We are introducing a new feature at The Hockey Fanatic, the NHL Power Poll. Each month we will be listing our top 30 NHL teams based on performance, acquisitions, on and off ice activity and maybe even on potential for success. Which teams are the movers and shakers? Which franchises are struggling and which ones are impressing us the most? The opinions stated here are based on this Hockey Fans perception of the 30 NHL teams and we welcome commentary on the posts. Of course you will not agree with everything you see here, but again this is our opinion on which teams we feel are (or should be) at the top of our Power Rankings.
With that as we are still in the NHL offseason, here is the inaugural NHL Power Rankings for August 2015.
NHL Power Rankings – Aug 2015
Let’s start where the season left off shall we?
Chicago Blackhawks – the defending Stanley Cup champions will be starting the season with a few roster moves, but they are poised to make another run for the Cup.
Tampa Bay Lightning – well if the Stanley Cup Champs begin the season in the top spot of our NHL Power Rankings then its only fair that the runner ups are in second place. The Bolts will be entering the 2015-16 season with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. Stamkos wants to win and he wants to win now. Will the Bolts regress this season? Only time will tell.
Montreal Canadiens – these guys finished with a surprising 110 points last regular season good enough for number two in the League. They’ve got PK, they’ve got Carey Price and they’ve added a few cogs in Zack Kassian and Alex Semin. Their Stanley Cup Odds are listed at 21-1. If a Canadian team will win the Cup, your best bet this season is on the Habs.
Anaheim Ducks– this team looks like a powerhouse. I was suspect of their goaltending last season but they proved me wrong in the Playoffs. The Ducks should have another great season this year. They are 8-1 favorites to capture the Holy Grail this year.
St. Louis Blues – this team appears to be built for the regular season. They just can’t seem to get it done in the playoffs. Not many off season changes were made, but then again they probably didn’t need to make many. The Blues should finish atop the Central Division. They are 17-1 odds to win the Cup this season.
Los Angeles Kings – look for this is to be a rebound year for the Kings. They’ll most likely finish second or third in the Pacific Division and the addition of Milan Lucic makes this team a physical team with a solid back-end.
Washington Capitals – the Caps have added TJ Oshie who could put up the best numbers of his career playing with Ovie and Nicklas Backstrom this season. I think with the changes to Over Time this season, this could be one of the team that benefits most. They should finish atop the Metropolitan Division. Odds makers have them as 9-1 Odds as winning the Stanley Cup.
Dallas Stars – I love the additions that the Stars made in the off season adding the likes of Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya from the Cup winning Blackhawks as well as adding Antti Niemi in net. They are in a tough division but this team will compete for a Playoff spot no question.
New York Islanders – a good young team on the rise, the question is how much better can these guys get? I question their goaltending, but this team should be able to put the puck in the net. John Tavares will be looking to further impress the crowd in Brooklyn.
Winnipeg Jets – I like the Jets. They work hard have no real superstars but they seem to be in most games. They are in a tough division but should finish third in the Central. A pretty decent management team the Jets should be able to again compete for a Playoff spot.
New York Rangers – the Rangers lead the NHL with 53 wins last season. Not sure if they will hit that again this season but this is still a fairly solid team. Look out for the Islanders though. We predict that the Rangers will fall a little bit this season maybe to third in the Metropolitan Division.
Calgary Flames – the Flames are an interesting team to me. The Little Engine That Could… did they over achieve last season? They were the comeback kids. No team in the NHL has the work ethic like the Flames (and this coming from an Oilers fan). The Flames have a lot of great talent and while I’m not sold on their goaltending they have a pretty solid defense along with the addition of Dougie Hamilton. They have the highest odds of any Canadian team at 20-1 to win the Stanley Cup. I can’t see that happening but stranger things have happened.
Nashville Predators – the Preds finished third in the West with 104 points last season. Not sure if they will be able to repeat that this season, however they have one of the best D-corps in the NHL with Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Seth Jones and goalie Pekka Rinne. Not sure if they’ll compete for the Cup but they should compete well for a playoff position.
Columbus Blue Jackets – the Blue Jackets added up and coming power-forward Brandon Saad from Chicago in the off-season. They had 89 points last season and should be right around that this year. 22-1 Odds to win the Stanley Cup this season.
Detroit Red Wings – these guys haven’t missed the playoffs in quite some time. This year might be the year. Losing Mike Babcock might be a little too much for this squad that finished sixth in the Eastern Conference last season. 19-1 Odds to win the Cup, I think the Wings will finish third in the Atlantic and be hard pressed for that 8th and final playoff spot.
Pittsburgh Penguins – not sure about this team. The addition of Phil Kessel may add a few goals but hey these guys still have Crosby and Malkin. They will most likely finish in 4th or 5th in the Metropolitan Division but this team is injury prone and in my mind is in need of a number one goaltender before they can be a sure fit playoff contender.
San Jose Sharks – the Sharks are a better team than they have shown in recent years. I think that there is stiff a riff going on between Doug Wilson and some of the key players on the team but we will see how the start of a new season affects this squad. 12th in the West last year just doesn’t seem right for this team. Look for them to improve this year. Otherwise this team might begin a down slide after being one of the most successful regular season teams over the past decade.
Ottawa Senators – this team surprised many last season. They were as good as any team down the stretch but just ran out of gas in the playoffs. No real superstars up front for the Sens but Kyle Turris is beginning to show signs of being a dominant player. I would like to see the Sens give Curtis Lazar some more ice time but hey that’s just me.
Edmonton Oilers – the biggest move the Oilers made in the off season was not getting Connor McDavid. It was rolling out the change to management. For nine years this team has toiled in misery. McDavid will help, but the Oilers need defense, they need goaltending and they could use a power forward to compete with the Lucic’s, Thornton’s and Getzlaf’s of the division. 38-1 odds to win the Cup this year; I like most Oilers fans would just love to see them make the playoffs this season. Sadly I feel that the misery will continue. I’m not sold on Cam Talbot as a starter (the Oilers should have nabbed Niemi IMO). Most likely scenario for this team is that they finish 4th or 5th in the tough Pacific Division.
Vancouver Canucks – I feel that the time has passed for the Canucks. I like the management team, but the on-ice product leaves a little to be desired. Bieksa is gone following Kesler to Anaheim. The botched goaltending situation from a few years back will still haunt this team although Ryan Miller played better than I expected last season. 52-1 favorites to win the Cup this season. Place your bets folks…
Florida Panthers – on paper this is not a bad team. This is another team that struggled in OT and in shootouts. Lots of young talent here so the Cats could surprise a few, but expect them to finish 5th in the Atlantic Division.
Boston Bruins – decent goaltending could carry them but their forwards are lackluster and their defense mainframe of Zdeno Chara is aging. A number of changes were made but I can’t say that the Bruins are going to be better this season. #FallFromGrace
Minnesota Wild – not sure if Devin Dubnyk can repeat his performance from last year. If he cannot, the Wild could be in trouble.
Philadelphia Flyers – a new coach and few changes mean that the Flyers are in for another long season this year. 84 points last season just will not cut it. The young players need to step it up a new era is needed in Philly.
Colorado Avalanche – not sure what to think of the Avs, but I do feel that they will take a step or two back this season. 65-1 odds to win the Cup says it all.
Arizona Coyotes – a few decent moves in the off season but after four seasons of 99,97,87,and 89 points respectively, the Yotes compiled a mere 56 last season and were 29th overall. We have them in 26th to start the season but that could easily be 28th. 200-1 favorites to capture the Stanley Cup this season.
Buffalo Sabres – the Sabres might have lost out on Connor McDavid but they still got an nice little player in Jack Eichel. I like the changes the Sabres made in the off season acquiring Ryan O’Reilly (whom I feel is considerably overvalued) but nonetheless the Sabres fortunes should be on the rise.
Toronto Maple Leafs – lots of change in TO this off-season. However when management says that they are going to take it slow it could be a while yet before the Leafs are Cup contenders. Will the most expensive coach in NHL history (Mike Babcock) make that much of a difference this season?
Carolina Hurricanes – these guys need an overhaul. Look for the Canes to be bottom dwellers for a few seasons as they need help at all positions. 300-1 odds on favorites to win the Cup.
New Jersey Devils – the poor Devils are in for a few years of sub-playoff hockey as this team will struggle to keep pace with the other teams in the Metro Division. Lou Lamoriello’s departure means that Ray Shero will have his hands full trying to keep this team out of the cellar. This team did not do well in OT or shoot-outs last season so new rule changes may inflict further pain if the Devils cannot seal the deal in regulation.
As we reported in a post a few years back, Quebec City and Las Vegas were our picks for cities that the NHL should covet. Last week the NHL confirmed that Las Vegas and Quebec City were the only two cities to submit expansion bids. As a result, Quebec City and Las Vegas are now at the forefront of the NHL expansion movement. Owners in those two cities were the only ones to submit expansion applications before the deadline, the league has confirmed. Quebecor submitted a bid to bring the Nordiques back to Quebec City, while Bill Foley applied for a Las Vegas franchise.
As a hockey fan I love Las Vegas and I love the sport of hockey so I would love to see a team in the desert. A new arena is under construction on the Las Vegas strip and is set to open in the spring of 2016. Foley’s Hockey Vision Las Vegas ticket drive collected almost 14,000 deposits, which helped pave the way for the city to be a strong candidate. So while we do not want to count our chickens before they hatch, we thought that we would have fun with some nickname candidates for the potential Las Vegas NHL franchise.
7 Potential Nicknames for an NHL Team in Las Vegas
Ok so this list features some obvious choices, but there are a number of great options for a sports franchise in Las Vegas. Here are seven worth consideration:
Las Vegas Wranglers – this was the moniker for the ECHL franchise that calls Vegas home. A pretty cool name with some great potential for a logo.
Las Veges Outlaws – well this name is taken by the Arena Football League’s Las Veags Outlaws. So someone’s marketing team has already beat us to it. Still a pretty cool name with again some cool logo potential. (I believe that there was a CFL team in the 90’s with this name?)
Las Vegas Thunder – did you know that in the 1990’s, Vegas had an IHL team called the Las Vegas Thunder? Well it was a good name then and its a good name now.
Las Vegas Heat – this one is just too obvious right? There is currently a track club in Vegas that is called the Las Vegas Heat.
Las Vegas Scorpions – Scorpions are 8-legged arachnids (distantly related to spiders) recognized by the two crab-like pincers at the front end, a flattened body, and a long tail with stinger on the back end and are native to the Las Vegas area. Replace the football with a hockey puck in the logo below and voila.
Las Vegas Ice Knights – has a cool ring to it. Hey Mr. Foley if you use this one, I would like lifetime season tickets please. A cool name with some great potential for color schemes and logos. Rumour has it that Bill Foley likes the moniker “Las Vegas Black Knights” so this may fit.
Las Vegas Aces – probably the most obvious choice. Folks have already created a number of different logos for this nickname. I actually like this, but is it too obvious and does the NHL want a semantic reference with gambling related name?
Las Vegas Sun
Las Vegas Snake Eyes
Las Vegas Crunch
Las Vegas Ice
Regardless you can bet that the jerseys and uniforms will be pretty cool.
The NHL hockey season ended with the Chicago Blackhawks capturing another Stanley Cup. Within days and weeks of the Stanley Cup Championship we had the NHL Entry Draft and NHL free agent frenzy. There were a number of transactions both on the ice and off the ice. We wanted to take a look at which teams made the largest splash in the off season thus far. We will start with the teams that we think have made the largest improvement with some of the biggest moves so far this summer. Training camps are less than 50 days away so we can anticipate some additional activity over the next few weeks.
NHL 2015 Off-Season Report: Which Teams Made the Biggest Moves?
Here is a look at the five teams that have made the most and perhaps the biggest moves this off season.
Toronto Maple Leafs – like the Oilers, the Leafs biggest moves came off ice as the secured the highest paid coach in NHL history in Mike Babcock and added Lou Lamoriello to the front office. Here is a look at some of the Leafs moves this off season. They could easily be sitting in the top spot in terms of transformations:
in May, the Leafs hired Mike Babcock as their head coach. Babcock signed an eight year contract worth $60M.
the Leafs selected forward Mitch Marner from the London Knights with their fourth overall pick in the entry draft
the Leafs acquired defenseman Martin Marincin from the Edmonton Oilers – this guys has potential to be a top 4 d-man with the Leafs
on Canada Day, the Leafs and Penguins pulled of a major trade with the Penguins sending forward prospect Kasperi Kapanen, forward Nick Spaling, defenseman Scott Harrington and a 2016 first-round pick to the Maple Leafs for Kessel, forward Tyler Biggs and defenseman Tim Erixon.
the Leafs signed Nazem Kadri to a one year contract
they signed free agent centerman Shawn Matthias
Toronto also added players such as Mark Arcobello, Taylor Beck and P.A. Parenteau
in a somewhat surprising move, longtime New Jersey Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello has taken over as GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Some big off ice moves that should pay dividends for the Maple Leafs in years to come.
Boston Bruins – lets look at some of the moves the Bruins made. Not sure if this makes them a better team or not, but definitely some big moves in Beantown.
in mid-April, the Boston Bruins fired general manager Peter Chiarelli after missing the playoffs for the first time in eight years. Boston’s loss became Edmonton’s gain as Chiarelli joined the management team of the Edmonton Oilers. The Bruins decided to retain head coach Claude Julien.
the Bruins traded Carl Soderberg to the Avalanche for a sixth-round pick in 2016
the Bruins sent defenceman Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames for a first-round pick and two second-rounders. The six-foot-five Hamilton had a career-best 10 goals, 32 assists and 42 points this past season. Reports suggested that Boston general manager Don Sweeney asked the Oilers to include defenceman Darnell Nurse in an offer for Dougie Hamilton. It was a non-starter and Hamilton went to the Oilers rival instead.
the Bruins traded their top-line left wing, Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings for backup goalie Martin Jones, defenceman prospect Colin Miller and the 13th pick in the draft, which Boston used on defenceman Jakub Zboril. A pretty decent return for the Bruins. The Bruins would later flip Jones to the San Jose Sharks to secure an additional first round pick.
the Bruins ended up with three consecutive picks in the Entry Draft at positions 13-15 in which they selected D-man Jakub Zboril, left winger Jake DeBrusk and right winger Zach Senyshyn.
the Bruins acquired Zac Rinaldo from the Flyers.
the Boston Bruins also acquired Jimmy Hayes from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Reilly Smith.
the Bruins agreed to terms on a five-year contract worth $19M with free agent left winger Matt Beleskey. Beleskey, 27, scored a career-high 22 goals with the Ducks in 2014-15, adding 10 assists for 32 points in 65 games.
Edmonton Oilers – the Hockey Gods have not been kind to the Oilers that past couple of decades, especially the past nine years as the Oilers haver become the laugh of the league. Finally that could change. In an uncanny twist of luck, the Oilers won the NHL’s lottery draft with the end result of selecting phenom Connor McDavid first overall. However it may be the off-ice moves that may pay the latest dividends for the Oilers. Here is a look at some of the moves made by the Oil:
management shuffle with Craig McTavish and Kevin Lowe being “phased” into new rules and no longer in control of hockey operations. The Oilers hired former Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli to enter in the next era for the Oilers.
the Oilers then hired former San Jose coach Todd McLellan as head coach. This is a very respectable choice and someone who is a great fit for the Oilers.
As draft day approached, the Oilers acquired defenseman Griffen Reinhart from the Islanders for 2015 first and second round picks. I like this move as Reinhart is still young and has a history in Oil Country.
the Oilers traded for a goaltender in former Rangers backup Cam Talbot. I’m personally not sold on Talbot and felt that perhaps the Oilers should have went after Antii Niemi but then again Talbot could be just what the Oilers need as a last line of defense.
of course probably the biggest transaction was the drafting of Connor McDavid with the first overall pick. McDavid signed a three year entry level contract with the Oilers.
the Oilers also traded center Boyd Gordon back to Phoenix for Lauri Korpikoski
the Oiler also sent Travis Ewanyk to Ottawa for Eric Gryba.
Dallas Stars – the Stars probably made the best moves in terms of on-ice talent this summer. Here is a look at some of the moves made by Dallas:
acquired goaltender Antti Niemi from the San Jose Sharks for a 7th round pick, later signing Niemi to a three year deal.
acquired LW Patrick Sharp from the Chicago Blackhawks for Ryan Garbutt and Trevor Daley
signed Johnny Oduya as a free agent; another pick up from the Stanley Cup Champions
The Stars signed forward Patrick Eaves to a one-year contract Wednesday after a solid first season in Dallas. Eaves had 27 points (14 goals, 13 assists) in 47 games last season, leading the Stars with a plus-minus rating of plus-12. He had a career-high six power-play goals.
Buffalo Sabres -well the Sabres missed out on Connor McDavid, but they got a pretty decent player in Jack Eichel. Here is a look at some of the moves made by the Sabres thus far this summer:
with the second overall pick the Sabres selecting center Jack Eichel who stated that he wanted to be the top player of this year’s draft class. Let’s wait and see if he has the skills to backup the ego shall we?
To compliment Eichel, the Sabres also went out and acquired Ryan O’Reilly from the Avalanche as well as goaltender Robin Lehner from the Ottawa Senators.
the Sabres will have Evander Kane lacing the skates up for them this season as well.
Buffalo also made another smart move by bringing in veteran head coach Dan Byalsma.
All five of these teams should be improved this season. Will they make the playoffs? Highly unlikely that all five of these teams will be playoff teams come April, but they all took steps in the right direction and have made some of the biggest moves this NHL off season.
Now that the Stanley Cup Champion has been crowned, there are 29 other NHL clubs who are looking to re-tool in an attempt to become the next Chicago Blackhawks. Many say that this free agent pool is weak this year, but are there some surprises to be had in this years free agent pickings?
Top NHL UFAs (Unrestricted Free Agents)
Here are a look at five NHL free agents that NHL teams should consider (providing they can afford to sign them):
Mike Green – currently with the Washington Capitals. This guy is still a solid D-man and can put up the points in the right environment. Teams he might fit: Detroit Red Wings, Washington Capitals, San Jose Sharks, Edmonton Oilers.
Mike Fischer – currently with Nashville Predators. A great player who can put up some nice points. We do not expect Mike to leave Nashville (he is married to country crooner Carrie Underwood) but there are teams that could use his services: Vancouver Canucks, Nashville Predators, Montreal Canadiens, Carolina Hurricanes.
Antti Niemi – Currently with the San Jose Sharks. Everyone seems to be on the fence with this guy. While he can have the odd bad game, he has played well for the Sharks and is worth taking a look at. Teams he might fit: Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers, Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars.
Blake Comeau – played last season with Pittsburgh Penguins. A dark-horse free agent who had a solid season with the Pens. He was flying prior to a minor injury which put him on there sidelines for a bit. He earned roughly $700K last season so he could be an affordable pickup for teams in need. Teams he might fit: Vancouver Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning.
Drew Stafford – played the past season in Buffalo and Winnipeg. Could be a little pricey but he can put up some decent numbers and was a great addition for the Jets during their late season surge. Teams he might fit: Winnipeg Jets, Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers.
Top NHL RFAs (Restricted Free Agents)
Here are a look at five NHL restricted free agents that NHL teams should consider pursuing (providing they can afford to sign them or serve up an offer sheet):
Derek Stepan – played with the Rangers. He could be a little pricey but he has a number of good years ahead of him. Teams he might fit: New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres.
Justin Schultz – played last season with the Oilers. Lots of offensive potential here, I just think that the Oilers have not been able to pair him with the right partner. That could change this year. However there are a few teams that Justin would be a great fit on. Teams he might fit: Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks, an Jose Sharks, Pittsburgh Penguins.
Adam Larsson – played with New Jersey Devils. A high draft pick that seems not to have fit in well with the New Jersey Devils. Still he’s too young to give up on yet. Team he might fit: Detroit RedWings, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Toronto Maple Leafs.
Dougie Hamilton – currently with the Boston Bruins. This guy is going to be good so the Bruins would be wise to lock him up for a few years. But can they afford him? Teams he might fit: Edmonton Oilers, Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, San Jose Sharks.
Mark Stone – currently with the Ottawa Senators. What a clutch player down the stretch for the Senators. Played some great hockey during the last half of the season. Teams he might fit: Tampa Bay Lightning, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vancouver Canucks, Ottawa Senators.
With that here is a look at this year’s unrestricted free agents. See you on July 1 hockey fans.
Well it’s late June and another NHL hockey season has come and gone. Earlier this week, the Chicago Blackhawks captured their third Stanley Cup Championship in the past six years earning them the modern-day dynasty franchise title. A big congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks who defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games. In our Stanley Cup predictions for this year we actually had picked the Blackhawks to win the Cup, however we had them win over the New York Rangers rather than the Lightning whom we had the Rangers dispose of in the Easter Conference final.
Chicago Blackhawks 2015 Stanley Cup Champs
Here is look at some of the reasons why the Blackhawks again were able to capture the Stanley Cup in 2015.
Hockey Talent – make no mistakes this is a talented team. There are a number of all stars on this team and this team is composed of players that have great hockey sense. Still a lot of talent on this team from Captain Johnathan Toews and Patrick Kane to Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.
Leadership – this team has a great coach in Joel Quenville and is led by Captain Jonathan Toews. Captain Serious for a reason. This guy has laser beam focus and when he is focused look out as he can beat you by himself on some nights (see Anaheim Ducks). Great leadership and veteran presence on this team.
Great Goaltending – you know Corey Crawford has three Stanley Cups and this guy is like the most underrated goaltender in the NHL. Maybe people will pay attention to him now. The guy was great when he had to be. There is a reason as to why the Bolts and guys like Steven Stamkos were shut down in the Finals. The last line of defense, Corey Crawford played extremely well for this team and could have easily won the Conn Smythe trophy had it not been for the epic performance of Duncan Keith.
Duncan Keith – speaking of which, Duncan Keith did have an epic performance for the Blackhawks in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He played a massive amount of minutes always against the opposition’s best players. In fact based on the amount of minutes played, Duncan Keith played against most players and kept them in check. Twenty one points in twenty three playoff games. Five multi-point games, shots in twenty of twenty three playoff games, this ex-Kelowna Rocket dominated and well deserved the Conn Smythe trophy as Playoff MVP.
Solid Coaching – the Blackhawks lead by Quenelle have a very strong coaching staff. They can motivate their team when needed and they know when to roll with which players. From Assistant coaches Mike Kitchen and Kevin Dineen to goalie coach Jimmy Waite to Kevin Delaney (skating and conditioning) this team has a great coaching squad in place.
Management – to assemble a team of players and coaches such as this you have to give credit to the management team. This goes from owner/chairman Rocky Wirtz, to Stan Bowman VP and General Manager to Norm MacIver Assistant GM and others this team has very a very competent management team. (Edmonton Oilers take serious note).
Hockey Fans – and of course ultimately what makes this franchise a top notch franchise is the people that pay to watch the games, the people who buy Chicago Blackhawks jerseys and caps, the hockey fans. The Chicago Blackhawks have great hockey fans. Just ask the players, they have some of the greatest fans out there. Chelsea Dagger indeed.
Well done Chicago. As a fan of the Edmonton Oilers I hope that one day we can experience the tremendous success that your franchise has had in recent years. I like the fact that you are a modern day hockey dynasty. Parity in the NHL for this hockey fan is not something I prefer.
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