his best to avoid sliding down this list.
2. Washington Capitals (15-4-6)
Last Week’s Rank: 1
After taking the league by storm recently, the Capitals came back down to earth slightly this past week with losses to the Chicago Blackhawks and the Panthers. They were, however, able to avoid a three-game losing streak thanks to a 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 5
The play of Alex Ovechkin continues to be the talk surrounding this team, and rightfully so. The 36-year-old scored his 750th career goal on Saturday night and now has 20 goals and 39 points in just 25 games this season. It has been an incredible display of hockey from a player who will go down as one of the best ever to play the game.
1. Florida Panthers (17-4-3)
Last Week’s Rank: 2
The Panthers are another team that is beaten up right now, but it hasn’t affected them. Despite not having two of their top forwards in Aleksander Barkov and Anthony Duclair in the lineup this past week, they still won all three of their games against the Capitals, Sabres, and Blues.
Two players who haven’t been getting nearly enough credit for their seasons so far are Aaron Ekblad and Sergei Bobrovsky. Ekblad is putting together a Norris Trophy-type campaign with eight goals and 23 points in 24 games. As for Bobrovsky, he is having a great bounce-back season after two straight down years. Through 16 games, he has a 2.41 GAA along with a .920 SV% and looks like the two-time Vezina Trophy-winning version of himself.
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: 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.