In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we are looking big picture and examining the teams with the best five-year outlook. Also the teams where things are looking bleak with some leaner years ahead.
What are we looking for here in terms of the window? Simply put, the chances of a team making a Stanley Cup Final and remaining a serious contender over the next few years.
Where does your team sit?
To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!
Stanley Cup Final should be reasonable expectation
1. Colorado Avalanche. The most talented roster in the NHL on paper and it keeps looking better with players like Alex Newhook and Bowen Byram on the horizon. They have a couple of second round exits that might look disappointing now, but they will get there.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning. They have been in the Conference Finals/Semifinals five times in the past seven years, including three Stanley Cup Finals. They have also won it all two years in a row. And with their core and farm system and pipeline of talent they are not even close to finished yet.
3. Carolina Hurricanes. Losing Dougie Hamilton is going to be tough, but this is still an incredibly talented roster that has sky high potential (as long as the goaltending works).
4. Vegas Golden Knights. Probably the oldest team on this tier, but also one of the best teams in the league that should still have a nice window for contention. They need somebody else to emerge at center (Nolan Patrick, perhaps? Maybe Peyton Krebs? Or both ideally) but it is still a loaded roster.
5. Florida Panthers. Expectations should be at an all-time high for the Panthers right now. Hall of Fame coach, two superstar players at the top of the lineup, a strong supporting cast, and perhaps a franchise goalie waiting to take over.
Still a Contender but a lot needs to go right
6. New York Islanders. I get the reason people are skeptical of them. But they have been in the final four two years in a row (and advanced in the playoffs three years in a row). You do not do that by accident.
7. Boston Bruins. The core is getting older but it is still great. Losing David Krejci is a short-term setback, but there is still a lot of reason to buy into them making another deep run.
8. Washington Capitals. They have one of the oldest rosters in the league, but it is still a good roster for now. The window is still open at least for a little bit.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins. They are going to need a massive rebuild when Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang retire but all three are still really good right now and there is still a good supporting cast.
Major potential, but need to prove it
10. Toronto Maple Leafs. Yeah there is a ton of talent here but this group is 0-for-4 when it comes to advancing in the playoffs, this roster is weaker than last year’s roster, they are back in a tough division, and if they lose again this season that core is going to get broken up to some degree. It is time to do something.
11. New York Rangers. Absolutely loaded with young, high-end talent that they need to take a big step this season. Adam Fox has already taken his step. Now all eyes turn to Igor Shesterkin, Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko, and Vitali Kravtsov. If they can reach their potential, that is a championship core.
12. Los Angeles Kings. Similar story as the Rangers only a year or two behind. Great farm system, but it needs to prove it can play at the NHL level.
Could go either way
13. St. Louis Blues. Team is getting a little older, has already lost Jaden Schwartz, seen some significant departures on defense, and who knows what Vladimir Tarasenko‘s future is.
14. Winnipeg Jets. They have a great goalie, some high-end forwards, and what should be an improved defense this season. The goalie is what really gives them a chance every year.
15. Edmonton Oilers. The fact this team has two MVP winners in the prime of their careers, the two best offensive players in the NHL right now, and they are only in the middle of the pack here as far as a five-year window goes is a damning indictment on the job of the past two front offices.
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16. Philadelphia Flyers. Carter Hart will make or break what happens here in the short-term and the long-term.
17. Dallas Stars. They have a great defense and outstanding goaltending, but Joe Pavelski, Alexander Radulov, and John Klingberg are all unrestricted free agents after this season (can they keep all three?) while Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are both another year older.
18. Montreal Canadiens. They stunned the hockey world this past season and they do have some really intriguing young players. But they also have some real flaws while the two highest paid players (Shea Weber and Carey Price) are getting older and starting to show signs of breaking down physically.
19. New Jersey Devils. Jack Hughes should be a superstar, Nico Hischier is fantastic, and Dougie Hamilton is a huge addition. But they play in the wrong division in the short-term and depth is a major concern throughout the lineup.
20. Minnesota Wild. A lot depends on if they can get Kirill Kaprizov signed long-term and how well their farm system produces because that salary cap situation is going to be a major problem for the next few years.
21. Calgary Flames. Not a great situation, not an awful situation. Just kinda average. That usually means long-term sustained mediocrity.
22. Vancouver Canucks. Ton of potential at forward, a really good young goalie, but that defense and salary cap situation is messy. They should be higher, but they have been mismanaged.
23. Detroit Red Wings. The rebuild is well underway and they do have a great general manager that has assembled some intriguing talent, but things seem to be progressing slowly here. Still a few years away from really making some noise.
24. Ottawa Senators. There is a lot of young talent here but they seem to be lacking the potential superstar talent that rebuilding teams like New York and Los Angeles have. Ownership worries me.
25. Seattle Kraken. The fact they seemed to leave a lot of talent and miss some opportunities in the expansion draft is not an encouraging sign for the long-term outlook here.
Trending in wrong direction
26. Nashville Predators. Competitive rebuilds do not work. They just lead to sustained mediocrity.
27. Chicago Blackhawks. They made a lot of moves this offseason, but a lot of them carry some risk (Seth Jones, Jake McCabe) or are short-term band-aids on larger problems (Marc-Andre Fleury) that still carry some risk. Still a lot of problems here.
28. Columbus Blue Jackets. They always seem to overachieve a little, but they are lacking a lot of high end talent. Patrik Laine should help with that, but who knows what sort of season is ahead for him or what his long-term future with the team even is.
29. Arizona Coyotes. The rebuild is well underway and it is going to take a lot of time.
30. San Jose Sharks. An aging team with a lot of bad contracts, no goalie, and little in the way of young impact talent.
31. Buffalo Sabres. They need a rebuild from their latest rebuild that was a rebuild from the previous rebuild. When Jack Eichel gets traded it really will be starting over from scratch.
32. Anaheim Ducks. What is the plan here again? They keep putting off an actual rebuild and just keep pushing back the timeline for contention again.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.