It’s a new year, and that means we have a new look for THW’s power rankings! After taking a few weeks off due to the holiday season, we are back and ready to discuss the big changes taking place across the NHL.
With the season roughly 50 percent over for most teams, and the trade deadline fast approaching, that means it is officially time for us to change how we discuss the Power Ranking. While it’s not impossible for a team in the back of the pack to make the playoffs, the likelihood of this is low. That means we have a few distinct tiers in the league, based on their outlook for the rest of the regular season.
For some, winning each night is still all that matters. For others, losing is the ultimate goal, as there is a great draft pick prize at the end of this difficult season.
All stats and records are current as of Jan. 9th, prior to any games taking place.
Related: NHL 2022-23 Power Rankings: Week 11
32-25: Waiting on the 2023 NHL Draft
32. Chicago Blackhawks 10-25-4, 24 Points (Last Ranking: 31)
31. Columbus Blue Jackets 12-25-2, 26 Points (Last Ranking: 29)
30. Anaheim Ducks 12-25-4, 28 Points (Last Ranking: 32)
29. Arizona Coyotes 13-21-5, 31 Points (Last Ranking: 28)
28. Philadelphia Flyers 15-18-7, 37 Points (Last Ranking: 30)
27. San Jose Sharks 12-21-8, 32 Points (Last Ranking: 27)
26. Montreal Canadiens 16-21-3, 35 Points(Last Ranking: 22)
25. Vancouver Canucks 17-19-3, 37 Points (Last Ranking: 24)
When it comes to the bottom of the standings, the 2022-23 season can’t end soon enough. While some of these teams may have had solid starts or can play spirited fairs where they defeat opponents playing down to their competition, unfortunately if you find yourself on this part of the list, you really won’t have much to look forward to for the rest of the regular season.
Everyone knows what the plan here is, though. With a deep draft ahead, where franchise players could rain down from the heavens, these teams have a lot to be excited about in near future, especially if they were to win the Connor Bedard sweepstakes. For now, though, it’s going to be a rough few months, as general managers will be looking to sell off any talent not nailed down in order to bring back as many future assets as possible.
So, if you’re a fan of one of these teams, it may be a good time to take up a new hobby for the first few months of 2023 as your New Years’ resolution. I hear pickleball is popular right now.
24-20: Trade Deadline Decisions Loom Large
24. Ottawa Senators 18-18-3, 39 Points (Last Ranking: 23)
23. Detroit Red Wings 16-15-7, 39 Points (Last Ranking: 18)
22. Florida Panthers 18-19-4, 40 Points (Last Ranking: 19)
21. St. Louis Blues 20-18-3, 43 Points (Last Ranking: 26)
20. Nashville Predators 18-14-6, 42 Points (Last Ranking: 25)
By all accounts, this is the most interesting group of teams in the Rankings this week. Everyone here can make the argument that they still have a shot at the postseason, but you also know that the odds of making up six to ten points in the standings gets harder and harder with every passing game. This means that while they may not fancy themselves as sellers, they all have the potential to pull the rip cord, trade anything they can, and write the 2022-23 season off as a loss or double down and buy in order to try and save their postseason chances.
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While I don’t expect this many potential playoffs teams to make these decisions at this point of the season, it’s worth keeping an eye on what they do, as they will either flood the market with talent at the trade deadline which will drive down prices, or they will believe they are one piece away and become buyers, driving up prices.
Related: Maple Leafs Offer Perfect Tanking Strategy For Everyone to Follow
Either way, they will be a lot of fun to watch, as every win or loss feels like they count for double when you are in this position of the Power Rankings.
19-14: Playoff Push or Bust
19. Colorado Avalanche 20-15-3, 43 Points (Last Ranking: 17)
18. Pittsburgh Penguins 20-13-6, 46 Points (Last Ranking: 5)
17. Edmonton Oilers 21-17-3, 45 Points (Last Ranking: 15)
16. Calgary Flames 19-14-8, 46 Points (Last Ranking: 20)
15. Buffalo Sabres 20-15-2, 42 Points (Last Ranking: 21)
14. New York Islanders 22-17-2, 46 Points (Last Ranking: 12)
When you get to the middle of the pack, you start to find a lot of teams that are great, by all accounts, but have significant flaws that are dragging them down on the ice. At this level, you have Stanley Cup favorites like the Colorado Avalanche and Pittsburgh Penguins, who at different points in the season looked like one of the best teams in the league, but now can’t buy back-to-back wins due to injuries and inconsistency on the ice.
That being said, every team here is also only a handful of points out of a playoff position, or in some cases still sits in one, so it’s doubtful that their general managers will look to be sellers in the coming months. They have played well enough to keep themselves in the discussion and as such are one relatively short winning or losing streak away from seeing their season change directions entirely.
13-11: Playoff Contenders?
13. Seattle Kraken 22-12-4, 48 Points (Last Ranking: 10)
12. Los Angeles Kings 23-14-6, 52 Points (Last Ranking: 17)
11. New Jersey Devils 25-12-3, 53 Points (Last Ranking: 3)
If I’m being honest with you, I really don’t know what to make out of any of these three remaining teams before the top ten. When you look at the standings, they are all holding onto playoff spots with games left in hand that they can use to make up even more points on their rivals at the top of their divisions. They are all also playing better hockey as of late after dealing with significant losing streaks throughout December.
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Yet, for whatever reason, when I look at them in the standings I still remain doubtful of their legitimacy. This doesn’t mean that I don’t believe that they will make the playoffs, or in the case of the L.A. Kings and Seattle Kraken past Round 1, but it’s hard for me to believe in them until I see more. I expect all three of these teams to be buyers at the trade deadline, and they should all make the postseason.
WIth every passing week, however, I become more of a believer in these teams, as they continue to put together impressive runs. The longer that continues, the farther up these Rankings they will climb.
10. Washington Capitals
23-14-6, 52 Points
Last Ranking: 13
Heading into the 2022-23 season, the question for the Washington Capitals was simple… could they weather the storm of injuries that struck the franchise long enough to stay in the postseason hunt? While things looked shaky at times, it appears that they have done enough to survive, and in some cases even thrive as a team during these difficult times.
The future looks bright for the Capitals, with players like Tom Wilson returning to play their first games of the season while Alexander Ovechkin continues to be a goalscoring machine untouched by time. As long as this continues, they should find themselves moving up this ranking in the coming weeks.
9. Minnesota Wild
22-14-3, 47 Points
Last Ranking: 16
After a slow start to the season, the Minnesota Wild appear to be back on track again, as the franchise has rattled off enough wins throughout December and early January to take over the third spot in the Central Division and are within striking distance of first. The team is firing on all cylinders, with Kirill Kaprizov leading the way in scoring and Calen Addison emerging as a top-four defenseman the team can rely on. There are high expectations for the Wild for the rest of the season, and they will have the opportunity to prove themselves as contenders in the coming weeks.
8. Tampa Bay Lightning
24-13-1, 49 Points
Last Ranking: 4
It feels like the Tampa Bay Lightning are exactly where they want to be. They are seven points clear of fourth place in the Atlantic Division, while still being six points behind second place, meaning their postseason spot is secured, for now, as long as they continue winning enough games to keep pace with the rest of the league.
Do they look like the team that has gone to three-straight Stanley Cup Finals right now? No. But we all know that January isn’t what matters to the Lightning, as a few good wins followed by a few bad losses won’t change anything for the team. So, while they aren’t playing the best hockey right now, they are doing more than enough to keep themselves in their perfect position.
7. New York Rangers
22-12-7, 51 Points
Last Ranking: 11
After experiencing a dip in play during December, the New York Rangers got the train back on the tracks once again and are back to looking like contenders. They won three straight games to kick off the new year, and lost in overtime to the Devils, keeping their point streak intact.
While they may only be third in their division right now, the Rangers strike me as a team that will rapidly climb in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline. They have a narrow lead over their rivals in the Metro, so they will need to continue playing smart hockey if they want to keep in the hunt for the division title.
6. Dallas Stars
24-11-6, 54 Points
Last Ranking: 8
When you get to this point in a Power Rankings, the difference between positions is minimal. You can argue that the Dallas Stars could be a few spots higher or lower, and given the day, you would be right.
However, after getting shut out by the Anaheim Ducks, it felt appropriate to keep them behind their rivals in the Central Division, if only for a week. They are still a great team with incredible depth that will easily stay in the hunt for first place in the Division for the rest of the season.
5. Winnipeg Jets
Last Ranking: 8
26-13-1, 53 points
The Winnipeg Jets continue to rattle off meaningful victories this season, no matter what opponent they face. This makes sense, as their core consists of stars like Kyle Connor, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Josh Morrissey, and Mark Scheifele, who are all exceeding any expectations placed on them this season. Oh, and they still have Connor Helybyuk, who is back to his Vezina-caliber play once again.
Related: Jets Should Be Willing to Pay Dubois This Offseason
Not only are the Jets presenting themselves as Stanley Cup contenders, but they feature a number of players and coaches who will all be making the case to take home some additional hardware at the 2023 NHL Awards.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs
25-9-7, 57 Points
Last Ranking: 2
After reeling off one of their best stretches of play in franchise history, it seemed fair that the Toronto Maple Leafs would come back to Earth just a little bit. Over their last ten games, they’ve gone 5-4-1, and they are experiencing a few concerning trends when it comes to their once-sound defensive structure and goaltending, leading them to lose three times in four games. Despite this, the Maple Leafs got it together and scraped out a tough win against a division rival on the back of a fantastic game by Ilya Samsonov and simply outplayed the Flyers on back-to-back nights to end the week.
It will be easy to write off the Maple Leafs again this season, given the quality of opponents they will face in the postseason and previous failures, but do so at your own risk. This is a really good team, and they have the pieces in place to make some noise in 2023.
3. Vegas Golden Knights
27-13-2, 56 Points
Last Ranking: 6
In general, things are going well for the Vegas Golden Knights (besides when they play the Kings). The team is starting to get healthy once again, as Jack Eichel returned from injury reserve (IR) this week, and immediately had a three-point night.
Really, the only major concern for the Golden Knights is their home record, which is a mediocre 12-10-0. Las Vegas has been a bastion of winning since its inception as a franchise, so to see Vegas’ record at home looking less than pristine is a real surprise. However, it is a relatively small concern, as long as they continue to win the games that matter and lock down first place in the Pacific and potentially the Western Conference.
2. Carolina Hurricanes
25-8-7, 57 Points
Last Ranking: 9
No team has been on a wilder ride since our last rankings than the Carolina Hurricanes. After putting together an 11-game winning streak, they then turned around and lost three straight this week, in what can best be called a market correction. I won’t be knocking them down the Rankings, though, as they still are playing like one of the best teams in the NHL. I expect them to get back in the winning column this week, and we will just write off this streak of poor play as a winning hangover and not a sign of future output.
If this losing streak continues, however, then it will be time to reevaluate where I have the Hurricanes on this list. For now, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt and keeping them here in second place.
1. Boston Bruins
32-4-4, 68 Points
Last Ranking: 1
What the Boston Bruins are doing so far this season is silly. They are sporting a ridiculous .846 points percentage, are a +68 on the season (which is double the next closest team), and they still haven’t lost in regulation at home.
This team is an absolute wagon, and the only real question will be how long they can keep this up, or if they will take their foot off the gas and start preparing for the postseason. That seems unlikely, as they look like a team of destiny who is ready to win for themselves before they split up and go their separate ways. Those teams can be hard to beat, especially as long as everything continues running this well.
Power Rankings Wrap Up
That wraps up THW’s week 14 power rankings. Given the amount of time between our previous rankings, a lot of changes had to occur to get everything caught up. Hopefully, this will be the last time that you see wild swings of 10-plus positions, as things around the league continue to settle into a mid-season routine.
Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.
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The post NHL 2022-23 Power Rankings: Week 14 appeared first on WorldNewsEra.