Well, we are officially in the home stretch of the 2022-23 regular season. For most of the NHL, the final quarter of the season is kicking off, and as such, there is a lot to left to be decided. Things like playoff seeding for teams at the top of the standings, draft lottery odds for those who sold off talent at the Trade Deadline, and for anyone in the middle, fighting for the remaining positions in the playoffs.
However, now that we are past the trade deadline, I’m going to consolidate these rankings a little bit to help simplify things. To put it simply, I see the NHL in three groups for the rest of the season: Those who sold at the deadline, those who have a legitimate shot at the postseason, and the Top 10.
Related: NHL 2022-23 Power Rankings: Week 21
So, with this distinction in mind, let’s dive into THW’s Power Rankings for Week 23!
32-22: Playoffs Are Likely Out of Reach
32. San Jose Sharks (Last Ranking: 30)
31. Columbus Blue Jackets (Last Ranking: 31)
30. Anaheim Ducks (Last Ranking: 32)
29. Montreal Canadiens (Last Ranking: 26)
28. Chicago Blackhawks (Last Ranking: 25)
27. Arizona Coyotes (Last Ranking: 27)
26. Philadelphia Flyers (Last Ranking: 28)
25. Vancouver Canucks (Last Ranking: 29)
24. St. Louis Blues (Last Ranking: 24)
23. Washington Capitals (Last Ranking: 22)
22: Detroit Red Wings (Last Ranking: 14)
Coming off the trade deadline, it was clear that many of the teams in this section of the rankings simply didn’t have the talent remaining to keep up with most of their competitors. Outside of the Canucks, who are on a four-game winning streak, pretty much everyone else seems resigned to play out the stretch and get to the off-season as quickly as possible.
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However, off the ice is where the big news came from. The Philadelphia Flyers decided that it was time to part ways with former general manager Chuck Fletcher after he put together what can be described as an underwhelming trade deadline.
While this move wasn’t a major shock given how things had been going for the Flyers in recent seasons, it’s still a signal that the franchise is ready to make changes, especially given the timing of the firing. Perhaps this will be the change needed to get the franchise back on track?
21-11: Postseason Push is Quickly Coming
21. Calgary Flames (Last Ranking: 20)
20. Buffalo Sabres (Last Ranking: 15)
19. Ottawa Senators (Last Ranking: 23)
18. Winnipeg Jets (Last Ranking: 16)
17. Nashville Predators (Last Ranking: 21)
16. Florida Panthers (Last Ranking: 17)
15. Pittsburgh Penguins (Last Ranking: 18)
14. New York Islanders (Last Ranking: 19)
13. Edmonton Oilers (Last Ranking: 13)
12. Seattle Kraken (Last Ranking: 12)
11. Tampa Bay Lightning (Last Ranking: 6)
There are a lot of teams in this part of the Rankings that have postseason aspirations, but maybe they shouldn’t. The Jets, Flames, Sabres, and Lightning are four of the coldest teams in the league right now, and only Tampa Bay are in a position where they can really afford to work through these late-season struggles without costing themselves a chance at the playoffs.
On the other side of the spectrum, you have the Penguins, Oilers, and Islanders who are starting to find their game once again, which is helping them to secure their spot in the playoffs. While they are far from safe, they are winning enough games to keep ahead of their rivals and if this trend continues they will sneak their way into the Wild Card at the least.
Outside of the Lightning, who I expect will find their way back into the top ten of the rankings, I’m not sure what to make of any of the teams in this section. It feels like one night they are Stanley Cup contenders, and the next they can barely keep up with their opponent. Time will tell, but there’s a lot to be desired from this group of teams.
10. New York Rangers
Last Ranking: 8
Sometimes, the NHL Trade Deadline can be more of a bother than a boon to the league’s biggest buyers. Few teams had a better deadline than the New York Rangers, as they acquired key talents like Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane for an all-in push at the 2023 Stanely Cup. Since these trades, however, the Rangers have been very whelming. While they are starting to stack up some wins, they suffered significant losing streaks that largely removed their chance at winning the Metropolitan Division.
This is all fine for New York of course, as they have put themselves in a great spot to make the postseason, which means they can use the remainder of the regular season to work through their lineup to find the optimal usage of their new players. So, don’t count them out even if they appear to be struggling right now.
9. Dallas Stars
Last Ranking: 10
Well, the Dallas Stars are finally starting to play like a team that should be at the top of the Central Division. Leading up to the trade deadline, they were flailing on the ice, and their struggles allowed some of their divisional rivals to get back into the hunt. While their lead is slim, they are winning enough to keep themselves in contention for the Division title, and at the very least they should easily make the postseason as one of the top teams in the West.
Related: Top 10 Highest Scoring NHL Games of the Modern Era
Oh, and Dallas scored 10 goals against the Sabres this week, which is something you rarely see happen in the NHL anymore.
8. Colorado Avalanche
Last Ranking: 7
The Colorado Avalanche are far from a perfect team right now, but they are consistently good enough… for the most part. They are beating teams that are well below them in the rankings, and while they have struggled against teams around the same level, I still think that they are one of the most dangerous teams in the league right now.
7. Los Angeles Kings
Last Ranking: 9
The business of hockey can be brutal, and this was seen to the full extent when the L.A. Kings traded franchise face Jonathan Quick at the deadline as part of a package to clear enough cap space in order to bring in his replacement. In terms of player loyalty, this was a big miss by the Kings, as they gave up a legend in what could be his last season for a new face in Joonas Korpisalo.
However, when it comes to the on-ice product, the Kings made the right choice. Quick simply wasn’t playing like an NHL goaltender for them, and Korpisalo has come in and won his first two starts in impressive fashion. So, they took one of their biggest weaknesses and may have turned it into a strength.
Winning solves everything, so for now the Kings will look to outrun their bad vibes and hopefully go on a deep postseason run so Korpisalo can endear himself to the franchise.
6. Minnesota Wild
Last Ranking: 11
I don’t know how the Minnesota Wild are doing it. Not only are they in one of the toughest cap positions in the league as significant buyouts loom over them, but they also lost their best player to injury for the next month to injury. They also sold some of their remaining cap space for draft picks at the deadline, a move expected from a seller, not one that is fighting for the postseason.
Related: Why Minnesota Is Truly the State of Hockey
Despite this, the Wild are still churning through the league, having posted points in thirteen straight games, and pulling within striking distance of the Stars for first place in the Central Division. Should they keep up this pace, they will not only make the postseason but win the division, which would be quite the feat for the cap-strapped franchise.
5. Vegas Golden Knights
Last Ranking: 5
In perhaps what was the funniest move of the trade deadline, the Vegas Golden Knights acquired Jonathan Quick from the Blue Jackets for Michael Hutchinson and a 2025 7th-round draft pick. At the moment this deal looked like a pure troll job by Vegas, who seemingly picked up the franchise face of one of their biggest rivals for no real reason due to his poor play this season.
However, since his acquisition, Quick has been an important player for the Golden Knights. The team has been struggling with injuries to their goaltending all season long, so he has been relied upon to start games immediately, and he has turned out a 3-0-0 record, including a shutout.
If this play continues, there’s a real chance that Quick could go from a throw-away piece in a trade to the biggest impact acquisition of the deadline if he is able to stabilize the Golden Knight’s goaltending. Not bad for the veteran goaltender at all.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Ranking: 3
Even though they have been giving up a lot of goals as of late, the Toronto Maple Leafs keep doing enough to win games, which is impressive given the amount of turnover their roster has experienced in recent weeks. Between trades and injuries, pretty much every aspect of this franchise has changed, yet they continue finding ways to win. I expect things to stabilize and improve for the Maple Leafs in the coming weeks, which is a scary proposition for the rest of the NHL.
3. Carolina Hurricanes
Last Ranking: 2
The Carolina Hurricanes have had a week. Since shutting out the Lightning 6-0 last Sunday, they won a close game against the Canadiens, shut out the Flyers 1-0, got shut out by the Golden Knights 4-0, and proceeded to get shut out by their divisional rivals on Sunday.
At this point in the rankings, there are no bad teams, and the difference between second and third place simply came down to who won Sunday’s matchup. Since the Devils came away victorious, they bumped Carolina down one spot, but this is a relatively minor problem for the franchise as long as they can get back to form in the coming days.
2. New Jersey Devils
Last Ranking: 4
Not only are the New Jersey Devils one of the hottest teams in the NHL right now, but they have managed to catch up to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Metropolitan Division, something that seemed impossible just a few weeks ago. Due to this, the Devils could find themselves not only in the playoffs for the first time in a few seasons, but as divisional champions at that.
It feels foolish to doubt New Jersey anymore, as this franchise has continued to answer any question raised about them this season. Their recent dispatching of the Hurricanes further proved this, and moved them up the standings to second place. Now, I don’t expect the Devils to catch the number 1 team, but stranger things have happened.
1. Boston Bruins
Last Ranking: 1
Over their last three games, the Boston Bruins are 1-2-0. Prior to this stretch of play, they were 10-0-0 and setting records as the team to reach 50 wins fastest in NHL history. Not only that, but the Bruins have already clinched their spot in the postseason, and are still on pace to be one of the best regular-season teams ever.
So, to put it simply, I have no reason to believe that the Bruins are taking a step back after this recent skid. They are a force of nature that I believe will get right back to their winning ways in the coming days.
NHL Regular Season Has Exciting Conclusion Ahead
While the Trade Deadline has passed and a portion of the NHL appears to be completely out of the playoff race, the 2022-23 regular season still has a lot of hockey left to be played. Unlike one year ago, when pretty much every postseason position had been decided by now in the East, both conferences are wide open outside of Boston, who is running away with the President’s Trophy.
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This means that there will be a lot of exciting hockey to watch in the coming weeks, with every game shifting the balance of power in the standings.