Final 2018-19 Regular Season Power Rankings
Amidst the whirl wind of the end of the Flyers season and the beginning of playoff hockey, let's take one final look back at the crazy 2018-19 NHL regular season and see where everyone ended up. Since there's a lot to talk about in the form of other articles, we're going to keep these rankings condensed to three points per team.
31. Ottawa Senators (29-47-6, Last Month: 31)
1. Raging dumpster fire.
2. With Columbus making the playoffs, the Sens are guaranteed to receive the Jackets 1st round pick this year. If Duchene stays, the Senators would have 9 picks in the first two rounds over the next two years. Combined with Brady Tkachuk, Logan Brown, Thomas Chabot and others, there is hope for that "unparalled success" after all.
3. Unfortunately, their 2019 1st rounder is not one of those 9 picks. Last year, they chose to hold on to the 4th overall pick and take Tkachuk. Their first this year will be no lower than 4th and has an 18.5% chance of being #1. Colorado thanks you.
30. Edmonton Oilers (35-38-9, Last Month: 28)
1. The Connor McDavid saga is worth keeping an eye on. He said his stress levels were really high after missing the playoffs and seems extremely discontent with management. Then, he suffered a serious-looking leg injury last night. X-rays were negative, but the extent of the damage is not yet known.
2. Want some positivity? Leon Draisaitl is the first Oiler in three decades to score 50 goals.
3. The 2019-20 Oilers will have $21.4 million of cap space eaten up by Milan Lucic, Sam Gagner, Andrej Sekera, Mikko Koskinen, and Brandon Manning. And you wonder why the Oilers are in the basement.
29. Anaheim Ducks (35-37-10, Last Month: 29)
1. This was a historically bad season for the Ducks in terms of shot differential (aka Corsi).
2. Fittingly, John Gibson carried the Ducks to a win in their final game on Friday, stopping 44 of 46 shots to carry Anaheim to victory. Had he stayed healthy and the Ducks made the playoffs, he'd have my vote for the Hart.
3. How the Ducks will fare next year depends on how much Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan Kesler have left in the tank. And who Bob Murray chooses as the team's next coach.
28. Buffalo Sabres (33-39-10, Last Month: 20)
1. The Sabres joined the 2016-17 Flyers as the only teams in NHL history to miss the playoffs after a 10-game winning streak. At least those Flyers made it close; Buffalo was 17-32-8 after the streak ended. That cold streak has now cost Phil Housley his job.
2. With Carolina making the playoffs this year, Buffalol now holds the longest playoff drought in the NHL at eight years.
3. The biggest storyline of the Sabres offseason will be what will happen with Jeff Skinner. The 26-year old scored a career high 40 goals this year and will likely demand a big raise. The Sabres have the cap space to keep him, but does Skinner want to stick around?
27. Los Angeles Kings (31-42-9, Last Month: 27)
1. This was a predictable downfall for the Kings. They barely made the playoffs with a core group of players acting like it was still 2012, and were promptly swept by the Golden Knights in Round 1.
2. A full rebuild is probably the best thing for the Kings. But that's easier said then done with you look at all the over 30 players (Kopitar, Brown, Doughty, Quick, Kovalchuk) with huge cap hits.
3. I'd be shocked if the interim tag was removed Willie Desjardins. Expect a new bench boss for LA come October.
26. New Jersey Devils (31-41-10, Last Month: 26)
1. The Devil was in the depth this year. It was one of the biggest reasons why I thought the Devils weren't going to make the playoffs last year, but this season, it really hurt them. Granted, there were plenty of injuries, but Ray Shero didn't equip his team to handle them.
2. Remember when the Devils were the last undefeated team in the NHL at 4-0-0? Neither do they.
3. The sudden drop-off of Cory Schneider should be very concerning. The 33-year old posted his lowest save percentage in a full season in his career, and carries a $6 million cap hit for three more years with an NTC.
25. New York Rangers (32-36-14, Last Month: 25)
1. The Rangers ended this season as the youngest team in the NHL by average age.
2. Father time may finally be catching up to Henrik Lundqvist - his .907 save percentage was a career-low. The good news? Backup Alexander Georgiev was a .914% with two shutouts in 33 games played.
3. The Rangers have conditional picks riding on the success of the Lightning, Stars, and Jets this postseason. They could potentially have four firsts if the Bolts win the Cup and the Stars make it to the Western Conference Final.
24. Philadelphia Flyers (37-37-8, Last Month: 15)
1. Regression to the mean hit the Flyers hard down the stretch. After relying on Carter Hart to overcome being outshot to hell and back every night, the Flyers went 3-9-0 down the stretch.
2. In 2017, the Philadelphia Flyers, coming off a season where they made the playoffs, lost their final game at home 4-3 to Carolina. Projected to have a double-digit first round pick, the Flyers pulled off a miracle and won a top-3 pick. Can they do it again?
3. Of all the teams that missed the playoffs this year, I feel most confident that the Flyers will return next year. There may be some bias, but the young core combined with an active summer from Chuck Fletcher should push the Flyers back on the inside.
23. Minnesota Wild (37-36-9, Last Month: 17)
1. Once looking like a Cup contender, the Wild choked down the stretch with a 3-6-1 closing stretch, missing the playoffs by seven points.
2. Thank goodness Zach Parise proved he can stay healthy (74 games played) and produce (61 points). So long as he and Ryan Suter play like something resembling $7 million players, the Wild can still contend.
3. Paul Fenton's first big trade, Nino Niederriter for Victor Rask, is looking more and more lopsided by the day. Rask had 6 points in 26 games in Minnesota; Niederriter had 30 in 36 for the Canes. Only one is going to the playoffs. Hopefully the Coyle and Granlund deals go better for Minny.
22. Florida Panthers (36-32-14, Last Month: 21)
1. 2018-19 played out eerily similar to the season before for Florida. The Panthers struggled mightily early, but made a late season push that ultimately fell short.
2. Head coach Bob Boughner was let go Sunday morning. More instability in a team that has lacked that in basically every facet.
3. Alexander Barkov's 95 points set a franchise record in scoring. He will be a favorite for the Lady Byng and a candidate for the Selke as well.
21. Chicago Blackhawks (36-34-12, Last Month: 23)
1. Despite a late push, the Hawks fell just short of returning to the playoffs, missing in consecutive years for the first time with Toews and Kane. This late success may be enough for Jeremy Colliton to stay on as coach.
2. You have to wonder if this push was a good thing. Will Stan Bowman believe the Hawks are still Cup contenders and try to supplement this core with expensive veterans, or will he make more shrewd moves like the one that brought Dylan Strome (51 points in 58 games with Chicago)?
3. A lot of people saw Alex DeBrincat as a steal when he fell to the Blackhawks at #39 in 2016. Not nearly as many saw him scoring 41 goals in his second pro season.
20. Detroit Red Wings (32-40-10, Last Month: 30)
1. While losing might have been optimal to increase lottery odds, Wings fans can take the postivity of a 8-3-0 run.
2. Will be interested to see if Jimmy Howard returns. It seems odd for a non-playoff team to bring back a 35-year old starting goalie. But Howard has been a Wing for life, and both seems seem interested in a reunion. We'll see where it goes.
3. Larkin, Mantha, Zadina, Veleno, and Cholowski are one heck of a young core. Probably not next year, but maybe the year after, they could bring the Red Wings back to the playoffs. Maybe. Looking at you, Ken Holland.
19. Vancouver Canucks (35-36-11, Last Month: 24)
1. Despite great seasons from Jordan Binnington, Carter Hart, and Rasmus Dahlin, Elias Petterson deserves the Calder Trophy, hands down.
2. To make Jim Rutherford and the Penguins look even more stupid, Tanner Pearson put up 12 points in 19 games, a throwback to his LA Kings numbers. Erik Gudbranson - not quite as good in Pittsburgh.
3. Much like Montreal in the East, this was an expectation beating season for the Canucks. They weren't all that close in the end to making the playoffs, but they stayed in the conversation for longer than most expected. Credit to Jim Benning, dumb moves aside, for turning things around this quickly.
18. Arizona Coyotes (39-35-8, Last Month: 18)
1. Valiant effort, Yotes. The Coyotes suffered more injuries than just about anyone, both in quantity and quality of players. They almost pushed back in to the playoffs for the first time since 2012, but came up just shy.
2. Even though they missed, I'd expect Rick Tochett to still receive some votes for the Jack Adams. There are so many great candidates for the award this year.
3. Good news, Coyotes - you're tied for the league lead in penalty kill percentage with Tampa Bay and Columbus. Eat it, Colorado!
17. Montreal Canadiens (44-30-8, Last Month: 12)
1. The Canadiens were the NHL's 15th best team, but failed to qualify for a tournament that is supposed to include the league's best sixteen teams. Go figure.
2. If nothing else, this season proved Carey Price (.918 save percentage) is back. Combined with a great young core, the Habs look poised to be contenders for a playoff spot again next year. Hats off to Marc Bergevin for not being nearly as dumb as we all thought.
3. Ryan Poehling, a former 1st round pick, had a hat trick in his career game, as well as a shootout winner, on Saturday night against Toronto. It was also the final game for legendary broadcaster Bob Cole. One great career ends, another (potentially) great career begins.
16. Columbus Blue Jackets (47-31-4, Last Month: 10)
1. What a nightmare it would have been if the Blue Jackets had missed. After trading two firsts and two seconds to acquire Ryan Dzingel and Matt Duchene (and holding on to Panarin and Bob), it would've been a disaster if they had missed the playoffs. Jarmo Kekalainen would've been gone for sure.
2. Duchene and Dzingel put up 12 points each in their Blue Jackets regular season career. Will that number increase next year?
3. These rankings are a snapshot of both the present and the future, the latter of which looks dim for the Jackets on account of their facing the 62-win Lightning in Round 1 (despite finishing ahead of three teams that made the playoffs in the West).
15. Colorado Avalanche (38-30-14, Last Month: 22)
1. Despite losing four more times than they won, and having one fewer win than Arizona, the Avs are making consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in over a decade. This league, man.
2. None of them reached 200 points like they were on pace to in November, but Landeskog-MacKinnon-Rantanen started and finished the year as the best line in hockey (maybe second if you prefer Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak).
3. It will be interesting to see if the same goalie who starts the series, whether it's Seymon Varlamov or Philip Grubauer, ends it as well. Both have been the starter at times this year, and both have playoff experience.
14. Dallas Stars (43-32-7, Last Month: 19)
1. The Stars were 19-16-3 when Jim Lites ripped into Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Afterwards, they went 24-16-4. Not a huge increase, but better.
2. Ben Bishop could be a huge difference maker if the Stars have plans of pulling the upset. He took the Lightning to the Eastern Conference Finals twice (and the Cup Finals once), and has provided stability to a previously shaky Stars crease.
3. Another rookie likely to receive Calder consideration? Miro Heiskanen. The rookie defender, picked 3rd in 2017, put up 33 points and is already the Stars second best defenseman.
13. Carolina Hurricanes (46-29-7, Last Month: 13)
Just pretend all that stuff about the bridge at the end is actually about Sebastian Aho.
2. After Curtis McElhinney held down the fort early on, it seems like Petr Mrazek will man the crease in Game 1. Another team where there could be a goalie change if things go south early.
3. For the love of Justin Williams, please bring back the Storm Surge. I miss it already.
12. Vegas Golden Knights (43-32-7, Last Month: 14)
1. No deadline acquistion has made a bigger impact than Mark Stone. He has a solid 11 points in 18 games, and this may finally be the year he breaks through and wins the Selke. He'd been the first winger since Jeri Lehtinen to do so (no, that's not a typo for Jori Lehtera).
2. Be wary of teams going into the playoffs cold. Vegas is one of them, losing 7 of their final 10 to end the season.
3. The key to the Golden Knights success? Marc-Andre Fleury. Vegas is dependent on the 34-year old to make up for a defensive core not quite as strong as most of the other teams in the playoffs. The Flower ran out of gas in the Finals last year, and it showed with four straight losses for the team.
11. Pittsburgh Penguins (44-26-12, Last Month: 16)
1. At long last, the Penguins are starting to show chinks in their armor. Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel have both struggled to light the lamp consistently. They feature one of the worst defensive pairings in hockey in Jack Johnson-Erik Gudbranson. Matt Murray has been off his game at times. If there's a year for an early Penguins exit, this is it.
2. The problem is that they still are the Penguins. Malkin and Kessel could easily turn things around. They've got enough good defenseman to make up for Johnson-Gudbranson. Historically, Murray has been a beast come playoff time. And of course, they've still got that Sidney Crosby guy, who I've heard is pretty good.
3. Their first round opponent, the Islanders, is argubaly the biggest wild card in the playoffs. The Pens could sweep or be swept and I wouldn't blink either way.
10. St. Louis Blues (45-28-9, Last Month: 11)
1. No team in the NHL has won more games in their last ten of the season than the Blues (eight).
2. Ryan O'Reilly, long-underrated for his great play in Colorado and Buffalo, could get the recognition he's deserved soon. This is first trip to the playoffs since 2014 with the Avs, and he may just win the Selke. The Blues leading scorer has been their most consistent player all season.
3. We've all seen the incredible work of Jordan Binnington. A .927 save percentage, 24 wins in 30 starts, the numbers are so impressive. The only question is can he keep it up?
9. Toronto Maple Leafs (46-28-8, Last Month: 8)
1. On the other hand, no team going into the playoffs lost more of their final 10 games than the Leafs (seven, though one was in overtime and two in the shootout). Still, Toronto has struggled down the stretch, and it's cost them home-ice against Boston.
2. Oh, Boston. The Leafs meet their boogeyman once again. After heart-breaking 7-game first round losses in 2013 and 2018, can the Leafs finally get over the hump?
3. The good news for Toronto is they're finally getting healthy. Nazem Kadri recently returned from injury, as did Jake Gardiner. The defense the Leafs will ice in Game 1 have only played together for about a dozen games. Take that as you will.
8. New York Islanders (48-27-7, Last Month: 7)
1. What a turn-around for the Isles. They become just the 2nd team in NHL history to go from worst to first in goals against, joining the 1917-18 and 1918-19 Ottawa Senators, who today could probably beat the current Senators.
2. That being said, it does feel like the clock is about to strike midnight. It wasn't that along ago the Isles were 1st in the Metro, but they barely held off the Penguins to clinch home ice. Weirdly, they'll be playing this series at Nassau, but return to Barclays for the rest of the playoffs should they advance.
3. Like a lot of teams in the playoffs, the Islanders rely on offense by committee. Only one Islander (Barzal) broke 6 points, but eight scored double-digit goals.
7. Winnipeg Jets (47-30-5, Last Month: 9)
1. Patrik Laine goals by month:
October - 3 in 12 games
November - 18 in 12 games
December - 3 goals in 15 games
January - 1 goal in 12 games
February - 4 goals in 12 games
March/April - 1 goal in 19 games
2. The good news for the Jets is they aren't dependent on Laine. Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor, and company are more than capable of picking up the slack.
3. We saw Connor Hellebuyck wear down last year in the Western Conference Finals after playing in 64 games. This year, he played in 63, despite great numbers from backup Laurent Brossoit. Does he have the stamnia to go all the way this time around?
6. Nashville Predators (47-29-6, Last Month: 5)
1. David Poile was aggressive at the trade deadline, adding Mikael Granlund and Wayne Simmonds in two acclaimed moves. However, neither has payed off so far - Granlund has only 5 points in 16 games; Simmonds has just 1 in 17.
2. The Predators main weakness is their power play, which is dead last at 12.9%. The good news for them is that becomes less and less of a factor as the playoffs go on and the whistles blow far less often.
3. Pekka Rinne has been both the biggest reason for the Predators success and the biggest reason for their ultimate failure in their last two playoff runs. If he struggles again, how long does Peter Laviolette wait before bringing in Jusse Saros?
5. Washington Capitals (48-26-8, Last Month: 6)
1. It will be interesting to see how this Caps playoff run compares to others. With the weight of getting past the 2nd round (and getting their first Cup) off Washington's shoulders, will they play more relaxed and fluid, or will they be lax and an easy out?
2. Washington has won the Metro four straight seasons, the longest active streak in any division.
3. This Capitals-Hurricanes series should be known as the battle of Alexander Semin. The loser has to sign Semin for $10 million dollars at an indefinite term. The cap hit goes down $1 million each time Semin scores. How long would it take to get it down to $0?
4. San Jose Sharks (46-27-7, Last Month: 4)
1. If last year was the Caps year to break through, can 2019 be the same for the Sharks? After 28 years of waiting, this might be their best shot. Pavelski, Thornton, Nyquist, and oh yeah, Erik Karlsson will all be UFAs in the summer. Odds are the middle two are gone (one to another team, the other to retirement). Who knows what happens with Karlsson. So win while you still have them.
2. If there's one Achilles heel in the Sharks juggernaut, it's goaltending. Martin Jones and Aaron Dell both have save percentages under .900. For all the moves Doug Wilson made, it's the one he didn't that might take the Sharks down.
3. The Sharks often go with Erik Karlsson. He put up 34 points in the 30 games he played in where the Sharks won, compared to just 8 in the 16 losses he dressed for.
3. Calgary Flames (50-25-7, Last Month: 2)
1. Five different Flames broke 70 points this season. One of them was Mark Giordano, the 35-year old blue-liner likely to win his first Norris Trophy thanks to an improbable breakout year.
2. This is the first time the Flames have had home ice advantage since the 2006 Western Conference Quater Finals, where they lost in 6 games to Anaheim.
3. James Neal has 55 points in 100 career playoff games. The playoffs also mesh well with his physical style. Is this the moment he makes the impact Calgary was expecting when they signed him?
2. Boston Bruins (49-24-9, Last Month: 3)
1. Boston's 19-game point streak in March was the longest in the NHL since the Blackhawks began the 2012-13 season 21-0-3.
2. Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle didn't make a large impact, combining for 9 points. The good news is the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line kept chugging along, with the first of the trio hitting the century mark in scoring.
3. Tukkaa Rask probably has a longer leash than other goalies considering his track record, but Jarsolav Halak (.922 save %). is a pretty good insurance policy.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (62-16-4, Last Month: 1)
1. The Bolts tied the 1995-96 Red Wings for the NHL's winningest season with 62 victories.
2. The Lightning held down the number one spot in these power rankings all season long.
3. Lastly, check out Tampa Bay's new logo.