NHL Power Rankings: Maple Leafs running away with North, climb to top spot

In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings the Maple Leafs move into the top spot as they continue to run away with the North Division lead.

Is this the year everything falls into place for them? Their superstars are playing amazing. The depth looks good. They are clearly the best team in the North, which means they should be the favorite in any potential playoff matchup through the first two rounds. Nothing is a guarantee, especially for a team that has not won a playoff series in nearly two decades, but the path is sitting right there for them to at least make the semifinals. Failure to do so in this season, with this setup, after this start, would have to be viewed as a pretty significant disappointment. Even by Maple Leafs disappointment standards.

Elsewhere in the NHL Power Rankings, Carolina moves up to the No. 2 spot, Edmonton cracks the top-10, Chicago continues to surprise, and Montreal continues to slide a little.

All of that and more in this week’s NHL Power Rankings.

Where does your team sit?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

1. Toronto Maple Leafs. Auston Matthews really might score 50 goals in 50 games. He is playing great and the defenses and goalies trying to stop him every night are all (mostly) near the bottom of the league.

2. Carolina Hurricanes. You have to love the young talent and the way this team plays. Nino Niederreiter and Vincent Trocheck having big years makes this team even more impressive.

3. Colorado Avalanche. Their only losses over the past eight games were an overtime loss and a 1-0 loss to Vegas where they were probably the better team.

[Avs win unforgettable outdoor game at Lake Tahoe]

4. Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas and Colorado are emerging as the best teams in the West with very little separating them.

5. Tampa Bay Lightning. Little slump this week, but it is just a blip on the radar.

6. Boston Bruins. The question of scoring depth beyond the top line is starting to surface again.

7. Florida Panthers. I admit I might still be underrating them. Impressive week for sure and a great start. But I still want to see this start go a little further before I fully jump on board.

8. Philadelphia Flyers. I might still be overrating them a bit because I think when healthy this team can be pretty good. But we haven’t seen that version of them for a while because half of their roster is unavailable and they have hardly played.

9. St. Louis Blues. We need to talk about David Perron a little more. What a player he has been in St. Louis.

10. Edmonton Oilers. Suddenly the Oilers have won nine of their past 11 games and making a big move in the standings. Connor McDavid is playing the sport at a different level than everybody else.

11. Pittsburgh Penguins. Nothing will do more to get this team back on track more than Tristan Jarry and Kris Letang getting back on track. It might be starting to happen there.

[Stunning numbers: Sidney Crosby at 1,000 NHL games]

12. New York Islanders. When Mathew Barzal is at his best he is one of the most exciting players in the league. He has been at that level lately.

13. Winnipeg Jets. A very difficult team to get a read on due to their overall inconsistency.

14. Washington Capitals. Vitek Vanecek has held his own, but getting Ilya Samsonov back will be a significant lift.

15. Chicago Blackhawks. Kevin Lankinen has been the difference this season, while some of the young talent is making a bigger impact than expected. They may not be a playoff team, but they are exceeding expectations.

16. Montreal Canadiens. They are 4-0-1 against Vancouver. They are 5-5-2 against everybody else in the division. Thank goodness for the Tyler Toffoli revenge tour.

17. New Jersey Devils. Mackenzie Blackwood and Jack Hughes are going to help them stay in it.

18. Minnesota Wild. Mats Zuccarello‘s return should be a big lift to their offense.

19. Dallas Stars. Their games keep getting postponed, and when they are not postponed they have lost five in a row and seven out of their past eight games.

20. Columbus Blue Jackets. They need more from Joonas Korpisalo.

21. Los Angeles Kings. Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Drew Doughty seem to have stumbled upon the fountain of youth. It is at least making things interesting.

22. New York Rangers. At some point the floodgates are going to open for Mika Zibanejad.

23. San Jose Sharks. It is just really hard to see how this team gets out from some of these contracts. Some lean years could be on the horizon.

24. Arizona Coyotes. This is not a bad team. It is not an exciting team. It just sort of feels like a team that has a ceiling and a floor around 18-24th in the league.

25. Calgary Flames. The Flames have been a fairly significant disappointment so far given the offseason spending, the core talent in place, and the fact the division is not really great.

[Your 2020-21 NHL On NBC TV Schedule]

26. Buffalo Sabres. They might need a rebuild from their most recent rebuild.

27. Anaheim Ducks. Never a good sign when you waive a veteran player less than two years into a five-year, $29.125M contract.

28. Nashville Predators. The for sale sign might be going up on this roster any day now.

29. Vancouver Canucks. It is not necessarily the fact they so many points behind the third and fourth place teams in the North that is a concern. It is the fact they have played so many more games than those teams. Making up that ground is going to be a herculean task. With this forward depth, defense, and goaltending I am not sure they are capable of making up that ground.

30. Detroit Red Wings. The one thing you wanted to see from this team this season was progress from the young players. Am not sure we are seeing that.

31. Ottawa Senators. The results are not there yet, but they are on the fun to watch at times.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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