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Deep Blue Sea: Thanksgiving Power Rankings

Ranking where each NHL team is at, plus rookie news, waivers, and more in today’s news and notes.

Timo Meier #28 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates scoring a goal against the Ottawa Senators at SAP Center on November 24, 2021 in San Jose, California Photo by Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images

If there’s one thing sacred to the one-day Thanksgiving NHL break, it’s power rankings. Now that we’re almost a quarter through the season, various publications have been dropping power rankings like they’ll be going out of business. But here’s the thing — I have my own opinions on how the NHL season is shaking out.

Fast starts for chronically under-performing teams, slow starts for top players, and COVID outbreaks have made the start of the season interesting, and hard to evaluate. But while it’s a little early to anticipate who might be in the Stanley Cup Final, it’s not too early to evaluate the top teams in the league.

(P.S. Feel free to sound off in the comments with your own power rankings of the league!)

Top ten NHL teams:

  1. Florida Panthers (14-2-3)
  2. Carolina Hurricanes (14-3-1)
  3. Edmonton Oilers (14-5-0)
  4. Tampa Bay Lightning (11-4-3)
  5. Washington Capitals (12-3-5)
  6. Toronto Maple Leafs (14-6-1)
  7. Calgary Flames (12-3-5)
  8. New York Rangers (12-4-3)
  9. Minnesota Wild (12-6-1)
  10. Colorado Avalanche (10-5-1)

To I’m sure no ones’ surprise, the Panthers, Hurricanes and Oilers are at the top of the list. For one thing, all three of these teams are on the precipice of a cup. They have the momentum to keep rolling through teams and despite a few losses here and there, all three are confident. And why wouldn’t they be with the record and the chemistry they have? There are some caveats; the Leafs and Oilers are generally fantastic during the regular season, but depth and goaltending (and choking) have ruined their post season records. The Wild, Flames and Rangers have had fast starts and are looking good right now, but the longevity and their inconsistency might be their folly in a month or so. Regardless, the power rankings aren’t about where they will be a month from now, it’s about valuing the team’s where they’re at now, and tomorrow. I was a little generous with the injured Avalanche, but it’s hard to bet against a healthy Nate MacKinnon.

Mid-tier NHL teams:

  1. Vegas Golden Knights (12-8-0)
  2. Winnipeg Jets (9-6-4)
  3. San Jose Sharks (10-8-1)
  4. Columbus Blue Jackets (11-6-0)
  5. Boston Bruins (10-6-0)
  6. Philadelphia Flyers (8-6-4)
  7. St. Louis Blues (10-7-2)
  8. Anaheim Ducks (10-7-3)
  9. New York Islanders (5-9-1)
  10. Nashville Predators (10-8-1)

Neither good nor bad, the mid-tier NHL teams are the ones that every week could be showing playoff potential or look like they’re tanking for the first round pick. As much as it pains me to put Vegas above the Sharks, they’ve looked more like the Golden Knights of the past two season rather than an injured roster limping it’s way through wins over the past few games. I might be throwing the Sharks a bone by placing them above the Flyers and Bruins, but if you caught the last two games, you’ll know why. The Sharks have found their identity and confidence again, and in a wide open division like the Pacific, there’s definite playoff potential. For the Blues and Predators, it’s been a month of trading wins and losses; there’s nothing special with what’s happening on the ice. The Ducks may be outliving their brief moment at the top as their cracks in depth begin to show, and while the Islanders are less than stellar at the moment, Barry Trotz still exists as the legend he is. The Ducks will probably drop in the rankings soon, and the Islanders should rise, along with the Sharks.

Bottom tier NHL teams:

  1. New Jersey Devils (8-5-4)
  2. Detroit Red Wings (9-9-3)
  3. Pittsburgh Penguins (9-6-4)
  4. Los Angeles Kings (8-8-3)
  5. Dallas Stars (8-7-2)
  6. Buffalo Sabres (7-10-2)
  7. Montreal Canadiens (5-14-2)
  8. Chicago Blackhawks (6-11-2)
  9. Ottawa Senators (4-12-1)

Their records are poor, some of their PR images are even worse (I’m looking at you, Chicago) and most of the time their play lies somewhere between ‘uninspired’ and ‘yikes.’ The Senators, Red Wings and Penguins have been skating by on their consistent effort, and the Kings on their young talent, but at this point in the season, these teams just aren’t looking fantastic.

Bottom-of-the-barrel NHL teams:

  1. Vancouver Canucks (6-12-2)
  2. Arizona Coyotes (4-14-2)
  3. Seattle Kraken (6-12-1)

I feel for the players on these teams, because it’s mentally and emotionally exhausting to lose near-constantly, but there are some real questions marks around how many games these teams will actually win. The Coyotes have been purposeful; Arizona management have invested fully in a rebuild, even if goaltender Karel Vejmelka hasn’t gotten the memo (he’s been fantastic, the team just can’t score goals). The Kraken’s disappointing start is an expected but disappointing reality of being an expansion team. As for the Canucks, this just seems par for the course for a team rife with internal disorganization, locker room disfunction and debilitatingly-bad management decisions. Change is coming for the Canucks in particular — especially if the team continues to languish at the bottom of the standings the way that they are.

News & Notes

  • Why NHL standings at U.S. Thanksgiving have huge playoff implications [Sportsnet]
  • Power Rankings: What Each Team Should Be Thankful For [Sports Illustrated]

Blood in the Water

  • TRAIKOS: The reason why the NHL hasn’t postponed more games due to COVID-19? [Toronto Sun]
  • Columbus Blue Jackets rookie Cole Sillinger is the only player drafted in 2021 still playing with his NHL team [1st Ohio Battery]
  • Red Wings’ rookies meeting challenges of demanding NHL schedule [MLive]
  • Wild team bus caught in pre-Thanksgiving New York traffic before Devils game, forcing a half-hour delay [CBS]
  • Coyne Schofield discusses role with Blackhawks in sit-down with NHL [NHL]
  • New Jersey Devils Claimed Nathan Bastian on Waivers [All About the Jersey]

Scores & Recaps

There were no NHL games scheduled for Nov. 25, due to the holiday break.

On the Schedule

  • New York Rangers at Boston Bruins, 11 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET on ESPN+, HULU
  • St. Louis Blues at Chicago Blackhawks, 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+, HULU
  • Winnipeg Jets at Minnesota Wild, 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET on BSN, BSWI, TSN3, ESPN+
  • Carolina Hurricanes at Philadelphia Flyers, 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET on SN, NBCSP, BSSO, ESPN+
  • Ottawa Senators at Anaheim Ducks, 1 p.m. PT/4 p.m. PT on BSW, TSN5, RDS, ESPN+
  • Florida Panthers at Washington Capitals, 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET on NBCSWA, BSFL, ESPN+
  • New Jersey Devils at Nashville Predators, 3 p.m. PT/6 p.m. ET on ESPN+, HULU
  • Montreal Canadiens at Buffalo Sabres, 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET on MSG-B, TSN2, RDS, ESPN+
  • Seattle Kraken at Tampa Bay Lightning, 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET on BSSUN, ROOT-NW, ESPN+
  • Vancouver Canucks at Columbus Blue Jackets, 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET on BSOH, SNP, ESPN+
  • Colorado Avalanche Dallas Stars, 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. ET on BSSW, ALT2, ESPN+
  • Pittsburgh Penguins at NY Islanders, 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. ET on SNE, SNO, SNW, TVAS, MSG+, ATTSN-PT, ESPN+
  • Toronto Maple Leafs at San Jose Sharks, 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSCA, SNO, ESPN+