NHL Power Rankings: 1-32 poll, best addition for each team

ByKristen Shilton ESPN logo
Friday, January 19, 2024

We're another week closer to All-Star Weekend -- thespiritual, if not mathematical midway point of the season -- but our voters caused no change atop the Power Rankings, with the Winnipeg Jets holding down the No. 1 slot again. Of course, there were plenty of changes elsewhere.

Beyond the updated rankings, we've identified the best new addition for all 32 teams -- be it a player, a coach, or ... a draft pick? Read on for our picks for each club.

How we rank: A panel of ESPN hockey commentators, analysts, reporters and editors send in a 1-32 poll based on the games through Wednesday, which generates our master list here.

Note: Previous ranking for each team refers to the previous edition, published Jan. 12. Points percentages are through Thursday's games.

1. Winnipeg Jets

Previous ranking: 1

Points percentage: 72.09%

Next seven days: @ OTT (Jan. 20), @ BOS (Jan. 22), @ TOR (Jan. 24)

Gabriel Vilardi. Winnipeg acquired Vilardi as part of the Pierre-Luc Dubois trade with Los Angeles in June, and the Jets certainly scored a winner (something Vilardi himself has done plenty of this season). Vilardi puts up great numbers, is a net-front menace and adds potency to Winnipeg's overall attack.

2. Vancouver Canucks

Previous ranking: 2

Points percentage: 71.11%

Next seven days: vs. TOR (Jan. 20), vs. CHI (Jan. 22), vs. STL (Jan. 24)

Teddy Blueger. Vancouver has brought the best out of Blueger. The 29-year-old forward is on pace to smash his previous career highs (nine goals, 28 points) thanks to a fresh start in the Canucks' dominant offensive scheme. Blueger is the ideal depth signing for a team looking to play long into this coming spring.

3. Boston Bruins

Previous ranking: 3

Points percentage: 71.59%

Next seven days: vs. MTL (Jan. 20), vs. WPG (Jan. 22), vs. CAR (Jan. 24), @ OTT (Jan. 25)

James van Riemsdyk. Boston has gotten more than it could have bargained for out of van Riemsdyk. Brought in on an under-the-radar, one-year deal, the veteran winger is top five in scoring for the Bruins, can play anywhere in the lineup and remains, as ever, a verifiable net-front force on the power play. Overall, van Riemsdyk has been the ultimate depth player Boston needs to be at its best.

4. Colorado Avalanche

Previous ranking: 4

Points percentage: 66.30%

Next seven days: @ PHI (Jan. 20), vs. WSH (Jan. 24)

Jonathan Drouin. Colorado essentially took a flyer on Drouin in free agency, and that one-year, $825,000 contract is aging nicely. The Avalanche's winning culture, and a reunion with former junior hockey teammate Nathan MacKinnon, has helped Drouin settle into a solid season so far. MacKinnon recently stated his belief that Drouin has just scratched the surface of what he can provide for Colorado into the season's second half.

5. Florida Panthers

Previous ranking: 5

Points percentage: 65.91%

Next seven days: vs. MIN (Jan. 19), @ NSH (Jan. 22), vs. ARI (Jan. 24)

Evan Rodrigues. Florida is all sorts of excellent this season, and Rodrigues has played a surprisingly involved role in its success. The veteran signed a four-year deal in the offseason that has translated to top-line minutes alongside Aleksander Barkov and Sam Reinhart. There's no doubt Rodrigues is benefitting from high-caliber linemates, but his stats are no fluke.

6. New York Rangers

Previous ranking: 6

Points percentage: 65.91%

Next seven days: @ LA (Jan. 20), @ ANA (Jan. 21), @ SJ (Jan. 23)

Peter Laviolette. New York believed it needed a new voice behind the bench to take another step forward. Laviolette got the nod -- and, so far, the results. The Rangers have generally responded well to Laviolette's structure (despite a rocky stretch or two), and the longtime head coach's experience -- in knowing when to tweak, or stand pat -- has served New York well in a strong performance this season.

7. Dallas Stars

Previous ranking: 8

Points percentage: 66.28%

Next seven days: @ NJ (Jan. 20), @ NYI (Jan. 21), @ DET (Jan. 23), vs. ANA (Jan. 25)

Sam Steel. Dallas was smart to sign Steel when Minnesota failed to give him a qualifying offer in June. That one-year, $850,000 contract for Steel has translated into a solid depth forward who can add some punch -- sometimes literally -- and scoring touch while providing the Stars with bottom-six versatility. All in all, it has been a good marriage thus far.

8. Carolina Hurricanes

Previous ranking: 9

Points percentage: 61.63%

Next seven days: vs. DET (Jan. 19), vs. MIN (Jan. 21), @ BOS (Jan. 24), vs. NJ (Jan. 25)

An eight-year extension for Sebastian Aho. Carolina wasn't about to let its best player hit free agency this coming summer. So, GM Don Waddell took care of business last July and inked Aho to an eight-year, $78 million extension (the largest in franchise history), which already looks like tidy work by the Hurricanes. Aho currently leads the club in goals, assists and points and is exactly the type of dynamic skater to build a franchise around.

9. Vegas Golden Knights

Previous ranking: 10

Points percentage: 63.33%

Next seven days: vs. PIT (Jan. 20), @ NJ (Jan. 22), @ NYI (Jan. 23)

2024 third-round pick. Vegas has basically run it back with its Stanley Cup-winning roster. We'll see how that strategy ultimately plays out for the Golden Knights (and if they're busy at trade deadline because of it). For now, it's an asset acquired via another trade -- that of Reilly Smith to Pittsburgh in June -- that has added the most to Vegas' coffers by offering them something to deal.

10. Edmonton Oilers

Previous ranking: 12

Points percentage: 61.25%

Next seven days: @ CGY (Jan. 20), vs. CBJ (Jan. 23), vs. CHI (Jan. 25)

Kris Knoblauch. Edmonton's numbers speak for themselves: The Oilers were 3-9-1 when Jay Woodcraft was fired; they are 21-6-0 since Kris Knoblauch took over. That's the league's third-best record overall since Nov. 12, and no doubt Knoblauch has played a key part in righting Edmonton's ship before it completely capsized.

11. Toronto Maple Leafs

Previous ranking: 7

Points percentage: 60.47%

Next seven days: @ VAN (Jan. 20), @ SEA (Jan. 21), vs. WPG (Jan. 24)

Martin Jones. Toronto was eyeing organizational goaltending depth when signing veteran Jones to a one-year deal in August. What the Leafs got with their low-key move was a massive depth piece to carry them through a rough stretch of injury (to Joseph Woll) and poor play (by Ilya Samsonov). Jones gives Toronto a chance each night he's in net, and that's all it can ask of a third-string savior.

12. Philadelphia Flyers

Previous ranking: 13

Points percentage: 61.36%

Next seven days: vs. COL (Jan. 20), vs. OTT (Jan. 21), vs. TB (Jan. 23), @ DET (Jan. 25)

Ryan Poehling. Philadelphia wasn't going for flash when signing Poehling to a one-year deal in the offseason. What the Flyers got was a forward they could count on, and Poehling has been that throughout the season. He's a quiet contributor and a valuable depth piece, and most importantly, he loves being in Philadelphia. That's an energy every team wants for its lineup.

13. Los Angeles Kings

Previous ranking: 11

Points percentage: 59.52%

Next seven days: vs. NYR (Jan. 20), vs. SJ (Jan. 22), vs. BUF (Jan. 24)

Cam Talbot. Los Angeles picked right in tapping Talbot as its latest No. 1 netminder. The 36-year-old is having his best season in years, with consistently strong performances that set the Kings up for a terrific first half. Talbot himself earned an All-Star nod and remains among the league's top-10 starters in most statistical categories.

14. Detroit Red Wings

Previous ranking: 20

Points percentage: 57.95%

Next seven days: @ CAR (Jan. 19), vs. TB (Jan. 21), vs. DAL (Jan. 23), vs. PHI (Jan. 25)

Alex DeBrincat. Detroit had no doubt that DeBrincat would be a difference-maker when it traded for and signed him last summer. And DeBrincat has not disappointed in the least. He leads the Red Wings in points, is tied for the team lead in goals and helped convince Patrick Kane to join Detroit's ranks, too. DeBrincat really can do it all for the Red Wings.

15. Pittsburgh Penguins

Previous ranking: 17

Points percentage: 57.14%

Next seven days: @ VGK (Jan. 20), @ ARI (Jan. 22)

Alex Nedeljkovic. Pittsburgh made splashier offseason moves -- we see you, Erik Karlsson -- but the one-year, $1.5 million investment in Nedeljkovic was a sound one. He has produced strong numbers in the NHL and gives the Penguins depth at a precarious position. While Nedeljkovic might not be the No. 1 netminder in Pittsburgh, he's the ultimate insurance policy.

16. New Jersey Devils

Previous ranking: 15

Points percentage: 55.95%

Next seven days: @ CBJ (Jan. 19), vs. DAL (Jan. 20), vs. VGK (Jan. 22), @ CAR (Jan. 25)

Simon Nemec. New Jersey has a burgeoning rookie sensation in Nemec, the No. 2 pick in the 2022 draft. The 19-year-old blueliner plays with intensity, finesse and no fear of throwing down with league veterans (see: Nemec vs. Brad Marchand). Nemec logs over 20 minutes per game, is smart with the puck and consistently defends well. What more could the Devils want?

17. Washington Capitals

Previous ranking: 16

Points percentage: 58.14%

Next seven days: @ STL (Jan. 20), @ MIN (Jan. 23), @ COL (Jan. 24)

Spencer Carbery. Washington tapped rookie head coach Carbery to remake the club into a playoff contender. Right now, the Capitals are in that mix. Carbery has been patient tinkering with his new team and overcame bouts of adversity with poise to prove he can get the most out of what Washington has to offer on the ice.

18. Nashville Predators

Previous ranking: 18

Points percentage: 56.67%

Next seven days: @ ARI (Jan. 20), vs. FLA (Jan. 22), @ MIN (Jan. 25)

Ryan O'Reilly. Nashville grabbing O'Reilly on a four-year, $18 million deal is looking like a bargain. The 32-year-old center is on pace to hit 30 goals -- which would be a career high -- and O'Reilly brings a certain physicality and attitude the Predators need to keep the competition at bay. Expected or not, Nashville found a true top-line performer in O'Reilly.

19. Tampa Bay Lightning

Previous ranking: 22

Points percentage: 56.67%

Next seven days: @ BUF (Jan. 20), @ DET (Jan. 21), @ PHI (Jan. 23), vs. ARI (Jan. 25)

Jonas Johansson. Tampa Bay likely didn't expect to lean on Johansson -- signed in July on a two-year contract -- to start the season. But when Andrei Vasilevskiy underwent surgery in September, it fell on Johansson to keep the Lightning afloat. And he did. Johansson was 8-4-5 with a .894 SV% in Vasilevskiy's absence to keep an inconsistent Tampa Bay team on track.

20. Seattle Kraken

Previous ranking: 19

Points percentage: 52.22%

Next seven days: vs. TOR (Jan. 21), vs. CHI (Jan. 24)

Joey Daccord. Seattle had Daccord all along (as in, it selected the goaltender from Ottawa in the expansion draft). But because Daccord signed a fresh two-year contract in the offseason and became the Kraken's No. 1 netminder for the first time, we're counting him as a new add. Daccord has been exceptional for Seattle in a starting role and helped it weather the ups and downs of this early season. Talk about found money.

21. New York Islanders

Previous ranking: 14

Points percentage: 54.55%

Next seven days: @ CHI (Jan. 19), vs. DAL (Jan. 21), vs. VGK (Jan. 23), @ MTL (Jan. 25)

Mike Reilly. New York snagged Reilly off waivers from Florida when Adam Pelech was injured, and that move was been quite a steal for GM Lou Lamoriello. Reilly has carved out an effective role on the Islanders' back end and is the type of low-maintenance, high-character skater Lamoriello loves to target. And all the better that Reilly practically fell into New York's lap.

22. Calgary Flames

Previous ranking: 23

Points percentage: 52.22%

Next seven days: vs. EDM (Jan. 20), vs. STL (Jan. 23), vs. CBJ (Jan. 25)

Yegor Sharangovich. Calgary acquired Sharangovich's rights from New Jersey in the Tyler Toffoli trade in June and quickly signed him to a two-year deal that has paid fine dividends to date. Sharangovich is a top-three offensive producer for the club (and coming off a recent hat trick performance) who can consistently ignite the Flames' attack.

23. Arizona Coyotes

Previous ranking: 21

Points percentage: 52.33%

Next seven days: vs. NSH (Jan. 20), vs. PIT (Jan. 22), @ FLA (Jan. 24), @ TB (Jan. 25)

Alex Kerfoot. Arizona added a jack-of-all-trades player in Kerfoot -- meaning, Kerfoot can (and has) played just about everywhere for the Coyotes. He rapidly earned coach Andre Tourigny's trust with a strong defensive commitment and the skill to slide seamlessly from a first- to fourth-line spot. Whatever Arizona needs, Kerfoot has found ways to deliver.

24. St. Louis Blues

Previous ranking: 24

Points percentage: 51.16%

Next seven days: vs. WSH (Jan. 20), @ CGY (Jan. 23), @ VAN (Jan. 24)

Oskar Sundqvist. St. Louis technically had Sundqvist before bringing him back -- two years later -- on a one-year deal last summer. Details! What matters is Sundqvist 2.0 is an ideal fit for the Blues. He's a hard-working, durable forward who can elevate skaters around him and never quits on a puck. It's that sort of doggedness St. Louis missed when it lost Sundqvist.

25. Montreal Canadiens

Previous ranking: 25

Points percentage: 50.00%

Next seven days: @ BOS (Jan. 20), vs. OTT (Jan. 23), vs. NYI (Jan. 25)

Alex Newhook. Montreal made a great call trading for Newhook over the summer -- even though Newhook has spent weeks on the shelf because of a high-ankle sprain. He was superb to start the season (and is still top seven in scoring on the team despite that missed time) and will be a valuable contributor over the life of his four-year deal as the Habs move closer to playoff contention.

26. Buffalo Sabres

Previous ranking: 27

Points percentage: 48.89%

Next seven days: vs. TB (Jan. 20), @ ANA (Jan. 23), @ LA (Jan. 24)

Zach Benson. Buffalo recently promoted rookie Benson to a top-line stint. He had earned his look. Benson has proved to be a trustworthy, responsible and clearly versatile piece for the Sabres, a north-south player who is unfazed by any assignment. At just 18 years old, Benson is repeatedly showing he's NHL ready.

27. Minnesota Wild

Previous ranking: 26

Points percentage: 46.59%

Next seven days: @ FLA (Jan. 19), @ CAR (Jan. 21), vs. WSH (Jan. 23), vs. NSH (Jan. 25)

John Hynes. Minnesota didn't adjust much in the offseason, and its 2023-24 campaign started poorly. Credit to GM Bill Guerin for not wasting time pursuing change when he axed coach Dean Evason on Nov. 27 and hired Hynes. The Wild were 5-10-4 when Hynes took over and have rebounded to the point the playoffs aren't a pipe dream (perhaps just an uphill battle).

28. Columbus Blue Jackets

Previous ranking: 28

Points percentage: 42.05%

Next seven days: vs. NJ (Jan. 19), @ EDM (Jan. 23), @ CGY (Jan. 25)

Adam Fantilli. Columbus chose well taking Adam Fantilli at No. 3 overall in June's draft. The 19-year-old has been invaluable to the Blue Jackets in another injury-plagued campaign, moving throughout the lineup to eventually land an unexpectedly expanded role as a top-six center. Fantilli's rapid growth has produced good numbers and burgeoning chemistry with multiple teammates.

29. Ottawa Senators

Previous ranking: 29

Points percentage: 40.00%

Next seven days: vs. WPG (Jan. 20), @ PHI (Jan. 21), @ MTL (Jan. 23), vs. BOS (Jan. 25)

Vladimir Tarasenko. Ottawa got what it paid for with Tarasenko. The veteran is an effective second-line winger making consistent contributions offensively. Given the one-year deal Tarasenko signed, his greatest value to the Senators might still be to come -- as a trade candidate before March 8.

30. Anaheim Ducks

Previous ranking: 30

Points percentage: 35.23%

Next seven days: @ SJ (Jan. 20), vs. NYR (Jan. 21), vs. BUF (Jan. 23), @ DAL (Jan. 25)

Leo Carlsson. Anaheim hit the right note taking Carlsson second overall in the 2023 draft. The 19-year-old -- just back from a sprained MCL -- plays with maturity beyond his years. Carlsson has game-changing potential, is dangerous at both ends of the ice and frustrates opponents with his tenacity. The Ducks are in for years of high-caliber performance from their top pick.

31. Chicago Blackhawks

Previous ranking: 31

Points percentage: 31.11%

Next seven days: vs. NYI (Jan. 19), @ VAN (Jan. 22), @ SEA (Jan. 24), @ EDM (Jan. 25)

Connor Bedard. Chicago drafted the generational talent at No. 1 for a reason. The rookie -- currently sidelined by a fractured jaw -- leads the Blackhawks in every meaningful offensive category and performs all over at 5-on-5 and special teams. Bedard will be itching to regain his form once cleared to return from injury.

32. San Jose Sharks

Previous ranking: 32

Points percentage: 26.67%

Next seven days: vs. ANA (Jan. 20), @ LA (Jan. 22), vs. NYR (Jan. 23)

Mikael Granlund. San Jose's list of top performers is short and headlined by newcomer Granlund. He has had a great run individually and injected some life into the Sharks' otherwise sputtering offense. San Jose got Granlund via a trade last summer. Will it have cause to flip him again before the deadline, and maximize what he has been able to produce so far?

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