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NHL 2022-23 Power Rankings: January Edition

Fueled by Tage Thompson’s incredible development, the Sabres are charging back into the playoff picture by winning seven of their last 10. (Paul Sancya/Associated Press)

NHL 2022-23 Power Rankings: January Edition

We’re just about halfway through the NHL season, which can mean it’s getting late early for some teams. Others are just counting down the days until the trade deadline, although some for very different reasons. Let’s not waste any time getting into this month’s power rankings by myself, Chris Bagdonas, and Trey Daubert.

32. Chicago Blackhawks (8-25-4, December: 31)

Andrew: 32, Chris: 32, Trey: 32

Andrew: This is starting to feel like Chicago has a leg up in the race for (an 18.5% chance at) Connor Bedard. They’ve lost five straight, nine of ten, and are probably going to sell harder than any other team at the deadline. Their goaltending also probably has the lowest ceiling of any team, too.

31. Anaheim Ducks (11-24-4, December: 32)

Andrew: 31, Chris: 31, Trey: 31

Andrew: If I were to tell you a goaltender has saved -5.3, -14.3, -7.4, and -18 goals above average in the last four seasons (from most to least recent), how good would you say they are? Probably worse than you’d think John Gibson is if I asked you without that context. No, the Ducks’ defense hasn’t been great, but Gibson isn’t helping matters like a Carter Hart or Karel Vejmelka. That’s good for their tanking efforts, but not so good when considering he’s under contract through 2027 at $6.4 million (plus a 10-team no-trade list).

30. Columbus Blue Jackets (11-24-2, December: 30)

Andrew: 30, Chris: 29, Trey: 30

Andrew: Two players to keep an eye for Columbus as this miserable season progresses: Kent Johnson and Cole Sillinger. The Blue Jackets obviously have some pretty good wingers, their defense should be better next season when Zach Werenski returns and David Jiricek arrives, and they’ve got hope in the net, too. But there’s not much down the middle other than those two former first-rounders. They’ve got 22 points in 68 games combined; that production needs to start increasing.

T-28. San Jose Sharks (12-20-7, December: 27)

Andrew: 27, Chris: 30, Trey: 28

Andrew: This is probably an off-season move given the cap complications, but is there any chance the Sharks would consider trading Tomáš Hertl? They probably should have last offseason, but given his age (29) and production (36 points in 37 games for a below-average offense), even a big contract like his could be moved, potentially for a lot. It just doesn’t feel like San Jose will be back in contention before Hertl starts to decline.

T-28. Arizona Coyotes (13-19-5, December: 28)

Andrew: 28, Chris: 28, Trey: 29

Andrew: There just isn’t a lot to talk about here. Vejmelka and a few skaters are having decent years, and Clayton Keller is having a great one. But they aren’t icing any top prospects or any major trade candidates other than Shayne Gostisbehere. Matias Macelli is third in rookie scoring, although nearly half of his points are secondary assists.

27. Montréal Canadiens (15-21-3, December: 24)

Andrew: 29, Chris: 27, Trey: 27

Andrew: Don’t look now, but the Canadiens are slowly but surely trying to get back in the race for Bedard. Only Anaheim gives up more expected goals against per 60 at 5-on-5 than Montréal, and despite a solid effort from Jake Allen, it’s led to a two-win December in which the Canadiens allowed 16 goals in their final two games of 2022.

26. Philadelphia Flyers (15-17-7, December: 28)

Andrew: 25, Chris: 26, Trey: 26

Andrew: Unfortunately, the Flyers’ four-game win streak and John Tortorella’s solid efforts probably have the team officially out of the race for dead last. That doesn’t mean the Flyers are anything special; in fact, it means exactly that they aren’t anything special, for better and for worse. There are worse outcomes for the Flyers than mediocre odds (relative to the field) to get Bedard and the growth of young players like Morgan Frost and Cam York, though.

25. Vancouver Canucks (17-18-3, December: 25)

Andrew: 26, Chris: 23, Trey: 24

Andrew: Wonder how much it would take the Canucks to get rid of Tyler Myers this offseason, and whether or not they’d bite the bullet. Vancouver basically took rebuild off the table with the J.T. Miller extension, meaning they can’t afford to be wasting $6 million on someone like Myers who isn’t top-four caliber. I don’t think even that could change things on the Bo Horvat front, unfortunately.

T-23. Ottawa Senators (18-17-3, December: 26)

Andrew: 20, Chris: 24, Trey: 25

Andrew: Don’t look now, but the Senators are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and finally starting to look like the team we thought they’d be at the start of the year. Is that enough, though? Remember, Alex DeBrincat is a free agent next year, and Ottawa still has a lot of work to do on the backend to be anything more than a Wild Card team. On the bright side: Claude Giroux‘s still got it.

T-23. Nashville Predators (17-14-6, December: T-16)

Andrew: 21, Chris: 25, Trey: 23

Andrew: The big story around Nashville last year was the surprise resurgence of Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen. Duchene’s been able to keep his bounce back up, but Johansen has regressed heavily; he’s 211th out of 326 skaters in 5v5 points per 60 (min. 300 5v5 minutes played). It’s not a coincidence the Predators have regressed alongside him.

22. St. Louis Blues (19-17-3, December: 21)

Andrew: 24, Chris: 22, Trey: 20

Andrew: Speaking of once-great centers struggling to produce, guess who’s just behind Johansen on that list at 220? None other than Ryan O’Reilly. The good news for the Blues is unlike Johansen, O’Reilly isn’t signed to a potentially cap-crushing contract. The bad news is that, unlike Johansen, O’Reilly is hurt — as are Vladimir Tarasenko and Torey Krug. It was already an uphill battle for St. Louis to get back into the playoff picture, and now GM Doug Armstrong may have some very tough choices to make at the deadline.

21. Detroit Red Wings (16-13-7, December: 20)

Andrew: 22, Chris: 19, Trey: 21

Andrew: It’s always felt likely to me that Dylan Larkin would re-sign with the Red Wings, and this year’s decent first half means Detroit probably isn’t far from returning to the playoffs for the first time since Larkin’s rookie year. Still, he is a UFA at season’s end, which is gradually becoming closer. And it’s not like his next deal is going to be a cheap one. The real power move would be to move him at the deadline for a boatload and then re-sign him in free agency, but I’m not sure if even Steve Yzerman can pull that one off.

20. Florida Panthers (17-18-4, December: T-11)

Andrew: 23, Chris: 20, Trey: 18

Chris: The Panthers need to figure things out quickly. They’re currently eight points out of the last wild card spot in the East. Hockey Guy Trey has clearly pointed to the shortcomings that losing Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar created. They could seriously pay the piper because Montréal now has their first-round pick in 2023.

19. New York Islanders (22-16-2, December: 15)

Andrew: 16, Chris: 20, Trey: 18

Chris: No power rankings would be complete without me touching on the Islanders. And yet again they’re wildly inconsistent. Being a streaky team could work to your advantage in April or May, but not in January when you need to keep collecting points. Hudson Fasching has been a bolt out of the blue, but this team needs more. If I’m Lou Lamoriello, I’m calling up the Sharks today and saying I will give you Oliver Wahlstrom plus picks/prospects in exchange for Timo Meier.

18. Buffalo Sabres (19-15-2, December: 23)

Andrew: 17, Chris: 21, Trey: 15

Andrew: Slowly but surely, the Sabres are pulling themselves into the thick of the Wild Card chase. They’re just six points behind the Islanders with four games in hand. Yes, their defense isn’t great, and 41-year-old Craig Anderson could fall off a cliff at a moment’s notice. But the Sabres aren’t just a fun pushover team with a few nice pieces anymore, and that’s a great thing to say.

17. Pittsburgh Penguins (19-13-6, December: T-9)

Andrew: 19, Chris: 14, Trey: 17

Andrew: It feels like the Penguins go through one of these mid-season crises most seasons, but they do become a little more dangerous each year older Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang get. Right now, that means losing seven of ten and their starting goalie less than a period into the Winter Classic. Given Pittsburgh’s third goalie is 33-year-old journeyman Dustin Tokarski, things could continue to spiral if Jarry’s out long-term.

16. Seattle Kraken (21-12-4, December: T-9)

Andrew: 11, Chris: 18, Trey: 19

Andrew: Speaking of teams with goaltending concerns, the Kraken just keep humming along despite a team save percentage that would be concerning even in the 80s. Other than that, Seattle is built like you’d expect an expansion team to be built. They play solid defense, and while they lack star power up front, only Boston has more players with at least 20 points than Seattle’s nine.

15. Washington Capitals (22-13-6, December: 22)

Andrew: 8, Chris: 17, Trey: 16

Andrew: It seems like Alex Ovechkin‘s chase to pass Wayne Gretzky has galvanized the entire Capitals organization. A team that was the definition of mediocre through two months is suddenly on the cusp of being second in the Metro. Oh, and Nicklas Bäckström is starting to get close to returning from offseason hip surgery, too.

14. Calgary Flames (18-14-7, December: T-16)

Andrew: 14, Chris: 15, Trey: 11

Andrew: For all of the concern around the Flames and the regression of Huberdeau and Jacob Markström, it’s worth noting they’re sixth in the league in expected goals percentage. In other words, Darryl Sutter‘s system still works. If those key pieces step up, which their track records make you believe they will, Calgary should be dangerous again.

13. New York Rangers (22-12-6, December: 18)

Andrew: 13, Chris: 12, Trey: 14

Andrew: Honestly, the Rangers aren’t that much different than they were last year; they’re just a little less extreme, for better and for worse. Their special teams and goaltending are closer to good or very good than elite, and their 5-on-5 is closer to solid than terrible. Is that a loss of identity or progress? We’ll have to wait and see.

12. Edmonton Oilers (21-17-2, December: 14)

Andrew: 16, Chris: 13, Trey: 8

Chris: Someone please help Connor McDavid. He and Leon Draisaitl are still making a mockery of the league but Edmonton is hanging onto a playoff spot by the skin of their teeth. They need Evander Kane back in the worst way possible, but it is sadly a really difficult situation. Furthermore, they could even use some reinforcements as we head closer to the trade deadline. Another defenseman and a real answer in the net could make the difference in not wasting another year out of their core.

11. Minnesota Wild (22-13-2, December: 19)

Andrew: 10, Chris: 11, Trey: 13

Andrew: Only Boston has more points in its last ten than Minnesota, one of the league’s stingiest teams. Now, they’re getting the goaltending to support their defense… only it’s Filip Gustavsson who’s stepping up right now.

10. Winnipeg Jets (24-13-1, December: 13)

Andrew: 12, Chris: 9, Trey: 12

Andrew: The Jets still seem like a paper tiger to me. Connor Hellebuyck is legit, and we did just see Igor Shesterkin carry the Rangers to the Eastern Conference Final last year. Generally, the formula Winnipeg is following leads to an early playoff exit. But even given those concerns, the Jets are still a fun team, one with a bounceback-player-of-the-year candidate in Josh Morrissey. He’s already tallied a career-high in points and Winnipeg’s season isn’t even halfway done.

9. New Jersey Devils (24-12-3, December: 3)

Andrew: 9, Chris: 10, Trey: 9

Andrew: If you’re just looking at their record in December, New Jersey seems like they’re in free fall. On one hand, they are still second in the league in expected goals percentage. On the other, Vítek Vaněček could be regressing to mean. This is a big month for New Jersey, who leads the Rangers and Capitals for second in the Metro by only a point.

8. Los Angeles Kings (22-14-6, December: T-11)

Andrew: 7, Chris: 8, Trey: 10

Andrew: To me, the Kings seem like the definition of a good but not great team. I’ve got them at seven because they’re playing well right now and their overall numbers at 5-on-5 are good. But their skaters aren’t truly scary, and they’ve got a major weakness in the net. Unless one of those things changes, the Kings are probably going to be underdogs with a solid chance of advancing in the first round, which isn’t a bad spot to be given their wealth of young talent.

7. Colorado Avalanche (19-15-3, December: T-5)

Andrew: 15, Chris: 6, Trey: 2

Chris: It’s tough for the Avs. I keep them in the top 10 because they’re the defending champs. But they are only tied for the 18th most points in the league. The injury bug is bleeding them dry right now. Obviously, getting Nathan MacKinnon back is a huge boost, but I think they need a trade for either Bo Horvat or Jonathan Toews in order to really have a shot at repeating.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning (24-12-1, December: 8)

Andrew: 6, Chris: 7, Trey: 3

Andrew: There are few things more misleading than looking at the NHL’s league-wide standings and seeing the Bolts at 10. This is still an elite team basically across the board, one that’s seeing a belated but impactful ROE on the Brandon Hagel trade and otherwise isn’t much different from the teams that have won the East each of the last three years.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs (23-9-7, December: 4)

Andrew: 5, Chris: 5, Trey: 5

Andrew: They’ve lost two straight in frustrating fashion, and they might be in one of those five-to-ten-game funks the Maple Leafs always seem to get stuck in. They’ll almost certainly emerge just fine, at least for the regular season, but their goaltending is starting to be concerning. Better to raise those questions now rather than after the trade deadline, though.

4. Dallas Stars (23-11-6, December: 7)

Andrew: 3, Chris: 4, Trey: 7

Andrew: We don’t talk about how good the Stars’ top line is often enough. Jason Robertson got a lot of hype early in the year, and deservedly so. But Roope Hintz and (the recently extended) Joe Pavelski are also fantastic. The trio has a 60% expected goals share together and have outscored opponents 31-11 together at 5v5.

3. Vegas Golden Knights (27-12-2, December: 2)

Andrew: 4, Chris: 3, Trey: 4

Andrew: Imagine how much trouble you would’ve thought Vegas would be in if you were told their leading scorer on Jan. 6 was Chandler Stephenson. Instead, the Golden Knights are thriving with an incredibly deep forward core, especially down the middle.

2. Carolina Hurricanes (25-8-6, December: T-5)

Andrew: 2, Chris: 2, Trey: 6

Chris: How about them Canes? Everyone was so enamored with the Devils that no one saw Carolina jump into first in the Metro. Pyotr Kochetkov has been a superhero in the crease and when fully healthy, all 20 guys can get rolling. With cap space and picks to burn, Don Waddell could dive into a very busy trade deadline before you know it.

1. Boston Bruins (30-4-4, December: 1)

Andrew: 1, Chris: 1, Trey: 1

Andrew: Boston has fewer losses total than every team has regulation losses except Carolina (who they’re tied with). A memorable comeback over Pittsburgh in the Winter Classic is just the latest climax in an incredible season for the Bruins, who will now face a big test with Jake DeBrusk going on LTIR.

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All Advanced Stats are 5v5 and via Natural Stat Trick unless otherwise stated (except for goals saved above expected, which is via Moneypuck.com)

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