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NHL power rankings ’22-’23: pre-playoff edition

NHL power rankings
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

What NHL team is the best right now? With the 2022-23 NHL regular season officially over, it’s time for some updated NHL power rankings to get a sense of where teams stand headed into the playoffs.

The trade deadline was full of interesting, future-altering headlines, with key injuries, signings, and draft picks making an impact on lineups. As the season winds down, we’re seeing some teams prove what they’re made of and live up to the offseason hype, while others struggle and have more questions to answer.

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Without further ado, here are Sportsnaut’s NHL power rankings as we look ahead to the remainder of the 2022-23 campaign.

NHL power rankings: Best NHL teams in 2022-2023

1. Boston Bruins

  • Previous: 1st in the NHL power rankings

The official winners of the President’s Trophy, the Bruins have consistently played solid hockey and proved why they’re the best team in the league, and they remain in the top spot of the NHL power rankings heading into the playoffs.

The Bruins won their final eight games of the season, have only suffered 12 regulation losses on the season so far, and boast a ridiculous +128 goal differential, thanks to David Pastrnak’s MVP-calibre season, with 113 points in 82 games. He’s joined by netminder Linus Ullmark, who holds league-bests with his .938 save percentage and 1.89 goals against average. Through the entirety of the season, the Bs have also showcased a strong penalty kill as well as a successful power play, and they’re going to be a tough team to play against in the postseason as all the parts seem to be firing.

Related: Boston Bruins Roster

2. Edmonton Oilers

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Buffalo Sabres
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 2nd in the NHL power rankings

The Oilers are hot again, going 9-0-1 in their last ten games, winning nine straight contests, and playing some of the best hockey in the league. Three players on the Oilers roster have 100 points or more, including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and superstar duo Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who lead the efforts with 153 and 128 points respectively.

The issue in Edmonton, yet again, seems to be the goaltending. Even in some big wins, both netminders have looked shaky between the pipes, allowing questionable goals and collecting average save percentages, though Stuart Skinner seems to have settled down heading into the playoffs. But, the boost in defense courtesy of trade deadline acquisition Mattias Ekholm made a huge impact on the team, as they virtually never lost with him in the lineup. As they’re slated to rematch against the Los Angeles Kings, they will need to keep this pace sustainable.

Related: Edmonton Oilers Roster

3. Colorado Avalanche

NHL power rankings
  • Previous ranking: 2nd in the NHL power rankings

The Stanley Cup champions started the season as the favorites to win it all again this season, and are finally playing up to their standards, powering up to second in the Central Division (though they could end up in first by the end of the season), helped by going 8-1-1 in their last ten games. Despite injuries that have plagued the team all year long, they have played with resiliency and skill and proved the depth on the roster.

Captain Gabriel Landeskog is now missing the entirety of the playoffs, and a ton of blue liners have been in and out of the roster down the stretch with injuries. But, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen are not to be forgotten, and the superstar duo is carrying the team, each with over 100 points. MacKinnon has the third-highest point-per-game percentage in the league (behind only Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl), and Rantanen has over 50 goals on the season. So, the Avalanche stay high in the NHL power rankings thanks to the sheer talent on the roster.

Related: Colorado Avalanche Roster

4. Dallas Stars

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Dallas Stars
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previous ranking: 12th in the NHL power rankings

The Stars rise to the top five in the NHL power rankings, proving that they should not be counted out of the competition just yet. They won six straight contests and currently cling to the Central Division title, doing all they can and leaving it in the hands of the Colorado Avalanche and the Nashville Predators.

In the postseason, the club will need to rely on their big offensive contracts in Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, taking some of the scoring pressure off of youngster Jason Roberston, Joe Pavelski and Roope Hintz, who carried them through the season. Robertson, though, has been a superstar for his club and ended the campaign with 109 points. Heading into the playoffs, the club’s special teams numbers are respectable, and Jake Oettinger continues to be a talent between the pipes.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Previous: 8th in the NHL power rankings

Though they weren’t really competing for anything, the Maple Leafs head into the playoffs on a strong. note, winning four straight and going 7-1-2 in their final ten games. They’re slated to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning yet again and, while the Bolts struggled to close out the season, the Leafs hope that this is the year they can make it out of the first round. They’re led by Mitchell Marner, who is having a superior season and is a huge reason for the +47 goal differential.

In the meantime, they’ve come to cultivate a solid power play and, despite losing Ryan O’Reilly for a time, have a decenty penalty kill. They rise in the NHL power rankings because of their strong play to close out the season, and because they head into their matchup against a struggling Tampa Bay team.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Maple Leafs, check out #LeafsForever rumors, rankings, and news here.

6. Vegas Golden Knights

NHL: Florida Panthers at Vegas Golden Knights
Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previous ranking: 4th in the NHL power rankings

It came down to the wire, but the Golden Knights are officially the Western Conference champions and the Pacific Division winners. They fall slightly in the NHL power rankings just because they were outplayed by other clubs, and will have an easier time taking on the Winnipeg Jets in the first round.

This will be Jack Eichel’s first playoff run, and he will need to play like he has something to prove. Still, the club has fared well despite a near-constant stream of goaltending woes, but the penalty kill, which sits at 77.6%, could use some work heading into the postseason. The Knights are likely to win their first round matchups, but will need to iron out all of the kinks and get strong goaltending in order not to be upset.

Related: Vegas Golden Knights Roster

7. Carolina Hurricanes

nhl power rankings; carolina hurricanes
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previous: 7th in the NHL power rankings

The Canes stay stagnant in the NHL power rankings because they clinched the top spot in the very last possible second, much like the Vegas Golden Knights, but are more likely to be upset by the surprisingly effective New York Islanders. Without Andre Svechnikov, who plays a gritty, playoff-perfect game, the Hurricanes will rely heavily on Sebastian Aho and Brent Burns to find the back of the net, but will focus on a defensive-style game, which is where they are strong.

Special teams fluctuated throughout the season, with the power play sitting at 19.8% and the penalty kill rising slightly to 84.4% heading into the playoffs. Still, Freddie Andersen has been solid in his crease, stealing big games. They play a similar style to the New York Islanders, but have found more success in it, so they sit in the top ten of the power rankings.

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8. New Jersey Devils

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Los Angeles Kings
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previous ranking: 10th in the NHL power rankings

The Devils sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division, and are slated to take on their rivals, the New York Rangers, in the first round. The club officially secured a playoff spot in March, but rise slightly in the NHL power rankings because of the pressure they put on the Hurricanes for the top spot down to the very end of the season.

Strong gameplay from Jack Hughes, Dougie Hamilton, and Nico Hischier helped this team become one of the successful sleeper picks of the season, with 99, 74, and 80 points, respectively, on the season. The club’s only problem, right now, is the opponent: they’re in for one of the hardest-fought battles of the first round.

Related: New Jersey Devils Roster

9. New York Rangers

NHL: Dallas Stars at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previous ranking: 6th in the NHL power rankings

The Rangers take on the New Jersey Devils in the first round of the postseason, and are embroiled in the most anticipated series in the Eastern Conference. The deadline additions of Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane are making their presence known in New York, bolstering the special teams and running up high-scoring games, but will have to continue to shoulder a ton of the workload in the first round.

The team was pretty set in their third-place position for a while, so they had some time to work on what they needed to and work out some issues in the tail end of the season with little to no consequence. So, the club offers strong competition in the already tight Metropolitan division, with a +58 goal differential, but taking on the red-hot Devils makes them fall in the NHL power rankings.

Related: Explore the latest New York Rangers news on Forever Blueshirts

10. Minnesota Wild

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Minnesota Wild
Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previous ranking: 9th in the NHL power rankings

The Wild looked like they were going to compete for the top spot in the Central Division, but hit a rough patch and settled in third place, still awaiting their official opponent. But, they are fortunate in the fact that they have one of the best netminders in the league in Filip Gustavsson, who works in tandem with veteran Marc-Andre Fleury to offer solid gameplay between the pipes.

Respectable special teams numbers, alongside opposition injuries and questionable play outside of the top three in the Central Division, helped this team stay competitive, and a small spurt of injuries did not affect them, play-wise. As they stay competitive and look to the postseason matchup, the club rounds out the top ten in the NHL power rankings.

11. Los Angeles Kings

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Los Angeles Kings
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previous ranking: 5th in the NHL power rankings

The Kings fall in the NHL power rankings, slated to take on the red-hot Oilers in a rematch of last year’s first round contest. They ended the season relatively well, but Kevin Fiala is the only point-per-game player on the roster and, while the power play is solid, the penalty kill could use some work, sitting at 75.8%.

The Kings have their work cut out for them in the postseason, and don’t necessarily have the star-studded roster the Oilers do, which is a big reason for their fall. They’re plagued by some questions regarding consistency and an ability to compete, especially in do-or-die mode. They ended up in third place in a weak division, but they found a scrappy way to win games and stay competitive throughout the season, so they could continue that effort in the playoffs.

Related: Los Angeles Kings Roster

12. Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Previous ranking: 11th in the NHL power rankings

The Bolts struggled towards the end of the season, probably due, in some part, to the fact that they didn’t have much to play for. Knowing they were stable in third place in the Atlantic division, they went 4-6-0 in their last ten games. Despite Nikita Kucherov‘s success this season (113 points in 82 games), Tampa Bay may be in trouble.

But, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, Kucherov and Victor Hedman aren’t players to take lightly, and everyone but Hedman has at least a point-per-game pace. This means they could rebound and heat up at any moment but, for now, the club’s struggles see them stay out of the top ten in the NHL power rankings for the fourth straight week.

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13. New York Islanders

NHL power rankings
Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 14th in the NHL power rankings

The Isles sealed their postseason fate with a huge victory over the Montreal Canadiens, and then a Panthers loss meant they were saved from playing the Boston Bruins, instead headed into a much more favourable matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes. And, they got the news they had been waiting for, with superstar Mathew Barzal, who was out of the lineup from February with an injury.

The power play suffered without Barzal, and he’ll need to make an immediate impact if the team has any serious postseason ambition. They wavered while he was out, but showed flashes of a team capable of causing an upset if the stars align in their favour. They sit highest among wild card teams in the NHL power rankings thanks to their favourable matchup.

Related: New York Islanders Roster

14. Seattle Kraken

NHL: Seattle Kraken at Colorado Avalanche
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previous ranking: 16th in the NHL power rankings

The Kraken ended the season in a first wild card spot, but still do not have an official opponent. They await either the Dallas Stars or the Colorado Avalanche, both of whom are real postseason contenders. With either opposition, they are in for a tough fight.

Still, a ton of their players, from Philipp Grubauer to Jordan Eberle, have playoff experience, and the Kraken powered up from their inaugural season to their second one, and really proved that anything is possible with a team that bounces back this quickly. No one on the roster is a bonafide superstar, but they’re familiar with causing upsets and could really wear a team down.

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15. Florida Panthers

  • Previous ranking: 13th in the NHL power rankings

Taking on the President’s Trophy-winning Bruins cannot be an easy thing to mentally prepare for, but the Cats have seen similar situations in the playoffs before. They have tons of grit in the form of Matthew Tkatchuk, Radko Gudas and Aaron Ekblad, and could pull of one of the biggest upsets of the year.

The 74.6% penalty kill will need to be corrected if they’re going to pull it off, but it may not be so easy to rule outSasha Barkov and Brandon Montour, who is having a career year and among the league leaders in defensemen. Still, they fall in the power rankings because they are the eighth seed in the east taking on an absolutely dominant first seed, and the odds are certainly stacked against them.

16. Winnipeg Jets (previous ranking: 18)

The Jets certainly heated up at the end of the season, but they did it in order to narrowly squeeze into a playoff position–helped by collapses from the Calgary Flames and the Nashville Predators. They, too, have their work cut out for them and, without a single point-per-game player on the roster, may have a tough time against the Golden Knights.

Kyle Connor and Josh Morrissey carried this team offensively for a majority of the season, and Connor Hellebuyck’s blue paint heroics kept them alive when they needed it the most. They showed a drastic drop off from the start of the season to the middle, and then clawed back up to the end out of necessity, but it doesn’t seem like they’re necessarily built for a playoff run. Hellebuyck, talented as he undeniably is, cannot save them on his own.

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