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September 15, 2014. Ryan Hartman (38) of the Chicago Blackhawks follows the play during a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Ottawa Senators at the 2014 NHL Rookie Tournament being played at Budweiser Gardens.

31. Vancouver Canucks – It looks like it’ll be another long season in Vancouver, especially with the way head coach Travis Green is treating some of his youngsters.

30. Detroit Red Wings – The Wings may not be the laughingstock we thought they would be, but they need another few solid weeks before moving up this list.

29. Arizona Coyotes – Arizona might still be really bad, even with their off-season additions on the blueline. At least there’s some young talent up front.

28. Colorado Avalanche – Colorado has put together two very solid forward lines, and has even won some games in the process. They get a slight bump in the rankings.

27. New Jersey – As advertised, the Devils have been young and exciting to watch. Nico Hischier looks like he could be the real deal.

26. Florida Panthers – The Panthers were busy giving mediocre players a lot of money this week, which is just about par for the course for them.

25. Vegas Golden Knights – The Knights are the only current NHL team with an all-time undefeated record. For that alone, they move up the rankings.

24. Philadelphia Flyers – Nolan Patrick has looked solid for Philly, which is encouraging. They remain the “flawed, but fun” team until further notice.

23. Buffalo Sabres – The Sabres have certainly looked competitive early on, but the results haven’t been there. Things could come together just as quickly as they could fall apart for this team.

22. New York Islanders – The Islanders haven’t looked necessarily impressive early on, but the obvious chemistry between Jordan Eberle and John Tavares leaves some real room for optimism.

21. Los Angeles Kings – The Kings are undefeated, and look much like the well-oiled machine we’ve come to know. They’ve done a good job of getting quality looks, as they promised over the summer.

20. Carolina Hurricanes – Once again, the Hurricanes look like a speedy, skilled team poised to take a step forward. Even in a stacked division, it’s hard not to feel optimistic about their playoff chances.

19. Ottawa Senators – No Erik Karlsson means no wins for the Senators. It also means no movement in the rankings until we see a healthy squad.

18. St. Louis Blues – Were the Blues the team that we were all wrong about? Their 4-0 record certainly says so. Their underlying numbers – not so much.

17. Winnipeg Jets – After an embarrassing home opener against the Leafs, it’d be easy to drop the Jets down a peg, but here’s to betting that their elite forward talent keeps them on the right trajectory.
16. Calgary Flames – The Flames haven’t blown anyone away after their much-heralded off-season. That may change once Jaromir Jagr gets into the lineup.

15. San Jose Sharks – The Sharks have looked neither impressive nor unimpressive, which lands them right smack in the middle of this ranking.

14. Nashville Predators – There are some serious red flags around the Predators right now, who seem to be suffering from a Cup Final hangover, on top of missing Ryan Ellis.

13. Minnesota Wild – The Wild haven’t looked quite as dangerous, but their roster remains too loaded to move them down this ranking.

12. Dallas Stars – Dallas’ off-season garnered the most popular acclaim, yet even with an improved blueline and goaltending situation, it remains to be seen if Ken Hitchcock can turn them into a competent defensive club. Scoring goals won’t be an issue.

11. Columbus Blue Jackets – Columbus is one of those teams that can get away with some early season malaise in the eyes of this ranking. Too much talent to ignore.

10 . Montreal Canadiens – Claude Julien’s Habs have excelled at five-on-five. Yet much like last year’s team, they’ve also struggled to find the back of the net. There’s a good chance that turns around, but until then, they’ll be sitting right on the edge of the top-10.

9. Washington Capitals – Alex Ovechkin looks like he’s out to prove something, which only means good things for the Capitals. He probably won’t maintain his seven-goals- in-three- games pace, but Washington will be impossible to overlook as long as he keeps playing this way.

8. Toronto Maple Leafs – Auston Matthews looks primed for yet another dominant season, while his teammates have crushed it at even strength. Young, fast, and dangerous, the Leafs might take a major step forward this year.

7. Edmonton Oilers – Connor McDavid has looked dominant while the Oilers look like an improving team at five-on-five – right on cue.

6. New York Rangers – Alain Vigneault may be on his way out if he can’t turn things around with a roster loaded with talent. They remain in the top-10 for now.

5. Boston Bruins – Their record isn’t great, but the Bruins have popped off the page statistically. The off-season hype may indeed be warranted.

4. Anaheim Ducks – With so many injuries, it’s difficult to fairly judge what’s going on in Anaheim. John Gibson has been a bright spot, standing on his head on a number of occasions.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning – At the very least, Steven Stamkos has looked good in his return to the lineup. The Lightning haven’t really impressed, but there’s still too much to like about their roster.

2. Chicago Blackhawks – Every ranking needs at least on overreaction, right? The Hawks have scored in their bunches thanks to their depth players stepping up. There’s little chance that continues for a full season, but let’s enjoy this while we can.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins – Pittsburgh hasn’t looked great in the early going – punctuated by a 10-1 loss to Chicago on opening night – but it’s just not enough to knock them down from the top spot. Yet.

  • ScottyG

    Glad to see that the Stars are at both #5 and #12. But I’m sure Boston is feeling a little left out right now.

  • ScottyG

    Lol didn’t even bother to change what you said about them just changed the name from Stars to Bruins in the number and sentence.