NHL Power Rankings: 1-32 poll, each team's questionable move

ByKristen Shilton ESPN logo
Friday, January 26, 2024

While the Edmonton Oilers approach history with a record-breaking win streak, it's another Western Canadian team that takes over the top spot of the NHL Power Rankings this week.

Plus, while we identified each team's best new addition in last week's Power Rankings, this week it's the opposite side of the coin: What are the moves (or non-moves) on which each team might like a do-over?

How we rank: A panel of ESPN hockey commentators, analysts, reporters and editors sends 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. 19. Points percentages are through Thursday's games.

1. Vancouver Canucks

Previous ranking: 2

Points percentage: 71.88%

Next seven days: vs. CBJ (Jan. 27)

Vancouver has hit all the right notes this season. The Canucks' only regret might wind up being not extending Elias Pettersson before now (if it was an option). He's on pace for another 100-plus-point campaign and will be (rightfully) looking for a significant payday when the time comes to negotiate. Vancouver will have to come prepared -- and maybe back up the Brinks truck.

2. Boston Bruins

Previous ranking: 3

Points percentage: 71.88%

Next seven days: @ PHI (Jan. 27)

Perhaps this would be considered a "good problem to have." Boston has red-hot netminder (and pending RFA) Jeremy Swayman up for another contract negotiation this summer -- and the way he's playing, Swayman's going to demand even more than he did a year ago. The Bruins might regret not getting something longer-term done with Swayman when they had the chance, prior to his levelling up again in 2023-24.

3. Winnipeg Jets

Previous ranking: 1

Points percentage: 70.65%

Next seven days: vs. TOR (Jan. 27)

The Jets are excellent in so many areas that it's easy to gloss over the fact their power play is in the bottom 10 of the league. Yikes. The Jets haven't remedied that situation for over half the season, and it's the type of problem that comes back to bite a contender in the playoffs. Winnipeg might regret letting its not-so-little problem linger (although perhaps a remedy could be on the way ahead of the trade deadline).

4. Colorado Avalanche

Previous ranking: 4

Points percentage: 67.71%

Next seven days: vs. LA (Jan. 26)

Colorado took a risk replacing injured goaltender Pavel Francouz with waiver-wire pickup Ivan Prosvetov last October -- and it hasn't paid off. Prosvetov has provided little help to starter Alexandar Georgiev in a backup role, and as Colorado leans heavily on Georgiev now, the more likely he'll be burned out by spring. The Avalanche might regret not bolstering their goalie tandem sooner.

5. Dallas Stars

Previous ranking: 7

Points percentage: 66.67%

Next seven days: vs. WSH (Jan. 27)

Dallas didn't upgrade its backup goalie position for the season, sticking with Scott Wedgewood behind the usually fantastic Jake Oettinger. Well. Oettinger has struggled between injury stints, and Wedgewood has been taxed in the meantime. The Stars are a good team despite their below-average goaltending -- but will GM Jim Nill regret not adding a more reliable No. 2 option?

6. Florida Panthers

Previous ranking: 5

Points percentage: 65.96%

Next seven days: @ PIT (Jan. 26), @ NYI (Jan. 27)

The front office will regret not re-signing Sam Reinhart last summer. The pending UFA is one the league's hottest scorers and will be in high demand on the open market (if he makes it there). The Panthers are obviously enjoying Reinhart while they can -- but he's going to need a raise this offseason.

7. Edmonton Oilers

Previous ranking: 10

Points percentage: 64.77%

Next seven days: vs. NSH (Jan. 27)

This one is easy: Edmonton should have keyed on new head coach Kris Knoblauch way sooner. Why? Because replacing Jay Woodcroft with Knoblauch in November (when the Oilers were 3-9-1) is the best thing to happen for Edmonton this season, and the team has the lengthy win streak to prove it.

8. New York Rangers

Previous ranking: 6

Points percentage: 64.89%

Next seven days: vs. VGK (Jan. 26), @ OTT (Jan. 27)

The addition of Blake Wheeler on a one-year deal followed Winnipeg buying out his contract last summer is a move New York might regret. Even that minor $800,000 investment in the veteran hasn't gone the Rangers' way. Wheeler has been underwhelming with just 17 points in 46 games. Have to wonder now if New York wouldn't have put its money behind a different depth addition.

9. Vegas Golden Knights

Previous ranking: 9

Points percentage: 64.58%

Next seven days: @ NYR (Jan. 26), @ DET (Jan. 27)

Vegas failed to add or change much in the offseason following its Stanley Cup victory. Now, standing pat looks like a questionable call. The Golden Knights have fizzled following a hot start, with predictable problems piling up for a team susceptible to fatigue. This is when a lack of fresh legs can become one major regret.

10. Toronto Maple Leafs

Previous ranking: 11

Points percentage: 60.87%

Next seven days: @ WPG (Jan. 27)

Toronto signed Ryan Reaves to a three-year, $4.050 million contract in the offseason that has translated into one goal in 21 games and Reaves being moved to IR -- despite the 36-year-old recently stating he has been healthy for weeks. Huh? Talk about an all-around bad situation the Leafs have to regret.

11. Carolina Hurricanes

Previous ranking: 8

Points percentage: 62.77%

Next seven days: vs. ARI (Jan. 27)

The re-signing of Tony DeAngelo on a one-year, $1.675 million contract over the summer is the easy choice here, as the defenseman has spent most of this season as a healthy scratch. Granted, the Hurricanes have solid defensive depth to work with, but the club seemingly miscalculated what DeAngelo's fit would be with its group.

12. Los Angeles Kings

Previous ranking: 13

Points percentage: 58.89%

Next seven days: @ COL (Jan. 26), @ STL (Jan. 28), @ NSH (Jan. 31)

The Kings swung for the fences acquiring Pierre-Luc Dubois from Winnipeg in trade last summer -- and then inked him to a monster new contract. It hasn't exactly been a great fit. Dubois is on pace for a career low in points and was recently called out by head coach Todd McLellan for needing to be more of a "difference-maker." Are the Kings destined for buyer's (or, trader's) remorse?

13. Philadelphia Flyers

Previous ranking: 12

Points percentage: 57.14%

Next seven days: vs. BOS (Jan. 27)

Will the Flyers regret not going all-in on chasing the playoffs this season? The team didn't start off expecting to be in the postseason mix, and if it sticks with the plan of trading players away ahead of the deadline, Philadelphia could quickly fall out of contention. And where's the enjoyment in that -- compared to making a surprising run to a playoff berth?

14. Tampa Bay Lightning

Previous ranking: 19

Points percentage: 58.16%

Next seven days: vs. NJ (Jan. 27)

Tampa Bay inked Tanner Jeannot to a two-year, $5.33 million contract in July, hoping to revive a player who broke out with 24 goals in the 2021-22 season. That hasn't happened. Jeannot had just 12 points in 41 games this season before the Lightning moved him to IR. For a cap-strapped club like Tampa Bay, that's a disappointing return on investment.

15. Detroit Red Wings

Previous ranking: 14

Points percentage: 57.29%

Next seven days: vs. VGK (Jan. 27), vs. OTT (Jan. 31)

Detroit must regret not tapping into whatever well Alex Lyon's been drinking from lately because the Red Wings have been red-hot in January and it's Lyon who's leading that charge. Lyon was a third-string option until recently taking the No. 1 reins, and the results (minus one poor outing against Dallas this week) have put the Red Wings back on a playoff track.

16. New Jersey Devils

Previous ranking: 16

Points percentage: 55.43%

Next seven days: @ TB (Jan. 27)

To put it charitably, New Jersey has had its issues with goaltending this season -- and the Devils could regret not addressing that problem. Vitek Vanecek has taken a serious step back since last season's breakout, and Akira Schmid hasn't provided much help either. If New Jersey expects to get into the playoffs and make some noise, a new option will have to come via trade; other teams know this and won't make that move a cheap one for the Devils.

17. Nashville Predators

Previous ranking: 18

Points percentage: 55.21%

Next seven days: @ EDM (Jan. 27), @ OTT (Jan. 29)

Sending Ryan Johansen to Colorado last summer (while retaining half his salary) looked like a necessary swap for a rebuilding team. And yet, the offensively challenged Predators could really use Johansen about now as they continue a somewhat surprising push for the playoffs. The Avalanche have Johansen in a third-line role, but he would be contributing higher up in Nashville. Over the short term at least, moving on from Johansen kind of stings.

18. Pittsburgh Penguins

Previous ranking: 15

Points percentage: 54.55%

Next seven days: vs. FLA (Jan. 26), vs. MTL (Jan. 27)

Could it be the Erik Karlsson trade? Pittsburgh took on the defenseman and his $10 million-per-year contract for four more seasons via last summer's blockbuster. Given Karlsson's average production and the Penguins' seventh-place position in the Metropolitan Division at present, it's hard not to wonder if GM Kyle Dubas regrets (for now, at least) going all-in on that big-time move.

19. New York Islanders

Previous ranking: 21

Points percentage: 53.13%

Next seven days: vs. FLA (Jan. 27)

The Isles finally went for a coaching change last week when GM Lou Lamoriello tapped Patrick Roy to replace Lane Lambert. Could they regret not making a change before the season? New York failed to maintain any consistency through the first half, and now it's scrambling to stay in the playoff race.

20. St. Louis Blues

Previous ranking: 24

Points percentage: 54.35%

Next seven days: @ SEA (Jan. 26), vs. LA (Jan. 28), vs. CBJ (Jan. 30)

Ultimately, St. Louis replaced Craig Berube with Drew Bannister behind the bench after a dismal start to the season. But the Blues waited until December to make the switch, and it cost them valuable time to keep pace in the Central Division. They've been well over .500 under Bannister's watch; will St. Louis look back and wonder why a clearly needed change took so long?

21. Arizona Coyotes

Previous ranking: 23

Points percentage: 52.13%

Next seven days: @ CAR (Jan. 27)

Arizona might have extended Sean Durzi sooner if it had known what a terrific season the pending RFA would put together. As it is, Durzi will be looking for a handsome raise (with long-term implications) when the time comes. Durzi has been an exemplary offensive defenseman and an integral piece of the Coyotes' above-average power play. No doubt Durzi will want to have his (pay) day now.

22. Washington Capitals

Previous ranking: 17

Points percentage: 54.35%

Next seven days: @ DAL (Jan. 27)

Washington did not orchestrate a trade for Evgeny Kuznetsov in the offseason, and he has continued to be something of a dead weight in their struggling offense. The Capitals' second-highest-paid forward has just six goals in 40 games for a team frequently being outshot and outscored at alarming rates. Washington must regret not being able to find Kuznetsov a new home -- and perhaps some higher-scoring options for itself.

23. Seattle Kraken

Previous ranking: 20

Points percentage: 52.13%

Next seven days: vs. STL (Jan. 26), vs. CBJ (Jan. 28), @ SJ (Jan. 30)

Failing to extend a qualifying offer to Morgan Geekie last summer seems like a big mistake now. Geekie was swiftly scooped up by the Bruins, and he's having a fantastic season that's on track to be a career high in every respect. Meanwhile, the Kraken have struggled for scoring. Having Geekie around would have helped.

24. Calgary Flames

Previous ranking: 22

Points percentage: 48.96%

Next seven days: vs. CHI (Jan. 27)

Calgary has appeared to hem and haw about what to do with pending UFA Elias Lindholm. That's a regretful tactic. The longer Calgary waits to either sign Lindholm or trade him to a contender, the less control the team may have in ensuring either scenario works out in its favor.

25. Minnesota Wild

Previous ranking: 27

Points percentage: 48.96%

Next seven days: vs. ANA (Jan. 27)

Minnesota didn't -- and frankly, due to a lack of cap space, couldn't -- add much to the roster over the summer, and that came back to haunt it in a brutal first half of the season. The Wild were plagued by injuries and had a glaring lack of depth to fill in the gaps. GM Bill Guerin said recently he still believes in his team -- but Guerin might also regret not doing more to bolster the Wild earlier.

26. Buffalo Sabres

Previous ranking: 26

Points percentage: 47.92%

Next seven days: @ SJ (Jan. 27)

After an encouraging closing stretch to last season, the Sabres didn't shy away from establishing (publicly) a playoffs-or-bust mentality for 2023-24. It hasn't served them well. The Sabres were rightfully confident in themselves heading into the season, but that additional pressure has seemingly come back to bite them.

27. Montreal Canadiens

Previous ranking: 25

Points percentage: 48.96%

Next seven days: @ PIT (Jan. 27)

Montreal is not exactly in "win now" mode, but will the Canadiens ultimately regret the slow play of this rebuild? Their first-period struggles, listless losses, injury pile-ups and poor specialty teams erode confidence in not just players, but coaches too. Perhaps Montreal could have done more in the offseason to help itself stay closer to the average during this season.

28. Ottawa Senators

Previous ranking: 29

Points percentage: 43.18%

Next seven days: vs. NYR (Jan. 27), vs. NSH (Jan. 29), @ DET (Jan. 31)

The Senators thought they'd solved the goalie position by signing Joonas Korpisalo to a five-year, $20 million contract last summer. Ottawa can't be pleased with how he has performed since. The goalie intended to be a verifiable No. 1 has a sub-.900 SV% and nearly 3.50 GAA to show for his season thus far. That long-term investment is something the Senators could come to regret.

29. Columbus Blue Jackets

Previous ranking: 28

Points percentage: 41.49%

Next seven days: @ VAN (Jan. 27), @ SEA (Jan. 28), @ STL (Jan. 30)

Columbus has dealt with enough distractions, and goaltender Elvis Merzlikins needed not to be another one. The Blue Jackets' purported starter put up career-worst marks last season, and yet Columbus hung on to him hoping this season would be different. It's not. Between his trade request and the Blue Jackets not getting what they need from him, it's the kind of drama the club was hoping to avoid.

30. Anaheim Ducks

Previous ranking: 30

Points percentage: 35.42%

Next seven days: @ MIN (Jan. 27), vs. SJ (Jan. 31)

Anaheim traded Jamie Drysdale to Philadelphia for Cutter Gauthier, and already it feels like the Ducks could regret that in the short term at least. They were struggling without Drysdale as it was when he was injured, and now he's gone altogether. Gauthier will step in at some point, but right now the Ducks don't seem to have done themselves a favor getting rid of Drysdale.

31. Chicago Blackhawks

Previous ranking: 31

Points percentage: 30.61%

Next seven days: @ CGY (Jan. 27)

Chicago is getting something special from Jason Dickinson right now. And you wonder if coach Luke Richardson doesn't regret not finding that spark for his offense sooner. Dickinson is playing some of his best hockey in years as a pillar of the Blackhawks' consistent second line (which, at present, is the only one scoring), and it's Dickinson who's offering Chicago some much-needed stability.

32. San Jose Sharks

Previous ranking: 32

Points percentage: 31.25%

Next seven days: vs. BUF (Jan. 27), vs. SEA (Jan. 30), @ ANA (Jan. 31)

It's no surprise given their spot in the standings, but the Sharks have been brutal in multiple categories, including goaltending. That's especially disheartening considering the Sharks gave Mackenzie Blackwood a two-year, $4.7 million deal in the offseason -- and he has been worse all around than backup Kaapo Kahkonen. If San Jose had high hopes for Blackwood's backstopping, he has yet to reach those heights.