Hockey school: NHL team-by-team grades for the first semester of 2017-18

With students heading home for the holidays, what better time to hand out NHL team-by-team grades, from A+ to D-.
Author:
Publish date:

School’s out for the holidays, or at least it will be soon. NHL teams will play through the holiday break – with the exception of a three-day hiatus from Dec. 24th to the 26th – but that doesn’t mean we can’t hand out grades for their efforts so far.

Grades are based on each team’s performance as well as how they’ve fared versus to pre-season expectations.

A+

Tampa Bay Lightning:
The Bolts have been at the head of the NHL class since opening day. They could have a player up for every major individual award, not to mention the inside track on the Presidents’ Trophy and Stanley Cup.

Vegas Golden Knights: No team in the league has overachieved more than the Knights. A first-year expansion team that was reduced to playing its fourth-string goalie for most of the first two months, and they’re within sight of top spot in the West. Amazing.

A

Columbus Blue Jackets:
They’ve played three playoff rounds in the franchise’s 17-year history. They could go four rounds this spring.

Los Angeles Kings: The Kings aren’t dead. Long live Kopitar, Doughty and Quick.

New Jersey Devils: Instead of draining the swamp, the Devils froze it and skate around like demons on it. They’re the biggest surprise of any team not named Vegas.

Nashville Predators: Somebody wants to get back to the Cup final as soon as possible.

St. Louis Blues: Slowed by injuries recently, but they’ve got the pieces for a powerhouse.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Going through some growing pains at the moment, but when they’re clicking they can take down any team in the league and look very impressive doing it.

A-

San Jose Sharks:
Experienced, defensive, dangerous.

Washington Capitals: They’re not the heavyweight hopefuls they’ve been the past several seasons. But Ovechkin’s still scoring, Holtby’s still stopping, and the Caps are still winning.

Winnipeg Jets: We have liftoff.

B

New York Islanders:
Why win 1-0 when you can win 6-5?

New York Rangers: A perennial playoff team in the NHL’s post-lockout era, they’ve recovered from a staggering start.

B-

Boston Bruins:
A one-line team, but few units are better than Pastrnak-Bergeron-Marchand.

Dallas Stars: They have higher hopes than middle-of-the-pack.

Minnesota Wild: Team Dad Bod? Sure. But don’t underestimate their old-man strength.

Vancouver Canucks: They’re competitive and there’s hope for the future, which is about the best-case scenario.

C+

Colorado Avalanche:
Way better than last year, not that the bar was set very high.

C

Calgary Flames:
Plenty of great pieces, but they haven’t figured out how to put it all together yet.

Chicago Blackhawks: Even with Crawford playing like a Vezina Trophy candidate, the hollowed-out Hawks are more bubble team than bona fide contender.

Detroit Red Wings: They got off to a great start, but the harsh reality of a less-than lineup might be setting in.

C-

Anaheim Ducks:
If it walks like a Duck, quacks like a Duck and gets injured like a Duck, it’s a Duck.

Carolina Hurricanes: The reports of their arise were greatly exaggerated.

Montreal Canadiens: Help the Habs, Carey Price, you’re their only hope.

Philadelphia Flyers: Too top-heavy and too streaky.

Pittsburgh Penguins: The two-time defending champs need to secure a playoff position before they start worrying about a three-peat.

D

Edmonton Oilers:
The most disappointing team in the league this season.

Florida Panthers: See what happens when you ditch Jagr?

D-

Arizona Coyotes:
Not to pile on, but they’re the worst team in the league.

Buffalo Sabres: Wide right.

Ottawa Senators: You know it’s bad when Karlsson stops scoring.

Tags
terms:

TOP HEADLINES

Mat Barzal
Play

Fantasy Hockey Preview: New York Islanders

For the second straight season, the Islanders were on the cusp of making the finals only to be defeated by the eventual Cup champions. They're projected to be contenders again, and your fantasy team should take note.

Brian Boyle
Play

Veteran Forward Brian Boyle Hoping to Catch on with Penguins

Boyle believed his body was sharp heading into the abbreviated 2020-21 season. Thirty-one NHL teams did not seem to agree. And so for the first time since 2008, Boyle found himself watching the league move on without him. He wants to change that for 2021-22.

Finale_de_la_coupe_de_France_de_Hockey_sur_glace_2013_-_001_-_Luc_Tardif (1)
Play

Luc Tardif Elected IIHF President

French official Luc Tardif was elected president of the International Ice Hockey Federation on Saturday ahead of the return of NHL players to the Olympics in February.