After all the moving and shaking this offseason, the dust has finally settled to the point where we can produce some way-too-early NHL power rankings
The NHL expansion draft helped shape this season in a very different way. The NHL Entry Draft produced plenty of youngsters worth looking out for. The last prospect camp this offseason started Monday. With all of this in mind, these NHL power rankings are way too early.
10. Columbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets made a big trade with the Blackhawks. They acquired scoring machine Artemi Panarin and youngster Tyler Motte. Both players should give the Blue Jackets’ offense a jump this season. Panarin should help make up for the loss of Sam Gagner on the powerplay. The Jackets then bought out Scottie Hartnell’s contract.
Key additions: Artemi Panarin (trade); Tyler Motte (trade).
First-round pick: N/A
9. Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals spent a ton of money this offseason. They spent all their money on offense and got weaker on defense. The Capitals resigned TJ Oshie to a five-year, $20,875,000 million contract. Oshie is 30 and will be 35 at the end of the deal. They re-signed Evgeny Kuznetsov to an eight-year, $62.4 million contract.
Key additions: None.
Key losses: Karl Alzner (free agency); Nate Schmidt (expansion draft); Marcus Johansson (trade)
The Capitals currently have Brooks Orpik playing as part of their top defensive pairing. YIKES! The Capitals are going to struggle on defense and better outscore everyone 6-5.
8. Dallas Stars
Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill is going for the Stanley Cup. Nill started with a new coach, bringing in the Hall of Famer Ken Hitchcock to replace Lindy Ruff. Nill then tried to fix their goalie situation be signing Ben Bishop to a big contract after acquiring his rights from the Kings.
After addressing the goalie, Nill brought in Alexander Radulov on a five-year contract to help bolster the offense. He topped everything off with trading for Marc Methot from the Knights.
Key additions: Ben Bishop (trade); Alexander Radulov (free agency); Marc Methot (trade).
Key loss: Patrick Sharp (free agency)
First-round pick: Miro Heiskanen. He’s a solid defenseman who likes jumping up on offense but is also capable of keeping the puck out of his own net.
The Stars’ defense and goalie situation still scares me. Bishop was bad last year and has health issues. After Methot and John Klingberg, who else plays defense for the Stars?
7. St. Louis Blues
The Blues got a first-round pick from the Pittsburgh Penguins for Ryan Reaves. That was the steal of the first round. They made a trade to get Brayden Schenn from Philly for Jori Lehtera.
This will be Mike Yeo’s first full year as the head coach. It will be interesting to see how this season goes.
Key addition: Brayden Schenn (trade).
Key losses: David Perron (expansion draft); Ryan Reaves (trade).
First-round pick: Robert Thomas. Defensive standout at center, but also not a big guy at 5-foot-11.
The Blues continue to be a team that cannot get over the hump. Will this year be the year?
6. Minnesota Wild
The Wild shook up their lineup with a trade. They traded away Marco Scandella and Jason Pominville for Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno. Other than that, the Wild were quiet. Erik Haula left via the expansion draft for Vegas. The Wild broke up their core from the last several years.
Key additions: Tyler Ennis (trade); Marcus Foligno (trade).
Key losses: Erik Haula (expansion draft); Marco Scandella (trade); Jason Pominville (trade); Darcy Kuemper (free agency).
First-round pick: N/A
5. Nashville Predators
The Predators ran with the Western Conference’s eighth seed all the way to the Stanley Cup Final this year. After the season ended, the Predators wanted to protect their young defensemen in the expansion draft. So they exposed 30-goal scorer James Neal, who was picked by the Vegas Golden Knights. The Predators then traded away Colin Wilson and signed Nick Bonino to a contract.
Key addition: Nick Bonino (free agency).
Key losses: Colin Wilson (free agency); James Neal (expansion draft).
First-round pick: Eeli Tolvanen. Elite sniper and pure scoring winger.
The Predators will be hard pressed to return to the Stanley Cup Final.
4. Montreal Canadiens
The Habs were active this offseason. They acquired Jonathan Drouin from the Tampa Bay Lightning, giving them a dynamic scoring forward. They shipped Nathan Beaulieu to the Sabres for a third-rounder.
After trading away a defenseman, they acquired two. They acquired David Schlemko from Vegas. They then signed Karl Alzner to a five-year contract away from Washington.
After getting talent from outside the organization, they re-signed two of their own. They signed Carey Price to an eight-year contract. They finally signed Alex Galchenyuk to a three-year contract amid trade rumors.
Key additions: Karl Alzner (free agency); David Schlemko (trade); Jonathan Drouin (trade).
Key losses: Nathan Beaulieu (trade); Mikhail Sergachev (trade); Nikita Nesterov (KHL); Alexander Radulov (free agency).
First-round pick: Ryan Poehling. Solid two-way center.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
Steve Yzerman might be the best general manager in the NHL. Yzerman is trying to keep his core intact for years to come. He needed to free up some space for the future, so he traded away Jonathan Drouin to Montreal for Mikhail Sergachev. Sergachev is not on the NHL roster and is a budding young prospect.
After getting two of former triplet linemates signed, Yzerman added some minor pieces to his roster in Dan Girardi and Chris Kunitz.
Key additions: Chris Kunitz (free agency); Peter Budaj (free agency).
Key loss: Jonathan Drouin (trade).
First-round pick: Callan Foote. He is a giant on the ice. He is a well-rounded defensemen.
The Lightning were hampered by Ben Bishop in net last season. The Bolts should be the team to beat in the East in 2017-18.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs
When Brendan Shanahan and Lou Lamoriello took over the Maple Leafs, they had a plan. They got Mike Babcock to come home. They lucked into Auston Mathews and drafted other young stars like Mitch Marner. This year they added a veteran gun to their young core.
Key additions: Patrick Marleau (free agency); Ron Hainsey (free agency).
Key losses: None
First-round pick: Timothy Liljegren. Talented defenseman with solid speed, though he’s heading back to Sweden before hitting North American ice.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins are the defending two-time Stanley Cup champions. They proved the fact that defense does not have to win championships. Their defense was weak and was patched together the whole playoffs. Their roster has lost some key pieces this offseason.
The Pens have been gutted this offseason. They lost Ron Hainsey, Trevor Daley and Nick Bonino to free agency. They let Marc-Andre Fleury go to Vegas.
Key additions: Antti Niemi (free agency); Ryan Reaves (trade).
Key losses: Nick Bonino (free agency); Marc-Andre Fleury (expansion draft); Trevor Daley (free agency); Ron Hainsey (free agency).
First-round pick: N/A
The Penguins made a questionable move by trading for Ryan Reaves at the draft. This team has lost many key parts and has to rebuild internally. Can the Pens three-peat?
That will do it for Sean Fitzgerald’s way-too-early NHL power rankings ahead of the 2017-18 season. Did you agree or disagree with anything in particular? Let us know in the comments.