NHL Power Rankings: The Upper-Middle Tier (Teams 18-11)

347

It’s time for part three of my NHL power rankings! In case you missed it, you can find part one (teams 31-25) here, and part two (teams 24-19) here! This section of teams was probably the hardest to rank. All teams have a solid amount of talent throughout their lineups, and all have viable shots to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

  1. Dallas Stars

Projected lineup:

Benn (36-43-79)-Seguin (40-38-78)-Radulov (27-45-72)

Janmark (19-15-34)-Faksa (17-16-33)-Nichushkin (N/A)

Comeau (13-21-34)-Spezza (8-18-26)-Pitlick (14-13-27)

Elie (6-8-14)/Smith (6-5-11)/Dickinson (0-2-2)-Shore (11-21-32)-Ritchie (7-7-14)

 

Lindell (7-20-27)-Klingberg (8-59-67)

Heiskanen (N/A)/Heatherington (0-1-1)-Honka (1-3-4)/Polak (2-10-12)

Methot (1-2-3)-Johns (8-7-15)

 

Bishop (26-17-5 record, 2.49 GAA, .916 SV%, 5 shutouts)

Khudobin (16-6-7 record, 2.56 GAA, .913 SV%, 1 shutout)

 

Overview:

The Stars just barely missed the playoffs last year with 92 points. Personally, I like the upside of this roster. On offense, they have a great first line. Faksa is a solid middle six player, and adding Nichushkin back to the mix should prove to be a solid move. Hanzal and Spezza both need to have huge bounceback seasons if this team wants to sniff the playoffs, although it appears that Hanzal could be out until December with a back injury. The defense could be somewhat good if Heiskanen plays well or even cracks the roster. The rookie has a lot of promise, but we’ll see if he actually proves to be ready for a top four role. Having Methot in the lineup is a minus, but if he’s in a bottom pairing role with not as many minutes it may not hurt the team as much. Either way, John Klingberg and Esa Lindell make up a sneaky good first pairing. Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin is a solid goalie tandem. Bishop, when on his game, is one of the better goaltenders in the NHL. Khudobin has been a solid backup to Tuukka Rask in Boston, and I expect him to be a great fit in this Western Conference style of play. I’d really like to say the Stars will be a playoff team, but it’s hard to say that with how good the Central Division looks.

 

  1. Minnesota Wild

Projected lineup:

Niederreiter (18-14-32)-Koivu (14-31-45)-Zucker (33-31-64)

Parise (15-9-24)-Staal (42-34-76)-Granlund (21-46-67)

Greenway (0-1-1)-Eriksson EK (6-10-16)-Coyle (11-26-37)

Foligno (8-15-23)-Fehr (3-1-4)/Rau (0-1-1)-Brown (2-5-7)/Hendricks (5-8-13)

 

Suter (6-45-51)-Spurgeon (9-28-37)

Brodin (6-15-21)-Dumba (14-36-50)

Seeler (0-4-4)/Olofsson (0-8-8)-Pateryn (1-12-13)

 

Dubnyk (35-16-7 record, 2.52 GAA, .918 SV%, 5 shutouts)

Stalock (10-10-4 record, 2.85 GAA, .910 SV%, 1 shutout)

 

Overview: Minnesota’s biggest strength is definitely the defense. That’s one hell of a top four. The bottom pairing is a little iffy, but the top four should eat up most of the tough minutes so it’s not a huge deal. The offense is a little questionable, but mainly due to injuries and aging. Parise hasn’t played 82 games since 2011-2012, and his play has declined because of it. Eric Staal rejuvenated himself in Minnesota, and he should be a key player in the top six alongside Zucker, Koivu, Niederreiter, and Granlund. I would feel better about the Wild’s bottom six if Luke Kunin didn’t tear his ACL last season. It’s still iffy on when he’ll be back, and I can’t see him being ready for opening night. Dubnyk is a solid goalie, although he’s not as good as he was a couple years ago. Overall, I really like this roster if they can stay on the ice. The Wild finished third in the Central Division last year with 101 points, but it’ll be a dogfight for a top three spot this year with Nashville, Winnipeg, and St. Louis, and maybe even Dallas. This team should definitely be in the playoffs, I’m just not sure where.

 

  1. Florida Panthers

Projected lineup:

Huberdeau (27-42-69)-Barkov (27-51-78)-Dadonov (28-37-65)

Hoffman (22-34-56)-Trocheck (21-44-75)-Bjugstad (19-29-48)

Vatrano (7-3-10)-Borgstrom (1-0-1)/Malgin (11-11-22)-Sceviour (11-13-24)

McCann (9-19-28)-MacKenzie (3-11-14)-Brouwer (6-16-22)/McGinn (13-16-29)

 

Yandle (8-48-56)-Ekblad (16-22-38)

Matheson (10-17-27)-Pysyk (3-13-16)

Weegar (2-6-8)-Petrovic (2-11-13)

 

Luongo (18-11-2 record, 2.47 GAA, .929 SV%, 3 shutouts)

Reimer (22-14-6 record, 2.99 GAA, .913 SV%, 4 shutouts)

 

Overview: Florida finished the season red hot and just barely missed the playoffs by one point. The Panthers added Mike Hoffman this summer, and despite the off-ice issues, he will provide valuable offense to this team. The top six looks to be one of the best all-around groups in the NHL, but the bottom six is unproven. They’ll be relying on young players proving their worth in the league and aging veterans trying to show they still belong in the league. The top pairing of Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad is a good one, but after that there is a drop off. Matheson is solid, but the team could definitely benefit by adding another top four defenseman to maybe push someone like Petrovic out of the lineup. If Luongo can stay healthy, he should be a good goaltender for the Panthers. If not, Reimer is solid as a backup. This team just needs to stay healthy and add a top four defender and maybe another bottom six scorer. I like their roster enough to have them as a playoff team, but the Metro Division is going to be tough, and I’m not sure that the Atlantic will have any wildcard teams.

 

  1. Columbus Blue Jackets

Projected lineup:

Panarin (27-55-82)-Dubois (20-28-48)-Atkinson (24-22-46)

Foligno (15-18-33)-Wennberg (8-27-35)-Bjorkstrand (11-29-40)

Jenner (13-19-32)-Nash (15-26-41)-Anderson (19-11-30)

Milano (14-8-22)-Dubinsky (6-10-16)-Sedlak (4-4-8)/Duclair (2-6-8)/Hannikainen (2-2-4)

 

Werenski (16-21-37)-Jones (16-41-57)

Murray (1-11-12)-Savard (4-12-16)

Carlsson (0-2-2)/Harrington (2-3-5)-Nutivaara (7-16-23)

 

Bobrovsky (37-22-6 record, 2.42 GAA, .921 SV%, 5 shutouts)

Korpisalo (8-8-1 record, 3.32 GAA, .897 SV%, 0 shutouts)

 

Overview: Columbus finished with 97 points last season and ended up as the first wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. They lost in six games to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs. Adding Riley Nash was a great move, and that will help strengthen their center depth. Dubois is still young, and it will be interesting to see how he handles a top line role. Wennberg is also a solid young center who will probably score more this year. All around, this offensive core has a chance to be pretty good. The Jackets could use another top six scorer, but I don’t see that happening yet. The defense is special, especially with Zach Werenski and Seth Jones on the top pair. Ryan Murray and David Savard should be a good second pair as well. Bobrovsky is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, and he should be in line for another strong season. I’m expecting the Metropolitan Division to be competitive in the fight for the 3-6 spots, but I expect Columbus to return to the playoffs yet again, especially if they can add a goal scorer along the way.

 

  1. Colorado Avalanche

Projected lineup:

Landeskog (25-37-62)-MacKinnon (39-58-97)-Rantanen (29-55-84)

Kerfoot (19-24-43)-Jost (12-10-22)-Andrighetto (8-14-22)

Nieto (15-11-26)-Compher (13-10-23)-Wilson (6-12-18)

Kamenev (N/A)/Greer (0-3-3)-Soderberg (16-21-37)-Calvert (9-15-24)

 

Zadorov (7-13-20)-Barrie (14-43-57)

Girard (4-19-23)-Johnson (9-16-25)

Cole (5-15-20)-Nemeth (3-12-15)

 

Varlamov (24-16-6 record, 2.68 GAA, .920 SV%, 2 shutouts)

Grubauer (15-10-3 record, 2.35 GAA, .923 SV%, 3 shutouts)

 

Overview: The Avalanche edged out St. Louis by one point for the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference a season ago, and it was really an amazing season for them. In the 2016-2017 season, Colorado put up an awful 48 points for the season, and they nearly doubled that total last season with 95 points. Colorado ended up losing in six games to Nashville in the opening round of the playoffs. Nathan MacKinnon had an MVP caliber season, Mikko Rantanen really proved that he is a special young player in the league, and all around the team was solid. The offense looks impressive yet again, and Tyson Jost and JT Compher should only continue to improve. The defense is solid all around as well. You could argue that they could use a slight upgrade playing beside Barrie, but Sam Girard will be good enough for that role soon. Adding Phillip Grubauer will be huge as well. Varlamov wasn’t bad, but Grubauer could be special in a starting role. That’s a solid 1-2 punch for a team to have. Expect another successful season in Colorado. They should be a playoff team, but it’s going to be a tough Central Division.

  1. Los Angeles Kings

Projected lineup:

Kovalchuk (N/A)-Kopitar (35-57-92)-Brown (28-33-61)

Iafallo (9-16-25)-Carter (13-9-22)-Toffoli (24-23-47)

Pearson (15-25-40)-Kempe (16-21-37)-Lewis (14-12-26)

Clifford (6-4-10)-Thompson (5-12-17)-Amadio (4-4-8)/Brodzinski (4-2-6)

 

Muzzin (8-34-42)-Doughty (10-50-60)

Phaneuf (6-20-26)-Martinez (9-16-25)

Brickley (0-1-1)/Fantanberg (2-7-9)-Forbort (1-17-18)

 

Jonathan Quick (33-27-3 record, 2.40 GAA, .921 SV%, 5 shutouts)

Peter Budaj (3-3-1 record, 3.76 GAA, .876 SV%, 0 shutouts)/Campbell (2-0-2 record, 2.48 GAA, .924 SV%)

 

Overview: The Kings’ offense looks like a solid group that is going to be very tough to play against. Adding Kovalchuk will help this team a lot, especially if Jeff Carter stays healthy. Kopitar had a MVP-caliber season last year, and Dustin Brown rejuvenated himself a bit, so it’ll be interesting to see how a mix of veterans like Kovalchuk and youngsters like Iafallo mix in with them. Jake Muzzin and Drew Doughty form a very good top defensive pairing, but I’m skeptical of their defensive depth. Phaneuf is mediocre, but I do like Alec Martinez in the right role. Forbort is a nice bottom pairing guy to have, and he’s capable of earning top four minutes as well. Jonathan Quick is still a top ten goalie in the NHL, and if he stays on the ice then the team should be in good shape. If the team has to rely more on Peter Budaj, or if Budaj, gets beaten out by Jack Campbell and they have to rely on Campbell, they could be in for a disappointing season. The Kings are an older team but they have some solid youth mixed in as well. They finished as the first wildcard team with 98 points last season, and I like their chances to return to the playoffs.

  1. Philadelphia Flyers

Projected lineup:

Giroux (34-68-102)-Couturier (31-45-76)-Konecny (24-23-47)

van Riemsdyk (36-18-54)-Patrick (13-17-30)-Voracek (20-65-85)

Lindblom (2-4-6)-Weal (8-13-21)-Simmonds (24-22-46)

Raffl (13-9-22)-Laughton (10-10-20)-Weise (4-4-8)/ Aube Kubel (N/A)

 

Provorov (17-24-41)-MacDonald (6-15-21)

Gostisbehere (13-52-65)-Sanheim (2-8-10)

Hagg (3-6-9)-Gudas (2-14-16)

 

Elliott (23-11-7 record, 2.66 GAA, .909 SV%, 1 shutout)

Neuvirth (9-7-3 record, 2.60 GAA, .915 SV%, 1 shutout)

 

Overview: Overall, I like this Flyers’ roster. The offense is very good, especially after adding James van Riemsdyk in free agency. Last season, Claude Giroux shifted to the left wing, and he put up a MVP caliber season as a result. The top nine on this team is solid, and even has Wayne Simmonds on the third line. The rest of the third line is a little unproven, but I think it’ll be solid enough. Jordan Weal has proven that he is an excellent AHL player, but he’s yet to fully show that in the NHL. The defense is a little iffy. Gostisbehere and Provorov are very good, but they don’t have anybody to play with. The Flyers need to add a right shot defenseman, and maybe even two. The goaltending is still questionable as well. Brian Elliott isn’t the worst option, but he isn’t as good as he used to be. Neuvirth has shown flashes of being able to handle a starters workload, but I’m not completely sold. The Flyers’ offense alone is good enough to contend for a top three spot in the Metro, but they need to add a defenseman if they want to make a true run. Expect a return to the playoffs, and I could see this team finishing as high as first in the Metropolitan Division or as low as the second wildcard team.

 

  1. Anaheim Ducks

Projected lineup:

Rakell (34-35-69)-Getzlaf (11-50-61)-Eaves (1-0-1)

Cogliano (12-23-35)-Kesler (8-6-14)-Silfverberg (17-23-40)

Ritchie (10-17-27)-Henrique (24-26-50)-Perry (17-32-49)

Gibbons (12-14-26)-Rowney (2-3-5)/Roy (6-1-7)/Steel (N/A)-Kase (20-18-38)

 

Lindholm (13-18-31)-Manson (7-30-37)

Fowler (8-24-32)-Montour (9-23-32)

Pettersson (1-3-4)-Sustr (2-5-7)/Holzer (N/A)

 

Gibson (31-18-7 record, 2.43 GAA, 0.926 SV%, 4 shutouts)

Miller (12-6-6 record, 2.35 GAA, 0.928 SV%, 4 shutouts)

 

Overview:

The Ducks look like a solid team. That is a very good top four on defense, although the bottom pairing looks a little bit iffy on paper. Patrick Eaves missed all but two games during the 2017-2018 season due to health issues, but he seems to be ready to go for the 2018-2019 season. Ryan Kesler was also injured for a large part of last season, and I’ve seen questions about whether or not he will be ready for the start of the season. If Kesler isn’t ready for the start of the season, you could see someone like Kalle Kossila or Kevin Roy take his spot. Or maybe even Troy Terry. John Gibson is a good starting goaltender, and Ryan Miller had a good season backing him up last year. Overall, this looks like a good team on paper, but they have to stay healthy. Most of this team’s core is older and have dealt with recent injuries. If they can hold up over the course of the season, the Ducks should definitely be a playoff team. Also look out for young forward Troy Terry. He could push for a roster spot, and will likely see NHL time this year with potential injuries. NOTE: Corey Perry will miss multiple months with injury, so this team is looking a little more iffy.

 

 

 

 

 

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.