NHL Power Rankings: What Should Each Team Be Thankful for?

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There hasn’t been any superlative slapped on Connor McDavid that strikes as hyperbole. The best player to come into the league since Sidney Crosby. Once in a generation talent. Best player in the world. Future Hall of Famer. Even then, those platitudes don’t capture just how good the 22-year-old center has been.

McDavid is just the third player in the last two decades to record 47 points in his team’s first 26 games; the other two are his linemate, Leon Draisaitl, and Mario Lemieux. He’s the only player since 2016 to notch three straight 100-point seasons. When McDavid is on the ice, the Oilers are outscoring opponents by a 2:1 margin. When he’s off the ice, the Oilers have been outscored 43–25. McDavid has more multi-point games than any other player since his rookie season. McDavid’s speed has turned even the league’s best skaters into human pylons.

Thanks are in order for McDavid, who hasn’t been featured in the Winter Classic or Stadium Series. And continuing in the Thanksgiving spirit, we list what each team should be thankful for in this week’s power rankings:

31. Detroit Red Wings | Record: 7-16-3 | Previous Ranking: 31

Ottawa and Columbus, for not tanking hard enough. The Red Wings have a head start on getting the 2020 first-overall pick as basement teams slightly outperform expectations.

30. Los Angeles Kings | Record: 9-13-2 | Previous Ranking: 29

The future. The No. 5 pick of 2019 Alex Turcotte has 15 points in 12 games with University of Wisconsin and Gabriel Villardi is back skating with the Ontario Reign. The kids are coming, but not soon enough to salvage this season.

29. Blue Jackets | Record: 10-9-4 | Previous Ranking: 28

Confidence. Since the coaching staff gathered players and showed a video montage of Blue Jackets goals, Columbus has scored 24 goals in its last eight games and converted nine of its 29 power-play opportunities in that stretch. It’s one thing to be bad, but it’s even worse to be boring.

28. New Jersey Devils | Record: 8-10-4 | Previous Ranking: 24

Nico Hishcier and Jack Hughes. Both will solidify the Devils down the middle for the foreseeable future. The hard part is building a complete team around them.

27. New York Rangers | Record: 11-9-2 | Previous Ranking: 27

Artemi Panarin, who’s tearing it up in New York and is playing like the Rangers’ most gifted player since Jaromir Jagr (and he was past his prime). Maybe, this time, a high-priced free agent is finally living up to his price tag.

26. Minnesota Wild | Record 9-11-4 | Previous Ranking 26

The absence of ex-GM Paul Fenton. This year, he can’t make the Wild any worse than they already are.

25. Anaheim Ducks | Record: 11-11-3 | Previous Ranking: 25

John Gibson who, despite a recent rough stretch, helps the Ducks have more wins than they probably should have.

24. Ottawa Senators | Record: 11-12-1 | Previous Ranking: 30

Two second-round picks, and one-third round pick from the Blue Jackets in the next two drafts—the NHL’s equivalent of stocking stuffers!

23. Chicago Blackhawks | Record: 9-9-5 | Previous Ranking: 22

Youth. The Blackhawks are ahead of the rebuild, while the decade’s other two-time champion out West (Los Angeles) hasn’t moved on from its glory years. Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome, Kirby Dach and Adam Boqvist offer some hope that Chicago might become a contender again before Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane fade away.

22. Buffalo Sabres | Record: 11-10-3 | Previous Ranking: 23

Jack Eichel. He won’t let the Sabres sink without a fight, literally, and his three-point night against the Panthers helped end a three-game losing skid.

21. Calgary Flames | Record: 11-12-4 | Previous Ranking: 21

They’re not the worst team in Canada … right?

20. Philadelphia Flyers | Record: 12-7-5 | Previous Ranking: 19

Everyone under the age of 24 on this team. Ivan Provorov’s ascendance to the top pairing renders Shayne Gostisbehere’s struggles less frustrating. Oskar Lindblom, Travis Konecny and Morgan Frost have stepped up where Jakub Voracek and James van Riemsdyk has fallen away. And Carter Hart has been much better in November.

19. Vegas Golden Knights | Record: 11-11-4 | Previous Ranking: 17

Marc-Andre Fleury. He’s the only starting goaltender this franchise has ever known, and Vegas is going to grind him for everything he’s worth. Flower is just 50 wins away from becoming the third netminder in NHL history with 500 wins.

18. Winnipeg Jets | Record: 14-9-1 | Previous Ranking: 16

Connor Hellebuyck, who has played like his 2018 All-Star self. Through Nov. 24, he has saved more goals above expectation than any other goalie.

17. San Jose Sharks | Record: 13-11-1 | Previous Ranking: 18

Captain Clutch. With back-to-back game-winners against the Knights and Islanders, Logan Couture has tallied 15 points in his last 10 games while the Sharks have gone 9-1-0 in that stretch. He’s been the franchise’s most clutch player of the decade.

16. Florida Panthers | Record: 12-7-5 | Previous Ranking: 13

Goals, goals, goals. The Panthers wiped out two separate four-goal deficits within nine days. Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov have been as good as advertised. Brett Connoly and Mike Hoffman have brought the balance for the league’s second-highest scoring team.

15. Nashville Predators | Record: 11-9-3 | Previous Ranking: 12

Backup Juuse Saros has started to improve while Pekka Rinne plummets in November. Nashville is good enough with the pieces it has—despite a six-game losing streak snapped this weekend—and solid goaltending will help keep the Predators in contention.

14. Montreal Canadiens | Record: 11-7-5 | Previous Ranking: 9

Artturi Lehkonen’s reemergence. With Jonathan Drouin sidelined by a wrist injury, Lehkonen has stepped up with three goals in his last three games.

13. Pittsburgh Penguins | Record: 13-7-4 | Previous Ranking: 10

Evgeni Malkin. When Sidney Crosby and his career 1,233 points exits the lineup, it’s a luxury to turn to another superstar with more than 1,000 career points.

12. Vancouver Canucks | Record: 12-9-4 | Previous Ranking: 15

The Sedin Era’s smooth transition to Elias Pettersson. Ask the Red Wings how poorly moving on from Swedish Hall of Famers can go.

11. Arizona Coyotes | Record: 14-8-3 | Previous Ranking: 8

Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta, who have the best combined save percentage of any tandem in the NHL.

10. Toronto Maple Leafs | Record: 11-10-4 | Previous Ranking: 20

Sheldon Keefe. Take it from two of Toronto’s top players after the team’s first win under its new coach:

“We had a lot of fun out there tonight and I think it showed.” — Tyson Barrie

“He wants us to utilize our skill sets, he wants us to play free and not that it’s a free-for-all for everybody but he wants us to compete and utilize the god-given talents we have.” — Auston Matthews

9. Tampa Bay Lightning | Record: 12-7-2 | Previous Ranking: 11

Home ice. After playing much of the first quarter of the season on the road, 12 of Tampa Bay’s next 16 games are at Amalie Arena.

8. St. Louis Blues | Record: 14-5-6 | Previous Ranking: 6

Jordan Binnington. He's every bit the top-tier goaltender he was in the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs.

7. Colorado Avalanche | Record: 13-8-2 | Previous Ranking: 5

Cale Makar who, after the Avs traded Tyson Barrie to Toronto, has seamlessly slided into the team’s top pairing.

6. Dallas Stars | Record: 15-8-2 | Previous Ranking: 14

Miro Heiskanen. Forget aptly filling in for All-Star defenseman John Klingberg, Heiskanen has been one of the NHL’s best blueliners through the first two months of the season. He’s still only 20 years old.

5. Carolina Hurricanes | Record: 15-8-1 | Previous Ranking: 7

Andrei Svechnikov and Dougie Hamilton’s friendship off the ice and their contributions on the ice. Svechnikov and Hamilton rank first and third on the Hurricanes with 27 and 25 points.

4. Edmonton Oilers | Record: 16-7-3 | Previous Ranking: 4

The most dominant duo in the NHL. Connor McDavid is a human cheat code. Inputting Leon Draisaitl breaks the system.

3. Washington Capitals | Record: 16-4-5 | Previous Ranking: 1

Jakub Vrana. John Carlson has received most of the spotlight—deservedly so—but Vrana is on a career-high pace for both shots per game and shooting percentage. With Andre Burakovsky and Brett Connolly’s offseason departures, Vrana has thrived on the second line.

2. Boston Bruins | Record: 15-3-5 | Previous Ranking: 2

David Pastrnak, who is on pace for 71 goals. Why not?

1. New York Islanders | Record: 16-4-2 | Previous Ranking: 3

Barry Trotz. Mathew Barzal, Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech deserve credit, but Trotz came in post–John Tavares and turned the Islanders into a staunch, defensive team. Setting the franchise’s longest point streak doesn’t hurt, either.