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NHL Power Rankings: 1 thing to love about each team

Photo illustration by Julian Catalfo / theScore

This is the ninth in-season edition of theScore's NHL Power Rankings for the 2023-24 campaign. Check back for updated rankings every other Monday.

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, we pick one thing to love about each team.

1. Boston Bruins (32-11-9)

Previous rank: 3

Resilience. Despite losing franchise icons Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci to retirement - and a whole slew of other players to free agency/trades - Boston remains in first place in the Eastern Conference. It's hard not to appreciate the "Bruins way" - where success seems guaranteed even when the leadership torch is passed down to the next generation of players.

2. Vancouver Canucks (35-12-6)

Previous rank: 2

Rick Tocchet. The Canucks have looked like a completely different team during the head coach's first full season at the helm. Virtually every player has stepped up, but Tocchet has been the steady hand guiding Vancouver to the top of the standings.

3. Edmonton Oilers (30-17-1)

Previous rank: 1

Stuart Skinner. There's a lot to love about the Oilers now that things are going well for them, but we're going to spotlight the man between the pipes. His 21 wins since the coaching change in November are tied for the most in the league over that span.

4. Florida Panthers (33-15-4)

Previous rank: 4

Sam Reinhart's goal binge. We love to see a previously unheralded star pop off during a contract year. Reinhart's on a 61-goal pace and is due to cash in soon.

5. New York Rangers (33-16-3)

Lawrence Scott / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Previous rank: 8

Jonathan Quick's revival. If the NHL had a Comeback Player of the Year award (it should), Quick would likely be the leading candidate. After multiple down seasons, he looks like the goalie who led the Los Angeles Kings to two Stanley Cups again. At 38 and on an $850,000 contract, this was unexpected but needed given Igor Shesterkin's struggles.

6. Dallas Stars (32-14-6)

Previous rank: 7

Thomas Harley. The 22-year-old rearguard is having quite the breakthrough season. He's tied for the league lead with three overtime winners - two of which came in back-to-back games - and he's also earned some playing time on the top pair next to Miro Heiskanen.

7. Carolina Hurricanes (30-16-5)

Previous rank: 9

Those Whalers throwbacks. Some people don't like the Hurricanes dressing up as the team they used to be, but the threads they wore over the weekend were gorgeous.

8. Vegas Golden Knights (31-15-6)

Previous rank: 10

Adin Hill. He hasn't lost a game since returning from injury and makes Vegas a different team when he's between the pipes. Is Hill now the best option for Canada's international squads?

9. Winnipeg Jets (31-14-5)

Previous rank: 5

Goaltending. In the offseason, Laurent Brossoit said he wanted to form the league's strongest tandem with Connor Hellebuyck. Four months into the campaign, they're certainly up there (albeit with Hellebuyck shouldering the brunt of the work). Winnipeg boasts the NHL's best save percentage (.941) at five-on-five.

10. Colorado Avalanche (32-17-4)

Norm Hall / National Hockey League / Getty

Previous rank: 6

The three Ms. Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, and Mikko Rantanen form arguably the NHL's best trio. MacKinnon and Makar in particular are two of the most electric players to watch in the entire league, making the Avs must-see TV.

11. Philadelphia Flyers (28-19-6)

Previous rank: 13

The underdog story. Nobody gave the Flyers much of a chance entering the season, but John Tortorella has his team sitting third in the Metro while playing an up-tempo, tenacious game that's entertaining to watch and embodies his personality, as well as the city's.

12. Tampa Bay Lightning (28-20-5)

Previous rank: 12

Nikita Kucherov's in-season effort. Much can be said about the Lightning star irritating droves of fans by mailing in his performance at the Skills Competition, but when the hockey really counts, Kucherov is appointment viewing.

13. Detroit Red Wings (27-18-6)

Previous rank: 14

Looking playoff-ready. Detroit is firmly in the Eastern Conference race with 31 games to go, which is a welcome sight for one of the league's best markets after seven consecutive seasons near the bottom of the standings.

14. Toronto Maple Leafs (26-16-8)

Previous rank: 11

Auston Matthews' health. Yep, the two-time Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy winner's hand looks OK to us. Matthews has already surpassed his goal total from last season to lead the league with a whopping 42 tallies in 49 games. His pursuit of 70 is alive and well.

15. St. Louis Blues (28-21-1)

Joe Puetz / National Hockey League / Getty

Previous rank: 17

Robert Thomas' bounce back. The Blues forward caught a lot of flak during a down 2022-23 season but has responded with his first career All-Star nomination. He's also the only St. Louis player averaging at least one point per game.

16. Los Angeles Kings (24-15-10)

Previous rank: 16

Jim Hiller. OK, it's the smallest sample size imaginable, but the Kings shut out the extremely dangerous Oilers during his debut behind the bench on Saturday. Boy, was Los Angeles in sore need of a win exactly like that.

17. New Jersey Devils (25-21-4)

Previous rank: 15

Young defensemen. Luke Hughes (20) and Simon Nemec (19) are playing major minutes as NHL rookies and thriving. The Devils haven't quite met expectations this season, but their future is in excellent hands.

18. Calgary Flames (25-22-5)

Previous rank: 25

MacKenzie Weegar. Thanks to his first career hat trick Saturday, Weegar now leads all defensemen with 15 goals - including 14 at even strength - in 52 contests. You absolutely love to see it from the 2013 seventh-rounder.

19. New York Islanders (22-18-12)

Previous rank: 20

Patrick Roy. The NHL is a better league with Roy in it. While the Islanders haven't necessarily taken off since making the coaching change, the Hall of Fame goaltender's fiery competitiveness behind the bench instantly makes the club that much more likeable.

20. Pittsburgh Penguins (23-19-7)

Nicole Osborne / National Hockey League / Getty

Previous rank: 19

Sidney Crosby. Duh. Was there really another option here? The 36-year-old is on pace for around 47 goals and 87 (ha) points this season. He's a freak of nature. Next.

21. Nashville Predators (27-23-2)

Previous rank: 21

Hope for middle-aged people. Ryan O'Reilly and Gustav Nyquist are enjoying major bounce-back seasons - and some of the best of their careers - at ages 33 and 34, respectively. It's a great message for the common person: If you work hard and put yourself in the right environment, it's never too late to find success.

22. Seattle Kraken (21-20-10)

Previous rank: 18

Joey Daccord. The Kraken goaltender became an easy player to root for after picking up his first NHL win with the Senators in 2021 when he gave a heartfelt postgame interview. It's great to see him thrive with a season that will warrant some down-ballot Vezina Trophy consideration.

23. Washington Capitals (23-20-8)

Previous rank: 23

Alex Ovechkin. After a slow start to the campaign, the Russian Machine is starting to gain some steam. With goals in five straight games, Ovi's pursuit of Wayne Gretzky's all-time goals record is still alive and well.

24. Ottawa Senators (21-25-2)

Previous rank: 26

Empty-net slap shots. Ridly Greig stirred the pot in a major way with his howitzer into a yawning cage against the Maple Leafs, and while opinions on Morgan Rielly's reaction may vary, almost all hockey fans can agree that rivalries make the sport better.

25. Arizona Coyotes (23-23-4)

Norm Hall / National Hockey League / Getty

Previous rank: 24

The future. It's been another tough season in the desert. The team has come down to earth after a hot start, and there's once again no shortage of off-ice distractions. But the future remains bright. There's lots of young talent on the team - and more coming through the system. Hopefully, there'll be some clarity on the team's home soon (Salt Lake City, perhaps?).

26. Minnesota Wild (23-23-5)

Previous rank: 28

Marc-Andre Fleury. Let's be real - everybody loves the Flower. In what could very well be his last NHL season, fans should continue to appreciate Fleury while he's still active.

27. Buffalo Sabres (22-25-4)

Previous rank: 22

Unexpected trade deadline influence. Sabres fans may dislike this, but objectively, we love that Buffalo could be a sneaky team to watch this trade season. Playoffs are a write-off by now - a big disappointment for a group taking its time to advance - and the Sabres have a glut of players on expiring contracts to potentially sell.

28. Montreal Canadiens (21-23-8)

Previous rank: 27

Juraj Slafkovsky's growing confidence. The 2022 first overall pick is starting to put things together in the big leagues. He's already set new career highs in every offensive category, while six of his 10 goals and 11 of his 24 points this season have come in 2024.

29. Columbus Blue Jackets (16-25-10)

Previous rank: 29

Adam Fantilli. The Blue Jackets don't have much to be chipper about in what's been another disappointing season, but the 2023 No. 3 pick has the makings of a future superstar that the organization has so desperately needed since Rick Nash's departure.

30. Anaheim Ducks (18-31-2)

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

Previous rank: 30

Frank Vatrano. Anaheim's All-Star simply loves putting the puck in the net. He's on pace for 35 tallies this season on a Ducks team that ranks 29th in goals per game.

31. San Jose Sharks (14-32-5)

Previous rank: 31

The uniforms. There's not a lot to love about the Sharks these days. The losses are piling up, but at least they look good doing it. With the addition of a new black alternate jersey, San Jose's uniform trio is elite. Now, if only they'd stop wearing their teal helmets with their white threads.

32. Chicago Blackhawks (14-35-3)

Previous rank: 32

Their patience with Connor Bedard's recovery. Everyone wants to see the 2023 first overall pick back in action - and Bedard is clearly itching to return himself - but the Blackhawks aren't rushing things. That's the right thing to do for the 18-year-old as he works his way back from jaw surgery.

(Analytics sources: Evolving-Hockey, Natural Stat Trick)

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