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NHL Power Rankings: Each Team’s Unofficial MVP of the Year

In the spirit of SI’s Sportsperson of the Year, a look at who made the biggest impact for each team in 2021.

Sports Illustrated’s 2021 Sportsperson of the Year was announced Tuesday night. While the last hockey player to earn the honor came all the way back in 1987 (Bob Bourne, who was selected as one of eight “Athletes Who Care”), that doesn’t mean we can’t get in on the fun.

With this week’s power rankings, check out the unofficial Sportsperson of the Year for every team:

Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau celebrates

32. Arizona Coyotes

Last week: 31
Record: 5-18-2

Jakob Chychrun. The 23-year-old led all defensemen in the league with 18 goals last season, and he tied for 10th among defenseman with 41 points. He hasn’t reeled in as many points this season, but he represents a brighter future for the struggling Coyotes.

31. Montreal Canadiens

Last week: 30
Record: 6-18-3

Carey Price. The veteran goalie led the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Finals last season. Before the start of this season, he showed his courage off the ice when he voluntarily entered the NHL's player assistance program to receive treatment for substance abuse. “Asking for help when you need it is what we encourage our kids to do, and it was what I needed to do,” Price wrote on his Instagram in November.

30. Ottawa Senators

Last week: 32
Record: 7-16-1

Brady Tkachuk. Last season marked the second straight in which Tkachuk led the Senators in points, but he entered this season without a contract. Finally, just after the start of the regular season, he signed a seven-year extension, making him a cornerstone of the franchise.

29. Buffalo Sabres

Last week: 28
Record: 8-14-3

Jack Eichel. Eichel may not be on the Sabres anymore after getting traded to the Golden Knights on Nov. 4, but the growing enmity between the star and the team consumed much of the offseason.

28. Philadelphia Flyers

Last week: 26
Record: 8-11-4

Oskar Lindblom. Lindblom was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of bone cancer, in late 2019, and missed almost the entire season as he underwent treatment. He returned for the very end of the Flyers’ ’20 playoff run, then played the entire next season and earned the ’21 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

27. New York Islanders

Last week: 27
Record: 6-10-5

Brock Nelson. Despite missing the last three weeks with a lower-body injury, he still leads the Islanders in goals with nine on the season. He led the team in goals last season as well and helped lead New York to its second straight appearance in the Stanley Cup semifinals.

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26. Vancouver Canucks

Last week: 29
Record: 9-15-2

Bruce Boudreau. The Canucks desperately needed a change, so they replaced coach Travis Green with Boudreau earlier this week, and already he has made an impact. In his first game at the helm, Vancouver notched a 4–0 home win against the Kings.

25. Chicago Blackhawks

Last week: 25
Record: 9-14-2

Kyle Beach. The former Chicago player filed a lawsuit against the Blackhawks for the team’s mishandling of his sexual assault allegations against an assistant coach in 2010. In doing so, he not only forced the team and the league to confront their failings, but he also extended a hand to other survivors. “I want everyone to know that you’re not alone,” Beach told TSN in his first public interview about the lawsuit.

24. New Jersey Devils

Last week: 19
Record: 9-9-5

Dougie Hamilton. The Devils made a splash in free agency when they signed Hamilton to a seven-year contract. The defenseman ranks third on the team in points and first among skaters in average time on ice.

23. Seattle Kraken

Last week: 22
Record: 9-14-2

Fans. The newest franchise sold out its season-ticket plans last January, well before players stepped onto the ice or even were signed to the team, and fans have provided an electric atmosphere at Climate Pledge Arena.

22. Columbus Blue Jackets

Last week: 20
Record: 13-11-0

Elvis Merzlikins. The goalie has dedicated his season to his close friend Matiss Kivlenieks, a fellow Blue Jackets netminder who died as a result of a fireworks accident last July. Merzlikins signed a five-year contract extension with Columbus in September and has 10 wins so far this season.

21. Los Angeles Kings

Last week: 23
Record: 10-10-4

Anze Kopitar. Kopitar leads the team in assists (16) and points (24) and is third on the team in goals (eight) so far this season. He held the same rankings in those statistical categories last season—but not the season before that, when he paced the team in all three categories.

20. San Jose Sharks

Last week: 21
Record: 14-11-1

Tomas Hertl. With a hat trick to help lead the Sharks to a 5–3 win Tuesday against the Flames, Hertl moved into the team lead in goals with 12 so far this season. Last season, he finished second on the team in goals, assists and points. However, he is in the final year of his contract, and his impending free agency looms over San Jose.

19. Detroit Red Wings

Last week: 24
Record: 13-9-3

Trio of Calder competitors. Right now, the Red Wings realistically can claim three possible finalists for the top rookie award in top-line forward Lucas Raymond, defenseman Moritz Seider and goalie Alex Nedeljkovic. The trio also has Detroit looking forward to a brighter future.

18. Nashville Predators

Last week: 17
Record: 13-10-1

Matt Duchene. In his two previous seasons with Nashville, Duchene has disappointed relative to his premium contract; last season, he accumulated just 13 points through 34 games. This season, he has 25 points in 25 games so far, and his revival has helped breathe life into the Predators.

17. Anaheim Ducks

Last week: 18
Record: 14-8-5

Trevor Zegras. The rookie forward keeps coming up with new ways to wow us, including with his lacrosse-style pass in the Ducks’ 2–0 win Tuesday against the Sabres. Zegras flipped the puck up and over the net to teammate Sonny Milano, who knocked it out of the air and into the goal.

16. Winnipeg Jets

Last week: 16
Record: 12-9-4

Blake Wheeler. The team captain played his 1,000th NHL game this week. Of his first 1,000 games, 779 came with the Winnipeg franchise, though only 756 officially came with Winnipeg—he also played 23 games for the Atlanta Thrashers before the franchise moved in 2011.

15. St. Louis Blues

Last week: 12
Record: 13-8-4

Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko requested a trade in the offseason, but the 29-year-old rightwinger remained with the team and is contributing this season. Still, his future in St. Louis remains uncertain.

14. Pittsburgh Penguins

Last week: 15
Record: 12-8-5

Mario Lemieux. Lemieux and a group of investors purchased the Penguins in 1999 in a move that saved the team from bankruptcy, and since then Pittsburgh has become one of the league’s premier franchises. Earlier this year, Lemieux and his investment partner Ron Burkle agreed to sell the team to Fenway Sports Group, but both will remain as minority owners.

13. Boston Bruins

Last week: 9
Record: 12-8-1

Tuukka Rask. The veteran goalie led the Bruins to the second round of the playoffs, but after the season he became a free agent and underwent hip surgery. While he still remains a free agent, he returned to practice with the team this week as an emergency backup goaltender.

12. Dallas Stars

Last week: 14
Record: 13-7-2

Joe Pavelski. The 37-year-old center leads the Stars in scoring with 19 points. He led them in scoring last season as well with 51 points.

11. Vegas Golden Knights

Last week: 13
Record: 14-10-0

Marc-Andre Fleury. The Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup semifinals for the third time in four seasons with Fleury as their backstop, and he also won the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the league’s top goalie. Then Vegas traded him away to the Blackhawks in the offseason, which leaves this question hanging over the team: Was it the right choice?

10. Carolina Hurricanes

Last week: 5
Record: 17-6-1

Sebastian Aho. The 24-year-old forward paces the Hurricanes with 11 goals, 16 assists and 27 points this season. He also led the team in all categories last season.

9. Edmonton Oilers

Last week: 2
Record: 16-8-0

Connor McDavid. After recording a league-high 105 points in just 56 games last season, McDavid received all 100 first-place votes for the Hart Trophy, awarded to the league’s most valuable player. The next closest player in scoring, his teammate Leon Draisaitl, finished with 84 points.

8. Calgary Flames

Last week: 8
Record: 15-6-5

Jacob Markstrom. The 31-year-old goalie led the league with 19 losses last season and allowed the second-most goals (111). This season, he has engineered a remarkable turnaround, leading the league in goals against average (1.83) and holding the second-best save percentage (.939).

7. Colorado Avalanche

Last week: 6
Record: 13-7-2

Cale Makar. Makar leads all defensemen with 11 goals this season, putting the 23-year-old on pace for more than 40 on the season. No defenseman has scored 30 or more goals since Mike Green scored 31 for the Capitals in 2008–09.

6. New York Rangers

Last week: 11
Record: 17-4-3

Gerard Gallant. The Rangers are on a seven-game winning streak and sit just one point behind the first-place Capitals in the Metropolitan Division. Gallant, who was hired as the team’s new coach in the offseason, has helped New York find its stride.

5. Tampa Bay Lightning

Last week: 7
Record: 16-5-4

Nikita Kucherov. The rightwinger did not play a single regular-season game for the Lightning last year while recovering from hip surgery, but he led the team with 32 points en route to Tampa Bay’s second straight Stanley Cup. He has been out since October with another lower-body injury, but he could still prove dangerous for opponents down the stretch.

4. Washington Capitals

Last week: 4
Record: 16-4-6

Evgeny Kuznetsov. Sure, Alex Ovechkin would be the obvious choice, but Kuznetsov’s renaissance has been key to pushing the Capitals to the top of the Metropolitan Division. After ending last season with 29 points in 41 games, he has 28 points in just 26 games so far this season.

3. Minnesota Wild

Last week: 10
Record: 18-6-1

Kirill Kaprizov. The 24-year-old leftwinger is the top scorer on the team, with 30 points in 25 games. He also finished last season atop the team chart with 51 points on his way to a Calder Trophy win.

2. Toronto Maple Leafs

Last week: 1
Record: 18-7-2

Kyle Dubas. Will this be the season Dubas’s vision as the Leafs general manager comes to fruition? He has served in the position since 2018, but the team has yet to move past the first round of the playoffs in his three years at the helm.

1. Florida Panthers

Last week: 3
Record: 17-4-4

Jonathan Huberdeau. Huberdeau has spent his entire 10-year career with the Panthers and holds the franchise record for points (528 points and counting). This season, he and his team are in the thick of the chase for the Presidents’ Trophy.

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