Local Hockey Preseason Power Rankings
The NHL season begins this week and all four NHL teams we cover here at Double G Sports have playoff aspirations. These power rankings will be a weekly occurrence, coming out every Monday. Combining the minds of our group of hockey writers, I will rank the teams based on a basic points system, four points for a first place vote, three for a second place vote and so on, based on the team’s performance the week before. The first rankings are for the best team overall, not just the best team in the past week. During the season, they will be based on the past week.
We had four voters this week and these are the results;
- New York Islanders (14 points, 2 first-place votes)
The Islanders are the only team in this group to make the playoffs last season so there is little surprise here. In the offseason, the replaced Valtteri Filppula with Derick Brassard and Robin Lehner with Semyon Varlamov. What the Islanders have yet to do is improve an offense that finished 21st in goals for. Barry Trotz’s group will look for bounce back seasons up front to help boost the team to another playoff appearance.
2. New York Rangers (12 points, 2 first-place votes)
The Rangers have been in a strange place the past couple of seasons. Rebuilding. A few high draft picks like Vitali Kravtsov, Lias Andersson and 2019 second overall pick Kaapo Kakko along with trades bringing in guys like Mika Zibanejad and Jacob Trouba plus new free agent signing Artemi Panarin have given the Blueshirts expectations this season. If Henrik Lundqvist can play well and the young players make strides this season, the Rangers will be in playoff contention and playing meaningful games in April.
3. New Jersey Devils (8 points)
The Devils had a busy offseason, first at the draft when they took Jack Hughes first overall and then traded for P.K. Subban from the Nashville Predators on day two of free agency. Then, they signed Wayne Simmonds to a low-risk one year deal at $5 million on July 1st. Still boasting Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri up front, the team could have a lethal power play however, there are question marks in goal. Cory Schneider has struggled in the past three seasons, even going 14 calender months without a victory at one point. He also hasn’t had a save percentage above .908 since the 2015-16 season. Backup goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood has just 10 games of NHL experience under his belt but is a former second round pick and the Devils hope he can take a step this season.
4. Philadelphia Flyers (6 points)
Bringing up the rear are the Flyers. After a disappointing year from players like Ivan Provorov, who got a long contract extension, and Shayne Gostisbehere, the Flyers are looking for a ton of bounce-back seasons. One thing that will help will be a new face in goal. Carter Hart will begin his first full season with the team as the goalie of the present rather than the future. One cause for concern is Nolan Patrick’s migraine disorder which will keep him out, at the very least, the start of this season and could keep nagging on him his whole career. Overall, the Flyers can finish as high or low as their defense takes them. Hart will be solid and Claude Giroux will continue to lead the offense.