*This article was originally written by Eugene Helfrick
If you are a frequent reader of The Hockey Writers, you’ve probably noticed over the past two weeks, we’ve been busy ranking NHL teams based on goaltenders, defensemen, and forwards. Ultimately, this post summarizes those previous lists to give you the ultimate team rankings. Surprisingly, there are a lot of ties in the final team rankings since most of these franchises find themselves clumped together in previous lists.
As always, since these are just projections, there is no right or wrong answer, so if you disagree with our rankings, please let us know in the comments. Enjoy.
32 (Tie) – San Jose Sharks
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||30||32||30||30.7|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||25||27||27||27|
Sadly, after spending years as one of the top teams in the Western Conference, the San Jose Sharks find themselves in the draft lottery hunt, and things may get worse before they get better. Outside of mainstays like captain Logan Couture and Marc-Édouard Vlasic, management will continue to evaluate the team’s veterans as they aim to get younger, ushering in a new era in franchise history.
31 (Tie) – Chicago Blackhawks
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||31||30||31||30.7|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||31||31||31||31|
Ultimately, the Chicago Blackhawks avoided the bottom spot in the rankings because of the presence of Connor Bedard in the lineup. Considering he just tallied a hat trick in his first prospects game, fans have much to hope for when the 18-year-old makes the team out of training camp.
Despite having the top pick from the 2023 draft in the lineup, his supporting cast will be questionable. Although the team acquired a few veterans like Taylor Hall, Nick Foligno, and Corey Perry, it will be a long season in the Windy City, and the Blackhawks could find themselves right where they ended last year, with a top pick in 2024.
30 – Philadelphia Flyers
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||25||26||27||26|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||27||28||27||28|
The Philadelphia Flyers should see an improvement in their future rankings now that the team is under new guidance, with former players Daniel Briere and Keith Jones making decisions. However, until their young core gets better and their recent draft picks crack the lineup, it will be challenging for John Tortorella, who isn’t accustomed to losing for lengthy periods.
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29 – Washington Capitals
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||13||29||32||24.7|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||17||17||13||18|
It is pretty surprising to see the Washington Capitals ranked so low. However, creating a contending lineup with an aging core and untradable contracts is quite challenging. Ultimately, unless the team can turn things around under their new head coach, Spencer Carbery, the only exciting to watch this year may be Alex Ovechkin’s chase of the goal record.
28 (Tie) – St. Louis Blues
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||20||31||17||22.7|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||7||10||9||7|
As mentioned in previous rankings, the St. Louis Blues have talented forwards. However, employing the oldest defensive players in the league doesn’t help them be playoff contenders in the Western Conference. Realistically, the Blues will only go as far as Jordan Binnington carries them, so unless he has a bounce-back season, the team could sell for the second consecutive season.
27 (Tie) – Columbus Blue Jackets
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||32||25||11||22.7|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||20||24||19||23|
Unfortunately, since the positional rankings were published, the Columbus Blue Jackets have found themselves in a PR nightmare that will ultimately affect the team inside and outside the dressing room. Now that Mike Babcock is gone and Pascal Vincent is standing behind the bench, it will be up to star players like Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine to tune out the noise and perform on the ice.
26 (Tie) – Calgary Flames
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||24||19||25||22.7|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||10||15||4||8|
Although many people have already written off the Calgary Flames as playoff hopefuls, this team should see a dramatic change of direction after a disappointing 2022-23 season. After firing head coach Darryl Sutter, the Flames brought in Ryan Huska, who should be able to get more production from Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri.
However, on the flip side, this could be the most pivotal year for the club, with superstar players like Elias Lindholm, Mikael Backlund, and Noah Hanifin all in the last years of their deals, which means changes could be on the horizon. If the Flames fall out of contention early, they will dominate the headlines leading up to the trade deadline.
25 – Arizona Coyotes
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||18||27||21||22|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||30||32||32||32|
As the Arizona Coyotes continue to work on securing an arena deal to stay in Arizona, the team is slowly coming together on the ice and improving in all areas. Realistically, the upcoming season could be one to remember in the desert as top prospect Logan Cooley is coming to town, which means they shouldn’t be in contention for a draft lottery pick next spring.
24 (Tie) – Montreal Canadiens
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||21||21||23||21.7|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||30||29||30||30|
The Montreal Canadiens are a completely different team than the one that lost in the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, and without Carey Price between the pipes, the team is trying to usher in a new era with Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki. However, general manager Kent Hughes came out and admitted the team will have a hard time contending in the Atlantic Division, meaning there is much more work to be done in Montreal.
23 (Tie) – Anaheim Ducks
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||23||24||18||21.7|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||16||25||30||25|
Interestingly, the Anaheim Ducks struggled for wins and landed a top-three draft pick, Leo Carlsson. As a teenager playing against men in Sweden, this young prospect will be one of the club’s best players for years to come and will help turn things about in Anaheim.
Although the media would have you believe Bedard has already won the Calder Trophy, watching Carlsson play at the most recent World Championships means he will be right there with his draft mate at the end. Ultimately, he will blend well with Anaheim’s other young players, Troy Terry and Trevor Zegras.
22 – Nashville Predators
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||11||23||29||21.0|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||2||2||17||4|
Despite previous rankings, the Nashville Predators failed to make the playoffs last season, and that happened for several reasons. Realistically, the team went out to rectify the situation by signing a handful of veteran players, but those new skaters may only hurt their chances for success. Hopefully, Filip Forsberg has an injury-free campaign, or Juuse Saros will need to steal many games to get them within striking distance of a wildcard spot.
21 – Detroit Red Wings
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||22||22||10||18.0|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||21||22||24||24|
The Detroit Red Wings had a very eventful offseason, swinging a trade for Alex DeBrincat and acquiring Jeff Petry. Ultimately, General Manager Steve Yzerman appears to be building something special in the Motor City. However, they remain a season or two away from being playoff participants and legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.
20 (Tie) – Seattle Kraken
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||27||6||20||17.7|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||26||22||25||26|
Although the Seattle Kraken exceeded expectations in their second season, the team will miss a few players who were part of their early success. Even though the team’s core remains unchanged, with Matthew Beniers leading the pack, the pressure will be on them to duplicate their previous playoff run and advance further, or the season could be regarded as a step back.
19 (Tie) – Vegas Golden Knights
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||14||15||24||17.7|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||32||4||7||14|
The defending Stanley Cup champions should be a top team, but they will need to recapture the magic of 2022-23 to run it back to the Stanley Cup Final. Statistically, there will be questions up and down the lineup, including between the pipes. After going all in with the current lineup, they are a year older, and the long path to the title could have a ripple effect in the upcoming campaign.
18 – Vancouver Canucks
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||29||17||6||17.3|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||11||18||15||16|
Last year the Vancouver Canucks were a disaster to start the year, and after the chaos surrounding the firing of Bruce Boudreau, the team responded under new head coach Rick Tocchet. Now, with an entire offseason to prepare, it will be interesting to see how they react to a full year with Tocchet, especially with a new captain, Quinn Hughes, and star Elias Pettersson playing in the final year of his current deal.
17 (Tie) – Pittsburgh Penguins
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||19||16||15||16.7|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||5||13||8||7|
After witnessing their 16-year playoff streak ending, the Pittsburgh Penguins went all-in on acquiring the reigning Norris Trophy winner, Erik Karlsson, who immediately restored the team’s status as a Stanley Cup contender. Of course, there are many questions regarding the structure of the roster, especially how most of the players are in their 30s.
However, most of the big names in the dressing room have their name on the Stanley Cup, meaning they know how to win big games. Although the Penguins will not be in the running for a division title, they should easily qualify as a wildcard team and mess up someone else’s playoff hopes.
16 (Tie) – Minnesota Wild
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||6||28||16||16.7|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||13||9||22||16|
The Minnesota Wild are a mixed bag, with top goaltending and questionable defense. Although general manager Bill Guerin has been busy building a winner, he’s struggled to surround superstar Kirill Kaprizov with elite players to get the team past the first round. Even though their starters may not duplicate their successes from 2022-23, it is time for the team to take a collective step forward.
15 – Tampa Bay Lightning
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||8||18||22||16.0|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||3||4||5||1|
The Tampa Bay Lightning remain a top team in the Eastern Conference, recently skating in the Stanley Cup Final for three straight seasons. However, the core that participated in those playoff runs is slowly dwindling, forcing management to find replacements while staying competitive with a core only getting older. Eventually, the bottom may fall out in Tampa Bay, but until that officially happens, don’t count the Lightning out just yet.
14 – Florida Panthers
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||26||9||3||12.7|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||8||23||1||10|
The Florida Panthers had a magical Cinderella Run to the Stanley Cup Final, and after Matthew Tkachuk got injured, they lost all their mojo, and the season abruptly ended. Although a handful of players are still recovering, the Panthers will need Sergei Bobrovsky to play at the same level he did in the playoffs if they wish to remain in the playoff picture. However, if it all goes south like last season, management must retool immediately to build off the momentum of 2022-23.
13 (Tie) – New York Islanders
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||4||4||28||12|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||9||7||21||13|
Interestingly, the New York Islanders have one of the world’s best netminders, Ilya Sorokin, and surrounded him on the back end with some outstanding defenders. However, the forwards will struggle to get goals and win games on the scoreboard, leaving the bulk of the work to Sorokin. Although no one should ever doubt General Manager Lou Lamoriello, many fans are questioning what the long-term game plan is in Long Island.
12 (Tie) – Los Angeles Kings
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||16||12||8||12|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||19||14||20||20|
The Los Angeles Kings are a curious bunch of players. Statistically, they have one of the best defensive forwards in the game, Anze Kopitar, and former 40-goal scorer Adrian Kempe. However, the ageless Drew Doughty still runs the defense, and there are too many questions surrounding their netminders.
Now that the Jonathan Quick era is over, Pheonix Copley is the top goalie, and despite posting solid numbers, the team went out to get someone else to start their playoff games. Although they were contenders for the Pacific Division crown for most of the season, they faltered, carrying bad habits into the postseason, which cost them in the first round.
11 (Tie) – Ottawa Senators
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||17||14||4||11.7|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||18||26||16||22|
The Ottawa Senators are an up-and-coming team with one of the league’s youngest rosters. Although they may lack the killer instinct to put opponents away, based on their inexperience, the Senators come to play every night and never back down from a challenge. This team is on the cusp of securing a playoff spot, which could happen in 2023-24. Until then, they will continue to be a challenge to play against, especially after upgrading in goal with Joonas Korpisalo coming to town.
10 (Tie) – Edmonton Oilers
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||15||8||12||11.7|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||10||20||6||12|
Realistically, the Edmonton Oilers employ two of the game’s best players, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. However, if those two are not lighting the lamp, the team struggles to get wins, mainly because they rely so much on the powerplay. However, many in the hockey community believe every year is their year. Still, their inexperience showed in last year’s playoffs, which ended a round earlier than the previous campaign. So, if this is truly going to be the moment when the Oilers break through, it will take an entire team effort to achieve this feat.
9 (Tie) – Winnipeg Jets
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||7||13||14||11.3|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||15||16||14||17|
The Winnipeg Jets have Connor Hellebuyck stopping pucks, so realistically, the team has a chance to win every night. However, it will be an exciting year in Manitoba, with Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele skating in their current deals’ last years. Even though the team recently missed the playoffs, returning to the postseason may be the least of their problems leading up to the trade deadline and the upcoming offseason.
8 (Tie) – Buffalo Sabres
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||28||5||1||11.3|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||28||29||28||30|
The Buffalo Sabres haven’t played in the postseason in 12 years, the NHL’s longest playoff drought. But there’s a good chance that streak gets passed to another club this year. Considering the Sabres have been building a roster of top draft picks, everything is finally coming together, and they are not an easy win anymore.
Although the team will run with two relatively young, unproven netminders to start the year, it won’t matter because Buffalo wound up as one of the highest-scoring teams in 2022-23. Of course, they will not win the Stanley Cup yet, but if this core stays together, who knows what will happen in five or ten years.
7 – Toronto Maple Leafs
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||3||20||9||10.7|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||24||11||2||11|
Because the Toronto Maple Leafs employ Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, they are one of the most entertaining teams to watch. However, they rely too much on their forwards to win games, so when the superstars don’t score, the team crumbles like they did in the postseason in 2022-23. Although several key players are headed for free agency after the season, it will be interesting to see if they can duplicate their previous successes in the upcoming year.
6 – Boston Bruins
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||1||2||26||9.7|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||12||8||11||9|
Many people have already written off the Boston Bruins, with most predicting the club doesn’t qualify for playoffs after rewriting the NHL record book last year. Despite getting older through free agency, the netminders and defense remain among the best in the league, so even if David Pastrnak doesn’t score 60 goals again, the Bruins will not want to fail in their centennial season.
5 (Tie) – Dallas Stars
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||9||11||7||9.0|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||14||12||23||19|
The Dallas Stars lost in the 2020 Stanley Cup Final without most of their current lineup participating in the series. Although some of their veterans are a year older, youthful players like Jason Robertson, Wyatt Johnson, and Roope Hintz are ready to lead the team into the future. Of course, the Stars remain a severe threat in the Western Conference with Jake Oettinger between the pipes.
4 (Tie) – Colorado Avalanche
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||5||3||19||9.0|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||21||1||3||5|
The Colorado Avalanche failed to defend their Stanley Cup title last year but still won the Central Division title. Even though the team will be without captain Gabriel Landeskog, they still have Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Cale Makar to give opponents a headache every night. Hopefully, Alexandar Georgiev will maintain his level of play from 2022-23, or the Avalanche could take a step back.
3 – New York Rangers
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||12||1||6||8.7|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||1||6||12||3|
The New York Rangers employ some of the game’s best talent, Adam Fox and Igor Shesterkin, along with Artemi Panarin, scoring and setting up teammates nightly. However, New York has no playoff success to brag about, last playing in the Stanley Cup Final in 2014. Considering the structure of the lineup, it is a shame that one of the top teams in the league can’t get the job done outside of the regular season.
2 – New Jersey Devils
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||10||7||2||6.3|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||23||19||18||22|
After a decade run as the top team in the league, the New Jersey Devils eventually found themselves in a long, painful rebuild. Although, through those bitter nights, they acquired superstars like Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, and Nico Hischier. Finally, everyone’s patience is paying off, as the Devils challenged for a division title last season.
Now that everyone knows how good New Jersey is, the kids will face enormous pressure to repeat their successes from last year and take it to the next level with a deeper playoff run. Even if they don’t achieve all this in 2023-24, the Devils will become a mainstay at the top of the standings for years to come.
1. Carolina Hurricanes
|Sep. 2023||Current Rank||2||10||5||5.7|
|Feb. 2023||Previous Rank||5||3||6||2|
As the second-best team in 2022-23, only the Bruins’ historical season prevented the Carolina Hurricanes from the top spot in the league. Despite how they performed in the regular season, the Hurricanes got swept again in the Eastern Conference Final and retooled the lineup this summer to prevent that from happening again. Ultimately, as one of the best-assembled teams in the league, the Stanley Cup is within reach, and only dwelling on their past failures will prevent them from winning another championship.
What Do You Think?
Ultimately, there is no way to please everyone regarding rankings. Whether people think their team is undervalued or their final position provides them with bragging rights, there is rarely any middle ground among the different fanbases. Furthermore, today’s rankings were based solely on what these players achieved last season and how their numbers stack up against one another heading into the new season. Of course, you can disagree and point out flaws in the math, but these rankings are meant to be fun and engage people to get them talking about hockey again. As always, people are entitled to their opinions, making us the greatest fans in professional sports.