With the season approaching so quickly I dont want to bore everyone and overpopulate Facebook with so many of these power rankings over the next few days, so i am putting all the final 9 teams into one big article.
Power Rankings San Jose Sharks #9
San Jose made the biggest acquisition this offseason being Erik Karlsson. What is also very beneficial is that they made this trade without having to give up any star talent or youth on their current roster. They now have a team that boasts two of the best offensive defencemen and have multiple Norris trophies between the two of them. Add in one of the best defensive defencemen in Vlasic and you have one great defence core. With a healthy Thornton, a newly signed Evander Kane, captain Joe Pavelski and veteran Logan Couture, this is one talented lineup ready to make their mark in the playoffs this year. Unfortunately for them I do not see enough talent in their bottom 6 to provide the depth scoring needed to go all the way.
Team #8 St Louis Blues
The Blues went into this offseason on a mission to improve their center depth. They did just that, they traded for Ryan O’Reilly who will be their new first line center to play with Tarasenko, and also signed free agent Tyler Bozak who is arguably the best third line center in the league (besides maybe Kadri who isnt a third line center).This team also brought back for another run, forward David Perron. Their forward lineup is so loaded with talent they needed to send some players down just because their is no spot for them. Their defence core is very solid as well, led by captain Alex Pietrangelo. What is lacking on this team is goaltending. Jake Allen is great goalie, when he is on. But every year their is a few weeks where you dont even want him anywhere near the ice surface. To the point where the team sent him home from a roadtrip. If this team wants to move deep into the playoffs they need their #1 goalie to play like a #1 goalie all year long.
Team #7 Pittsburgh Penguins
This team still has in my opinion the top 2 centers in the NHL. Some will argue that Washington’s Kuznetsov - Backstrom, Toronto’s Matthews - Tavares or Edmonton’s McDavid - Draisaitl are better, but their is no better center combo than Crosby and Malkin. What these two have accomplished since entering the league is incredible. 3 stanley cups! This offseason they brought in a familiar face in Matt Cullen, and also a new face in Jack Johnson. They lost Connor Sheary this year via trade. But dont even start to think that this forward core is going to lack goal scoring. Expect to see them as a top 5 team in goal scoring this season, and once again, expect the second round of the playoffs in the Metropolitan to go through Pittsburgh and Washington.
Team #6 Boston Bruins
Domination took place last year with this team. They could physically beat you and beat you by skill, and speed. They had one great line up and boasting probably the best line in the NHL with Marchand - Bergeron - Pastrnak. This team did not lose any talent in the offseason except for deadline pick up Rick Nash, and as long as their bottom 6 forwards can hold up I would expect Boston to pick right back up where they left off last year.
Team #5 Toronto Maple Leafs
Where to start. John Tavares. Should I end there? The Leafs won the Tavares sweepstakes and if you have been watching preseason, he is already looking deadly with Marner. Seeing that powerplay work with him, Matthews, Marner, Reilly and Kadri has been absolutely lethal. The leafs have unbelievably strong forward depth. Icing a top 3 lines that could all be first lines. But where they are lacking is on defence. And year after year this problem does not get addressed. Is this the year fans begin to like Gardiner? Has the young blueliners matured enough now to have what it takes? Lets see what the leafs can get done this year, but I dont think this is “the year” just yet.
Team #4 Nashville Predators
Until this season, Nashville had arguably the best defence core in the league, thanks a lot San Jose. Making it to the finals 2 years ago and then going home early at the hands of Winnipeg is not sitting well with the Predators. They did not make any major adds or subtractions this offseason, and believe they have the lineup to make it all the way. They recently just sent down rookie Eva Tolvanen too because they believe they have the scoring ability without him to go deep. Their is not one hole in this lineup that needs to be addressed. Nashville is the real deal, even without real deal Neal.
Team #3 Tampa Bay Lightning
The lightning were the team picked to go all the way last season. Then they ran into the Washington Capitals. Going down 0-2 they stormed back to take a series lead 3-2, then ultimately losing in game 7, failing to score a goal in both game 6 & 7. What happened? This team is easily the most dynamic offensively in the league. Every single line can score. When a team has Tyler Johnson on the third line, and Mikail Sergachev on the 3rd pairing, you know they are deep. All thats missing from this team going all the way, is their captain. Stamkos when he is needed most does not show up. He has not scored a goal is any elimination games. If their captain can wear that letter and score when they need him, expect him to be raising that Stanley cup above his head.
Team #2 Winnipeg Jets
Just like the lighting the Jets are loaded offensively. Laine, Ehlers, Scheiffle, Wheeler, Connor the list just keeps going on. Then you look at their back end and you see Bif Buff, Myers, Trouba, Morrissey, they really have everything it takes to score, defend and win. Losing to the Knights last year did no go over well for this team and I would expect them to come back this season and I expect to see them in the finals. Perhaps seeing Laine dethrown Ovechkin for the goal scoring leader as well.
Team #1 THE WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Stanley Cup champions, returning with the same winning roster, minus their fourth line center. This team now has the taste of winning, the taste of being champions, and I do not expect them to let that feeling go without a fight.