NHL Power Rankings: 1st impression of every team
This is the second edition of theScore's NHL Power Rankings for the 2020-21 season. Check back for updated rankings every second Monday during the regular season.
In this edition, we provide our first impression of each team through the start of the campaign.
1. Vegas Golden Knights (5-1-0)
Previous rank: 3
The Golden Knights are like a fine wine - they're just getting better with age. Mark Stone looks fantastic, Shea Theodore continues to establish himself as a top defenseman in the league, and the tandem of Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury looks impenetrable. In its fourth NHL season, this may be the best Vegas has ever looked.
2. Montreal Canadiens (4-0-2)
Previous rank: 16
Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has built one of the NHL's most complete rosters. What the Habs lack in star power they make up for with four relentless forward lines, three reliable defense pairings, and two stellar netminders.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (3-1-0)
Previous rank: 1
Even without Nikita Kucherov, the defending champions are dangerous. Having arguably the league's best goalie, arguably its top defenseman, and a rejuvenated Steven Stamkos leading the charge appears to be a recipe for success for the Lightning.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs (5-2-0)
Previous rank: 10
5. Boston Bruins (3-1-1)
Previous rank: 4
No team in recent years has handled impact losses better than the Bruins. With David Pastrnak injured and Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara playing elsewhere, the Bs remain a well-oiled machine, entering Sunday with the league's second-best expected goals rate at five-on-five.
6. Colorado Avalanche (3-3-0)
Previous rank: 2
Has any team in league history ever assembled a blue line as mobile as this one? With rookie Bowen Byram now in the lineup and making opponents look foolish, the Avalanche's back end is unfairly fast.
7. St. Louis Blues (3-2-1)
Previous rank: 6
The Blues are contenders, but they've suffered some ugly losses through the opening portion of their schedule. More consistent offense from the big guns could help St. Louis get back on track.
8. New York Islanders (3-2-0)
Previous rank: 11
Nobody had Semyon Varlamov as their preseason Vezina Trophy pick, but the 32-year-old looks primed to compete for the award. He was good last campaign, great in the playoffs, and now looks to be seeing beach balls in his second year under Islanders head coach Barry Trotz.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins (4-2-0)
Previous rank: 12
If the Penguins have Stanley Cup aspirations this season, Evgeni Malkin will need to overcome his sluggish start. Malkin hasn't looked his usual dominant self - he has just 11 shots on goal and two points through six games.
10. Washington Capitals (3-0-3)
Previous rank: 7
Washington hasn't lost in regulation yet, but the Capitals are turning in some poor underlying results - they're currently operating at 45% in five-on-five expected goals - and their off-ice recklessness has made for a rocky start.
11. Carolina Hurricanes (2-1-0)
Previous rank: 8
The Hurricanes kept their roster almost entirely intact over the offseason, and that appears to be a good thing. Andrei Svechnikov and Sebastian Aho seem like they'll continue to light up opponents, and the team's defensive core looks elite.
12. Winnipeg Jets (4-2-0)
Previous rank: 21
13. Dallas Stars (2-0-0)
Previous rank: 5
The Stars faced a lengthy delay to the start of their season, but there appeared to be no rust as they skated to a 7-0 win in their first game. After a somewhat surprising trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2020, Dallas looks ready to make some noise once again.
14. Calgary Flames (2-1-1)
Previous rank: 13
15. Philadelphia Flyers (3-2-1)
Previous rank: 9
16. New Jersey Devils (3-1-1)
Previous rank: 24
The Devils' future hasn't looked this bright in a long time. Jack Hughes looks like a completely rejuvenated player after a disappointing rookie season, and Mackenzie Blackwood has been one of the league's top goaltenders so far.
17. Minnesota Wild (4-2-0)
Previous rank: 23
The Wild have been one of the most boring teams in the NHL throughout their existence, but Kirill Kaprizov changes everything. The electrifying rookie is Minnesota's most exciting player since Marian Gaborik.
18. Columbus Blue Jackets (2-2-2)
Previous rank: 18
All of the early attention was on the Dubois saga, but now that's in the past. Injecting Patrik Laine into the lineup will certainly give the Blue Jackets an offensive boost and some much-needed goal-scoring, but the team has a glaring hole down the middle with Max Domi as its top center.
19. Florida Panthers (2-0-0)
Previous rank: 22
Aleksander Barkov has long been viewed as the league's most underrated player, but he may have to pass that crown to Panthers teammate Jonathan Huberdeau; Huberdeau has four points in the two games and ranks ninth in the NHL in points over the last two seasons.
20. Arizona Coyotes (2-3-1)
Previous rank: 25
The Coyotes are struggling to earn wins, but they surprisingly rank 12th in goals for early on. Perhaps a break from the Golden Knights - Arizona's opponents for the last four games - will help the Coyotes pick up some points in the Pacific Division.
21. Edmonton Oilers (3-4-0)
Previous rank: 14
It's the same old story for the Oilers so far. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are good enough to win a handful of games on their own, but insufficient depth scoring and unreliable goaltending continue to hold this team back.
22. Nashville Predators (2-3-0)
Previous rank: 19
The Predators aren't quite contenders at this point, but they aren't miss-the-playoffs bad either. Perhaps if the power play could operate above an abysmal 10% conversion rate, Nashville's strong on-paper roster would be able to reach its potential.
23. Buffalo Sabres (2-3-1)
Previous rank: 20
The Jack Eichel-Taylor Hall experiment is off to an ambiguous start. The two are racking up points together, but the Sabres still can't seem to find the win column consistently. The dynamic duo can continue to pour it on, but it's ultimately all for nothing if Buffalo can't win games.
24. New York Rangers (1-3-1)
Previous rank: 17
The Rangers are at least a year or two away from legitimate contention. The high-end talent is there, but this roster still has too many holes - specifically on defense. Signing Jack Johnson was an inexplicable mistake.
25. San Jose Sharks (3-3-0)
Previous rank: 28
Not making a move for a reliable starting goalie was a terrible offseason decision for the Sharks. San Jose's aging core can't survive or compete without some help between the pipes.
26. Los Angeles Kings (2-2-2)
Previous rank: 26
The Kings are pesky. Don't be surprised if they contend for the West Division's fourth postseason spot. They held their own against the Avalanche and Blues, and the schedule gets easier in February.
27. Anaheim Ducks (2-2-2)
Previous rank: 30
The Ducks look very much the same as they have for the last few years: a team with an elite goaltender and not much else. Anaheim ranks 30th in goals for (386) over the last two seasons, and it seems a lack of difference-makers will have the team ranking near the bottom of the NHL in that category once again.
28. Vancouver Canucks (2-5-0)
Previous rank: 15
The Canucks made some questionable offseason decisions by letting key players such as Jacob Markstrom and Tyler Toffoli walk in free agency. After a rocky start to the campaign, it seems those decisions may haunt Vancouver fans all season long - especially if those players continue to excel with their new teams.
29. Chicago Blackhawks (2-3-1)
Previous rank: 31
Entering the year without top centers Jonathan Toews and Kirby Dach, the Blackhawks knew this season would be a tough one. Chicago's two wins have both come against lowly Detroit, and the team struggled to get anything going against the Lightning and Panthers. The roster lacks reliable goaltending, good defense, and depth.
30. Detroit Red Wings (2-4-0)
Previous rank: 29
The Red Wings aren't anywhere near contention, but some new additions to the roster have helped them compete each night. Dylan Larkin looks awfully comfortable with the "C" on his chest, averaging a point per game through six contests.
31. Ottawa Senators (1-3-1)
Previous rank: 27
Tim Stutzle has been limited to two games due to injury, but he's looked every bit as good in the NHL as he did at the world juniors. The Senators will have a hard time staying afloat in the North Division this season, but they're bursting with young talent and will break out in the coming years.
(Analytics source: Natural Stat Trick)