Hey everyone, we here at Yahoo! Sports are doing real power rankings for teams Nos. 1-31. Here they are, based on only how I am feeling about these teams and their chances to win the Cup, meaning you can’t tell me I’m wrong because these are my feelings and feelings can’t be wrong. Please enjoy the Power Feelings.
31. Ottawa Senators (End of last season: 31)
30. Detroit Red Wings (EoLS: 28)
One of the things I’ve seen a lot this week, as the Red Wings rolled out their actual real-life NHL lines (such as they are), is people saying, “Hoo boy, that forward group. Might be worse than Ottawa’s.” And it might! That’s bad.
But also, just like Ottawa: That’s the point. These guys should be awful this year, but unlike Ottawa they aren’t scraping along at the bottom of the league in terms of salary commitments. The Red Wings are firmly in the middle of the pack in terms of cap hits, and a lot of their biggest deals aren’t going anywhere for three (Frans Nielsen, Danny DeKeyser) or four years (Justin Abdelkader). Hell, even Val Filppula and Darren Helm are locked in for two more.
I dunno, man. I don’t think they’re Senators-bad, but they might be closer than a lot of people think.
29. Columbus Blue Jackets (EoLS: 13)
I’m gonna catch a lot of crap for this because “never count out a John Tortorella running on eff-you juice” or whatever, but c’mon. This was barely a playoff team last season with Panarin and Bobrovsky, plus all the guys they got at the deadline.
You can like a lot of the talent they have — and I really do, especially on the blue line — but I can’t trust the goaltending even a little bit and I’m not sure who’s putting the puck in the net after the top line comes off the ice.
28. Los Angeles Kings (EoLS: 30)
27. Buffalo Sabres (EoLS: 27)
Nice to add talent and a potentially good coach, but there’s just not enough quality here for these guys to come screaming out of the basement. Especially with that goalie platoon, which is a big who-knows. And the defense? It’s better, but better than “probably the worst in the league” shouldn’t fill one with confidence, y’know?
26. Anaheim Ducks (EoLS: 24)
The Ducks will, I think, end up being better than they were last year — at least process-wise — because they have a good coach now. But all their stars are a year older, and adding in a bunch of promising young talent will only help that so much.
This team’s performance was actually better than it should have been last year overall, because John Gibson is among the league’s elite. He arguably should have won the Vezina last year, all that kind of stuff. The question, then, is whether he gives them another season in the .920-plus area. It’s very possible, and if that happens, then off ya go.
25. Philadelphia Flyers (EoLS: 22)
24. New York Rangers (EoLS: 26)
23. Minnesota Wild (EoLS: 21)
This team seems like it’s finally being run competently, but years of not being run competently will hinder the performance, especially because the competent party came in too late in the summer to really do anything besides stop the bleeding.
The thing with the Wild is that they’re insanely well-coached and have some talent in key positions (sans goaltending), but like the Hurricanes of a few years ago, they didn’t have the talent to either put the puck in the net or keep it out at the other end.
Don’t see where much has changed on that front, Zuccarello acquisition excepted. How many extra goals of offense is Zuccarello and a possibly healthier core worth? Probably not enough to get them where people think they ought to go.
22. Chicago (EoLS: 20)
21. Arizona Coyotes (EoLS: 18)
I’m gonna write about these guys more later this week, but while Phil Kessel is obviously getting the headlines, he’s not even close to the most interesting or important part of this group. You need guys who can score and few do it more reliably than Kessel, but you also need guys who can keep the other team from scoring.
Is newly re-signed Darcy Kuemper the guy who’s a career .912 before last season, or is he the guy who can be .920-plus under a Tocchet system? I tend to lean toward the former, so Raanta probably needs to be available for these guys to threaten a playoff spot.
20. Edmonton Oilers (EoLS: 25)
The good news is there are a lot of NHL-quality wingers in the world. The bad news is only like two of them play for the Oilers.
19. New Jersey Devils (EoLS: 29)
Look at it this way: They seem to have jumped 10 spots in the league standings over the summer. That’s a huge improvement. But when you ended last year third-last, it’s probably also not enough to get you back into the playoffs without someone going all the way off. Which, as Taylor Hall and Cory Schneider have proven in the past (pre-injuries), is well within their capabilities.
18. Montreal Canadiens (EoLS: 14)
17. Vancouver Canucks (EoLS: 23)
There has been much wailing and rending of garments over the decision to waive Sven Baertschi in favor of less talented players on the opening day roster. You can argue that it’s just good no one claimed him and that Baertschi — who missed a big chunk of last season — is (and should be) the first call-up.
But the bigger problem is obviously that the team looked at its roster and said, “We have too many skill guys to fit this other skill guy into the lineup.” The Canucks are undoubtedly backward in wanting to have the Tyler Mottes and Jay Beagles of the world on the ice instead of the Sven Baertschis.
But you can’t say they didn’t improve this summer, so now what?
16. New York Islanders (EoLS: 5)
The thing with having Barry Trotz as your coach is not that he’s going to deliver you 100-plus-point seasons without fail. The elevator doesn’t go that high, that consistently, when you have this talent level (relatively low but not basement-scraping).
The thing with having Barry Trotz as your coach is that the lowest you’ll sink is much higher than if it was, say, Jack Capuano or Doug Weight. I have the Isles as a playoff team, albeit one that probably won’t get .930ish goaltending as reliably as everyone else seems to think, especially because Lehner-to-Varlamov looks like a sizeable downgrade that didn’t have to be made.
15. Winnipeg Jets (EoLS: 10)
14. Florida Panthers (EoLS: 19)
13. Dallas Stars (EoLS: 15)
Yup, they added Joe Pavelski. Yup, people seem to think Roope Hintz is a breakout candidate (after all, he shot 11 percent post-all-star break to go 7-10-17 in 33 games, and 19 percent in the playoffs to go 5-3-8 in 13!)
But for this team’s success, that’s not what’s important. Here’s what’s important:
.924, .916, .926, .910, .916, .934
It’s your guess as to which of these Ben Bishops shows up for the Stars this season. At age 33, I’d err more on the side of “slightly above-average” than “Vezina candidate,” but it’s obviously in his toolbox to do the latter.
And okay, now do Anton Khudobin.
12. Colorado Avalanche (EoLS: 17)
11. Nashville Predators (EoLS: 8)
The amount of pressure this team is gonna be putting on Matt Duchene is crazy. These guys could finish anywhere from fifth to 15th and I’d go, “Well, sure, yeah, okay.”
10. Pittsburgh Penguins (EoLS: 9)
We’ve been assured a Jack Johnson trade is coming and if it does I gotta shuffle a couple wins around on this one.
9. Calgary Flames (EoLS: 2)
Not that anyone would have trusted a Smith/Rittich battery last season but does anyone trust a Talbot/Rittich battery? Okay, let me rephrase: Anyone who’s not Brad Treliving?
8. Washington Capitals (EoLS: 4)
This team is a lot like Nashville where any finish within the Eastern Conference playoff picture makes perfect sense to me. I tend to err on the side of “having a lot of talent is good and will help them” but so much of that talent is over 30.
They’ve earned the benefit of the doubt, but hoo boy, good luck to ‘em.
7. St. Louis Blues (EoLS: 12)
6. Carolina Hurricanes (EoLS: 11)
I have Carolina and St. Louis in the same boat: Two teams with really good rosters and probably better coaching but who relied on overpowered goaltending after horrific starts.
If they can get the goaltending to coalesce in that comfortable middle — or upper-middle, more likely — then they’re gonna be among the best teams in the league this season. They don’t have overwhelming talent except in a few spots. They’re not any of the teams directly above them in the Power Feelings where they have like six potential All-Stars on the roster.
But they just do everything so well that it feels like nothing that happened to them after the start of 2019 was a fluke. You love to see it.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs (EoLS: 7)
4. San Jose Sharks (EoLS: 6)
Sign me up for the Martin Jones bounce-back season. I believe in it. I also believe in this being the only team in the league that should go 3F-2D on the power play and never take the top unit off the ice.
3. Vegas Golden Knights (EoLS: 16)
Another big bounce-back year I’m expecting: Max Pacioretty. You’ve seen Mark Stone make a first-year-pro Brady Tkachuk look like a borderline All-Star. Now watch what he does with a guy who has actually been an All-Star.
If that happens, and the Marchessault line stays the Marchessault line, I really don’t worry too much about how thin these guys are on defense.
2. Boston Bruins (EoLS: 3)
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (EoLS: 1)
They won’t put up as many wins as last year, but if this team starts to remind you of the foot-off-the-gas-but-still-walk-through-the-playoffs Golden State Warriors of two years ago, then that all checks out.
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