Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: One-month awards edition
NHL Power Rankings: One-month awards edition
Since everybody wants to crown Clayton Keller as the Calder Trophy winner just a month into the season, we figured we would give our NHL award winners just a month into the new season. It’s a small sample size, of course. Some players will catch fire in the middle of the season and some of the October flashes won’t have the ability to sustain it for a seven-month hockey season. But it would take a crystal ball to predict all of that, so we’ll just give you the 411 on what we’ve seen thus far around the NHL.
Here are your award winners one month into the season:
Hart Trophy: Nikita Kucherov has 16 goals in 17 games this season, and has only three of them on the power play in a complete show of domination for a Tampa Bay team that looks poised for a deep run this season.
Norris Trophy: Alex Pietrangelo is nearly a point-per-game with the offense, and is doing it while also playing plus-7 hockey for a Blues team that’s been a defensive powerhouse this season. This could be the year for a guy that’s had to wait his turn behind some other very good D-men.
Vezina Trophy: The biggest difference for the L.A. Kings this season is a healthy Jonathan Quick, who is 9-3-1 with a 2.29 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. Certainly, Corey Crawford has a legit argument one month into the season as well.
Calder Trophy: Okay, okay, Clayton Keller has been great and 11 goals in a month of games is impressive for a kid who should be a sophomore at Boston University right now. But this is a strong rookie class with Brock Boeser, Matthew Barzal, Charlie McAvoy and Mikhail Sergachev, so we’re not ready to crown Keller yet.
Selke Trophy: Who else but Patrice Bergeron? It’s always Patrice Bergeron even as they change the face-off rules to try and counteract how dominant he’s been over the last five-plus years.
Lady Byng Trophy: Patrick Marleau is always a nice guy and a gentleman on the ice and now that he’s in Toronto, he will surely get recognized for it like he was sporadically in San Jose.
Anyway, without further ado, here are this week’s power rankings:
1. St. Louis Blues (regular season record: 13-3-1, rank last week: 2)
The stingy Blues are second in the NHL allowing just 2.3 goals per game and have won seven of their last eight games while rising to the top of the Western Conference. Jake Allen and Carter Hutton have been the best goaltending tandem in the league thus far.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (13-2-2, LW: 1)
It's 24 goals in 34 games thus far for Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos as the Lightning are steamrolling through the East. But they have four total skaters that are more than point-per-game players, so they’re getting a ton of offense in Tampa.
3. Los Angeles Kings (11-3-2, LW: 3)
5-0-2 at home, 6-2-0 on the road, a plus-15 goal differential behind only St. Louis in the West, and seven wins in their past 11 games for a Kings team that doesn’t look like a fluke.
5. Winnipeg Jets (8-3-3, LW: 6)
The Jets have taken 13 of 16 points over the past eight games, and are finally pointed in the right direction for the first time in a couple of years. Blake Wheeler has been a stud with five goals and 21 points in 14 games on the ice this season and continues to be a steadying leader off the ice as well.
6. Toronto Maple Leafs (10-7-0, rank last week: 12)
One goal from Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner during the month of November as the Maple Leafs juggernaut has slowed down a little. Now they’ll have to show some grit and depth, and what they’re truly made of.
7. New Jersey Devils (9-4-2, LW: 4)
The Devils have lost four in a row and it looks like reality is catching up to them a little bit after a very encouraging start. The Devils have allowed 16 goals in the four losses and it’s going to be awfully tough to compete if that continues to be the case.
8. Columbus Blue Jackets (9-6-1, LW: 5)
The Blue Jackets have allowed 18 goals in the last five games, and that’s a high amount for Sergei Bobrovsky and Co. as they pride themselves on being stingy. It may be time for John Tortorella to start cracking the whip on the Blue Jackets before bad habits creep in.
9. Vegas Golden Knights (9-5-1, LW: 7)
Maxime Lagace and the Golden Knights are 1-4-1 since the former fourth-stringer took over between the pipes but impressively expansion Vegas isn’t panicking.
10. Nashville Predators (8-5-2, LW: 17)
The Predators have won three games in a row and it would seem that Kyle Turris is the perfect fit up front for them after the big Matt Duchene three-way deal. It feels like the entire team is rounding into form for the first time, and that’s a good development for the Preds.
11. New York Islanders (8-5-2, LW: 8)
The development of former first-rounder Mathew Barzal has been a very welcomed addition to the Isles, which gives them a strong 1-2 punch down the middle with John Tavares. It’s still early yet, but the Isles feel like they might be a playoff team this season provided the Tavares free agent thing doesn’t become a complete sideshow.
12. Calgary Flames (9-7-0, LW: 21)
Johnny Gaudreau on a tear with three goals and seven points in four games in November. He’s leading a Flames team that’s slowly pushing its way upward in the Pacific Division.
3. Ottawa Senators (6-3-5, LW: 9)
We’ll see now how good the Senators can be after finally consummating their long chase for Avs center Matt Duchene, who they clearly believe is a game-changer. As it is they’ve put themselves in a pretty good spot as their schedule begins to pick up following a big trip to Sweden.
14. Philadelphia Flyers (8-6-2, LW: 16)
Brian Elliott starting to pull things together between the pipes, and looked good in backstopping the Flyers to a 3-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night. That’s a big development for the Broad Street Bullies if they can get some consistent play between the pipes.
15. Vancouver Canucks (8-6-2, LW: 14)
Brock Boeser is becoming a breakout rookie for the Canucks with five goals and 14 points in 13 games for Vancouver and is part of a team that has thus far exceeded expectations up in the Pacific Northwest.
16. New York Rangers (8-7-2, LW: 28)
The Rangers edged all the way to the brink, then ripped off five in a row to put themselves back in the Metro Division pack. Mika Zibanejad is really starting to come on as a force for the Blueshirts, and Pavel Buchnevich is emerging as well.
17. Anaheim Ducks (7-6-3, LW: 13)
Would anybody guess that Rickard Rakell would be the Ducks leading scorer a month into the season? Nope, I certainly wouldn’t have even though he’s had a mini-breakout campaign last year.
18. Washington Capitals (8-7-1, LW: 13)
It feels like a very top-heavy team for the Capitals right now with Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, TJ Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson carrying things, and not enough of the supporting players really doing their part as well. The Caps are definitely a better team than they’ve shown, even with the offseason subtractions.
19. Detroit Red Wings (8-8-1, LW: 6)
Martin Frk has six goals in 17 games for the Red Wings this season, and they’ve been able to stay within shouting distance in the Atlantic. I’ll admit I just wanted to write Martin Frk a few times in the power rankings.
20. San Jose Sharks (8-6-0, LW: 19)
The Sharks have won seven of 10, but Brent Burns continues to struggle with zero goals and a minus-8 rating in 14 games this season. Call it a Norris Trophy hangover, if you will.
21. Colorado Avalanche (8-6-0, LW: 20)
Credit to Joe Sakic for hanging in there and getting the treasure trove of future assets in exchange for Matt Duchene. The only problem is that he needed to drive his Avs ship into the rocks for a season-and-a-half in order to patiently get that. Not really a good recipe for success if you’re a GM.
22. Dallas Stars (8-7-0, LW: 19)
The top six scorers on the Dallas Stars are a combined minus-23 after the first month. One has to wonder how Ken Hitchcock is managing to not rip his hair out in Dallas given that kind of defensive ennui.
23. Boston Bruins (6-5-3, LW: 23)
The Bruins are going through serious adversity right now missing three (David Krejci, David Backes, Brad Marchand) of their top six forwards with injuries and they’re 1-3-1 on the road. Still, they’re within two points of a playoff spot and have been hanging in there thus far.
24. Chicago Blackhawks (7-7-2, LW: 18)
The Blackhawks are 3-6-1 in the past 10 games and have lost two games in a row, and really don’t look like a team to be feared anymore. They’re 20th in the league in offense and 29th on the power play, and look very, very average when it comes to lighting the lamp.
25. Montreal Canadiens (7-9-1, LW: 27)
The Habs are 29th in the NHL in offense and 27th in the NHL in defense, and something appears to be very wrong with Carey Price. They’ve managed to pull themselves out of complete tailspin mode, but this just doesn’t look like a very good team right now.
26. Minnesota Wild (6-7-2, LW: 24)
Devan Dubnyk ended a personal skid with a 41-save performance against the Canadiens and snapped a three-game losing skid for the Wild on an East Coast road trip. The Wild are another team just treading water right now until they get a little healthier.
27. Carolina Hurricanes (5-5-3, LW: 25)
The Canes are 2-2-2 at home and 3-3-1 on the road and perfectly mediocre in just about every respect right now. What happened to the trendy pick that was going to surprise everybody and make the playoffs? I guess somebody needs to tell Carolina that was their job this season.
28. Edmonton Oilers (6-8-1, LW: 30)
Leon Draisaitl is starting to get things heated up now that he’s 100 percent and ready to go, and the Oilers are beginning to climb out of their mess with Connor McDavid and Draisaitl doing the tag team thing. First back-to-back wins of the season with their shootout win over the Devils on Thursday night.
29. Buffalo Sabres (5-8-2, LW: 29)
Benoit Pouliot is in perpetual tease mode with three goals and four points in three games in November, but those that have watched him play now that it’s all a mirage. The mind-numbing mental mistakes and offensive zone penalties can’t be far behind, and that’s why Pouliot is with his seventh NHL team.
30. Florida Panthers (4-8-2, LW: 26)
The Panthers have dropped five in a row and they are 1-5-0 thus far on the road, so it feels like it’s the same old Panthers right out of the starting gate. The good news is that Roberto Luongo appears to be healthy again, but it’s not really helping the won-loss column right now.
31. Arizona Coyotes (1-11-1, LW: 31)
The Yotes are 1-2-2 in November, so at least they’re beginning to gather some points anyway. Clayton Keller has been explosive and productive as a rookie scoring force, but Antti Raanta playing better has been what’s allowed Arizona to at least start being competitive.