NHL Power Rankings: Where things stand coming out of All-Star break

NHL Power Rankings
Michael Martin, Getty Images

In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we take a look at where things stand in the league coming out of the 2022 NHL All-Star Break.

We look at the teams in three different tiers: The likely playoff teams, the bubble teams, and the dreaming of a lottery teams.

The usual suspects remain at the top, including the Colorado Avalanche, Carolina Hurricanes, and Florida Panthers. While some other bubble teams try to make a push to climb back into that top tier. We look at all of that and more in this week’s rankings.

Where does your team sit?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

Playoff Bound

1. Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 1). Arizona put a stop to their 10-game winning streak in a shootout. But they are still on a 17-game point streak (15-0-2), have not lost a game in regulation in nearly two months (December 16) and have just two regulation losses since the start of December (21-2-3). The best team in hockey.

[Related: Cale Makar leads PHT midseason Norris Trophy voting]

2. Carolina Hurricanes (LW: 3). Not only are they great, but they are set up for long-term success. Only one of their top-10 scorers is over the age of 28, and none are older than 30.

3. Florida Panthers (LW: 2). They are capable of embarrassing any opponent on any given night.

4. Minnesota Wild (LW: 4). The problem the Minnesota Wild have is timing. Their best seasons always happen to come in a season where they just happen to play in the same division as one of the small handful of teams that are better than them. It used to be Chicago. Now it is Colorado.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 6). Good news: They should avoid Boston in the first round this year. Bad news: They will almost certainly get Tampa Bay or Florida instead.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 5). Everybody is so used to their success now that we kind of just forget how good they still are. Same thing happens to Steven Stamkos.

[Related: Appreciating Steven Stamkos’ ability to remain an elite producer]

7. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 7). Just when they get everybody back healthy more injuries happen, and then Evgeni Malkin enters the COVID protocol coming out of the All-Star break.

8. Nashville Predators (LW: 9). Truly a remarkable bounce back season. For the team as a whole and all of their big-money players that had been disappointing.

9. New York Rangers (LW: 8). As long as Igor Shesterkin keeps playing the way he has this team will have a chance. They will go as far as he can take them.

[Related: Igor Shesterkin leads PHT midseason Vezina Trophy voting]

10. St. Louis Blues (LW: 10). The Blues have become somewhat of an offensive juggernaut this season, both at even-strength and especially on the power play.

11. Calgary Flames (LW: 13). They are rapidly gaining ground on Vegas in the Pacific Division and are now right there with them in the fight for the top spot in the Pacific Division.

12. Washington Capitals (LW: 12). Goalie may not be their only need, but it is the easiest need to fix that can make the biggest impact.

13. Boston Bruins (LW: 11). They may not be what they have been in recent years, but they are not going to be an easy out. Still need more depth, but that is not a new development.

14. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 14). Just be healthy for the playoffs. Just be healthy for the playoffs. Just be healthy for the playoffs. Just be healthy for the playoffs.

On The Bubble

15. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 17). Phillip Danault has been everything they could have hoped for as a free agent addition. Great center depth is making them a potential playoff team ahead of schedule.

16. Dallas Stars (LW: 16). If they get could get more from Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov they might really have a chance here.

17. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 19). Still need to see more from them and their depth before I buy into them as a playoff team. But they have at least managed to reverse the earlier trend and get back into playoff contention.

18. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 15). Trevor Zegras is going to be a superstar and the player that helps get them back to the playoffs, whether it is this season or next season.

Barely hanging on to the bubble

19. New York Islanders (LW: 18). They are barely on the bubble simply because of the number of games they have remaining, but if we are being honest here they should be looking ahead to next season.

20. Vancouver Canucks (LW: 23). The way they played immediately after the coaching change is admirable but it is most likely a case of way too little, way too late.

21. San Jose Sharks (LW: 21). This recent stretch that has seen them lose seven of their past nine games is very damaging to whatever slim playoff chances they still had remaining.

22. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 20). An underrated pick for most disappointing team in the league.

Draft Lottery Dreaming

23. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 22). Strong progress this season and a strong core in place but they are just not on the same level as the Eastern Conference playoff teams. Not yet anyway.

24. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 25). Just not enough impact players here, and Patrik Laine just has not worked out yet as hoped yet.

25. Ottawa Senators (LW: 24). Good young core but man are they in the wrong division right now.

26. Chicago Blackhawks (LW: 26). Hiring Peter Chiarelli would be tying an anchor to an already sinking ship.

[Related: Marian Hossa, Ed Olcyzk, Patrick Sharp to lead Blackhawks’ general manager search]

27. Seattle Kraken (LW: 27). Still wonder what this season could have looked like if they goaltending had played the way they expected it to play.

28. Philadelphia Flyers (LW: 30). They think they can turn this around quickly this offseason. That seems like a blindly optimistic position.

29. Buffalo Sabres (LW: 29). Another lost season on top of a mountain of lost seasons.

30. New Jersey Devils (LW: 29). The lack of progress here given the big moves they have attempted and top draft picks they have had is staggering.

31. Arizona Coyotes (LW: 31). Phil Kessel being traded is inevitable but who else goes over the next month-and-a-half?

32. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 32). We knew this season would be a struggle. Nobody knew it would look like this

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    LA Kings put goaltender Cal Petersen on waivers

    Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

    LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings put goaltender Cal Petersen on waivers, a surprising move for a player once considered the successor in net to two-time Stanley Cup winner Jonathan Quick.

    Petersen, 28, went on waivers the day after allowing four goals on 16 shots in relief of Quick during a 9-8 overtime loss to the Seattle Kraken. Quick was pulled after giving up five goals on 14 shots.

    Only one NHL goalie has a save percentage lower than Petersen’s .868 this season, Elvis Merzlikins of the Columbus Blue Jackets with .864. Petersen is 5-3-2 in 10 games with a 3.75 goals-against average in his third full season with the Kings and fifth overall.

    L.A. signed Petersen to a three-year, $15 million contract in September 2021, and he figured to take the starting job from Quick, who turns 37 in January and is set to be a free agent after the season. Petersen has two years left on that deal after this one at an annual salary cap hit of $5 million.

    Penguins’ Kris Letang out indefinitely after 2nd stroke

    Kris Letang Penguins
    Getty Images

    PITTSBURGH — Kris Letang plays hockey with a grace and inexhaustible fluidity seemingly impervious to the rigors of spending nearly half his life in the NHL.

    For the second time in less than a decade, however, a major health scare has brought Letang’s career to a halt.

    The 35-year-old Letang is out indefinitely after suffering a stroke for a second time. Letang reported feeling ill and was taken to the hospital, where tests confirmed the stroke.

    While general manager Ron Hextall said Wednesday this stroke doesn’t appear to be as serious as the one Letang sustained in 2014, the Penguins will have to find a way forward at least in the short term without one of their franchise pillars.

    “I am fortunate to know my body well enough to recognize when something isn’t right,” Letang said in a release. “While it is difficult to navigate this issue publicly, I am hopeful it can raise awareness. … I am optimistic that I will be back on the ice soon.”

    The three-time Stanley Cup champion missed more than two months in 2014 after a stroke, which doctors determined was caused by a small hole in the wall of his heart. He spent Monday feeling off and told team trainers he was dealing with what Hextall described as a migraine headache.

    Penguins team physician Dr. Dhamesh Vyas recommended Letang go to the hospital, where tests confirmed the stroke.

    “He didn’t know (he had a stroke),” Hextall said. “He just knew something wasn’t right.”

    Letang is continuing to undergo tests but felt well enough on Tuesday to be at the arena for Pittsburgh’s 3-2 overtime loss to Carolina. He spent the second period chatting with Hextall then addressed his teammates in the locker room afterward in an effort to help allay their concerns.

    “I think it was important for Kris to be there because his teammates got to see him in good spirits and that he’s doing well,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.

    Sullivan added initial test results on Letang have been “very encouraging.” Letang will continue to undergo testing throughout the week, though he felt good enough in the aftermath to ask Sullivan and Hextall if he could skate, an activity that is off the table for now.

    Hextall said he “couldn’t even guess” how long the Penguins may be without the married father of two, adding hockey is low on the team’s list of concerns about a player who, along with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, has helped the franchise to three Stanley Cups during his 17-year career.

    “First and foremost this is about the person and I told Tanger about that last night,” Hextall said. “This is Kris Letang, the father and family guy, the Pittsburgh Penguins, that’s second.”

    Letang, a six-time All-Star, has been one of the most durable players in the NHL. His 662 career points (145 goals, 517 assists) are a franchise record for a defenseman. He’s averaged well over 24 minutes of playing time over the course of his career, a number that’s ticked above 25 minutes per game seven times in eight-plus seasons since he returned from the initial stroke.

    The Penguins felt so confident in Letang’s durability that they signed him to a six-year contract over the summer rather than let him test free agency for the first time.

    “The level of hockey he’s played for as long as he’s played is absolutely incredible,” Hextall said. “The level he’s continued to play at at his age, the type of shape he’s in … he’s a warrior.”

    Letang has one goal and 11 assists in 21 games so far this season for Pittsburgh, which hosts Vegas on Thursday night. The Penguins are pretty deep along the blue line, but Sullivan knows he can’t try to replace Letang with any one player.

    “It’s not anything we haven’t been faced with in the past and the reality is we have what we have, and we’ll figure it out,” Sullivan said, adding “it’ll be by committee, as it usually is when you replace a player of that stature.”

    Ovechkin tops Gretzky for most road goals, Capitals beat Canucks

    Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Alex Ovechkin scored twice, passing Wayne Gretzky for the most road goals in NHL history, and the Washington Capitals beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 on Tuesday night.

    Ovechkin has scored 403 of his 793 career goals away from home. Gretzky holds the overall record with 894.

    “It’s always nice when you beat the Great One,” Ovechkin said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of milestone it is. It’s history.”

    Anthony Mantha added a goal and an assist for the Capitals (10-11-3). John Carlson and Martin Fehervary also scored, and Darcy Kuemper stopped 31 shots.

    Nils Hoglander scored for the Canucks (9-11-3), who had won three in a row. Spencer Martin made 23 saves.

    “Spencer’s been great for us. He’s probably a bit like the other players tonight. They weren’t ready to play and it showed on the scoreboard,” Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau said.

    The 37-year-old Ovechkin nearly netted a hat trick when Vancouver pulled Martin for an extra skater with just over six minutes left, but his rocket of a shot skimmed the outside of the post.

    “I think he has 13 goals this year and I want to say like eight or nine have been like a new record. So it’s been cool,” Washington center Dylan Strome said. “Any time you pass Wayne Gretzky in anything, it deserves a standing ovation, which he got.”

    Fehervary was the one who sealed it, flipping the puck high into the Canucks zone and into the empty net at 15:57 of the third period.

    Ovechkin topped Gretzky 11:52 into the first, firing a one-timer from the left circle past Martin to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead with his 13th goal of the season.

    “On his second goal, it looks like, `Oh, maybe (Martin) should have had it.’ But I’ve seen (Ovechkin) score 100 goals like that,” said Boudreau, who coached the Capitals from 2007-11. “He’s got a shot that finds its way in.”

    The star forward from Russia got his first of the night 5:35 in, taking the puck off the stick of Vancouver defenseman Quinn Hughes near the net and batting in a quick shot.

    “It could have been 6-1 after the first period, quite frankly, with the amount of chances (Washington) had,” Boudreau said.

    It was Ovechkin’s 135th game-opening goal, tying Jaromir Jagr for the most in NHL history.

    “(Ovechkin) was really good in the first and I thought we were really good in the first so it was nice to get out and get a jump like that,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “He certainly led. We knew we needed to have a good first period, have a good game, and you need your best players to do that.”

    Carlson scored the lone goal of the second, chipping in a loose puck from the low hash marks at 18:47 to give Washington a 4-1 cushion.

    “It’s frustrating. Because when you lose games, it should never be about your compete level and battle level,” Canucks center J.T. Miller said. “It’s frustrating because they didn’t out-skill us today, they didn’t out-system us. They literally just outbattled us and created their own chances.”

    NOTES: Washington’s Lars Eller got his 200th career assist. … Miller had an assist, extending his point streak to nine games (four goals, seven assists). … The Capitals swept the two-game season series. … Vancouver assigned winger Vasily Podkolzin and defenseman Jack Rathbone to the Abbotsford Canucks on Monday, then recalled forward Phillip Di Giuseppe from the American Hockey League club on Tuesday.


    Washington: At Seattle on Thursday in the second of a five-game trip.

    Vancouver: Host Florida on Thursday in the second of a four-game homestand.

    Deal for Coyotes’ proposed arena approved by Tempe council

    David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
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    TEMPE, Ariz. — The Tempe City Council has unanimously approved a proposal for a new Arizona Coyotes arena and entertainment district, clearing the way for a public vote on the project next year.

    The City Council approved the proposal 7-0 after a lengthy meeting that included NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

    The $2.1 billion project would include a 16,000-seat arena, practice rink, 1,600 apartments, two hotels and a theater. Approval of the project was the final step before it goes to referendum on May 16.

    The team is currently playing at Arizona State’s 5,000-seat Mullett Arena, by far the NHL’s smallest arena.

    The Coyotes have been searching for a permanent home since the city of Glendale pulled out of a multimillion-dollar lease at Gila River Arena. Arizona had been playing on an annual lease until Glendale said it would not be renewed for the 2022-23 season.