NHL Power Rankings: A New Year's resolution for each team
This is the seventh edition of theScore's NHL Power Rankings for the 2021-22 season. Check back for updated rankings every second Monday during the regular season.
In this edition, we make a New Year's resolution for each team in 2022.
1. Carolina Hurricanes (23-7-1)
Previous rank: 1st
Get Andrei Svechnikov some confidence. After a blistering October in which the dynamic winger potted seven goals in as many games, Svechnikov has only found the back of the net three times since. If he gets going again, the Hurricanes might be unstoppable.
2. Washington Capitals (20-6-8)
Previous rank: 3rd
Rip the Hart Trophy away from Edmonton. The league's MVP award has gone to Edmonton for the past two campaigns, which tracks because Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are bonkers good. However, Alex Ovechkin has proved over and over again this season that he can hang with any young star out there. Go get that hardware, Ovi.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (21-8-5)
Previous rank: 2nd
Protect Nikita Kucherov at all costs. Forget that the Lightning are trying to win a third straight Stanley Cup (though having Kucherov in the lineup certainly helps the Bolts' case), hockey is more fun when the best players are able to hit the ice. The fact that the incomparable Russian star has suited up for just three games this season is a travesty. Cover him in bubble wrap once he returns.
4. Florida Panthers (21-7-4)
Previous rank: 7th
Win the division. This can go for any team, particularly those in the race for the Atlantic, but the Panthers surely would love an easier playoff path after bowing out in the opening round in each of the past two seasons.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs (21-8-2)
Previous rank: 4th
Win a playoff series. This may seem like low-hanging fruit, but what else could the Maple Leafs possibly want to set their sights on in 2022? Toronto knows what regular-season success looks like and once again looks poised to finish at or near the top of the division. It's beyond time for the next step.
6. New York Rangers (21-8-4)
Previous rank: 5th
Hold onto the puck. The Rangers' record looks good, but their underlying numbers? Not so much. Their shot attempts for, expected goals for, and scoring chances for percentages all sat below 50% entering Sunday. Puck possession should be a priority in 2022.
7. Vegas Golden Knights (22-12-1)
Previous rank: 9th
Keep grinding. The Golden Knights have plenty of star power, but their biggest strength this season has been their incredible depth. Vegas has remained among the NHL's best clubs despite seemingly always missing at least one or two impact players. The team just needs to continue playing through it and hope to have the full roster back for crunch time.
8. Pittsburgh Penguins (18-8-5)
Previous rank: 10th
Put the pedal down. The Penguins have stayed afloat through several injuries but are rolling of late and should get Evgeni Malkin back soon. Time to make the most of a healthy roster and make another run.
9. Colorado Avalanche (18-8-2)
Previous rank: 8th
Be extra careful. The Avalanche have been ravaged by key absences all season. A fully healthy roster in 2022 will go a long way in aiding their Stanley Cup aspirations.
10. St. Louis Blues (19-9-5)
Previous rank: 13th
More opportunities for Jordan Kyrou. He's enjoying a fine breakout season with 32 points in 29 games yet ranks ninth among Blues forwards in average ice time. Kyrou's 4.03 points per 60 at five-on-five places him seventh among all NHL forwards. Let him loose.
11. Minnesota Wild (19-10-2)
Previous rank: 6th
Don't panic. The Wild should resist the urge to start worrying amid a five-game losing streak that includes a Winter Classic defeat at Target Field. Minnesota is still a talented, well-constructed team despite its recent struggles. Wiping the slate clean now and starting the rest of 2022 off with a fresh outlook would surely be beneficial.
12. Nashville Predators (20-11-2)
Previous rank: 11th
Don't change much. The Predators are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and have been very good in all situations. Nashville ranks among the league's best on the power play, penalty kill, and at even strength. There's still room for improvement, but this squad just needs to focus on maintaining its all-around consistent play.
13. Calgary Flames (17-7-6)
Previous rank: 14th
Get better results at home. The Flames haven't looked so hot at the Scotiabank Saddledome this season. Their 4-3-4 record in Calgary is a far cry from their sparkling 13-4-2 showing on the road, so the Flames should aim to give the home crowd something to cheer for in 2022.
14. Anaheim Ducks (17-11-7)
Previous rank: 12th
Don't overthink it. Throw all the projections that had the Ducks toiling in the Pacific Division basement in the trash. The team's eclectic mix of youngsters and vets have been putting on a show all season long. They even have a real shot at making the playoffs. Anaheim, just go with it.
15. Vancouver Canucks (16-15-3)
Previous rank: 17th
Don't get complacent. The Canucks have flipped the script since Bruce Boudreau took the reins and are finally back to playing close to their potential. But now's not the time to rest on their laurels. Opposing scouts will soon figure out what's working for Vancouver, so the club needs to keep the pedal to the metal.
16. Edmonton Oilers (18-12-2)
Previous rank: 15th
Find an upgrade in goal. The Oilers are in danger of letting another season of the Connor McDavid-Leon Draisaitl era go to waste due to shoddy goaltending. Edmonton entered Sunday ranked 24th in the league with an .896 save percentage in all situations since Nov. 1. Acquiring a goalie midseason is no easy task, but it has to be priority No. 1 for Ken Holland before the trade deadline.
17. Boston Bruins (16-10-2)
Previous rank: 16th
Cook up some Pasta. This season, David Pastrnak isn't producing at anywhere near the rate we've grown accustomed to over his career. He's only managed eight goals through 27 contests, and it's clear Boston needs its top sniper to get rolling if it wants to be a contender.
18. Winnipeg Jets (15-11-5)
Previous rank: 20th
Extend Pierre-Luc Dubois ASAP. Dubois appears to have put last season's difficulties permanently in the rearview mirror, as he ranks second on the Jets in goals (12) and points (25). He's a restricted free agent this summer, and it'd be wise for Winnipeg to lock him up before his future cap hit grows even bigger.
19. Los Angeles Kings (16-12-5)
Previous rank: 18th
Improve on special teams. The Kings have been solid at five-on-five, but they'll be kicking themselves for their play in other departments if they miss out on a playoff spot in a wide-open Pacific Division. They entered Sunday ranked 24th on both the power-play and penalty kill.
20. Dallas Stars (15-12-2)
Previous rank: 19th
Shoot the puck more. Yes, the Stars have been a defensive-minded team for years, and their shot-suppression stats show that's still the case. But Dallas has skilled offensive players (when healthy), and yet it still sits in the middle of the pack in shots per game and ranks in the bottom third of the league in goals.
21. San Jose Sharks (17-15-1)
Previous rank: 21st
Figure out a direction. Are the Sharks truly rebuilding? Are they just retooling? What are they going to do with Evander Kane and Tomas Hertl? San Jose must decide how to proceed - not just ahead of this year's trade deadline but in regards to the long-term plan and how it affects the club's core.
22. Philadelphia Flyers (13-13-6)
Previous rank: 23rd
Fix the power play. The Flyers aren't bad at killing penalties, but their performance with the man advantage has been unacceptable considering the number of playmakers they employ. Philadelphia ranks near the bottom of the NHL in power-play success, and that needs to improve significantly.
23. Columbus Blue Jackets (15-14-1)
Previous rank: 25th
Be better on the road. Playing away from home is obviously harder than being in a friendly environment, but the Blue Jackets need to improve when they're not at Nationwide Arena. Columbus is 5-10-0 on the road this season - only four teams have been worse.
24. Detroit Red Wings (15-15-3)
Previous rank: 22nd
Be patient. There's no way Steve Yzerman would entertain any other method when it comes to building his team, but Red Wings fans need not jump the gun either. The building blocks for Detroit's roster are mostly in place, so let 2022 be a precursor of what's to come.
25. Chicago Blackhawks (11-17-4)
Previous rank: 24th
Get Marc-Andre Fleury to a contender. The Blackhawks loaded up in the offseason, and Fleury's addition was one of several moves that raised the team's expectations. But it clearly hasn't worked out, and this club needs to retool. Doing the veteran goalie and pending UFA a solid by trading him to a playoff hopeful for future assets would be a win for all involved.
26. New York Islanders (10-12-6)
Previous rank: 28th
Listen to Wayne Gretzky. The Islanders have taken the second-fewest shots at five-on-five in the league and, as a result, have scored the fewest goals. Hopefully, they just need to remember The Great One's iconic mantra: "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
27. New Jersey Devils (13-15-5)
Previous rank: 29th
Stop giving up shorthanded goals. Who do the Devils have to make a deal with in order to sort out their power play? They've given up the most shorthanded goals in the league and are tied for the second-fewest goals on the man advantage. Nearly one-third of the goals scored on the Devils' power play have gone into their net.
28. Ottawa Senators (9-18-2)
Previous rank: 27th
Don't compare rebuilds. Every team's situation is different and complex - even the struggling ones. The Senators have promising young players at the NHL level and in the pipeline alike, and it's going to take time for them all to fully blossom. Ottawa can't get hung up looking at how other clubs are progressing. The organization just needs to focus on what it has and what it can do to get better.
29. Seattle Kraken (10-19-4)
Previous rank: 26th
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's success. Repeat after us: Not all new teams are going to make the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural year. Unfortunately for the Kraken, their disappointing first campaign is exacerbated by the fact that they had to follow the Golden Knights as the next expansion team. It'll all be OK, there's always next season.
30. Buffalo Sabres (10-17-6)
Previous rank: 30th
Just make progress. Nobody expects the Sabres to seriously compete this season. But even amid another lost campaign, there have been encouraging signs. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Alex Tuch, Tage Thompson, and Peyton Krebs have made Buffalo a little more fun to watch recently despite the team's woes. As tempting as it is to fully tank for a shot at another No. 1 pick, it would be wiser to see the new core develop and help the squad avoid the basement.
31. Montreal Canadiens (7-23-4)
Previous rank: 31st
Win the tank. The Canadiens clearly aren't making a miracle run for a second straight year, so they might as well do all they can to give themselves the best odds at securing the No. 1 selection in the 2022 draft, which happens to be in Montreal. Shane Wright would be one heck of a prize after a season that's yielded almost nothing to be excited about on the ice.
32. Arizona Coyotes (6-21-3)
Previous rank: 32nd
Get more than 30 wins in 2022. The Coyotes really aren't doing much this season, so they might as well compete against themselves. Arizona won 30 games in the 2021 calendar year. Let's see if they can go for 31 in 2022.
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