Here it is: my first weekly power ranking of the season! Please note that I have taken everything possible into consideration and these are exactly correct so no arguing! Actually as we all know, most fans will probably find fault with where I slot their team. Just remember that the rankings are fluid, if your team performs they will move up, if they don’t… well I think we all know how this works.
1. WASHINGTON CAPITALS
With key additions Tomas Vokoun, Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer, and Roman Hamrlik, and no serious losses to contend with the Capitals look fully stocked to finally make a run at the Cup title that has eluded the franchise since its inception.
2. SAN JOSE SHARKS
The Sharks needed a franchise defenseman, and they went out and got one in Brent Burns. They replaced forwards Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi with Martin Havlat and Michal Handzus. This team is probably more complete than it was last year when it garnered 105 points.
3. VANCOUVER CANUCKS
For better or worse it’s still the Luongo and Sedin show in Vancouver. Their only major free agency loss was defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, and their blueline is plenty deep enough to manage it, especially if Keith Ballard can contribute the way he’s being paid to.
4. BOSTON BRUINS
What Cup hangover? With the roster almost completely intact, the Bruins will look to be the first repeat Cup-winners since the Red Wings of 1997 and 1998.
5. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
With a stable veteran in goal in Dwayne Roloson, the Lightning will be looking to build on their surprising 103 point season of a year ago. While I’m not sure they can better it, I wouldn’t bet against Steven Stamkos and Co.
6. BUFFALO SABRES
With GM Darcy Regier throwing new owner Terry Pegula’s money around like Pacman Jones, Buffalo fans must be ecstatic. One cannot say the money wasn’t well-spent though. With the additions of center Ville Leino, and defensemen Christian Ehrhoff, and Robyn Regehr the Sabres appear poised to make a deep playoff push.
7. LOS ANGELES KINGS
Feeding off the baffling desire of Flyers GM Paul Holmgren to rid the team of two of its best players, the Kings snatched up veteran center Mike Richards. The Kings are strong in the middle, strong in goal, and strong on the blueline with the recently (finally) re-signed Drew Doughty.
8. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
With a roster that has been more revolving door than one might desire, the Hawks still find ways to win. It helps to have center Jonathan Toews who seemingly wills the team to wins some nights. The lack of depth on defense could come back to haunt them this year.
9. DETROIT RED WINGS (Presented by Amway)
Right behind their fellow Central Division foes come the aging Red Wings. With a patchwork fourth line and questionable defensive depth (Mike Commodore?) this could be the year the Wings look their age. I still wouldn’t plan on it.
10. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
With one of the best defenses in the league, a top 5 goalie, and some scary offensive talent in Evgeni Malkin and James Neal, the Penguins will never be out of the playoff race. This is still Crosby’s team though, and questions remain about their scoring depth without their Captain.
11. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
What a strange offseason. Holmgren is hoping that jettisoning centers Mike Richards and Jeff Carter makes this team better. While they are better in goal, the defense is shaky beyond the top four, and are Danny Briere, Matt Read, and Claude Giroux big enough to play center?
12. ANAHEIM DUCKS
If goaltender Jonas Hiller can stay on the ice, and if right wing Corey Perry can continue his torrid play from last year the Ducks will find themselves winning plenty of games. The RPG line should continue to breate nightmare for opposing teams, but beyond that they are a bit thin and old.
13. NEW YORK RANGERS
The addition of center Brad Richards should be enough to push the Rangers into the next tier of the Eastern conference. Their defense continues to hold them back however, especially if Mark Staal misses significant time with his post-concussion symptoms.
14. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
GM Scott Howson has put together what looks on paper to be a vastly-improved Blue Jackets squad. The questions remain about goaltender Steve Mason and whether he can regain his rookie form. They have the largest payroll in the Central Division, and the 8th highest in the NHL.
15. CAROLINA HURRICANES
One wonders how long goaltender Cam Ward and center Eric Staal can carry this team. The addition of Jeff Skinner last season helped, and youngster Zac Dalpe appears to be able to contribute this year.
16. MONTREAL CANADIENS
Razor-thin on defense and hampered by the albatross that is the Scott Gomez contract, the Canadiens are walking a fine line. The addition of right wing Erik Cole should help, and goaltender Carey Price could carry them again if he gets hot.
17. NASHVILLE PREDATORS
While sporting perhaps the best defensive pairing in the league in Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, and one of the best goaltenders in Pekka Rinne, where are the goals going to come from? I would never count out head coach Barry Trotz and his team though.
18. NEW JERSEY DEVILS
The return of right wing (and new captain) Zach Parise will be a big boost to the Devils, but the loss of center Travis Zajac will be almost equally painful. Also will goaltender Martin Brodeur regain his form of old, or just look it?
19. DALLAS STARS
You would think the Stars didn’t do too poorly in the offseason signing guys like Michael Ryder and Radek Dvorak, except they lost center Brad Richards. The defense is awfully thin, but the tough forward group and the underrated goaltender Kari Lehtonen will keep them in games.
20. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
While they look to be a vastly-improved team, they are relying on unproven youngster James Reimer in net. If forwards Phil Kessel and Tim Connolly can stay healthy, and Reimer looks good behind the improved defense this team could surprise.
21. CALGARY FLAMES
Boasting excellent players at a few positions the Flames never seem to be equal to the sum of their parts. Future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla will continue to pace the offense, defenseman Jay Bouwmeester will be overpaid, and goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff will be above-average.
22. EDMONTON OILERS
The vast offensive potential of this club is overshadowed by the complete lack of competent defensemen. If goaltenders Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk can stand on their heads, and the offense is as potent as it’s capable of being they could be.. ok?
23. ST. LOUIS BLUES
With a middling offense, a middling defense, and goaltender Jaroslav Halak the Blues are an interesting team. They always appear to be getting better, only they don’t.
24. MINNESOTA WILD
Their first line of wingers Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi and center Mikko Koivu is scary good. The rest of their offense is scary bad. Their defensive corp is a shambles, and they are paying goaltender Niklas Backstrom $6 million to be mediocre.
25. NEW YORK ISLANDERS
You want to be optimistic with a stable of forwards like theirs. John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Michael Grabner, Kyle Okposo, and Nino Neiderreiter are a fine looking bunch. Their defense is equally as bad as the forwards are good. Also who plays in net?
26. WINNIPEG JETS
The Winnipeg fans do realize this team was the Atlanta Thrashers right? While boasting some nice players, this group doesn’t seem cohesive, nor very sound defensively.
27. FLORIDA PANTHERS
Sorry Panthers fans, but I’m not sold on GM Dale Tallon’s take on Brewster’s Millions.
28. PHOENIX COYOTES
The loss of Ilya Bryzgalov and the puzzling Kyle Turris brouhaha bring this club closer to the bottom (and perhaps relocation).
29. COLORADO AVALANCHE
The goaltending is questionable at best, the defense is porous at best, and the offense is not very potent.
30. OTTAWA SENATORS
Bad things await the fans of teams that play Nikita Filatov in their top six. Trust me.