NHL Power Rankings following July 1 NHL free agency
The July 1 opening of NHL free agency has come and gone, and there are still plenty of good players available. So some of this will be an incomplete until Michael Ferland, Marcus Johansson and some other players end up choosing their final destination in free agency, but here’s an updated power rankings after the dust settled on NHL free agency.
The big winner in this humble hockey writer’s estimation was the Maple Leafs, who added Tyson Barrie while subtracting players like Jake Gardiner and Nazem Kadri that had dragged them down in the playoffs over the last couple of seasons. They should be a legit Stanley Cup contender next season and will make things more difficult for the B’s in the Atlantic Division.
Now on to the power rankings:
31. Ottawa Senators (29-47-6)
How much is Nikita Zaitsev going to help the Senators? It remains to be seen, but he could be a pretty decent add for an Ottawa team that could use veteran help on the back end.
30. Los Angeles Kings (31-42-9)
A yawn-worthy free agency period for the LA Kings, who are perhaps a little gun-shy after getting burnt on the deal with Ilya Kovalchuk last summer.
29. Detroit Red Wings (32-30-10)
Remember when Detroit made big moves and was a destination city for NHL players. Yeah, me too.
28. Edmonton Oilers (35-38-9)
Will Mike Smith help solidify things for the Oilers between the pipes? We’ll see, but it certainly can’t hurt after the way Cam Talbot struggled in Edmonton toward the end.
27. Montreal Canadiens (44-30-8)
Marc Bergevin ended up making the Canadiens look like rank amateurs with his half-measure offer sheet to Sebastian Aho. It sure feels like he’s not going to be in Montreal much longer.
26. Columbus Blue Jackets (47-31-4)
Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky and Matt Duchene are gone, and Gustav Nyquist is the one coming in return? Ouch. Apparently, NHL players don’t like Columbus very much.
25. Anaheim Ducks (35-37-10)
The Ducks are finally getting younger, faster and probably better after cutting the cord with Corey Perry. It may not be a quick fix, however.
24. Buffalo Sabres (33-39-10)
The Sabres traded for Jimmy Vesey after originally chasing after him during the ridiculous sweepstakes a couple of years ago. Maybe he can finally live up to the hype with the Sabres?
23. New Jersey Devils (31-41-10)
The Devils added Wayne Simmonds on top of PK Subban at NHL Draft weekend. It sure feels like New Jersey is in store for a big one-season turnaround when things get going for them.
22. Philadelphia Flyers (37-37-8)
The Flyers weren’t big players in July 1 free agency and are on the slow, steady path to improvement with their young group. We’ll see if next season proves to be a big one for them.
21. Minnesota Wild (37-36-9)
Mats Zuccarello gets added to a solid group in Minnesota, but it’s difficult to see if adding him makes them demonstrably better.
20. Chicago Blackhawks (36-34-12)
The Robin Lehner signing could be a really interesting one for the Blackhawks. I’ll certainly be rooting for him.
19. Vancouver Canucks (35-36-11)
The Canucks have some great building blocks in Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat, and now they’ve added big defenseman Tyler Myers. If Myers plays like a top pairing guy then the Canucks are in great shape, if he doesn’t then we’ll see what this does for them.
18. Arizona Coyotes (39-35-8)
Phil Kessel feels like a great match for the hockey market in Arizona, doesn’t he? It’s a great, big gamble bringing in somebody like him on a young, impressionable team like the Coyotes.
17. Florida Panthers (36-32-14)
New coach. New goaltender in Sergei Bobrovsky. Who ‘dis?
16. Calgary Flames (50-25-7)
The Flames bring in Cam Talbot on a one-year deal and will once again let their goaltending situation shake out as things go along. The question is whether last spring’s playoff experience is going to make this team any better.
15. Colorado Avalanche (38-30-14)
The Avalanche will bring in Nazem Kadri, but they’ve also lost Semyon Varlamov and weren’t able to land the big fish in Artemi Panarin. It feels like they are treading water.
14. New York Rangers (32-36-14)
A big move by Jeff Gorton landing Jacob Trouba this week to add to his core group of talented, young rebuilding players. Let’s see where that gets them this season.
13. New York Islanders (48-27-7)
The Islanders re-signed Anders Lee to big money and brought in Semyon Varlamov on a free agent deal. On paper they should be at least as good as last season, but could be even better with Varlamov playing behind their committed defense.
12. Dallas Stars (43-32-7)
The Stars added a lot of grit and leadership with Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry in Big ‘D.’ It will be really interesting to see how Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin mesh with Captain America.
11. Carolina Hurricanes (46-29-7)
Carolina slapped around the Montreal Canadiens in the offer sheet scenario with Sebastian Aho. The Hurricanes have real ownership down in Carolina and that makes it feel like they’re not going anywhere.
10. Winnipeg Jets (47-30-5)
The Jets lost out on Tyler Myers to a big contract with the Canucks and Jacob Trouba in a trade with the Rangers, but otherwise they should be in decent shape once again next season as a Western Conference heavyweight. They’ve got some work to do on the back end.
9. Washington Capitals (46-28-8)
Brooks Orpik retired, so that’s good news for the Capitals.
8. San Jose Sharks (46-27-9)
The Sharks made it all the way to the end of the Western Conference Final and they’ve resigned Erik Karlsson to a mega-deal extension. Their place toward the top is secured for next season even if they lost Joe Pavelski in free agency.
7. Pittsburgh Penguins (44-26-12)
The Penguins brought Brandon Tanev into the fold, and dealt away Phil Kessel to the Coyotes while getting Alex Galchenyuk in return. These are moves. It remains to be seen if they’re actually really good ones.
6. Boston Bruins (49-24-9)
The Bruins didn’t do much on July 1, and the real work will be re-signing restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Danton Heinen this summer.
5. Vegas Golden Knights (43-32-7)
The Golden Knights were big winners at the trade deadline with the Mark Stone deal and subsequent massive contract, so it’s no surprise they were selling off some assets on July 1. They should still be plenty good.
4. Tampa Bay Lightning (62-16-4)
The Lightning didn’t end up doing much of world-changing magnitude, but they are still a complete wagon headed into next season.
3. Nashville Predators (47-29-6)
The Predators added Matt Duchene to their forward group for added offense and game-breaking ability. They also traded away PK Subban, but it remains to be seen if that is going to be addition by subtraction. Nashville should be real strong next season.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs (46-28-8)
The Maple Leafs finally cut loose the player (Nazem Kadri) that self-destructed them in each of the last two playoff runs, and added a needed D-man in Tyson Barrie while getting Colorado to pick up the tab on half his contract. They also added a veteran depth piece in Jason Spezza. Good work by Kyle Dubas on July 1 has made the Leafs a legit Cup contender.
1. St. Louis Blues (45-28-9)
The Blues didn’t do much on July 1, but then again they’re also the reigning Stanley Cup champs. There’s no reason to dethrone them at this point.