NHL Power Rankings 2012-13: NHL Numbers Writers Weigh In

Ben Wendorf
January 19 2013 09:24AM


                                          by Kareemadel, via Wikimedia Commons

Keeping in mind Derek's solid post from yesterday, we at NHL Numbers nevertheless felt a need to put together a NHL Power Rankings list for the coming season (in fact, the first "full" NHL season during which this site has functioned). Including me, Jonathan Willis, Derek Zona, Cam Charron, Kent Wilson, and Chase W., each contributor was asked to make their rankings and include a brief sentence or two summary on their ranking. Jonathan used those rankings to create a composite ranking, and now I weave in the prose. To save some space, the commenters I'm using below include one whose ranking was a bit of an outlier from the others and one who provides a pretty good summation. Let's get to them, starting with a real hack pick if I ever saw one... 

The NHL Numbers NHL Power Rankings

1. Los Angeles Kings (Avg Rk: 1.5)

  • "Dustin Penner regressing to his mean, a full season with Jeff Carter, and most importantly, a full season without Jack Johnson makes this team absolutely lethal." - Derek Zona (DZ), Rk: 1
  • "Anze Kopitar entering the season dinged-up won't help matters, but Mike Richards can slide easily into an all-situations role and Jarret Stoll or Andrei Loktionov can plug into Richards' spot, so the drop-off shouldn't be great. Bank on a bit of Jonathan Quick regression." - Benjamin Wendorf (BW), Rk: 2

2. Pittsburgh Penguins (Avg Rk: 2.0)

  • "Healthy Crosby, healthy Malkin. Interesting to see how the loss of [Jordan] Staal effects them." - Kent Wilson (KW), Rk: 1
  • "There's just too much of everything (except goaltending) here, and Brandon Sutter is going to shoulder a heavy load while the top six romps on people." - DZ, Rk: 2

3. St. Louis Blues (Avg Rk: 5.0)

  • "Brian Elliott crashes back to earth and takes ~7 points with him." - DZ, Rk: 9
  • "Great depth at all positions. No single superstar though (although Pietrangelo is close)." - KW, Rk: 3

4. Chicago Blackhawks (Avg Rk: 5.0)

  • "Corey Crawford is a limiting factor, but as long as they still have Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and great role players like Dave Bolland and Michal Rozsival, they'll be a strong team." - BW, Rk: 5
  • "They're still a good (if flawed) team that was better than their record last season. Crawford and Emery can't possibly be as bad as they were in 2011-12, can they?" - Jonathan Willis (JW), Rk: 6

5. New York Rangers (Avg Rk: 6.3)

  • "Lundqvist is good, addition of Nash helps. Not a top team till they can control play." - KW, Rk: 10
  • "I'm curious as to how they'll use their pieces. Rick Nash is going to slide into Carl Hagelin's spot on the top line, but Hagelin's presence last year was what made the line so good. They have the potential to create two elite lines here, and have one of the best defensive pairings in hockey as well as its best goaltender." - Cam Charron (CC), Rk: 4

6. Boston Bruins (Avg Rk: 6.5)

  • "Jordan Caron might help a bit, but Chara's not getting any younger and I don't know that Tuukka Rask will be extraordinary. Other key pieces still there, though." - BW, Rk: 8
  • "Without Tim Thomas, this team is just another competitive team in the East." - DZ, Rk: 11

7. Vancouver Canucks (Avg Rk: 7.2)

  • "On a team that relies greatly on knowing and using its pieces to perfection, Kesler's injury is a big problem. The goaltending 'battle' is/was as much illogical as it will be frustrating to Vancouver's success." - BW, Rk: 19
  • "Still the best team in the [Northwest] Division by far." - KW, Rk: 7

8. San Jose Sharks (Avg Rk: 8.2)

  • "Demise greatly exaggerated by mediocre percentages." - KW, Rk: 5
  • "This team should surprise people. They're deep and competent at every position and primed for a rebound season." - JW, Rk: 9

9. Philadelphia Flyers (Avg Rk: 8.3)

  • "Hartnell and Timonen are due to regress a bit, but I think Bryzgalov bounces back (if the goalie-paranoid Philly crowd lets him) and Voracek could do well beside Giroux. Also, Free Couturier!" - BW, Rk: 9
  • "The NHL's craziest successful team, the Flyers should once again be in the thick of things in the East." - JW, Rk: 8

10. Detroit Red Wings (Avg Rk: 9.8)

  • "Another wild card. How much will they be impacted by the loss of Nik Lidstrom? My read is that it's closer to 'more' than 'less.' They don't appeal to me too much on the back end, and their key forwards are getting up there in years as well." - CC, Rk: 16
  • "Losing Lidstrom hurts, but other key pieces are still there and there's a youth movement afoot (Brendan Smith, Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist)." - BW, Rk: 7

11. Ottawa Senators (Avg Rk: 14.5)

  • "This is a team that's better than the sum of their parts, and the addition of Guillaume Latendresse was an excellent gamble." - JW, Rk: 10
  • "Alfredsson has pretty much arrived at his age limit, and it's hard to confidently project Spezza to play another full slate of games (48-game season notwithstanding). This ranking is even assuming Karlsson doesn't regress." - BW, Rk: 24

12. Washington Capitals (Avg Rk: 15.0)

  • "The key for the Capitals isn't Braden Holtby, but their coaching. They were a fairly good possession team under Bruce Boudreau and ineffective under Dale Hunter despite a modicum of playoff success. They're a pretty offensively-driven team, and they could very well be the best team in the division." - CC, Rk: 19
  • "No more Semin, Ovechkin no longer dominant." - KW, Rk: 15

13. Carolina Hurricanes (Avg Rk: 15.2)

  • "The additions of Semin and [Jordan] Staal are big." - KW, Rk: 11
  • "Eric Staal needed a player like Jordan to come around, but their defensive unit is pretty weak." - BW, Rk: 11

14. Phoenix Coyotes (Avg Rk: 16.5)

  • "All best are off if Rusty Klesla gets hurt and forces Derek Morris into the top 4. Morris is one of the worst regular defensemen in the league." - DZ, Rk: 12
  • "Mike Smith is unlikely to repeat last year. Hanzal, Vrbata, Moss and Doan are decent two-way players." - KW, Rk: 20

15. New Jersey Devils (Avg Rk: 16.7)

  • "It's easy to forget that this team went to the Stanley Cup Finals last season. Relying on Martin Brodeur has served the team well for eons, but it's a poorer strategy each succeeding year." - JW, Rk: 15
  • "Lost Parise, Henrique hurt, Kovalchuk might stay in Russia. Blueline is questionable, goaltending is ancient." - KW, Rk: 19

16. Colorado Avalanche (Avg Rk: 16.8)

  • "This ranking is predicated on Ryan O'Reilly staying in Russia. If he signs, Colorado moves up to 20th, they could gain leverage by signing Scott Gomez." - DZ, Rk: 26
  • "Landeskog, Duchene, and O'Reilly are legitimate. Need owners to spend some money to fill team out." - KW, Rk: 16

17. Winnipeg Jets (Avg Rk: 17.3)

  • "This team made smart, budget-conscious additions in the offseason, and Ondrej Pavelec should provide league-average goaltending - something he failed to do last season." - JW, Rk: 16
  • "There's not really a reason for them to do worse, as their possession game is good (and they added a couple of players to improve it), not to mention dismal goaltending was the norm last year. Bogosian improving and Enstrom playing more of the games will help; Postma and Jokinen can boost the powerplay." - BW, Rk: 10

18. Tampa Bay Lightning (Avg Rk: 18.5)

  • "The team's season rests on the shoulders of Anders Lindback, a guy with less than 40 games of NHL experience." - JW, Rk: 26
  • "Stamkos is a sniper, Hedman should be better. Not much else." - KW, Rk: 18

19. Dallas Stars (Avg Rk: 19.3)

  • "I like their young player and bringing in Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr, but they're in a fairly tough division. I think they're trending upwards, however." - CC, Rk: 20
  • "Banking on much older players (Whitney, Jagr) is not the way to go when age is already a problem among a few of your important skaters (Morrow, Robidas). I'm not sure I envision great improvement among the existing players, either." - BW, Rk: 26

20. Buffalo Sabres (Avg Rk: 19.8)

  • "It's hard to get excited about this roster. A make-or-break season for Cody Hodgson." - BW, Rk: 27
  • "For this team to have success, a lot of shaky centres (excluding Ott) will need to outperform their career averages." - JW, Rk: 23

21. Minnesota Wild (Avg Rk: 20.0)

  • "Some key additions to the lineup this year, but there are no words to describe just how bad the team was last season. They're fairly dependent on their kids." - CC, Rk: 24
  • "Parise and Suter move into major-driver roles in the possession game, but the subtle differences, like getting healthy seasons from Mikko Koivu and Niklas Backstrom and seeing the emergence of a couple of talented young players like Mikael Granlund and Jared Spurgeon, are too often overlooked." - BW, Rk: 13

22. Florida Panthers (Avg Rk: 21.2)

  • "Success last year partially luck-based. Should be at least a modest step back." - KW, Rk: 14
  • "Overrated last year after making the playoffs thanks to 18 overtime losses. I don't think they improved too much this last summer." - CC, Rk: 18

23. New York Islanders (Avg Rk: 21.3)

  • "The fact that the Islanders added Joe Finley off the waiver wire says everything that needs to be said about their blue line." - JW, Rk: 27
  • "Boyes and a Grabner/Niederreiter rebound can fill the ranks pretty well, and Tavares is only getting better. This is a stars-aligned ranking as it stands, really, but it becomes more sure if Visnovsky comes back." - BW, Rk: 14

24. Edmonton Oilers (Avg Rk: 21.5)

  • "Eventually, a team that amasses talent will win some games. The sooner they commit to the abilities of Jeff Petry and Devan Dubnyk, the sooner this ranking could be a reality." - BW, Rk: 15
  • "Another team just a groin pull away from the bottom three. A season of Khabibulin would be a disaster." - DZ, Rk: 22

25. Nashville Predators (Avg Rk: 21.8)

  • "Lost Suter and Radulov, replaced them with Hannan and nothing. Success last year percentage-based." - KW, Rk: 29
  • "No single player is more important to his team than Pekka Rinne." - DZ, Rk: 16

26. Montreal Canadiens (Avg Rk: 23.8)

  • "They weren't nearly as bad last year as their record indicated, so I'd have them higher up, but then they went and signed Brandon Prust and Colby Armstrong in the offseason." - CC, Rk: 22
  • "Marc Bergevin needs to hold on through this season, then he gets a metric ton of prospects to save the day." - DZ, Rk: 29

27. Anaheim Ducks (Avg Rk: 24.2)

  • "It's a deep defense and a marvelous top pairing, but the forward depth is the worst in the league." - DZ, Rk: 28
  • "Great top three forwards and then nothing but Teemu on the PP after that." - KW, Rk: 21

28. Calgary Flames (Avg Rk: 26.3)

  • "Aging core, nominal additions, lost best possession forward in Moss." - KW, Rk: 26
  • "The MacKinnon/Jones angst kicks in in Calgary by March 21st." - DZ, Rk: 30

29. Toronto Maple Leafs (Avg Rk: 27.3)

  • "Imagine if Paul Ranger comes back to top four form and the Leafs jettison Mike Komisarek." - DZ, Rk: 23
  • "There is no silver bullet for the Leafs' problems, and regression from Lupul (via injury or percentages) won't help. Season will lean on success/failure of two risky players, James van Riemsdyk and James Reimer, unless Luongo enters the mix." - BW, Rk: 29

30. Columbus Blue Jackets (Avg Rk: 28.0)

  • "Starting from scratch." - KW, Rk: 30
  • "They'll be better without Nash, but only because they got some true quality in return. If they had a GM that understood the necessity of depth, this team could be competitive." - DZ, Rk: 25

We'll be sure to revisit these rankings as the season progresses. In the meantime, I'm providing each individual list so you can better refine your malcontent in the comments section:

Team Derek Kent Cam Benjamin Chase Jonathan Avg Overall Rank
LAK 1 2 1 2 1 2 1.5 1
PIT 2 1 2 3 3 1 2.0 2
STL 9 3 8 1 4 5 5.0 3
CHI 3 6 5 5 5 6 5.0 4
NYR 4 10 4 6 10 4 6.3 5
BOS 11 4 3 8 6 7 6.5 6
VAN 6 7 6 19 2 3 7.2 7
SJS 8 5 15 4 8 9 8.2 8
PHI 5 8 9 9 11 8 8.3 9
DET 7 9 16 7 9 11 9.8 10
OTT 15 13 12 24 13 10 14.5 11
WSH 10 15 19 18 15 13 15.0 12
CAR 19 11 11 11 18 21 15.2 13
PHX 12 20 7 17 19 24 16.5 14
NJD 18 19 13 21 14 15 16.7 15
COL  26 16 10 16 21 12 16.8 16
WPG 17 12 26 10 23 16 17.3 17
TBL 27 18 21 12 7 26 18.5 18
DAL 14 22 20 26 12 22 19.3 19
BUF 13 23 17 27 16 23 19.8 20
MIN 21 28 24 13 20 14 20.0 21
FLA 24 14 18 20 26 25 21.2 22
NYI 20 17 28 14 22 27 21.3 23
EDM 22 24 23 15 28 17 21.5 24
NSH 16 29 14 28 24 20 21.8 25
MTL 29 25 22 23 25 19 23.8 26
ANA 28 21 29 22 27 18 24.2 27
CGY 30 26 25 30 17 30 26.3 28
TOR 23 27 27 29 29 29 27.3 29
CLB 25 30 30 25 30 28 28.0 30

Benjamin Wendorf was co-manager of the SB Nation Winnipeg Jets blog Arctic Ice Hockey (formerly Behind the Net); he is currently co-editor of Hockey-Graphs.com. He has been writing about NHL analytics for six years. He can be reached via email at wendorf DOT benjamin AT gmail DOT com, and tweets from @BenjaminWendorf.