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NHL Power Rankings – Final preseason edition for the 2021 season



The NHL season of 2021 is here! After awarding the Stanley Cup in September after a very unusual 2019-20 season, we are back on the ice again. Four new divisions, schedules with 56 games and most importantly 116 consecutive nights of NHL games beginning Wednesday.

In our first week of power placement, we offer a reason for hope for every team that enters this season.

How we rank: The ESPN hockey editorial team submits selections that rank teams 1 to 31 – taking into account past results and additions off-season – and those results are listed here.

Note: Previous rankings for each team refer to our mid-season rankings, published on November 1

6th. Stanley Cup odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill.

Previous location: 1
Stanley Cup odds: +750

Being without Nikita Kucherov would derail most of the team. Not Lightning, who has one of the deepest forward corps in the league and a budding superstar at Brayden Point coming out of a spectacular record season where he scored 33 points in 23 games.

Previous location: 2
Stanley Cup odds: +700

General manager Joe Sakic has had an incredible track record in trades lately, and it looks like he won two more. Brandon Saad adds a secondary score (as Chicago still picks up $ 1 million of his salary), while Devon Toews reinforces the blue line (and only costs two picks in the second round of trading).

Previous location: 3
Stanley Cup odds: +800

In their existence as an NHL franchise, the Golden Knights have never had a true No. 1 defensive player Vegas could have developed one at home (Shea Theodore), and they went out and signed another in free agency (Alex Pietrangelo).

Previous location: 9
Stanley Cup odds: +2000

The Blues got one of the top scorers in the free agent market, Mike Hoffman, at a budget rate of $ 4 million without having to commit to more than a year. If this is not a massive victory, we are not sure what is.

Previous location: 7
Stanley Cup odds: +1800

Players tend to perform well when they are in a contract year. Alex Ovechkin is ready for a new deal this summer (he is negotiating for himself) and is entering the season after winning seven of the last eight Rocket Richard trophies.

Previous location: 11
Stanley Cup odds: +1200

Toronto could get a big boost from the blue line from 26-year-old Mikko Lehtonen, who was named the KHL defense of the year in 2019-20. His nickname is the “Finnish Bobby Orr.” (“It’s a long story,” Lehtonen said.)

Previous location: 8
Stanley Cup odds: +1600

Carter Hart wants to win more Vezina trophies, and at the age of 22 he is definitely tracking to reach that goal. Hart was good for the Flyers in his first NHL season – even better in the playoffs – and he could be due to a greater share of the workload in 2021.

Previous location: 5
Stanley Cup odds: +1200

The losses from Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug give the Bruins a certain different look on the blue line. But their loss even means added responsibility for Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk – both of whom have been steadily rising nonetheless.

Previous location: 4
Stanley Cup odds: +1800

Dallas ‘run to the Stanley Cup final provided the next generation of Stars’ critical playoff experience, including Miro Heiskanen, Roope Hintz, Denis Gurianov and even Joel Kiviranta. They are a better organization because of it.

Previous location: 6
Stanley Cup odds: +2500

The Isles saved a little over $ 1 million in goalie sales this season – gone from veteran Thomas Greiss to rookie Ilya Sorokin as a division member to Semyon Varlamov – but they should not miss a beat. Sorokin, who has sent no less than a .929 savings percentage over the last four KHL seasons, is the right deal.

Previous location: 12
Stanley Cup odds: +1600

We always focus on who is going to play on Sidney Crosby’s wings. But Pittsburgh’s second line – which should start as Jason Zucker, Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust – could be a high-performing one, especially with Rust coming out of a career-high 27 goals in 55 games in 2019-20.

Previous location: 10
Stanley Cup odds: +2000

Canes is suspended from the crowded Metropolitan Division and temporarily relocates to the less competitive Central, where they could potentially beat the lower-end Chicago and Detroit residents a total of 16 times en route to a playoff spot.

Previous location: 17
Stanley Cup odds: +2000

The Oilers have missed the playoffs in 13 of the last 14 seasons, and they jumped out of their home bubble last summer. But the management brought in five new players, and maybe that’s enough to change the fate of the post season for Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Previous location: 14
Stanley Cup odds: +3000

The Blue Line got an overhaul with Nate Schmidt, Travis Hamonic and Olli Juolevi replacing Christopher Tanev, Troy Stecher and Oscar Fantenberg. Schmidt is now Vancouver’s second most important defender behind Quinn Hughes.

Previous location: 19
Stanley Cup odds: +2500

Reports from Rangers training camp are that Pavel Buchnevich, who is entering his fifth NHL season, is ready to take a leap. “The guy who kind of jumps out at all of us is Buchnevich,” coach David Quinn said. “I just love how it goes for him.”

Previous location: 16
Stanley Cup odds: +3000

Look no further, but the Flames are the only NHL team with two 2020 All-Star goalkeepers on their roster. The big get was Jacob Markstrom, who many teams (including the rival Oilers) were interested in catching in free agency, and he will be backed by David Rittich.

Previous location: 13
Stanley Cup odds: +4000

For the first time in recent memory, the Blue Jackets may have another scoring line that hits fear with opponents. That’s what GM Jarmo Kekalainen was up to when he switched Josh Anderson to Max Domi. Cam Atkinson (on Domis wing) is set to return from a letdown season.

Previous location: 21
Stanley Cup odds: +2500

The Predators had a brutal 2019-20 season on special teams and finished with the seventh worst power play and third worst penalty kill. The penalty kill needs to be improved with the signing of Brad Richardson, one of the top PK specialists in the league.

Previous location: 18
Stanley Cup odds: +3000

One could see the Patrik Laine situation pessimistic: A top player wants to leave town. Or the optimist’s view: The Jets have an incredible trading asset, and if they have the time, they can hit gold in return.

Previous location: 15
Stanley Cup odds: +3000

Marc Bergevin was among the busiest GMs this offseason. The result: Each position group got improved depth. A top-four spot in the North Division is within reach of this improved team.

Previous location: 23
Stanley Cup odds: +4000

A new GM (Bill Zito) means lots of revenue. The Panthers have taken fliers on several new players (including Anthony Duclair, Carter Verhaeghe, Alexander Wennberg, Radko Gudas, Markus Nutivaara, Patric Hornqvist) and have been active on exceptions, eager to see what is stuck.

Previous location: 20
Stanley Cup odds: +6000

The obvious reason to have hope in the Sabers is that 2018 League MVP Taylor Hall decided to sign here to put big numbers on Jack Eichel’s wing. A low-key reason for hope: Center depth has improved.

Previous location: 24
Stanley Cup odds: +6000

It’s been a year-long saga spanning three GMs, but Wild’s top prospect, Kirill Kaprizov, has finally left Russia and signed with Minnesota. The winger is the most exciting and talented player on the list and should be worth the wait.

Previous location: 22
Stanley Cup odds: +6000

The Coyotes struggled to score last season (ranked 23rd in the league), but they said goodbye to six strikers this offseason and welcomed six new strikers. In this case, fresh faces are definitely not a bad thing.

Previous location: 27
Stanley Cup odds: +6000

Brent Burns posted just 45 points last season – nearly half of his points in total from a season prior when he finished second in the Norris Trophy poll. A rebound season feels inevitable for the 35-year-old defender in all situations.

Previous location: 25
Stanley Cup odds: +6000

Many are skeptical of Chicago’s untested goalkeeping trio, but the Blackhawks may walk out of this season after identifying their future goalkeeper. Collin Delia, Malcolm Subban and Kevin Lankinen only have two colors through next season, so there is also potential for a long-term, team-friendly contract.

Previous location: 28
Stanley Cup odds: +7500

Did you see the world championship for juniors in 2021? That is the reason for hope for the ducks. Trevor Zegras, the MVP tournament who helped the United States to gold, is Anaheim’s best prospect and he could be in the league as soon as this season.

Previous location: 29
Stanley Cup odds: +7500

The Kings played giant nine prospects at the World Cup, highlighting their impressive prospect system. Get excited to soon say the names Quinton Byfield, Arthur Kaliyev, Tobias Bjornfot and Alex Turcotte.

Previous location: 26
Stanley Cup odds: +6000

Corey Crawford retired, but the Devils do not feel bound because they are so bullish on Mackenzie Blackwood (who just rebuilt for another three years). He shone to close last season and went 8-2-2 over his last 13 appearances with a saving percentage of 936.

Previous location: 30
Stanley Cup odds: +15000

The Senators competed hard for DJ Smith last season and they should see improved effort now that there is more talent on the list. Wing Evgenii Dadonov chose Ottawa as a free agency and immediately upgraded the top six.

Previous location: 31
Stanley Cup odds: +20000

The Red Wings allowed 265 goals last season – 27 more than any other team. Detroit should be less leaky thanks to improved goalkeeping (Thomas Greiss) and several veteran blue innings (Marc Staal, Troy Stecher, Jon Merrill).


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