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NHL power rankings ’22-’23: Stars fall, Wild heat up

NHL power rankings
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

What NHL team is the best right now? With the 2022-23 NHL season officially past the halfway point, it’s time for some updated NHL power rankings to get a sense of where teams really stand, based on off-season acquisitions and what we’ve seen in the first half of the campaign.

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

Winners of their last seven straight games, the Bruins clinched the President’s Trophy . It seems they’ve spent most of the season at the top of the NHL power rankings, and with good reason. The entire roster is producing consistently, and they are finding ways to win games day in and day out.

The Bruins have only suffered eleven regulation losses on the season so far, and boast a ridiculous +118 goal differential, thanks to David Pastrnak’s MVP-calibre start to the season, with 97 points in 73 games. He’s joined by netminder Linus Ullmark, who holds league-bests with his .937 save percentage and 1.92 goals against average. Through most of the season, the Bs have also showcased a strong penalty kill as well as a successful power play.

2. 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 (with games in hand over their competition), helped by going 8-2-0 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’s recovery is taking longer than expected, and Cale Makar has been in and out of the roster down the stretch with some injuries. But, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen are not to be forgotten, and the superstar duo is carrying the team, with 93 and 87 points respectively. MacKinnon has the third-highest point-per-game percentage in the league (behind only Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl), and Rantanen has a crazy 48 goals on the season. So, the Avalanche stay solid in the NHL power rankings thanks to the sheer talent on the roster.

3. Vegas Golden Knights

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

After a slump, the Knights, who have reclaimed first place in the Pacific Division, are in the final stretch in a strong position. They’ve won four straight and gone 8-2-0 in their last ten games. And, they’re leading a weak division, and are slowly but surely improving the penalty kill again, so they rise slightly in the NHL power rankings.

The club boosted its forward corps with the addition of Ivan Barbashev, who was acquired from the St. Louis Blues, and Jack Eichel seems to have found his groove again, with a three points in the club’s March 25 contest against the divisional Edmonton Oilers. The Knights end the season in the Western Conference, so how they fare in these ever-important contests will certainly have a huge impact on the end-of-season stretch.

4. 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 rise slightly in the NHL power rankings, because they are undefeated in regulation in their last ten games and played some solid hockey, getting within two points of the division-leading Vegas Golden Knights. Still, 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 75.4%.

The Kings are significantly helped by a weak division and are lucky not to have a ton of competition for a postseason spot. Despite some questions regarding consistency and an ability to maintain their pace, the Kings have created a five-point gap between themselves and the Edmonton Oilers. So, thanks to the recent surge, the Kings stay in the top ten of the NHL power rankings.

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5. New York Rangers

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

The small rut for the Rangers has ended, and the new-look roster seems to be gelling. They’ve gone 8-1-1 in their last ten games and continue to create space between themselves and the wild card clubs. The 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.

The team is lucky in that, despite a few minor glitches, they have been unscathed by injuries, operating with a full roster for the first half of the season and only Ryan Lindgren out with an injury deemed day-to-day. So, the club offers strong competition in the already tight Metropolitan division, building a .658 win percentage and a +49 goal differential, so they rise again in the NHL power rankings.

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6. Carolina Hurricanes

nhl power rankings; carolina hurricanes
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previous: 3rd in the NHL power rankings

The Eastern conference favorite to hoist Lord Stanley’s trophy, the Canes, with all the key pieces back in the lineup, are showing the league what they’re made of. The club falls in the NHL power rankings because of the recent surges by other teams, but that certainly doesn’t mean cause for concern: the ‘Canes clinched a playoff spot and have a .715 win percentage to create a three-point lead in the ever-tight Metropolitan Division, with a game in hand.

Special teams seem to be fluctuating, with the power play sitting at 20.9% and the penalty kill rising slightly to 83.8%, though that doesn’t seem to stop them. Freddie Andersen has been solid in his return to the crease, stealing big games, and are relatively unscathed by injuries, as only Anti Raanta, Jesse Puljujarvi and Andrei Svechnikov are missing from the roster this month.

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7. Edmonton Oilers

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

Previous ranking: 7th in the NHL power rankings

The Oilers are hot again, going 7-2-1 in their last ten games and creating a pretty solid gap between the club and the wild card spots. Four players on the Oilers roster have 60 points or more, including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Zach Hyman, and superstar duo Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who lead the efforts with 139 and 112 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. But, the boost in defense courtesy of trade deadline acquisition Mattias Ekholm is already offering a huge boost to the team for the final stretch. As it seems more clear that the Oilers will make the postseason, they will need to look for consistency as they head to the playoffs.

8. Minnesota Wild

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

The Wild surged to the top spot in the Central Division, though they sit just one point ahead of the Colorado Avalanche, who have a game in hand. The Central Division title race will likely go down to the wire. Still, the club has gone 6-1-3 in their last ten games, have increased their goal differential to +21 and, seem to have found solid footing despite losing star forward Kirill Kaprizov to a day-to-day injury.

Respectable special teams numbers, alongside opposition injuries and questionable play in the Central Division, are also helping this team stay competitive, and a small spurt of injuries did not affect them, play-wise. As they stay competitive and look to the post-season, the club stays in the top ten in the NHL power rankings.

9. Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Previous: 10th in the NHL power rankings

The Maple Leafs’ roster is plagued by injuries, and they seem to have cooled off despite a very busy trade deadline. Still, they have a pretty firm grip on a top-three spot in the Atlantic Division, despite going a middling 6-3-1 in their last ten games. Still, they are helped by timing, as the third-place Lightning seem to have hit a rough patch at the same time. And, Mitchell Marner is having a superior season and is a huge reason for the +48 goal differential.

In the meantime, they’ve come to cultivate a solid power play and, despite losing O’Reilly, have a passable penalty kill. Since they’ve all but stamped a ticket to the post-season with a .664 win percentage, they stay in the top ten of the NHL power rankings.

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

10. New Jersey Devils

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Los Angeles Kings
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previous ranking: 11th in the NHL power rankings

The Devils sit decently secure in second place in the Metropolitan Division and are putting pressure on the Hurricanes for the top spot, but they’ve played more games than the Hurricanes and the red-hot Rangers are on their heels. The club officially secured a playoff spot last week, so the 5-3-2 record in their last ten games seems less concerning, though it does see them drop in the power rankings.

Strong gameplay from Jack Hughes, Dougie Hamilton, and Nico Hischier has helped this team become one of the sleeper picks of the season, with 86, 68, and 70 points, respectively, on the season. Though they close out of the top ten in the NHL power rankings, the Devils are looking like a team that could cause a real playoff upset.

NHL power rankings: Second-tier contenders to watch out for in the postseason

11. Dallas Stars

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Dallas Stars
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previous ranking: 8th in the NHL power rankings

The Stars fall in the power rankings as they fall out of first place in the Central Division. They are simply being outplayed by other teams right now, though they still very much have a horse in the divisional race and could easily end up with the title.

In order to compete 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, and the team (except Joe Pavelski and Roope Hintz) seems to have difficulty responding. Robertson, though, has been a superstar for his club and became the first player to score 20 goals this season. Still, the club’s special teams numbers are respectable–though the once-strong power play is suffering lately–and Jake Oettinger continues to be a talent between the pipes.

12. New York Islanders

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

Previous ranking: 13th in the NHL power rankings

Things seem to be settling in New York, as the Isles won the Bo Horvat sweepstakes, and the former Canuck captain, who signed an extension to stay in Long Island, and is faring well despite an injury to forward Mathew Barzal, who has not played since late February. They are fighting hard to keep the postseason hopes alive and, while they’ve created a small cushion, it seems like the race will go down to the wire.

Horvat’s 30-plus-goal season is already making a strong impact on a team that struggles to find the back of the net, and he and Vezina-contending goaltender Ilya Sorokin are keeping the team in the playoff conversation. As the final stretch approaches, they’ve wavered a bit, but are showing flashes of a team capable of making an end-of-season push, so they rise in the NHL power rankings, currently sitting in the first wild card spot.

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13. Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Previous ranking: 12th in the NHL power rankings

The Bolts’ struggles seem to be more than minor, as the club has lost four straight games and carries a mediocre 4-5-1 record in their last ten games, and they can’t seem to close the gap with the second-place Maple Leafs. What’s worse, the slump includes a ton of huge losses, including a 7-2 thrashing from the Ottawa Senators. Despite Nikita Kucherov‘s success this season (102 points in 74 games), Tampa Bay is in trouble lately.

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 drop out of the top ten in the NHL power rankings for the third straight week.

14. Seattle Kraken

NHL: Seattle Kraken at Colorado Avalanche
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previous ranking: 14th in the NHL power rankings

The Kraken are struggling to stay in the post-season conversation, and can’t seem to find consistency when it matters most. They sit in the top wild card spot in the Western Conference, but are three points out of the top three spot in the Pacific Division. With a game in hand, though, the team still has hope, and has proven its ability to recover well–and quickly.

Thanks to the struggling division, though, the Kraken are making a case for sneaking into the post-season, and have points leader Vince Dunn to thank, though no one on the team is playing at a point-per-game pace. Still, as the final portion of the season approaches, the Kraken stay out of the top ten in the NHL power rankings.

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15. Pittsburgh Penguins

NHL power rankings
Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previous ranking: 16th in the NHL power rankings

The Penguins are still very much in the playoff conversation, as they are back in a wild card spot and now only have one game in hand over the New York Islanders. Though talented goaltender Tristan Jarry is struggling lately, veteran forward Sidney Crosby is carrying his club with 85 points in 73 games, in a rare season that has seen him stay healthy consistently.

Their special team numbers are respectable, but the aging of the club’s core in Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang seems to be an issue in Pittsburgh, as they have narrowly made it into the playoffs for a few straight years. Granted, the club struggled with injuries for a time, and a fair amount of injuries this month may deplete the roster when they need it most.

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16. Florida Panthers

  • Previous ranking: 15th in the NHL power rankings

Suddenly, the Panthers are one of the few teams left in the fight for the wild card spots in the Eastern Conference. They’ve cooled off lately and lost three straight games, losing the second wild card spot to the Penguins. But, they still have have a positive goal differential, have gone 6-3-1 in their last ten games, and boast a ton of talent on the roster in Aleksander Barkov and Aaron Ekblad, and are heating up when it matters most.

While other clubs in the fight are folding under pressure, the Cats are still putting up a solid fight for a spot in the postseason. The 74.8% penalty kill will need to be corrected if they’re going to look to sneak into the playoffs.

NHL power rankings: Franchises on the outside looking in at playoff contention

17. Winnipeg Jets (previous ranking: 17)

18. Calgary Flames (previous ranking: 18)

19. Buffalo Sabres (previous ranking: 22)

20. Washington Capitals (previous ranking: 20)

21. Vancouver Canucks (previous ranking: 25)

22. Ottawa Senators (previous ranking: 19)

23. Nashville Predators (previous ranking: 21)

24. Philadelphia Flyers (previous ranking: 27)

25. St. Louis Blues (previous ranking: 24)

NHL power rankings: Clubs whose rebuilds need a jolt

26. Detroit Red Wings (previous ranking: 23)

27. Arizona Coyotes (previous ranking: 26)

28. Montreal Canadiens (previous ranking: 28)

29. San Jose Sharks (previous ranking: 30)

NHL power rankings: Worst teams in bottom-heavy league

30. Anaheim Ducks (previous ranking: 29)

31. Chicago Blackhawks (previous ranking: 31)

32. Columbus Blue Jackets (previous ranking: 32)