In my spare time, I pythoned up a sim, but part of that sim was creating a power ranking based on a self-invented hundred balance system (ie, 132 = 32% stronger than average; 75 = 25% weaker than average). This system is entirely statistically based with zero input, but I shall only explain why I "believe" the teams are where they are and what issues they might need to address if they're sub average.
So let's get this started, shall we!
1. St. Louis Blues
3-1-2 POWER: 134
Though the Blues made the improbable climb last year on the back of Jordan Binnington, statistically, they've been the best team in the NHL in that span, and their Stanley Cup victory was not a fluke. The long NHL season does not often prove its winners in points, but the more interesting record is usually from the turn of the year. The Blues have become the team to beat this year, and only the tenacious Canadiens have been able to best them in regulation so far.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning
3-2-1 POWER: 128
Stamkos came out and admitted that much of the year, the team relied on skill to fill in the gaps of their defence game. Tampa Bay, though a power house, has looked mediocre some games this year, particularly against the Hurricanes, and in an afternoon sleeper against the Senators. The team has to find their consistency and come out every game giving 100%, offence and defence. Right now, they and the Blues set the bar for other teams and they will tend to play against optimal efforts.
3. Boston Bruins
5-1-0 POWER 120
The Bruins are, right now, the paragon of how perennially successful teams are built. They have a great core of players, an excellent development structure, and an even better salary structure. Get used to seeing them in a top five spot, because they don't look like they're going to go away any time soon. I recall laughing at their draft picks in 2015 when they took two questionable picks, but Neely explained that they have to get back to the hockey they like to play. I am not laughing anymore (despite two of those picks still being questionable). Neely was right.
4. Florida Panthers
2-2-2 POWER 117
Surprised to see the black cats so soon? So am I. They had a strong end to last season. They always do. And they're starting slow again this year. They always do. If this franchise could, you know, go ahead and find its game in October and November, it might actually get to play some games in May. I don't expect them to be sub 500 for long; Bobrovsky is still adjusting, and with coach Quenneville in place, they should probably start improving anytime soon.
5. Montreal Canadiens
2-2-2 POWER 113
The Canadiens were one of the saddest stories of last spring; they have a team built for playoff success. They have solid defencemen, shut down, a good goaltender, and plenty of attack and forecheck. Yet, despite having 96 points and a true .500+ record, they were simply surpassed by two hot teams (Columbus and Carolina) last year. They've gotten off to a questionable start this year, but have showed strongly against the defending Stanley Cup champions. I expect they'll have 45 wins this year, but if only they could make their offence just a little more lethal!
6. Calgary Flames
3-3-1 POWER 112
The Flames are starting to be doused. The loss last year to Colorado must have frustrated the franchise into trading Neal for almost what seems like dead weight on the roster (and the salary structure) in Milan Lucic. Calgary needed shutdown against the Mighty MacKinnon, but this probably wasn't the play, and will probably hurt their regular season success as well. The Flames have still plenty of skill in their roster and should make the playoffs again, but time will tell if they remain a top ten team on this list.
7. Dallas Stars
1-5-1 POWER 111
Speaking of bad starts, how about the Dallas Stars? If they keep playing like this, they'll be in a hard plummet. Their strong end to the season last year made them look so promising, too. Too bad.
8. Carolina Hurricanes
6-1-0 POWER 110
The Hurricanes are like the Calgary Flames of the east. They have plenty of skill on their line-up, and this will translate to regular season success. I have my doubts about how they'll compete in the playoffs, but time will tell. I expect them fully to get 105-110 points this year, and they're well on track for that, if not more than that. They should slide into the top 5 within the next couple of weeks.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins
4-2-0 POWER 110
The Penguins are minus a few players right now, but they're quietly still a tough team to beat due to the lethality of their offence. They typically have questionable first-halfs and then strong second-halfs. If they have a strong first half this season, they might well win the Metro.
10. Washington Capitals
3-2-2 POWER 108
The Capitals are like that practical worker you have who always finds shortcuts but seems pretty lazy. Yet, he gets the job done. The Capitals will get the job done in the regular season and set up for another Cup run. They still have a team that competes.
11. Edmonton Oilers
5-1-0 POWER 107
The Oilers lost stalwart defenceman Adam Larsson in the first game of the season, and yet, they seem to be succeeding. Funny thing about Larsson: he tends to have slow starts to seasons until the season progresses more to defensive hockey as it usually does by game 20. As for the Oilers, McDavid and Draisaitl picked up from where they left off last year, and in one small tinker by Ken Holland, he showed what made him so successful in Detroit for that longest time until he lost all of his talent to retirement. I'm not saying the Oilers are fully improved as I'm not so sure Neal will finish the season with 90 goals (77 of them on the power play), but a good start helps.
12. New York Rangers
2-1-0 POWER 106
These guys may have won the offseason with the additions of a league top 5 winger in Panarin, a promising Trouba, and an insta-transition forward like Kappo Kakko. Zibanejad is probably writing Panarin love letters right now, since he seems to have found his other half. I don't know how long this honeymoon phase will last, since they still have a lot of holes in their line-up, but they're certainly improved from last season, and Gorton is an early candidate for GM of the year.
13. Anaheim Ducks
4-2-0 POWER 101
The Ducks are off to a solid start this year - and I'm sure Gibson has overcome some of that PTSD from last year during that tough stretch on the losing streak when he was absolutely hung out to dry. The Ducks have a lot of work to do, but now that they've got their goals against more minimized with a top 5 goaltender, they can start to build a culture there, siege this season, and develop some of their newer guys.
14. Columbus Blue Jackets
2-3-0 POWER 101
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has entered the building. I don't expect the Blue Jackets to stick around the top half of this chart after their brutal offseason, but they are still a team with good defence and coached by the stubborn Tortorella. Their new goaltending tandem may or may not cause problems: I've barely even heard of these guys, and Tortz has had a history of taking shots at his own goalie as I'm sure Graham would remind people. They're, however, a team I consider to be closer to a rebuild (or a "retool"
than they are to contention. Um, hey, is Seth Jones available?
15. Chicago Blackhawks
1-2-1 POWER 100
The Blackhawks have become the firewagon team of the NHL. Their D-corps have deteriorated considerably and they may struggle to keep up defensively so that means that their talented forwards can play some pond hockey. I expect some five game losing streaks and some eight game winning streaks, etc.
16. New York Islanders
3-3-0 POWER 99
Lou's Islanders are much different than Snow's Islanders, as per Lou is able to extricate more from the talent he has. The problem is that he doesn't have as much to work with as many other teams out there. The other problem is that he pushes his teams to the most success possible, and that hurts your chance at high draft picks (so long as they keep drafting kids at 18 rather than 19). Islanders may well have a 90-100 point season again this year, but they could sure use another star forward or two.
17. Colorado Avalanche
5-0-0 POWER 99
A few years ago, I criticized Sakic heavily on his team's lost identity. Boy, was I wrong. Turns out Sakic knew what he was doing the whole time. Yes, they're at 99 power now because they were trading punches with teams near the end of last season, but he made one of the best moves of the offseason, unloading the defensively liable Barrie for one of the stronger shutdown forwards in Kadri. With Makar and Girard to pick up where Barrie left off, the Avs did not become that much worse offensively while becoming much better defensively. You look at this line-up: you still ask a couple questions about secondary scoring, but you have little doubt that they're built for success. They're a rising star, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them in the top 5 by the end of the year.
18. Arizona Coyotes
2-2-1 POWER 99
The Coyotes have turned into a siege team in the likes of what Columbus is. They drill 35 or so shots a game but with a low shooting percentage. It allows them to maintain zone pressure on the offence, and that's their plan for defence. It's been working okay, but they still lack the talent (ie, shot lethality) to become contenders. They could use another sniper or three.
19. Nashville Predators
4-2-0 POWER 98
The Predators may have added by subtracting in the offseason. Minus PK Subban and Wayne Simmonds (whom I'll mention later... ahem much later), and plus Matt Duchene, they already seem to be recovering some of the identity they had lost near the end of last season. Good start so far! Keep on truckin!
20. Winnipeg Jets
4-4-0 POWER 98
If Theseus left the Jets in May and told the team to repair his defence corps, he'd return to this team in October and wonder, "Where is my defence? This isn't my defence!" This requires an adjustment, and without big buff in the line-up (but a little more optimistic to return), they're "surviving". After all, they still have one of the league's best first lines, and a fine assortment of secondary offence. They've had plenty of goals drilled on them this season, though. They also didn't have the best finish last year.
21. Toronto Maple Leafs
4-2-1 POWER 98
I promise, I'm laying off Kyle Dubas for the time being since he was successfully able to contain the salary situation (barely), but the stats don't lie. The Leafs are the firewagon team of the east, and that involves getting scored on... a lot. Oh relax, Leafs fans: they'll climb up this list! By the by: it's not me ranking them here - I'm only making sense of the stats! The Leafs probably have the league's second most dynamic offence (behind the thunder), so if Muzzin could help ... contain things a little, they will quickly rise the ranks this season. I don't expect they'll stay sub 15 for long.
22. Philadelphia Flyers
2-1-1 POWER 95
The Flyers have a solid core of players and all that, but are not a dominant team by any stretch, and at times, look weak. I believe this team is struggling a little bit with its own identity. But at least everyone can be distracted by Gritty for the time being.
23. San Jose Sharks
2-4-0 POWER 93
On paper, this team looks pretty good, especially when you look at their defence. That goaltending, though... does Jones have Cloutier and Lalime on speed dial?
24. Vancouver Canucks
3-2-0 POWER 92
The Canucks had a pretty solid offseason, despite the solid they did for the Lightning in trading for JT Miller. However, it now looks like they knew something everyone else didn't since Miller has been extremely good this year. Oh yeah, and they also picked up Myers and Jordie Benn - guys who aren't fun to play against. With Quinn Hughes now getting full time, they are highly renovated on the blue line, and when Pettersson finds his game, watch out, because the Canucks are coming.
25. Vegas Golden Knights
4-3-0 POWER 92
"Woa, woa, woa, woa, the VGKs in 25th? Your list is S2PID!" I know; I'm just as surprised as you are! But have you seen the Golden Knights' first pairing? I don't know, that defence can easily be guised by the forwards they're sporting. They win more than they lose, but if you're losing 5-2, you're not doing yourself any favours.
26. Buffalo Sabres
5-0-1 POWER 89
They're 26, now, but they won't be 26 for long. Their offence is clicking, and if they can resolve things with the... other Rasmus... they'll be fine. Not sure about their goaltending situation, but given the start they've had, they're looking at top ten this season. And who can forget how good they were midseason last year before the 18-wheeler off the cliff. Dahlin's only getting better. And how about that McDavid consolation prize, huh? Turns out, he's a pretty good player!
27. Minnesota Wild
1-5-0 POWER 85
You know what's really wild about this? Certainly not Minnesota! Their offence looks like a bunch of toothless kittens right now.
28. Detroit Red Wings
3-3-0 POWER 82
Yzerman is secretly one of the league's best GMs right now, but Detroit is still recovering from all of their retirements. It takes a good five years of suck to build a new corps, unless you pay 12.5M*8 and trade for another guy pretty cheaply, both wanting to play for you. Mantha, Zadina, Valeno, Larkin... some of those pieces are in place, but they could a few more pieces. They should call him Mantha the Bantha because he is a beast for Detroit right now, yet, this will probably be another long year of studying draft picks for their fans.
29. Los Angeles Kings
2-4-0 POWER 82
Hard to believe 2012 was seven years ago, but so it is. What used to be a front line of power hockey has turned into a shadow of what they were when they had their two cups in three years. This team is in a rebuild with aged forwards and will probably be selling off at the deadline. Quick is also not doing so hot, but Campbell is coming along.
30. Ottawa Senators
1-4-0 POWER 80
WHAT?! How are they not thirty-first?! Well, they did beat the #2 power ranked Lightning. Y'know why? Because they've become the lightning rod of hockey fans, especially the owner, Melnyk. They're so used to being the lightning rod that Tampa Bay had no attack on them. In all seriousness, though: the Senators have a lot of young talent - they're not THAT bad. And hey, if they get Lafreniere or Byfield this year, who knows?
31. New Jersey Devils
0-4-2 POWER 75
Can we start calling them the Edmonton Oilers of the east, yet? Because I feel like that's the way they're headed. I'm actually a Devils fan, but I've been railing on their depth for years - calling them "top 6 AHL forwards" rather than bottom 6 NHL forwards. Their offseason additions of PK Subban and Wayne Simmonds have not proven to be fruitful thus far, largely because the reason the Preds got rid of Subban : he wasn't worth his price tag. Simmonds had 3 points in 17 games for the Preds and is going at exactly the same pace with NJ. Severson, despite being really good for team Canada, is really bad for the Devils in his own end. The Devils were supposed to have had the offseason of the ages, but hype doesn't equal success. If Taylor Hall parts from this team for nothing, they're in big trouble. They cannot afford another Parise/Kovalchuk situation. Shero's probably sweating right now, perhaps more so because he's got Hynes on a long leash, so things might get worse before they get better. How do you have such an anemic power play with the PP talent on that team anyway? This one great dragon is now crawling on its belly.
Thanks for reading.
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