December NHL Power Rankings


Conner Keough, Staff Writer

Over a quarter of the National Hockey League regular season has come and gone. The 2021-2022 season has been special dealing with a condensed schedule and COVID pauses for the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators. There have been several teams outperforming expectations as well as some that have been a letdown this season.   

1. Toronto Maple Leafs: Toronto has been red hot recently, only losing 2 games in regulation during the month of November. They are also 7-2-1 in their last ten games. Depth scoring has stepped up recently and All-Star centerToronto Maple Leafs - Wikipedia Auston Matthews has 28 points (17 goals, 11 assists) in 24 games including a 3 goal performance against Colorado on December 1st.

2. Washington Capitals: Washington is in first place in the very tough Metropolitan Division with 38 points, good for second in the league. 36-year-old Alexander Ovechkin still looks to be in his prime, scoring 41 points (20 goals, 21 assists), which is good for third in the league. The Capitals’ captain isn’t the only one who has been scoring at a great pace this season. Teammate Evgeni Kuznetzov has contributed 28 points and Tom Wilson has scored 24 points. Washington scores an average of 3.51 goals per game. The aging Caps team has done most of this without top 6 center Nick Backstrom, which is very impressive.      Washington Capitals - Wikipedia                                                                                          

3. Minnesota Wild: Just a few seasons ago the Wild were a middling team that were not very exciting to watch. However, that all changed last season with the arrival of Karill Kaprizov, a 24 year old Russian winger. Scoring a team leading 30 points in 25 games (9 goals and 21 assists), last year’s Calder Trophy winner has been driving the offense. Additionally, Kaprizov’s linemate Mats Zucarello has averaged a point per game in 16 games this season. Minnesota has scored 96 goals so farMinnesota Wild - Wikipediathis season, which is the most in the league. 

4. Edmonton Oilers: Edmonton is currently in second place in the Pacific Division with 32 points, 3 points behind Calgary and Anaheim. Edmonton’s off-season signing of Zach Hyman has paid off in dividends, as he has 19 points in 24 games (11 goals, 8 assists). Edmonton’s potent offense is what has carried them thus far, with them having the league’s top two leading scorers in Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid who have a combined 86 points (43 for Draisaitl and 43 for McDavid). Edmonton’s power play is first ranked in the league, clicking at 36 percent.Edmonton Oilers - Wikipedia

5. Florida Panthers: The Panthers have cooled off a little, having a record of 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. The Panthers are currently second in the Atlantic Division and had a 12 game winning streak at home to start the season before it was snapped on November 30th against Ottawa. Florida’s goaltending has rebounded this year after a subpar performance last year. Rookie goalie Spencer Knight has stepped up in Chris Dreidger’s absence and is 8-5-3 in 16 games as a 20-year-old. The team is even winning without their best center, Sasha Barkov. Jonathan Hubredeau took home 1st star of the week during the week of December 6th.Florida Panthers - Wikipedia

6. Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes had an amazing start to the season with a record of 17-6-1, but they have been cooling off recently. The Canes are 5-4-1 in their last ten games, only getting 11 out of 20 possible points in that time. There is no reason to be concerned about the Hurricanes because 3 of those 4 losses were to the surging Dallas Stars, Seattle Kraken, Washington Capitals. The Canes have been slipping in the standings, now third in the Metro, but it’s hard to move them down much further because of their great overall record.Carolina Hurricanes - Wikipedia

7. New York Rangers: The Rangers made some moves including one behind the bench, replacing their head coach between 2020-2021 and now. The Rangers have retooled nicely and look sure to make the playoffs this season because of the great development of young guys like Kappo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere and above average goaltending from Igor Shesterkin.  Chris Kreider has also scored 17 goals in 24 games, leading the Rangers to a record of 17-5-3.  The Rangers have the second least regulation losses in the league with only 5New York Rangers - Wikipedia

8. Colorado Avalanche: The Avalanche came into the season as Stanley Cup favorites despite being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs last season. Colorado may be in 2nd place in the Central with 30 points, but a lot of that is because of a cold start and the fact they have played the least amount of games in the league (of teams that haven’t had a pause due to COVID). The Avalanche are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games.Colorado Avalanche - Wikipedia

9. Calgary Flames: The Flames have surged recently despite dropping in the power rankings. The Flames have found a way to win tough games this year, having a .670 winning percentage. Andrew Magiapane and “Johnny Hockey” Gaudreau have a combined 49 points in 25 games. Mangiapane has 17 goals so far this season.                                    Calgary Flames - Wikipedia

10. Tampa Bay Lightning: The back-to-back Stanley Cup winners are still inside the top ten on the power rankings. It seems like the Bolts have a little bit of Stanley Cup hangover from winning back-to-back cups but they are still playing well even after losing key players in free agency.  Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has been the best goalie in the league for 3 years and this year is no different. He’s 10-4 with a .927 save percentage. On offense the Bolts aren’t as dominant as they have been in years past despite Alex Killorn’s impressive resurgence (21 points in 25 games). The Lightning are heating up, getting 15 points in their last ten games without Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point. Watch out Toronto, Tampa is coming.                                                                  Tampa Bay Lightning - Wikipedia                                           

11. Dallas Stars: The 2020 Stanley Cup finalists had a disappointing 2020-2021 season missing the playoffs. The Stars are rebounding nicely despite Captain Jamie Benn’s offensive decline. The offense has been carried by sophomore Jason Robertson, who has 20 points in 17 games. The Dallas power play ranks 6th with a 26% conversion rate.  Dallas is also 8-3 in their last 11 games.                                                                                                        Dallas Stars - Wikipedia

12. Boston Bruins: The Bruins haven’t quite been the same since 2019, when they went to the Stanley Cup Finals and lost to the Blues. The team is still good but there are some concerns with depth scoring. The usual suspects have led the way for Boston: Marchand, Pasternak and Bergeron are all having the kind of season you’d expect. However, without Tukka Rask in net and the loss of David Krecji, I’m not entirely convinced that the Bruins have what it takes to win anymore.           

                Boston Bruins - Wikipedia                                                                                                                             

13. Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks have been playing some pretty good hockey as of late. They have a record of 14-8-5, which makes them third place in the Pacific Division. The Ducks have far and away exceeded any expectations set for them this season. Sophomores Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale’s development has accelerated the process of getting back to respectability after the rebuild. And, 23-year-old Troy Terry has emerged as a star, scoring 25 points in 24 games. The Ducks are in a good position right now to make the playoffs, which they haven’t done since 2017-2018.  Gotta See: Trevor Zegras does “The Michigan” assistAnaheim Ducks - Wikipedia

14. San Jose Sharks: The Sharks lost a nail biter on December 3rd to the Rangers which snapped a modest 3 game win streak. After winning 4 of their last 5 the Sharks are staying alive in the Pacific division with 27 points, good for 4th in the division. They haven’t been stellar at anything this season, scoring 71 goals and giving up the same amount. However, this year the goaltending has improved, which is keeping them alive. The Sharks are 14-11-1, which is a significantly better record then I thought they’d have at this point in the season.San Jose Sharks - Wikipedia

15. St. Louis Blues: The Blues took a dive in the standings recently and it may be a gift that they are this high in the power rankings. Their record is still a solid 13-8-4, good for 30 points. However, people expected more. The 2019 Stanley Cup winners looked amazing starting the season starting 5-0. There is still time for the Blues to turn it around. However, the rest of the Central Division is catching up to them so they need to find that next gear soon or they risk falling below the playoff line.                                                                                                                                    St. Louis Blues - Wikipedia

16. Vegas Golden Knights: It has been a disappointing year for the Golden Knights, getting only 30 points in 25 games. However, there is reason to believe the Golden Knights record will improve. Star forward Max Paccioretty and captain Mark Stone have returned to the lineup, which will definitely help offensively. Earlier this year Vegas also traded for injured All-Star Jack Eichel, who was drafted 2nd overall in 2015. Once Eichel returns from neck surgery, the Golden Knights should soar into a playoff spot.                                                                                                  Vegas Golden Knights - Wikipedia

17. Detroit Red Wings: The Red Wings are the first team below the playoff line in these power rankings, which is nothing to be ashamed of. In 2019-2020, the Red Wings finished dead last in the standings with 39 points in the COVID-shortened 71 game season (with a 17-49-5 record).  Two years later, General Manager Steve Yzerman has turned this team around.  The Wings’ success so far is because of 3 rookies: forward Lucas Raymond, defenseman Moritz Seider, and goalie Alex Nedelijkovic. Raymond leads all rookies in scoring with 22 points in 26 games. He was also Rookie of the Month in November.                                                                                                                                Detroit Red Wings - Wikipedia

18. Columbus Blue Jackets: The Jackets were expected to be last place in the Metropolitan Division this year. Instead, they’ve surprised with a modest 13-11 record so far. The Blue Jackets are 5-5 in their last ten games and have been playing some pretty unremarkable hockey in the past few weeks, but there are some bright spots on the team. Rookie sniper Yegor Chinakov got his first goal recently, which is not an indictment of his play. The Jackets are not the most offensively gifted team, but they are sound defensively and in net which is why they are winning games.                            Columbus Blue Jackets - Wikipedia

19. Pittsburgh Penguins: Who ever would’ve thought that Sideny Crosby’s team would find themselves sitting outside the playoffs? Since getting drafted in 2005, Crosby has led the Penguins to the playoffs in 16 straight years (getting 3 stanley cups in 2009, 2016, 2017). However, the Penguins’ record right now is not great, sitting at 12-8-5. Crosby has been heating up offensively and the team will get star center Evgeni Malkin back soon, but this team hasn’t convinced me yet. The results speak for themselves and they are screaming that Pittsburgh is an average team.              Pittsburgh Penguins - Wikipedia


20. Winnipeg Jets: If you asked me to sum up the Jets season in one word so far I would say ¨disaster¨. The Jets overall record isn’t as bad as one might think at 12-9-4, and they have won two in a row. So why are they so low? Well the Jets were winning games early on in the season and haven’t had the same success as of late. Captain Blake Wheeler is goalless in 20 games and the team lost to Arizona earlier this week.  On the bright side, Winnipeg is second in the central even with that poor record and Connor Hellebuck has played great in net.            Winnipeg Jets - Wikipedia

21. Nashville Predators: Last season ended quickly for Nashville, in the first round of the playoffs. However, last season they started off very poorly and this season has seemed similar. What’s different is that Matt Duchene is producing at an elite level for the first time since 2016. Duchene has 25 points in 25 games, including 13 goals. Despite nice offensive efforts from Duchane, Josi and Forsberg and good goaltending from Saros, Nashville has been painfully mediocre all season with a record of 14-10-1 and 5-5 in their last ten games.                                          Nashville Predators - Wikipedia

22. Los Angeles Kings: No disrespect to the Kings, they are still rebuilding, but they look to be the worst of the California teams this year after being considered the best of the three at the start of the year. Los Angeles has been hot and cold all year long and have gone on massive winning streaks and massive losing streaks. Right now, the Kings are cold, going 2-5-3 in their last ten. Starting goalie Cal Petterson has lost the starting job and the Kings have had problems defensively. This is a young team that is making mistakes and they can’t outscore them like Toronto can.        Los Angeles Kings - Wikipedia

23. New Jersey Devils: New Jersey has slid in recent weeks, going 3-5-2 in their last ten, the third worst record in that span. There isn’t a lot to say about New Jersey, they work hard and compete but sometimes look overmatched on the ice. Former 1st overall pick Nico Hischer hasn’t really developed the offensive end to his game, scoring only 3 goals in 24 games. 20-year-old Jack Huges signed an 8 year deal last week, meaning the young star is staying in New Jersey to help rebuild for the future.                                    New Jersey Devils - Wikipedia                                                                                                

24. Chicago Blackhawks: The Blackhawks had a miserable start to the year, going 0-6-2 in 8 games, and then 4-9-1 in their last 14 games. The Blackhawks are the only team in the bottom half of the rankings without a losing record in their last ten games, at 5-5. They are improving but there isn’t much hope for them because they dug themselves into a big hole in the standings. The Blackhawks sit at 7th in the Central Division with 20 points in 25 games. Worse, former star Jonathan Toews is goalless after missing all of last season with an unidentified illness. We can only hope Toews will score again because he’s had an amazing career, but the Hawks continue to be a mess this season and his lack of offense hasn’t helped.                                                        Chicago Blackhawks - Wikipedia                                                     

25. Seattle Kraken: The expansion Seattle Kraken come in at #25 out of 32 on the power rankings, which isn’t awful considering their start. The Kraken were stuck on 8 points for a few weeks before a hot stretch, and they are 5-4-1 in their last ten. As an expansion team, the expectations shouldn’t have been too high. However, because of Vegas’ 2017 expansion success, they were. Seattle has been improving little by little, which is all that matters for this expansion team. Give it a few years and Matthew Beniers will be centering that top line for a playoff Seattle team.            Seattle Kraken - Wikipedia                  

26. Ottawa Senators: If I could draw an invisible line dividing the mediocre teams from the bad, this is where I’d do it. Ottawa is in last place in the Atlantic and has the second least points in the league.  There is not much good to say about Ottawa except that after waving Matt Murray they have less money on the books for upcoming seasons. Maybe they can add a superstar to play with young talents like Drake Batherson and Josh Norris.   

Ottawa Senators - Wikipedia  27. Arizona Coyotes: Arizona started off the season with 11 straight losses (an 0-10-1 record). The Yotes have played some pretty good hockey recently. Now, with a record of 5-18-2, the Coyotes do still sit last in the NHL with 12 points, but they have been nearly a .500 team since November 5th. Clayton Keller and Shayne Gostisbehere lead the way in scoring with 16 points each. The Yotes have allowed 93 goals so far, which is the worst in the Western Conference.      Arizona Coyotes - Wikipedia

28. Buffalo Sabres: The wheels have fallen off for the Sabres recently. In a season where absolutely nothing was expected from them, they have still disappointed. The Sabres have been competitive in most games but they are still not a good team, with only 20 points in 25 games. This season is basically a wash for the Sabres, and they hope more teams pass them in the standings so they have the best chance at drafting Shane Wright in June.            Buffalo Sabres - Wikipedia

29. Philadelphia Flyers: Poor Philadelphia! They started off the season playing some good hockey. Carter Hart has rebounded nicely in net this season. He’s played decently, but the team can’t score goals and that is not his fault. All of Philadelphia’s goal scorers have gone quiet.  Van Riemsdyk has 2 goals, Koneckny and Atkinson both have 5, and Giroux has 7. They have an awful 2.3 goals per game this season, which is last in the Eastern Conference.    Philadelphia Flyers - Wikipedia

30. Vancouver Canucks: This season was the Canucks season to lose and so far, that’s what they are doing. They were seen as a playoff team in the Pacific Division, but the team is just not performing well. On December 6th, Vancouver fired their head coach, general manager and other important positions. Clearly, Vancouver is frustrated and wants to start from scratch. The only problem with rebuilding right now is that their current team hasn’t achieved anything.        Vancouver Canucks - Wikipedia

31. New York Islanders: If you told me I would have the Islanders second to last two months ago, I would’ve thought it would be because of my bias against them. The Islanders made it to the Eastern Conference finals in back-to-back years and were defeated by the Lightning both times en route to Stanley Cup wins. But, this season, the Isles have fallen apart.  There were high expectations for them. It is important to note that the Islanders have had the most players in the league in COVID protocol this season, but they should still at least have won 1 game of their last 11. The Islanders have recorded 3 points in their last 11 games, going 0-8-3 in that span. They tie with Arizona for the season’s longest losing streak so far.Logo New York Islanders.svg

32. Montreal Canadiens: Finishing in last place I have the oldest and most successful NHL franchise in history, the Montreal Canadiens. This season they have been a tire fire after their miracle run to the Cup Finals last year. Star goaltender Carey Price missed a lot of time in the players’ protection program this year. Captain Shea Weber played during the playoffs injured last year and he is out all year on LTIR (long term injury reserve) and may never play hockey again. The Canadiens of last year were a fringe playoff team that went on a run. Their team this year is worse than last year’s and they haven’t addressed any of the problems in their play.  Rookie Cole Caufield made a name for himself last playoffs and was favored to win rookie of the year this year. He has been a microcosm for this team, scoring 1 goal in 18 games.  

Montreal Canadiens - Wikipedia