NHL Power Rankings 2023-24: Winnipeg Jets rise to the top

NHL: New York Islanders at Winnipeg Jets
Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Almost every NHL team has played 41 games by now, marking the halfway point of their respective seasons. There’ve been some big surprises, good and bad, already and the NHL standings are tight. And now the Stanley Cup Playoff push gets real in the second half of the 2023-24 season.

Whether your favorite team is riding a hot streak or can’t catch a break with lucky puck bounces, we have sorted the teams in the latest edition of NHL power rankings, which features the good, the bad and the ugly.

32. San Jose Sharks

Since Dec. 15, the San Jose Sharks have just one win (against the Montreal Canadiens) and are 1-15-0 in those 16 games. They are last in the NHL with 24 points and are expected to be big sellers ahead of the trade deadline. Forwards Kevin Labanc, Mike Hoffman, Anthony Duclair and goalie Kaapo Kahkonen are unrestricted free agents at the end of the season and likely will be on the trading block.

31. Chicago Blackhawks

On Jan. 5, the Chicago Blackhawks lost Connor Bedard for six-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. In five games since, they’ve scored nine goals and appear destined to challenge the Sharks for another shot at drafting first overall after landing Bedard No. 1 in 2023.

30. Ottawa Senators

After firing D.J. Smith on Dec. 18, the Ottawa Senators have yet to turn the corner and are now 4-9-0 under interim coach Jacques Martin. They’ve failed to meet preseason expectations and are last in the Eastern Conference with 30 points.

29. Anaheim Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks recently acquired stud forward prospect Cutter Gauthier from the Philadelphia Flyers for defenseman Jamie Drysdale, their No. 6 overall pick in 2020. Gauthier is expected to turn pro after his NCAA season ends, which will help boost the Ducks’ youth movement at the NHL level even more.

28. Columbus Blue Jackets

Elvis Merzlikins has requested a trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets. And while that makes for high drama, it won’t necessarily lead to a deal of the unhappy goalie since his contract is prohibitive and his play inconsistent. If he does get traded, the No. 1 job will fall to unproven NHL goalies, which will be another setback for the struggling Blue Jackets.

27. Minnesota Wild

This week, the Minnesota Wild celebrated Marc-Andre Fleury’s 552nd career win to take sole possession of second place on the all-time NHL wins list for goalies. Outside of that 4-0 shutout victory against the New York Islanders, there haven’t been too many positives to discuss with the Wild 2-5-1 since the start of the New Year.

26. Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres may only be two games under .500, but it seems like another wasted year as they are on pace to extend the NHL’s longest playoff drought to 13 seasons. Six teams currently sit between the Sabres and the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

25. St. Louis Blues

The St. Louis Blues are only five points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference but it seems worse than that. They need to play much more consistent in the second half, starting in goal with Jordan Binnington.

24. Montreal Canadiens

Sporting the fifth-worst goal differential (minus-27) in the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens are somehow four points out of a playoff spot. However, the young Canadiens appear to be a few pieces away still from contention.

23. Arizona Coyotes

A few weeks ago, the Arizona Coyotes held a wild card spot in the West. Despite taking a tumble in the overall standings, returning to the postseason is still within their grasp since the Coyotes are in the middle of a seven-team race for the final two playoff berths.

22. Seattle Kraken

The Seattle Kraken recently won nine games in a row but barely gained ground in the Pacific Division standings. Unfortunately, a poor start and an eight-game losing streak in November has had them fighting uphill all season. Now, they’ve lost two straight following the winning streak.

21. Calgary Flames

Riding a four-game winning streak, the Calgary Flames have jumped into playoff contention, where they currently sit two points out of the second wild card in the West. A pair of former New Jersey Devils forwards are helping power the recent surge. Blake Coleman leads Calgary with 20 goals and Yegor Sharangovich is second with 18.

20. New Jersey Devils

Speaking of the Devils, they’ve been bitten hard by the injury bug and its caused them to fall down the standings, where they currently are seventh in the Metropolitan Division. Not good for a team expected to be a Stanley Cup contender this season. It doesn’t help that Jack Hughes, Timo Meier, Dougie Hamilton, Jonas Siegenthaler and Brendan Smith are all injured.

19. New York Islanders

Not too long ago, the Islanders were second in the Metropolitan Division. They’ve tumbled into a three-way tie for fourth, having lost three straight and five of six. They need goalie Ilya Sorokin to be a world beater like last season and he hasn’t been, so far, in 2023-24.

18. Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals are the third lowest-scoring team in the NHL, ahead of the Blackhawks and Sharks. Right now, the Capitals are without captain Alex Ovechkin and continue to rely on goalie Charlie Lindgren to steal them points and keep them in the playoff race. Lindgren is one of the biggest snubs for the upcoming NHL All-Star Game. Yes, he’s been that good.

17. Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins are 6-2-2 in their past 10 games and finding their groove to start a second-half playoff push. How Pittsburgh handles the future of pending UFA forward Jake Guentzel ahead of the trade deadline may decide its postseason fate.

Related: NHL awards predictions for 2023-24 season

NHL Power Rankings: The Top 16

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Tampa Bay Lightning
Jan 11, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) celebrate after they beat the New Jersey Devils during overtime at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

16. Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning are not used to fighting for their playoff lives, but that’s where they find themselves at the halfway mark, struggling to string together consecutive wins to get separation in the standings. Nikita Kucherov leads the League in scoring but goalie Andrei Vasilevskiiy needs to find his consistent A game if Tampa Bay is to secure a playoff berth for the seventh straight season.

15. Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators have won two of three and five of eight, and were 9-5-1 in December. But they need someone to help lighten the offensive load on Filip Forsberg’s shoulders.

14. Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers are the hottest team in the NHL, currently on a franchise-record 11-game winning streak. Amazingly, they have collected two win streaks of eight or more games this season and have vaulted back into a playoff spot after a dismal start.

13. Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs could be one of the most disappointing teams in 2023-24. They’ve lost four straight (0-3-1) and have dropped to fourth in the Atlantic Division. They remain inconsistent and their struggles could cost head coach Sheldon Keefe his job. Considering they are built to win now, another year without a championship will not sit well. And right now, they don’t resemble a championship team.

12. Los Angeles Kings

Two months ago, many people would have wagered the Los Angeles Kings could win the Stanley Cup. After a historic start to the season as road warriors, the Kings are now struggling to win games and are at risk of dropping out of the top three in the Pacific Division. They want no part of the jam-packed battle for a wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

11. Detroit Red Wings

Don’t look now but the Detroit Red Wings have won three in a row and passed the Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic. The Red Wings are a surprise team this season and appear to be ahead of their rebuild plans, thanks in part to the production from forward Alex DeBrincat. They’ll be a fun team to watch in the second half.

10. Carolina Hurricanes

First, the Carolina Hurricanes lost Frederik Andersen, and now they will be without Pyotr Kochetkov for a while. The Hurricanes were once favorites to win the Stanley Cup and now desperately need a starting goalie if they plan on meeting those expectations.

9. Philadelphia Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers continue to impress, and after 44 games, they are only four points away from claiming the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. Although no one talks about them as serious contenders, the Flyers could have a magical playoff run if they hit their stride at the right time.

8. Vegas Golden Knights

The reigning Stanley Cup champions are 4-5-0 since the calendar flipped to 2024 and Jack Eichel is out week to week following lower-body surgery. Despite persevering through adversity all season, the Vegas Golden Knights remain in contention to defend their title, but it won’t get any easier.

7. Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars continue to run a steady race, not outpacing their opponents and not rushing to get ahead of themselves. They survived goalie Jake Oettinger’s absence and with their No. 1 goalie back, they can focus on securing a favorable playoff position in the second half.

6. Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers just won nine games in a row and are second in the Atlantic behind the Boston Bruins. The Panthers will be a force to reckon with down the stretch as they look to return to the Stanley Cup Final, proving last year was no fluke.

NHL Power Rankings: The Elite Five

NHL: Seattle Kraken at New York Rangers
Jan 16, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Vincent Trocheck (16) celebrates his goal against the Seattle Kraken with teammates during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

5. New York Rangers

The New York Rangers recently survived a season-high four-game skid (0-3-1), turning the page with consecutive wins. Now, the Rangers are headed across the country and must use the upcoming four-game road trip to solidify their status as the top team in the Metropolitan Division.

4. Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche continue to lead the Central Division, although their No. 1 goalie, Alexandar Georgiev, has a .896 save percentage. However, they have the red-hot Nathan MacKinnon, and he’s been powering the Avalanche to be one of the teams in the League.

3. Boston Bruins

Like last season, the Bruins still have the fewest regulation losses in the NHL, with eight. Although many predicted this team would miss the playoffs, they remain in contention for their second consecutive Presidents’ Trophy. After facing season-long adversity, they appear better equipped for a deeper playoff run in 2024.

2. Vancouver Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks are so good that they’ll have five players heading to the NHL All-Star Game. As the leading candidate to win the Jack Adams Award, Rick Tocchet has guided the team to one of its best seasons in franchise history and has the fanbase believing they could challenge for the Stanley Cup after missing the playoffs the past three seasons.

1. Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg Jets set a franchise record for the longest win streak (eight games) and moved into the top spot in the NHL standings for the first time. Even though no one saw them coming, there are discussions on whether the Jets are now the team to beat this season.

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