I was recently going over TSN.com’s NHL power rankings and I disagreed with a few so I’ve decided to make my own top-10 power rankings for the start of the shortened 2013 NHL season. Maybe if I continually disagree with TSN we can make this a weekly thing, but those guys are usually pretty good at calling it.
Feel free to look at both lists and let me know how you feel about any of the picks and which ones you disagree with, try to be unbiased as I am trying my hardest to be unbiased as well. I should also note that marijuana is illegal in Massachusetts, so the Edmonton Oilers will not be in my top-10.
Top-10 NHL Teams 2013
1.) New York Rangers - I know everyone and their mother pretty much has the Pittsburgh Penguins penciled in as the #1 team headed into this condensed season, I disagree. In my top spot is the NY Rangers. They finished tops in the Eastern Conference last year and didn’t get worse by adding Rick Nash at the expense of Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Tim Erixon. They also have a healthy Marian Gaborik headed into this season and the continued development of youngsters like Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider shouldn’t do anything but boast an already overloaded Rangers offense. While most teams would be left a little thin on defense with the loss of Michael Sauer to a vicious concussion and Michael Del Zotto still unsigned but not the Rangers. They still have blue line stalwarts like Marc Staal, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh, not to mention they have arguably the best goalie in the league in Henrik Lundqvist and I expect them to resign MDZ soon. Put it all together and have John Tortarella at the helm and you have what I feel is the best team in the NHL headed into the NHL season.
2.) Pittsburgh Penguins – The Penguins don’t fall far on my list, with all world players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin at the helm its hard to count the Penguins out of any game. They get plenty of secondary scoring from players like James Neal and Kris Letang on the back end is one of the better offensive defensemen in the league. Marc-Andre Fleury is a top flight goalie but has shown at times he can be beat and beat often, not to mention the health of the Penguins always seem to be an issue. They didn’t get any worse coming into this season and with a core of players that have been together for a quite some time they should be one of the teams in the best shape to come flying out of the gate.
3.) Boston Bruins - I agree with TSN here, the Bruins appear to be one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference headed into this season and I don’t see many Western Conference teams that can match up well with the Rangers, Penguins and Bruins. The Bruins have a question mark in net, with Tim Thomas putting himself in exile, it leaves the Bruins with a tandem of Tuuka Rask and Anton Khudobin. Khudobin is relatively unproven at the NHL level and should be the back up. The last time Rask was a starter was in 2009-10 and he had a very solid regular season but broke down in the playoffs. Rask is also a risk to tweak a groin or pull a hammy and miss some time. The Bruins defense is relatively unchanged except for the 6th spot that could be filled by prospect Dougie Hamilton, who is talented and has tremendous upside. Upfront the Bruins top-6 remains unchanged, they get a healthy Nathan Horton back on their top line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Their second line should also be improved with the progression and continued development of superstar-the-making Tyler Seguin. Their bottom-6 is arguably the best in the league with players like Chris Kelly, Rich Peverly, Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Danielle Paille.
4.) St. Louis Blues - Arguably the best team of the Western Conference, the Blues come in at #4. With mastermind Ken Hitchcock at the helm, the Blues look to improve on their amazing season last year, while continue to development some of their quality young talent. They have a great goaltending tandem in Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak, a Norris trophy candidate in Alex Pietrangelo and a Calder trophy candidate in Vladimir Tarasenko. Add all to that to a group of players that includes Chris Stewart, TJ Oshie, David Perron, Patrik Berglund and Kevin Shattenkirk, you have a team that like TSN said, could be ready for the next step.
5.) Los Angeles Kings - TSN had these guys all the way down to #10 because of the knee injury suffered by Anze Kopitar. While obviously a huge loss they still have forwards Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards Simon Gagne, Dustin Penner and Justin Williams, the Kings still have plenty of fire power up front. They also have Drew Doughty anchoring their blue line and Jonathan Quick manning the crease, will all that talent and plenty of rest after an amazing Stanley Cup Championship run the Kings look poised to defend their title and defend it pretty damn well.
6.) Vancouver Canucks - Doesn’t matter who starts in net for the Canucks, could be Schneider or it could be Luongo. Either way they’re in great shape in net and they have plenty of offensive firepower upfront with the Sedin twins and company. The loss of centerman Ryan Kesler for an extended period of time could hurt the Canucks but they have plenty of trade bait to bring someone in if necessary. Their blue line is solid with players like Kevin Bieska, Alexander Edler and Dan Hamhuis, the addition of Jason Garrison won’t hurt and the continued development of Chris Tanev make the Canucks a formidable opponent on any night for any team.
7.) Chicago Blackhawks – The Blackhawks should be an improved team headed into this shortened season. Patrick Kane tore it up in Switzerland with the Bruins Tyler Seguin, Jonathan Toews is a good a first line center as there is and they’re getting a healthy Marian Hossa back. They resigned Johnny Oduya on the blue line and brought in Michal Rosival. With some solid prospects coming in on the blue line and on offense the only question that remains for the Blackhawks is whether or not goaltender Corey Crawford can be better than he was last year.
8.) Detroit Red Wings - With the loss of their captain Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement, the Red Wings will most likely have a very big and obvious void on their blue line and in their locker room. However, in my 26 years on this earth I’ve learned one thing, the Red Wings always find a way to be competitive. With players like Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall still on the roster, the Red Wings will have plenty of talent all over the ice. They have plenty of prospects that should make the jump to the NHL this season on both sides of the puck and Jimmy Howard is a very solid starting goaltender. Like I said, the Red Wings always find a way and I see no reason why this season will be any different for the boys from Mo-town.
9.) Philadelphia Flyers – The Philadelphia Flyers are stacked on offense, with players like Claude Giroux, Danny Briere, Brayden Schenn, Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek, scoring goals should not be a problem for the Flyers. However, stopping goals could be. They have an expensive goalie in Ilya Bryzgalov who at times last year looked shaky to say the least. All signs point to defenseman Chris Pronger not playing much if at all this season. That said their defense isn’t terrible with d-men like Braydon Coburn, Luke Schenn, Andrej Mezaros and Kimmo Timonen. The Flyers should easily make the playoffs and if healthy enough could make a bit of run. One thing we know is they will be a tough team to play against.
10.) Nashville Predators – The Predators may have lost defenseman Ryan Suter to free agency but they were able to bring back their captain and arguably the best defenseman in the league, Shea Weber. The Predators won’t score many goals but they also won’t allow many with their defensive approach led by head coach Barry Trotz and having Pekka Rinne in net doesn’t hurt either. A few teams could’ve been in the 10th spot but Weber and Rinne help the Preds break into my top-10.
Thanks for reading! Like I said earlier please feel free to let me know how you feel or what your top-10 would be.