I’ve written so damn much today, rushing to get three different blogs out by the time you’re reading this (with three more on the way, hopefully this week), I’m not going to waste much time on this opening. Jumping the gun by a week on these rankings with everyone off this past weekend for the All-Star break, much easier to do them when I’m not having to adjust on a night to night basis.
Quickly before I start, I’m essentially ranking my Cup favourites here, and at a certain point (this time around it’s 22) I go from ranking Cup chances to where they are as organizations. So then it becomes more about where their rebuild is at because those teams aren’t making the playoffs.
31. Detroit Red Wings
Last month: 31st
What did I say about them in the previous months? Go back and read that, I don’t feel like typing it again!
30. San Jose Sharks
Last month: 23rd
I gave them this last month, and then Couture got hurt and their season was DOA. What a fucking mess! No assets in the system, enormous cap issues, Doug Wilson is a good GM but he got flat out stupid with the Erik Karlsson trade, and then was even more dumb with the Erik Karlsson signing. You need to go for it when your window is open, but you need to stay calculated and Wilson didn’t, and it may have crippled this organization. Reminder: The Sens own their 1st round pick this season.
29. Los Angeles Kings
Last month: 29th
Same as Detroit, I’ve wrote the same thing on them all season, I’m sure you get it by now. Things are bleak!
28. New Jersey Devils
Last month: 30th
Keep your eye on that Arizona pick as it’s only top 3 protected. With Kuemper out they’ve been in free fall, and the Devils may end up hitting a home run with the Hall trade thanks to that.
27. Anaheim Ducks
Last month: 28th
Congratulations to the Ducks who move up a spot in my rankings thanks to me giving up on the Sharks. A proud day for Bob Murray and company, no doubt…
26. Montreal Canadiens
Last month: 21st
Until they rebuild properly, I’m going to be down on them. Now is the time to move on a big time rebuild for the Habs, and I’m TERRIFIED that Geoffry Molson won’t do it. He’ll keep Marc Bergevin employed and they will just keep beating their heads against the wall as an organization. Some might see this as “shitting” on the Habs, I’m actually pulling for the Habs because I want to see them get back to where they should be which is being a Cup contender. They aren’t going to do that until they rebuild and not a dip their toe in the water type rebuild they’ve attempted. Blow it the fuck up.
25. Minnesota Wild
Last month: 22nd
Dropped a little this month, that loss to the Panthers right before the break was a backbreaker. They refuse to rebuild it, and the longer they try to put that off, the years I believe they are adding to the rebuild. There is still a chance they make the playoffs, but even if they got in they aren’t going anywhere.
24. Ottawa Senators
Last month: 24th
I’m sure this one will be the most controversial, but the fact of the matter is that I love where this team is sitting with their rebuild. As it currently stands, they have a 17% shot at winning the top pick, and I believe they have a chance to have as much as a 21% chance. To put that in perspective, 31st only gets you 18%. But just put that aside, this draft is amazing and they’re looking at owning two top 10 picks, and five in the top 62 in what is one of the deepest drafts we’ve seen in the last decade. Combine that with all the quality kids they already have in the organization and this team is completely loaded moving forward. They’re not good at the moment, but who cares?!
23. New York Rangers
Last month: 25th
I’m not in love with what they have moving forward. They are ok, they have some decent pieces, but the one guy they have who might have superstar type ability is Kakko, but I’m not sure he can get to that level either. Now, they can draw UFA’s as well as any team in the league so that has to be factored in, but I don’t know if they are set up right now to be anything more than just a perennial playoff team down the line.
22. Buffalo Sabres
Last month: 19th
I really believe that even though they won’t make the playoffs this season, they are finally on the rise. Bittersweet for Sabres fans perhaps, but I see this as a massive step and perhaps next season they take another one where they’re in the playoffs.
21. Chicago Blackhawks
Last month: 27th
They’re coming. 2nd straight season they are making a strong push after looking like they were done. I still don’t know though.
20. Arizona Coyotes
Last month: 16th
This is very dependent on Darcy Kuemper’s return…or lack thereof. I didn’t buy into Kuemper having the numbers he had, but since he’s gone down so have the Coyotes. This at least has the potential to get interesting with Taylor Hall. The way they’re going, they could fall out of it if they don’t get out of this tailspin and if they do, I’m sure John Chayka would visit the possibility of cutting his losses.
19. Edmonton Oilers
Last month: 20th
I’m staying reserved on their success despite looking MUCH better in January. But they also have the most potential to jump up all the way to the top 10 because they are 10 games away from being a buyer. If they are in it by the deadline (it’s actually 13 games until the deadline, but you get what I’m saying), they’ll buy and then they can add some depth. If they get depth upfront, this could be a scary team come playoff time. But they have to make it until the trade deadline and their schedule is pretty tough in the next 10. One encouraging stat is that they’re 3rd in the West/8th overall in regulation points percentage at .541. No 3 on 3 or shootouts come playoff time.
18. Vegas Golden Knights
Last month: 8th
A big fall down my rankings. I have to say, I hate this coaching change. And I worry that this is a rare coaching change that will actually hurt the club rather than help. I’m not seeing what Peter DeBoer can adjust to make them better. Gerard Gallant had a system in place that hid their flaws. The blueline is awful and they are too slow, which Gallant countered by having them play a style where they were constantly moving. Add to all this, Marc-Andre Fleury’s career year of 2018 isn’t what he is. This season falls in line more with what he really is. And Malcolm Subban has never really progressed, so combined it’s not a very good combo.
17. Calgary Flames
Last month: 18th
I believe they are the 2nd best team in the division, if not the top team. But they only have 17 wins in regulation right now. That’s tied for 22nd in the league.
16. Columbus Blue Jackets
Last month: 26th
It is such a GREAT story. But I just simply don’t buy that they are truly legitimate. Having said that, this is the value of a great blueline and they perhaps have the most underrated ones in the league.
15. New York Islanders
Last month: 12th
I’m not a big believer in them either despite loving what they’ve accomplished with what they have. Slowly, they are coming back to earth after an incredible start.
14. Winnipeg Jets
Last month: 14th
It’s odd. I shouldn’t like them more than Vegas as right now it’s essentially the same roster, but I like the Jets speed better and I believe the break could be huge for Hellebuyck to get back on track. But it goes without saying that they better get it together soon. I don’t want to hear about the Byfuglien situation handcuffing them, they just don’t want to part with one of their top forwards to upgrade the D. Do it and chase a forward once the Byfuglien situation is resolved, not that hard.
13. Philadelphia Flyers
Last month: 15th
I really don’t know what to make of this team. They’re good, they look like a playoff team, but I wonder if this is what they are built to be is a perennial playoff team and nothing more, which would be pretty disappointing after going through their rebuild. At least it looks like they’ve FINALLY found their goalie, only took 30 years or so.
12. Vancouver Canucks
Last month: 17th
I have a feeling that we haven’t seen the best of this team yet. The one thing I’d like to see is for them to upgrade the blueline, but I’m not sure what they can do with it. But they’re really deep up front, good blueline, good goaltending.
11. Nashville Predators
Last month: 9th
I’m still not quitting on them, but I’m very close to doing so. One of the best 5 on 5 teams in the league though so if they can get their special teams figured out under John Hynes then they’ll be a force.
10. Toronto Maple Leafs
Last month: 7th
Again, really no different from the Jets and Knights. They are getting Muzzin back this week which will be massive. IF they can get in the playoffs (which unfortunately for Leafs fans, it is far from a certainty), then the Morgan Rielly injury could end up being a blessing in disguise as they could put him on LTIR until the end of the season and use that cap money to make a big addition. But we’ll see if they choose to go that route. Badly need to upgrade on Michael Hutchinson to give Andersen some rest and get back to the level he’s capable of playing at.
9. Colorado Avalanche
Last month: 11th
I love this team and they are going to be a Cup contender VERY soon, I just don’t see them as one quite yet.
8. Florida Panthers
Last month: 13th
I am very up and down on this team. On one hand, if Bobrovsky gets back to form, they’re good enough to win it all. On the other hand, Bobrovsky has been putrid this season and it isn’t as though they can move him out and upgrade between the pipes. For now, I’ll go with the former.
7. Carolina Hurricanes
Last month: 4th
I don’t really love having them this high to be honest, but they’re a goaltender away. And this team is LOADED with assets and movable contracts. So if Eric Tulsky (I mean Don Waddell…) wants to, they can go get a goaltender. Robin Lehner is apparently their first choice, but Chicago is now in the hunt. I would bet they are the team that ends up landing Georgiev, who might not seem like a big get but with that team in front of him he could be a game-changer.
6. Dallas Stars
Last month: 10th
This team is built for playoff hockey, and they appear headed for a 1st round matchup with the Avs who I love, but I would bet everything I could on the Stars in that series. The question I have for the Stars is whether or not they can handle the Blues.
5. Tampa Bay Lightning
Last month: 5th
Here they come. Don’t say I didn’t tell you I’ve been saying this all season. And they’ve overcome adversity this season, overcome the 1st round sweep, they’re a legit contender once again.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins
Last month: 6th
I’ve probably said this every month this season, I thought they were done. They’re not done. And now, that Crosby injury will actually help them as he’ll be fresh as we get into the playoffs. I believe Jim Rutherford will load up too. At first glance, they don’t have much cap room, but Alex Galchenyuk is expiring so they can dump his 4.9 million, and there are other things they can also do to free up a lot of money and really load up. This might be their final shot.
3. Boston Bruins
Last month: 2nd
They’re bored. I’ve debated still having them 1st, but in thinking about the playoffs, they are going to have a tough road even if they cruise into the postseason. I believe Tampa will catch them for the division crown, but as we know the Bruins are built for the playoffs.
2. Washington Capitals
Last month: 3rd
It’s really just the same old, same old for the Caps. I do wonder if Brian MacLellan will get aggressive at this deadline though with Holtby’s contract being up and the Backstrom extension kicking in next season, this might be their last chance.
1. St. Louis Blues
Last month: 1st
At this point, I don’t know who can beat them in the West. Dallas is maybe best suited to do so, but
Subscribe to the Podcast
Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups
Like the fan page on Facebook
Follow me on Instagram @Soups_on_Hockey