PHT Power Rankings

NHL Power Rankings: Top free agents for 2022 offseason

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With the NHL Free Agency starting on Wednesday we are taking an updated look at our top unrestricted free agent Power Rankings from back in May, removing the players that have already re-signed with their teams (Kris Letang, Filip Forsberg, Valeri Nichushkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Rickard Rakell) and adding some of the restricted free agents that were not given qualifying offers on Monday.

The latter list includes former Blackhawks Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik, goalie Ilya Samsonov, and winger Danton Heinen.

You might notice one name missing from the list: Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron. We made the decision to leave him out of the rankings because while his contract is technically expiring, he has made it clear that there are only two realistic options for him: Re-signing with the Boston Bruins or retirement. That does not really make him a fit here with the rest of the players on the rankings.

Which players make the cut and where do they rank?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

1. Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau picked a heck of a team to have a career year and be the second-leading scorer in the NHL. Gaudreau is an incredible talent, one of the most productive players in the league, and is still at an age where he should have a lot of productive hockey ahead of him. Whether it is Calgary or somewhere else, he is going to cash in this offseason. [UPDATE: Johnny Hockey is heading to the Blue Jackets on a seven-year, $68.25 million deal.]

2. Nazem Kadri. The pro: He had an incredible season and is a really good two-way player at a premium position. The concern: He will be 32 when his next contract begins and he has never really produced at this level prior to this season. Can he duplicate that on a different team, and for how many years?

3. Evgeni Malkin. If he is healthy he is still an impact player, especially on the power play. Maybe not as dominant as he was at his peak, but you would take him on your team if given the opportunity. It seems weird imagining him in a uniform other than the Penguins but that seems to be the way this is heading after it was revealed on Monday that he is testing the open market. [UPDATE: Malkin has signed a four-year, $24.4 million extension to stay in Pittsburgh.]

4. Claude Giroux. Pretty similar to Malkin in the sense that he is not quite the player he was at his peak, but he will definitely make somebody a better hockey team. Would Philadelphia bring him back? Or does he want to take another serious run at a Stanley Cup? [UPDATE: Giroux has signed a three-year, $19.5 million deal with the Senators.]

[NHL free agency tracker 2022: Full list of offseason signings]

5. David Perron. Perron is a steady producer with a track record of being a top-line player on winning teams. Also an overlooked mean streak that some teams will probably love. It probably does not matter where he actually signs because he always finds his way back to St. Louis anyway. [UPDATE: Perron is moving on after signing a two-year, $9.5 million deal with the Red Wings.]

6. Vincent Trocheck. Trocheck is a strong second line center option. Can do everything well, good production, and solid player. The bad news: This is the type of signing in free agency that will look good for two years and then by year three or four you are wondering what you are going to do with him and his salary. [UPDATE: Trocheck is heading to the Rangers after signing a seven-year, $39.375 million deal.]

7. John Klingberg. Klingberg seems to be the type of player whose reputation will depend on who you ask and when you are asking it. His defense gets a lot of criticism, but he can provide some offense from the blue line and is a better all-around player than his critics might have you believe. But is he the player you want to build your defense around? With Letang staying in Pittsburgh he is by far the top defenseman available.

8. Ondrej Palat. Palat might sometimes get overlooked on that Tampa Bay roster, but he has been one of the top players for one of the league’s top teams for a decade. Great second or third line forward for a contender. Not sure Tampa Bay will be able to re-sign him with that salary cap situation. [UPDATE: Palat heads to New Jersey with a five-year, $30 million deal with the Devils.]

9. Andrew Copp. Outstanding defensive forward whose offensive game reached another level this season. Also had a very strong playoff showing that will boost his value for sure. [UPDATE: Copp is moving on to the Red Wings with a five-year, $28.125 million deal.]

10. Evander Kane. Kane is a good player and has been very productive in Edmonton, but when you sign him you are not just signing the player. You are signing everything that comes with the player off the ice, and his off-ice issues are well documented and quite significant (read about them here, here, here, and here). There is a reason Edmonton was able to sign him for so cheap mid-season. But like with Edmonton, it only takes one team being willing to do it. [UPDATE: Kane has re-signed in Edmonton with a four-year, $20.5 million extension.]

11. Darcy Kuemper. Finally, a goalie on the list. Kuemper had a great regular season and has a very solid resume over his career. But teams might look at what happened to Phillip Grubauer when he left Colorado and wonder what happens when a 32-year-old Kuemper is playing behind a worse team. He is leaving Colorado after the team traded for Alexandar Georgiev. [UPDATE: Kuemper signs a five-year, $26.25 million deal with the Capitals.]

12. Jack Campbell. Campbell can be very hit and miss. At times over the past two years he has looked like he put everything together, and at other times he has looked just ordinary. How much faith do you have that you are consistently getting the good version? [UPDATE: The Oilers have given Campbell a five-year, $25 million contract.]

[Related: Tkachuk, Gaudreau headline offseason questions for Flames]

13. Andre Burakovsky. Really productive player and one of the younger players on the list, so his play will probably not drop off too much right away. [UPDATE: Burakovsky heads to the Kraken on a five-year, $27.5 million contract.]

14. Nino Niederreiter. Not a superstar, but he is going to score you 20-25 goals and be a strong possession driver. That is a valuable top-six winger.

15. Ryan Strome. He ended up being a really good addition for the Rangers the past few years and a solid No. 2 center. [UPDATE: Strome heads west after inking a five-year, $25 million deal with the Ducks.]

16. Dylan Strome. There is an argument to be made that Dylan might be an even more attractive option than Ryan given his age and the fact he might be a little cheaper and a better value. It is a mild surprise that the Blackhawks did not want to retain him, but the problem might be that he is just too good for what Chicago wants to accomplish this season. [UPDATE: Strome has signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Capitals.]

17. Dominik Kubalik. Kubalik came out of nowhere with a 30-goal (in only 68 games) performance as a rookie three years ago but has not been able to match that number ever since. He does have some finishing ability and could be a good scoring option for a team that needs some depth. Like Strome, he was not given a qualifying offer by the Blackhawks. [UPDATE: Kubalik is a Red Wing after signing a two-year, $5 million deal.]

18. Max Domi. Creative playmaker with some defensive shortcomings. Good complementary player but probably not much more than that. [UPDATE: Domi heads to the Blackhawks with a one-year, $3 million deal.]

19. Reilly Smith. Very similar player to Niederreiter in terms of what to expect production wise, but maybe not quite the same level of possession driving ability. [UPDATE: Smith is staying in Las Vegas on a three-year, $15 million extension.]

20. Ilya Samsonov. Samsonov was supposed to be the Capitals’ long-term solution in goal and replace Braden Holtby. It has not worked out at all. With the trade of Vitek Vanecek and not qualifying Samsonov the Capitals are now completelly overhauling their goalie position. He might draw some strong interest in an alarmingly thin goalie market with somebody hoping he can still reach some of his potential. [UPDATE: Samsonov has signed a one-year, $1.8 million contract with the Maple Leafs.]

21. Brett Kulak. The former Montreal defenseman teams should have been trying to acquire when the Ben Chiarot bidding war happened. Nothing flashy about his play, but he is a very good mid-pairing defender. [UPDATE: Kulak moves to the Oilers with a four-year, $11 million contract.]

22. Danton Heinen. Heinen had a strong season for the Penguins, scoring a career high 18 goals. But that was probably going to drive up his price tag due to arbitration and the Penguins obviously did not want to go there, especially with the re-signing of Rickard Rakell. Good all around player with some scoring touch.

23. Mason Marchment. A late bloomer, Marchment had a really nice year for the Panthers. Can he repeat it? How much is that one year at age 26 worth on the open market? [UPDATE: Marchment is heading to Dallas after signing a four-year, $18 million deal.]

24. P.K. Subban. Still a big name, still extremely talented with the occasional “wow” moment, but not quite the consistent impact player and superstar he was in his prime.

25. Phil Kessel. Kessel is a new addition to the list with some of the other wings re-signing. He is not an elite goal scorer anymore, but he is always going to be in the lineup and while his goal scoring has started to dry up he remains an excellent playmaker. You need a specialized role for him, but he can still provide something.

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    NHL Power Rankings: Best free agent signings so far this offseason

    NHL Power Rankings
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    In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we take a look at the best free agent signings of the offseason (so far).

    While there are still a handful of top free agents still available (Nazem Kadri, John Klingberg), most of the top players have already found new homes. Some of those signings are going to work out very well. Others might not.

    So let’s try to figure out which ones might be the best investments. We are limiting it this to players that signed after the opening of the free agent signing period this past Wednesday. So players that re-signed with their teams before that are excluded from the list. Also a reminder: This is not a ranking of the best players to sign. It is a ranking of the best signings, taking into account the player, production, contract term, salary cap hit, risk, and total value.

    Who all makes the cut?

    To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

    1. Johnny Gaudreau, Columbus Blue Jackets (seven years, $68.25 million). The most stunning free agent signing was also the best. Yes, most long-term free agent contracts end in a buyout or a trade. But there are always exceptions. This could very easily be an exception. Gaudreau is a top-tier offensive force and is still at an age where he should perform at an extremely level for the foreseeable future. The Blue Jackets needed a star, and they got one. Even If Gaudreau is not a 115-point player again and levels off at an 80-or 90-point level he will still be worth it.

    [Related: How good can Blue Jackets be after signing Gaudreau?]

    2. Claude Giroux, Ottawa Senators (three years, $19.5 million). Giroux might be getting older, but he is still an outstanding player and the Senators are getting him on a really good deal. Not too much term, reasonable salary cap hit, not much risk, and it helps round a rapidly improving Senators’ top-six. Are they a playoff team because of it? Probably not. But they are better. And more entertaining.

    3. Darcy Kuemper, Washington Capitals (five years, $26.25 million). The Capitals badly needed a goalie and completely revamped the position by dumping Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek and signing Kuemper in free agency. Kuemper drew some criticism in the playoffs this year, but his overall track record in the NHL is very strong. Among goalies with at least 100 games played over the past three years, Igor Shesterkin is the only goalie with a better all situations save percentage than Kuemper’s .920.

    4. Frank Vatrano, Anaheim Ducks (three years, $10.95 million). Absolutely love this signing by the Ducks. Vatrano is not a star, but he can do two things really well: Generate shots and score goals. The Panthers never should have traded him, the Rangers are going to miss him, and the Ducks got him on a nice three-year deal for just $3.6 million per year.

    [Related: 2022 NHL Free Agency Tracker]

    5. David Perron, Detroit Red Wings (two years, $9.5 million). Perron is getting older, but this is a really strong deal for a Red Wings team making to take a big leap forward. He is a legit top-line winger and the Red Wings have almost no risk on a two-year contract.

    6. Andrew Copp, Detroit Red Wings (five years, $28.25 million) . This deal reminds me a lot of the Philip Danault signing in Los Angeles a year ago. Similar term, player, cap hit, and team situation. I like Copp over somebody like, say, Vincent Trocheck because he is a year younger, better defensively, and has a term that is two years shorter.

    7. Vincent Trocheck, New York Rangers (seven years, $39.375 million). Trocheck is a very good player and will be a nice second-line center for the Rangers. But this is also the type of free agency contract I hate and the type that should scare the heck out of you as a fan of a team. A seven-year term for a soon-to-be 30-year-old non-star is not going to end well. Also, the Rangers had to watch Copp, Ryan Strome, and Vatrano all leave to make this signing happen. Does that make them a better team?

    8. Andre Burakovsky, Seattle Kraken (five years, $27.5 million). Good player on an okay contract, but I do wonder what the overall plan is here for Seattle? Just a weird approach from the very beginning. How will he produce away from the high powered Avalanche offense?

    9. Ryan Strome, Anaheim Ducks (five years, $25 million). Strome averaged a 22-goal, 60-point pace per 82 games during his time with the Rangers and was a legit second-line center offensively. He has had some shortcomings defensively at times, but if he repeats what he did in New York with the Ducks he will be a fine addition.

    10. Dylan Strome, Washington Capitals (one year, $3.5 million). What I love about this deal is just how cheap it is. One year and only $3.5 million? For a player that will probably a produce a similar level of offense as Copp or Trocheck down the middle? He might be a half-tier below those two as overall players, but the price is certainly right as they look to get by without Nicklas Backstrom.

    11. Mason Marchment, Dallas Stars (four years, $18 million). If he is just a late-bloomer and his 2021-22 season was not a fluke this contract could be one of the best signed all summer. But he has so little NHL track record to go by it is tough to be fully convinced of that.

    12. Ondrej Palat, New Jersey Devils (five years, $30 million). He is not Johnny Gaudreau or Alex DeBrincat, but Palat is a strong top-six addition to a Devils team that badly needs some complementary players for Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. In the short-term, at least. How many more years does he have as a top-six producer?

    13. Calle Jarnkrok, Toronto Maple Leafs (four years, $8.4 million). Jarnkrok is one of the steadiest players you will find in the NHL in terms of what he brings. He will score 15 goals, 30 points, play good defense, and be a really solid third-line player. The four-year term is maybe a year too long, but you can not beat the salary cap number.

    14. Brett Kulak, Edmonton Oilers (four years, $11 million). Kulak is not going to carry the Oilers’ defense, but he was very good after being acquired at the trade deadline and this is a very strong re-sign by the Oilers after he went to market. In a thin defense crop, the Oilers did well.

    15. Dominik Kubalik, Detroit Red Wings (two years, $5.5 million). This is a nice gamble for the Red Wings. Kubalik has his flaws, but he does have some finishing ability as a goal scorer even if it it peaked as a rookie. The price is right for this.

    16. Ilya Mikheyev, Vancouver Canucks (four years, $19 million). The Canucks always have a couple of random players in the middle of their lineup making far more than you realize for too many years. This one might continue that trend. Mikheyev does a lot of things well, but I am not sure he is going to score 20 goals again.

    17. Jack Campbell, Edmonton Oilers (five years, $25 million). Just not sure how much I trust Campbell to be the answer behind a weak defensive team. That contract is concerning.

    18. Josh Manson, Colorado Avalanche (four years, $18 million). Manson was a good addition for Colorado at the trade deadline, but this also seems like a luxury re-signing (and maybe even an overpay) for a team that is already loaded on defense.

    19. Jan Rutta, Pittsburgh Penguins (three years, $8.25 million). The Penguins really tried to overhaul their defense this offseason and it started with the Rutta addition. He is not going to be one of their top defenders, but given what players like Erik Gudbranson and Ben Chiarot signed for this is not a bad deal for what the Penguins will expect of him.

    20. Justin Schultz, Seattle Kraken (two years, $6 million). Another bizarre move for Seattle, but again, given the market for other defenders it is not a terrible deal.

    NHL Power Rankings: Top storylines heading into NHL Free Agency

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    In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we take a look ahead to the start of free agency on Wednesday and the top storylines that will unfold over the next few days.

    Will Johnny Gaudreau reach the open market? Will Pittsburgh find a way to keep Evgeni Malkin? Just how low will the Chicago Blackhawks go in their rebuild? How about that goalie market?

    We take a look at all of those stories and more.

    What are we paying attention to most?

    To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

    1. Will Calgary get Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk signed long-term?

    Gaudreau and Tkachuk were one of the most dominant duos in the NHL during the 2021-22 season, and there is a very strong and convincing argument to be made that they were the most dominant duo. When those two were on the ice the Flames were a runaway freight train that steamrolled over everybody they played. They are both in need of new contracts this offseason, with Gaudreau still eligible for unrestricted free agency and Tkachuk a restricted free agent. Gaudreau will have no shortage of suitors if he reaches the open market and would seem a lock to sign the biggest contract this offseason. The Flames’ ability to re-sign him and work out an extension with Tkachuk will go a long way toward determining what their next few years will look like.

    2. Will Evgeni Malkin be back in Pittsburgh?

    The Penguins have already re-signed two of their top unrestricted free agents by agreeing to long-term deals with Bryan Rust and Kris Letang. Malkin still remains a mystery with the start of free agency just days away. The main sticking point seems to be term, with the Penguins seemingly preferring a two-or-three year deal and Malkin wanting a four-year deal. The concerns with Malkin are fair. He is going to be 36 years old, he has had major knee injuries the past couple of years, and he is going to start slowing down. In all honesty, he already has. The counterpoint to that is that he is still almost certainly a better option than any potential replacement the Penguins can bring in this offseason.

    [Related: Penguins re-sign Kris Letang to six-year, $36.6 million contract]

    3. What is Toronto going to do in goal?

    This is starting to get interesting. Talks with Jack Campbell do not seem to be progressing, and the goalie market has dried up significantly over the past week with Marc-Andre Fleury, Alexandar Georgiev, and Ville Husso all going off the market. Can they afford Darcy Kuemper? Do they trade for Matt Murray and hope he can rebound? This is a big question mark that still needs to addressed and the options are getting thin.

    4. How deep will Chicago’s rebuild go?

    Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Hagel, and Kirby Dach are gone. Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome seem unlikely to get qualifying offers. Brett Connolly is getting bought out. This team already stinks and it is going to get dramatically worse. The only next logical steps are trading Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. They will almost certainly have to eat salary to make those moves happen, and Toews’ value is probably in the tank, but there is really no point in keeping them around at this point given the direction this team is clearly taking.

    [Related: Blackhawks trade Alex DeBrincat to Ottawa Senators]

    5. What will Edmonton do with its newfound salary cap space?

    Thanks to Duncan Keith’s retirement and the trade to dump Zack Kassian’s remaining salary the Edmonton Oilers are actually entering the offseason with some salary cap flexibility. Despite their success this past season it is still a team in need of some major improvements regarding its depth and goaltending. How much are they willing to pay Evander Kane? Can they get Kuemper in free agency?

    6. How much will John Klingberg get?

    With Letang re-signed in Pittsburgh, the already-thin UFA defense market gets even thinner. It is basically Klingberg, and then a pretty gigantic gap to the next best player. That is bad news for everybody except John Klingberg. He can still bring plenty of offense and is not just the best option for a team in need of a top-four defenseman in free agency; he is probably the only option in free agency.

    7. What will the Canucks do with J.T. Miller?

    He has been on the trade rumor mill for more than a year. He has just one year remaining on his contract, and it remains to be seen whether or not they can get him re-signed. He has been outstanding with the Canucks and is coming off a career year that saw him record 99 points. He is an impact player, but do not get high hopes for a massive trade return. These deals never bring back what you expect.

    8. Who can Colorado keep?

    There is no downside to winning, but if there were a downside it would probably be the fact your players get more expensive and you can not keep everybody. Darcy Kuemper is already done, but Andre Burakovsky, Valeri Nichushkin, and Nazem Kadri are all unrestricted free agents, while Arturri Lehkonen is a significant restricted free agent. They do not have the salary cap space to keep everybody. Nichushkin in particular seems like he might be able to really cash in after his playoff run.

    [Related: 2022 NHL Free Agency Signing Tracker]

    9. How does Tampa Bay solve its salary cap crunch?

    The Lightning enter the offseason with no salary cap space and have already traded Ryan McDonagh. Most of the roster remains under contract, but Ondrej Palat is a pretty significant unrestricted free agent. Can they move somebody like an Alex Killorn to create more flexibility?

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    10. The Bruins offseason

    All signs point to Patrice Bergeron returning, but nothing is official yet. There is speculation that David Krejci could return, but that is far from a given. There is also the looming David Pastrnak contract extension that needs to be settled. They could either still look like a strong contender, or take a pretty significant step backwards depending on how all of those play out.

    11. Offer sheets?

    This is typically a waste of time to discuss because it is rare to see them signed, and even rarer to see them not get matched. But we have seen more of a willingness to go that route in recent years, at least as far as Montreal and Carolina are concerned. Could Calgary be vulnerable to an offer sheet for Andrew Mangiapane if they re-sign Gaudreau and Tkachuk? Would Toronto try to get bold and go for Jake Oettinger? Is there somebody in Carolina (Martin Necas) that Montreal could target to continue their RFA back-and-forth? Somebody might want to look at Arturri Lehkonen in Colorado is the Avalanche have a salary cap crunch.

    [Related: NHL Power Rankings: Most intriguing restricted free agent situations]

    12. What do the Rangers do?

    The New York Rangers had a great playoff run, but there was nothing about it that seemed sustainable. They still need to get better and that might be a challenge. Andrew Copp, Frank Vatrano, and Ryan Strome are all unrestricted free agents and will need to be replaced while also making the necessary improvements to take the next step. As of Monday they have about $10 million in salary cap space to do all of that.

    13. Does Detroit have another big move?

    It is time for the Red Wings to take the next step in their rebuild. They have some great young core players, made a big move for a goalie (Husso), but they are still facing an uphill battle in that division.

    14. How do the Islanders get better?

    Speaking of New York teams needing to get better, what about the Islanders? It is pretty clear they think they can still compete and that the 2021-22 season was a fluke (and maybe it was), but they have got to add some offense somewere. Alex DeBrincat and Kevin Fiala have already been traded. Filip Forsberg re-signed in Nashville. Johnny Gaudreau seems like a pipe dream. Could they put together enough of a trade package for J.T. Miller? They need to do something because the team as constructed is not close to good enough.

    15. What is the market for the big names that are declining?

    Specifically, Claude Giroux, Phil Kessel, and P.K. Subban. Of the three, Giroux is probably still the most productive, but how much is a team willing to give him? Could he return to Philadelphia? Re-sign with Florida? Maybe go closer to home to a suddenly improving Senators team? Kessel is also intriguing because even though his goal scoring has dried up, he remains a solid playmaker that could still produce in the right role.

    16. Capitals questions

    They still have Ilya Samsonov in net, but is he the answer? How do they find a complement to him? Also what are their plans at center with Nicklas Backstrom’s injury situation? Will he back? Do they LTIR him and find a replacement?


    NHL Power Rankings: Top American-born players right now

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    In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we are taking advantage of the fourth of July holiday to look at the top American-born players in the NHL right now.

    Key words: Right now. As in, today. As of this moment.

    We are not looking at the best American-born players of all time, or the best active American-born players that have had the best career.

    We are looking at the best players at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season. Look at it this way: If you were building a team right now and had to win the Stanley Cup this upcoming season, who would you pick first. Approach it with that mindset.

    There has arguably never been more American-born talent in the NHL than there is right now, from established superstars, major award winners, and rising stars.

    Who all makes the cut?

    To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

    1. Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs. The current league MVP and the best goal-scorer in the world at this moment, regardless of country. He scored 60 goals this past season (in only 73 games) and over the past three years has averaged a 62-goal pace per 82 games. Those are absurd numbers.

    2. Adam Fox, New York Rangers. Fox is already one of the best defenseman in the NHL. He won the Norris Trophy a year ago and might have actually been even better this season. The scary thing: His best days might still be ahead of him. Fox and starting goalie Igor Shesterkin are the foundation of the Rangers’ future.

    3. Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames. Tkachuk is the total package as a player. He scores, he drives possession, he is a good all-around player, and he is also a complete pest to play against.

    4. Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins. McAvoy might not score like some of the other top defenders in the league (Cale Makar, Fox, Roman Josi) but he can still contribute quite a bit offensively and he is a sensational defensive player. One of the best all-around defenders in the league.

    5. Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames. Not sure he has another 115-point season in him, but even if he does not match that level again Gaudreau is still one of the best offensive players and playmakers in the league. He and Tkachuk together are especially dominant.

    6. Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh Penguins. Guentzel is one of the best goal scorers in the league and can be a better defensive player than he gets credit for being. Yes, he plays next to Sidney Crosby. But a lot of talented players have skated next to Crosby in Pittsburgh over the years and never produced like this. Or anything close to it.

    7. Kyle Connor, Winnipeg Jets. Connor has developed into a top-tier finisher and made a run at 50 goals this season. He might do it again this season. Maybe he actually hits the 50-goal mark. He still needs to be better defensively. A lot better, actually. But that goal scoring….

    8. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks. If we are talking career or all-time American-born players he would be higher. He is still a top scorer, especially on the power play. But he has almost no defensive impact to speak of and it is getting worse as he gets older. As we sit right now, there is simply a younger crop of American-born players that have jumped ahead of him at his current state.

    9. Jason Robertson, Dallas Stars. When we do this ranking again after next season or the season after, Robertson might be in the top-five. Or maybe the top-three. He is going to be a superstar.

    [Related: Jason Robertson is engine that drives Stars]

    10. Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks. He is one of the best finishers in the NHL and might have a 50-goal season on the horizon. The question is which team will he be scoring those goals for?

    11. Jack Eichel, Vegas Golden Knights. You might think this is too low. Maybe it is. But we have not seen a lot of Eichel over the past two years due to injury, and when he has been on the ice he has not been quite as dominant as he was early in his career — probably because he was not totally healthy. If he can get back to 100 percent he is still a top-tier player. But we have to actually see him be that player again. Is that unfair?

    12. J.T. Miller, Vancouver Canucks. Miller was always a very good player early in his career with New York and Tampa Bay, but his play has gone to an entirely new level in Vancouver. Will he be a 99-point player again? I wouldn’t bet on it, but he will still be an outstanding player.

    [Related: NHL Power Rankings: Offseason trade candidates]

    13. Jaccob Slavin, Carolina Hurricanes. He will not score a ton of goals, but he has offensive ability and is an elite defensive player.

    14. Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets. He plays a ton behind what has been, mostly, a lousy defensive team. He does not get much help and is asked to do more than almost any other goalie in the league and still posts strong individual numbers.

    15. Chris Kreider, New York Rangers. His 2021-22 season was unlike anything we have ever seen from him in his career. Not sure how much confidence I have in him repeating that. But even if he goes back to being a 30-goal player with strong two-way ability he is still a hell of a player.

    16. Max Pacioretty, Vegas Golden Knights. Injuries have been a constant thorn for him over the years, and he is getting older, but his production and overall play is still fantastic when he is healthy.

    17. John Carlson, Washington Capitals. He can still get it done on the power play and help drive offense, but his defensive play is starting to slow down

    18. Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks. An elite scorer from the blue line, and he seemed to clean up at least some of his defensive deficiencies this past season.

    19. Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils. Like Robertson, another player that has the potential to make a dramatic rise over the next year. He was going to have a breakout year in 2021-22 had it not been for an injury that robbed him of half of his season.

    20. Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa Senators. He has no problem generating shots and driving possession, and with a little luck could throw a 40-plus goal season at you in the very near future.

    21. Joe Pavelski, Dallas Stars. He just keeps producing at a top level even into his late 30s. I do fear that we might see him start to slow down this season. Then again, I said that a year ago as well.

    22. Bryan Rust, Pittsburgh Penguins. Outstanding all-around player and underrated part of the Penguins roster. Can play 5-on-5, penalty kill, and power play all extremely well.

    [Related: Penguins extend Bryan Rust contract]

    23. Trevor Zegras, Anaheim Ducks. Is this too low? It feels too low. But we have only seen him for one year (but what a year!) so there is still some mystery there. Like Robertson and Jack Hughes, I feel like in another year he is in the top-10 of this list.

    24. Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks. If he stays healthy and gets to play a full season he is probably going to score you 30 goals. Maybe not a superstar, or even an all-star, but a very good player.

    25. Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes. A top line scorer that has not let playing on a bad team impact his possession numbers or goals for/against numbers.

    26. Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets. His contract raised eyebrows when it was signed a year ago, but he is a really good player that kind of gets lost a little bit on a struggling team.

    27. Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings. His production is a bit inconsistent from year to year, but when he is at his best he is a 30-goal guy with gamebreaking speed.

    28. Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes. A highly sought after player in the trade market that would be a strong top-pairing player on any team.

    29. Brock Nelson, New York Islanders. Far from a superstar, but a very productive player on a team that is not known for its offense. Pop quiz: without looking it up, how many goals did he score this past season? Would have guessed 37? Because he scored 37 goals.

    30. Torey Krug, St. Louis Blues. Not sure he has made the overall impact the Blues wanted when they signed him in free agency, but he is still a pretty important part of their blue line both offensively and defensively.

    NHL Power Rankings: Top individual performances from 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs

    The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs came to an end on Sunday night with the Colorado Avalanche defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-1, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. It capped off a dominant run by the Avalanche to give them their first Cup in two decades, and ending the Lightning’s bid for a third consecutive championship.

    It also ended what was a sensational playoffs over the past two months.

    The postseason was filled with drama, storylines, series comebacks, and great individual performances from a number of the NHL’s top players.

    In this week’s NHL Power Rankings we take a look back at the 10 best individual performances from the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

    Which players made the cut?

    To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

    1. Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche. What a dominant season from start to finish. Makar won the Norris Trophy as the top overall defenseman during the regular season, and then followed it up with one of the best playoff runs we have seen from a defenseman in the history of the league to win his first Conn Smythe Trophy. It is just the fourth time a defenseman has won the Norris and Conn Smythe in the same season, putting him on a list that includes only Bobby Orr (who did it twice) and Nicklas Lidstrom (who did it once). Pretty elite company.

    He also finished the playoffs with 29 points in 20 games, giving him a 1.45 points per game average. As a defenseman.

    Among defenders that played at least 15 games in a single postseason, that 1.45 average is the fourth best in league history, trailing only Paul Coffey (2.06 in 1984-85), Orr (1.60 in 1971-72), and Brian Leetch (1.48 in 1993-94).

    Along the with the offense he also posted absolutely dominant possession and scoring chance numbers and was one of the best play-drivers in the league. When he and Devon Toews were on the ice together the Avalanche were unstoppable.

    [Related: Makar wins Conn Smythe Trophy]

    2. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers. McDavid did everything he could to drag the Oilers as far as possible, and it resulted in a run to the Western Conference Final where they just simply ran into a buzzsaw of an Avalanche team. McDavid finished the playoffs with 33 total points, leading the league, despite the fact he only played in 16 games. That is a 2.06 per game average, one of the best in NHL history. Only twice over the past 25 years did a player have more than 33 points in an entire postseason: Nikita Kucherov had 34 in 2019-20 with the benefit of the play-in/round-robin round to add some games to his postseason, and Evgeni Malkin had 36 in 2009 while playing in 24 games.

    McDavid, again, played in only 16 games.

    Every time he was on the ice he was a one-man wrecking crew for opposing teams.

    [Related: Avalanche win Stanley Cup, end Lightning repeat bid]

    3. Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers. The Rangers are a very good team with a lot of top-tier players and a strong young core. But given how they actually played as a team in the playoffs? They had no business being within two wins of the Cup Final.

    Igor Shesterkin was the reason.

    Despite the fact the Rangers were badly outshot, out chanced, and mostly out played in every round and every game, they still put together a run to the Eastern Conference Final and even had a 2-0 series lead before the Lightning stormed back for four consecutive wins. Shesterkin was a force all postseason. He finished with a .929 save percentage despite facing more expected goals against (74.9) than any other goalie in the playoffs and playing behind a team that had some of the worst possession and scoring chance numbers we have ever seen from a conference finalist.

    [Related: Rangers took big step forward but more work needed]

    4. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche. He may not have had the most goals or points, but if your team was playing the Avalanche the fear of god was put into you every time he stepped on the ice. Every game, every shift he looked like he was shot out of a cannon and was all over the ice. He still ended up scoring 13 goals with 24 total points in 20 games (awesome numbers) and also had 117 shots on goal. That is just an absurd number. It is also the most shots on goal any player has ever had in a single postseason since shots started officially being tracked, besting the 116 that Henrik Zetterberg had during the 2007-08 playoffs. Zetterberg reached his mark in 22 games. MacKinnon played only 20 games.

    5. Jake Oettinger, Dallas Stars. We only saw Oettinger play seven games over one series, but they were a dominant seven games. He finished with a .954 save percentage and nearly dragged the Stars out of their First Round series with Calgary. The Flames just absolutely bombarded him the entire series, dramatically outplaying the Stars, only to have Oettinger build a wall around his net. Do not let the First Round loss take away from the way he played. He deserved better.

    Jake Oettinger
    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    6. Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers. He nearly matched McDavid point-for-point, and did so while playing most of the playoffs at less than 100 percent. He does get put a little bit lower because his best production came while on a line with McDavid. His play, and the Oilers’ play, dropped off when he was running his own line. Most likely due to a combination of health and linemates. Still an amazing run as he and McDavid carried the Oilers on their best playoff run in more than 15 years.

    7. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning. He is one of the best goalies (and especially big game) goalies in league history, and it was another dominant run for him. The Lightning were not as good overall as they were the past two years, and needed to rely on Vasilevskiy a bit more. Especially early in the playoffs. He was more than up to the challenge, going 4-1 when the Lightning were facing elimination and finishing the playoffs with a .922 save percentage in 23 games.

    [Related: Even with free agency questions Avalanche are built to last]

    8. Mika Zibanejad, New York Rangers. He had a slow start in the First Round, but then caught fire in Game 5 to help the Rangers overcome a 3-1 series deficit to start their run. He was money on the power play and had a 12-game stretch in the middle of the playoffs where he scored 10 goals and 20 points. That included a seven goals in eight-game stretch through the second and third rounds.

    9. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning were extremely top heavy this postseason and relied almost exclusively on their top line of Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and Ondrej Palat to carry the offense. Kucherov was, again, their top offensive force and not only led the team in scoring (while being one of the top scorers in the league) scored and set up some of their biggest goalies.

    10. Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh Penguins. Like Oettinger in Dallas, we only saw him in one round, but what a round it was. Guentzel not only scored eight goals in the seven games, he finished the postseason 14th in goals, 25th in expected goals, and 35th in shots on goal despite playing in only one round. He is the only player to rank in the top-40 of each category to not play at least two full rounds. He was dominant.

    11. Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota Wild. The Wild did not get the result they wanted in the playoffs, but you can not blame Kaprizov for that. He scored seven goals in the Wild’s six games and was the most dominant player on the ice in that series. A true superstar. Minnesota’s first since Marian Gaborik.

    David Berding/Getty Images

    12. Carter Verhaeghe, Florida Panthers. The Panthers’ postseason may have been a massive disappointment, but he was not. He had 12 points in 10 games and was their best offensive player. He almost single handedly pulled the Panthers through the first round series against Washington.

    13. Valeri Nichushkin, Colorado Avalanche. He not only had a great regular season and postseason, he made himself a ton of money this offseason in free agency.

    14. Adam Fox, New York Rangers. He is going to lead the Rangers’ blue line for years to come and had a great postseason offensively, while also playing top minutes on defense.

    15. Evander Kane, Edmonton Oilers. He finished as one of the top goal scorers in the playoffs. Somebody, whether it be Edmonton or another team, is going to look past all of the red flags and concerns and sign him because of that.