Here's a look at our NHL Power Rankings going into the 2021-22 season:
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions start at the top, and rightfully so. They lost several key depth pieces over the offseason but remain loaded with star power, led by Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos and Andrei Vasilevskiy.
2. Colorado Avalanche
The Avalanche have been bounced in the second round for three straight seasons and that hunger to win it all is only growing. They might be the deepest team, from top to bottom.
3. Vegas Golden Knights
No team had a better even-strength goal differential last season than the Golden Knights at +54. They lost their Vezina Trophy winner in Marc-Andre Fleury, who was part of the fabric of that team, but Robin Lehner is fully capable of being a No. 1 goaltender.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews might score 60. Mitch Marner is capable of 90 points. John Tavares will be a point-per-game player again. But can the Maple Leafs get it done in the postseason? That's all that matters.
5. New York Islanders
The Islanders are probably going to finish first in goals against. They're one of the most well-structured teams in the league and well-balanced, too, possessing a strong 1-2 punch in goal with Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov.
6. Carolina Hurricanes
Over the last four seasons, the Hurricanes have finished 4th, 1st, 6th and 5th, respectively, in expected Goals For percentage during 5-on-5 action. They're a puck possession machine under Rod Brind'Amour and revamped their goaltending tandem with Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta.
7. Florida Panthers
The Panthers finished fourth in expected Goals For percentage last season at 54.7. They were legitimately one of the better teams in the league but drew a brutal first-round matchup against the eventual Stanley Cup champions. Aaron Ekblad is healthy and Spencer Knight could emerge as a legitimate No. 1 goaltender.
8. Boston Bruins
The Bruins are going into the season without Tuukka Rask, but have a formidable goaltending duo of Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark to help offset the loss. Could this be the last chance at a run for this core group?
9. Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers got better on paper, highlighted by the additions of top-six winger Zach Hyman and two-time Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will almost surely lead the league in scoring yet again. Can Mike Smith repeat the best season of his career at age 40?
10. Winnipeg Jets
The Jets could be the surprise team of the Western Conference. They shored up the back end, are loaded with firepower up front and have one of the best goaltenders in the world in Connor Hellebuyck.
11. New York Rangers
The Rangers changed up their identity over the offseason by adding grit up and down the roster. Artemi Panarin will contend for the Hart Trophy again and Adam Fox is coming off a Norris Trophy season.
12. Dallas Stars
The Stars faced so much adversity last season, whether it was the COVID-19 outbreak to begin the year and compressed the schedule or injuries to Ben Bishop and Tyler Seguin. They're healthy and look poised to compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
13. Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers reshaped their roster over the offseason by adding Cam Atkinson, Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen, Keith Yandle and Martin Jones. The biggest question mark is whether Carter Hart can bounce back and be the franchise goaltender the Flyers know he can be.
14. Pittsburgh Penguins
No Evgeni Malkin for the first few months of the season hurts. And not having Sidney Crosby to start the regular season is a big blow, too. All eyes this season will be on Tristan Jarry, who had a forgettable 2021 postseason.
15. Washington Capitals
The Capitals made no notable additions this offseason. They're hoping the biggest addition of the season is Evgeny Kuznetsov returning to elite form.
16. Minnesota Wild
The Wild made surprising decision to buy out the contracts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in order to protect some key pieces in the expansion draft. They probably overachieved last season and it will be interesting to see if they can do it again.
17. St. Louis Blues
The Blues added a pair of solid top-nine winger in Pavel Buchnevich and Brandon Saad after losing Mike Hoffman Jaden Schwartz over the summer. Vladimir Tarasenko has look good in the preseason as well after requesting a trade. This Blues team has some pieces.
18. Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks were one of the busiest teams in the league over the offseason, adding Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury, two-time Stanley Cup champion Tyler Johnson, top-four defenseman Jake McCabe and four-time All-Star Seth Jones. Will it translate to a postseason berth?
19. Vancouver Canucks
Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson are finally signed, which means the Canucks will be at full strength going into the season. With upgrades up front, on defense and in goal, the Canucks could be a surprise team in the Pacific Division.
20. Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens lost several key members from their team that got to the Stanley Cup Final last season, and no Carey Price to start will be tough to overcome.
21. Seattle Kraken
The Golden Knights made it to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season. Can the Kraken possibly top that?
22. New Jersey Devils
The biggest offseason addition was Dougie Hamilton, who changes the outlook of that group on the back end. Jack Hughes might be my breakout player of the season.
23. Los Angeles Kings
The Kings didn't have any noteworthy subtractions but did have three solid additions in Viktor Arvidsson, Phillip Danault and Alex Edler. Could they make some noise in the Pacific Division?
24. Calgary Flames
The clock is ticking for the Flames, who lost their captain Mark Giordano in the Seattle expansion draft. Look for Jacob Markstrom to have a bounce-back season.
25. Nashville Predators
Juuse Saros single-handedly carried the Predators to a playoff berth last season. Can he do it again? They'll need him to if Nashville has any shot in the Central Division.
26. Ottawa Senators
The Senators are going into the regular season without Brady Tkachuk, which is a concern, but there's a lot to be excited about in Ottawa. Shane Pinto is gaining steam as a darkhorse Calder Trophy candidate.
27. San Jose Sharks
The Sharks are going into the season without their leading scorer in Evander Kane, who made headlines for the wrong reasons this offseason. Look for Tomas Hertl to have a big year going into the final year of his contract.
28. Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings aren't playoff contenders just yet but they're trending in the right direction under Steve Yzerman. Moritz Seider is legit and they're hoping he can be a franchise No. 1 defenseman.
29. Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets are desperately trying to build a winner in Columbus, but they keep losing important core pieces. This summer it was Seth Jones, who was traded to Chicago for Adam Boqvist and draft picks. Expect the Blue Jackets to tap into their offensive potential more after the organization parted ways with John Tortorella.
30. Anaheim Ducks
The two studs to watch in Anaheim: Jamie Drysdale and Trevor Zegras. The Ducks don't have playoff aspirations this season, but if Drysdale and Zegras take the next step in their development, it's a huge win. They both could be in the Calder Trophy discussion.
31. Arizona Coyotes
The Coyotes are going back into rebuild mode and will likely finish at the bottom of the Central Division. They have eight combined first and second-round picks next year. Eight!
32. Buffalo Sabres
It's a mess in Buffalo and the season hasn't even started yet. The Sabres are the favorites to land the No. 1 overall pick for the second straight year.