NHL Power Rankings – July 1st, 2015

1. Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are coming off of a Stanley Cup victory. There are a lot of big names from their roster that may depart via free agency. The core of Kane, Toews, Seabrook, and Keith staying together with Coach Quenneville makes this team #1 in my rankings.

2. Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning are a very young and talented team. Look for Tampa Bay to be perennial contenders over the next decade. This team has a solid core, a young and talented coach, and a strong front office.

3. Anaheim Ducks

Could Hagelin be the final piece to Anaheim’s Stanley Cup quest? (sportsoutwest.com)

The addition of Carl Hagelin to this team only makes them an even stronger contender. The Ducks are one of the deepest teams in the league. The real question is whether or not Fredrick Andersen can carry this team to a Stanley Cup victory.

4. Montreal Canadiens

Montreal was a very talented team this year, and they are expected to return nearly all of their key contributors. With Carey Price in net, this team can win any game they play. Will this team get over the edge and win a Stanley Cup for the first time since 1993 next season?

5. New York Rangers

The Rangers entered the Stanley Cup Playoffs as one of the favorites to win it all. They fell short to Tampa Bay in the conference finals and lost a lot of key players this offseason including Talbot, St. Louis, and Hagelin.

6. Nashville Predators

Pekka Rinne was a phenomenal goaltender in 2014-15 and was the main reason that Nashville was a competitive team. If Rinne can replicate his season, the Predators could win the Central. If not, they may fall out of the playoffs.

7. Minnesota Wild

Re-signing Dubnyk was key. No one really knows whether or not he’ll be able to recreate any of last season’s magical run. If he does, Minnesota is a Stanley Cup contender. If he doesn’t, this team has a huge salary cap problem and they’re stuck in the middle of the Western Conference pack.

8. Washington Capitals

Ovechkin and Backstrom make this team competitive and fun to watch. The Capitals had a strong showing this postseason, taking the Rangers to seven games in the conference semifinals.

9. St. Louis Blues

The Blues are at a crossroads. This team consistently gets over 100 points each year, yet lose in the first round of the playoffs. That trend held true again this year. Can this team get over the hump? They certainly have enough talents to make the conference finals.

10. Los Angeles Kings

The Kings did not follow up their Stanley Cup season well in 2014-15, missing the playoffs. With numerous off-ice issues, the Kings are giving some fans concerns; however, we all know that this team can get hot in April – June and win the Cup.

11. New York Islanders

Towards the end of the regular season, the Islanders had lost momentum built earlier in the season. They have not lost many marquee free agents, and had one of the best drafts in the NHL last weekend. The Islanders have a solid team that is surrounded by young talent.

12. Pittsburgh Penguins

Any team with Malkin and Crosby can win any game they play. Over the past three seasons, the Penguins have been completely dismantled by injuries. Look for a big-name signing this offseason for the Pens. I think a lot of people would like to see what a healthy Penguins team is capable of.

13. Ottawa Senators

Ottawa was the hottest team in the NHL entering the playoffs. Unfortunately, their average play for the first 50 games netted them a first round matchup with Price and the Canadiens. This team is the 3rd youngest in the NHL, so only brighter days shine ahead for Senators fans.

14. Winnipeg Jets

This team surprised some this past season, but they won’t sneak up on anyone this year. Getting into the playoffs was a considered a success for the Jets, but they’ll look to improve this next post season, getting swept by Anaheim in the first round in 2015.

Saad was traded from Chicago to Columbus on Tuesday, June 30th. (picture courtesy of usatoday.com)
Saad was traded from Chicago to Columbus on Tuesday, June 30th. (usatoday.com)

15. Columbus Blue Jackets

This was the hottest team in the NHL at the end of the regular season. Unfortunately, winning 16 of their last 18 games left Columbus 10 points short of a playoff berth. Can the Blue Jacket build off this momentum in the new season? This is the youngest roster in the NHL, and they traded for 22 year-old Brandon Saad yesterday.

16. Calgary Flames

Calgary looked good in the first round against the Canucks. When playing Anaheim in the next round, the Flames were completely over matched. The Flames have an incredibly fun style of hockey. Like Winnipeg, Calgary has a young core that is looking to build together over the next few years.

17. Detroit Red Wings

The 2nd oldest team in the league continues to make the playoffs. But, this is the first season in a long time that the Red Wings won’t have Mike Babcock coaching the team. How much of an effect will this have? I don’t think anybody knows.

18. Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks were out-skated in the first round against Calgary. This team is getting old and they appear to be making patchwork signings and draft selections. I would be surprised if the Canucks made the playoffs next year in a young and eager Western Conference.

19. Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche finished last in the Central and had an unsuccessful season in 2015. In my opinion, this is a team with young stars that overachieved in 2013-14, setting up lofty expectations in a division where every team had at least 90 points.

20. Florida Panthers

The Panthers surprisingly finished with 91 points and nearly made the playoffs towards the end. The Panthers had a successful draft, which they will add to a roster that is filled with a lot of young talented players.

21. Dallas Stars

I think the Stars are very capable of returning to the playoffs after their absence this past year. With Tyler Seguin on the roster, this team has a legitimate hockey superstar that can carry them. Dallas has a young roster, but limited cap room to make moves.

Milan Lucic, a member of the Boston Bruins since 2007, was traded this week to the Los Angeles Kings. (picture courtesy of belljarnews.com)
Milan Lucic, a member of the Boston Bruins since 2007, was traded this week to the Los Angeles Kings. (belljarnews.com)

22. Boston Bruins

The Bruins are unloading the veterans on their roster. This offseason has proved to be full of big changes for the Bruins. This team has lost some of its identity with these moves. In addition, the Bruins had a bad draft; a really, really bad draft.

23. San Jose Sharks

San Jose is a perennial playoff contender that has fallen off over the last few years, winning only one playoff series in the last four years. Even though the Sharks had the luxury of picking 9th in the NHL draft, they drafted many prospects who don’t project to be NHL players.

24. Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers haven’t won a playoff series since 2012, and it doesn’t look like that will change in 2016. The Flyers had a very good draft, but only have $6,000,000 in cap space this summer. This limits their ability to build their roster outside the draft, and relies on the rapid development of their young players.

25. New Jersey Devils

With the oldest roster in the NHL, the future for the Devils does not look bright. Usually when a roster has an average age over 30, the roster is in full win-now mode with high priced veterans. Instead, this team has over $20,000,000 in cap room and a dearth of talent on their roster.

26. Edmonton Oilers

Could Connor McDavid be the next great hockey player? (picture courtesy of thehockeynews.com)
Could Connor McDavid be the next great hockey player? (thehockeynews.com)

Connor McDavid. If you don’t know his name, you will soon. Tagged as the next “Great One,” McDavid has incredibly high expectations. The team traded for Cam Talbot as well. Those two moves alone make this a great offseason for the Oilers.

27. Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes were happy to see Noah Hanifin, the talented Boston College prospect, fall to them at the 5th spot. The Hurricanes had a great draft and already have a pretty young roster. Only time will tell if those pieces will form a competitive team in Carolina.

28. Toronto Maple Leafs

There aren’t a lot of positives to discuss regarding the Maple Leafs. Toronto has been not been good for some time now, and this free agency period could be devastating for the Maple Leafs. Toronto has some cap space and a young roster. The right development and planning could turn this franchise around.

29. Arizona Coyotes

Imagine what the Coyotes could have received from Minnesota had the two teams known what Dubnyk was going to become. The Coyotes have over $32,000,000 in cap room, at least $6,000,000 more than any other team. Arizona had a good draft and can continue to add talent to their team through free agency, and it will be interesting to see what happens with their stadium situation.

30. Buffalo Sabres

Jack Eichel would be considered an above average #1 overall pick in any other draft. In this scenario, Buffalo is lucky to get a stud with the second choice. That being said, the roster in Buffalo looks fairly grim right now. Eichel may have to wait a while to see a winning team in Buffalo.







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