As we cross the midway point of the season, we’ve graded all 32 teams, doled out midseason awards and made bold predictions for the second half. For this edition of the Power Rankings, let’s identify the best addition that every team made for 2022-23 — be it player or coach — based on what has transpired thus far.
How we rank: A panel of ESPN hockey commentators, analysts, reporters and editors rates teams against one another — taking into account game results, injuries and upcoming schedule — and those results are tabulated to produce the list featured here.
Note: Previous ranking for each team refers to the most recent edition, published Jan. 6. Points percentages are through Thursday’s games.
Previous ranking: 1
Points percentage: 82.93%
Next seven days: vs. TOR (Jan. 14), vs. PHI (Jan. 16), @ NYI (Jan. 18), @ NYR (Jan. 19)
Boston might have the redemption story of this season in coach Jim Montgomery. The Jack Adams favorite and first-year Bruins’ bench boss was fired by the Stars in December 2019 for “unprofessional conduct inconsistent with the core values and beliefs of the Dallas Stars and the National Hockey League.” In January 2020, Montgomery announced that he was checking into rehab for alcohol abuse. He was hired as an assistant with the Blues ahead of the 2020 season before working his way back into a head role with the Bruins. In Boston, he’s been pushing the right buttons — and being a coach guys love to play for — while turning the B’s into a juggernaut.
Previous ranking: 3
Points percentage: 68.60%
Next seven days: @ BOS (Jan. 14), vs. FLA (Jan. 17), vs. WPG (Jan. 19)
Toronto took a chance by trading for Matt Murray. That risk is paying off. Murray has been excellent playing in tandem with another offseason addition — Ilya Samsonov — to give the Leafs a desperately needed one-two punch in net. Murray’s not without flaws, but a .919 SV% and 2.48 GAA is pretty topflight.
Previous ranking: 2
Points percentage: 70.24%
Next seven days: vs. PIT (Jan. 14), vs. VAN (Jan. 15), vs. MIN (Jan. 19)
Carolina bolstered its blue line big time with Brent Burns. The 37-year-old carries almost 24 minutes per game (a Hurricanes’ high), quarterbacks the top power-play unit and is fourth on the team in scoring (28 points in 40 games). An ideal addition.
Previous ranking: 4
Points percentage: 67.44%
Next seven days: vs. EDM (Jan. 14), vs. DAL (Jan. 16), vs. DET (Jan. 19)
Vegas remains in the honeymoon phase with new head coach Bruce Cassidy. The Golden Knights believed they needed fresh voice, and Cassidy has provided it, pushing them atop the Pacific Division standings. He could be the Golden Knights’ missing piece, the change that moves them back to perennial postseason contenders after sitting home last postseason.
Previous ranking: 6
Points percentage: 67.07%
Next seven days: @ ANA (Jan. 13), @ LA (Jan. 14), @ SJ (Jan. 16), @ SEA (Jan. 19)
New Jersey needed major help in net, and it found it by trading for Vitek Vanecek. The former Washington Capital has shored up the Devils’ crease with a 16-5-2 record, .913 SV% and 2.37 GAA to rank among some of the NHL’s top goaltenders. Vanecek’s presence has been the difference-maker these Devils required to thrive.
Previous ranking: 7
Points percentage: 66.28%
Next seven days: vs. CGY (Jan. 14), @ VGK (Jan. 16), @ SJ (Jan. 18), @ LA (Jan. 19)
Dallas went after coach Pete DeBoer immediately after Vegas fired him last summer. It turned out to be the Stars’ best move. DeBoer has Dallas leading the Central Division following a season when it barely made the playoffs. There’s buy-in to DeBoer’s systems across the board, with the on-ice evidence apparent in the consistency Dallas shows offensively, defensively and on special teams.
Previous ranking: 12
Points percentage: 65.85%
Next seven days: @ CHI (Jan. 14), vs. TB (Jan. 16), @ EDM (Jan. 17), vs. NJ (Jan. 19)
Seattle had 10 games with Calder Trophy front-runner Matty Beniers last season, so its true top newbie has to be Andre Burakovsky. He signed with the Kraken as a free agent, and the big winger has fit in producing a team-high 35 points in 40 games (one more than the rookie Beniers). Seattle’s terrific season wouldn’t be progressing as is without both of their contributions.
Previous ranking: 8
Points percentage: 66.25%
Next seven days: @ STL (Jan. 14), @ SEA (Jan. 16), @ VAN (Jan. 18), @ EDM (Jan. 19)
Tampa Bay has tapped into a great rookie campaign from Nick Perbix. A sixth-round choice in 2017, Perbix played four years at St. Cloud State, then in the American Hockey League and successfully stepped into a top-four spot on the Lightning’s blue line. Tampa Bay, accordingly, wasted no time signing Perbix to a two-year extension this month.
Previous ranking: 5
Points percentage: 65.48%
Next seven days: @ PIT (Jan. 13), vs. ARI (Jan. 15), @ MTL (Jan. 17), @ TOR (Jan. 19)
Winnipeg has flown back into postseason contention under the guidance of first-year head coach Rick Bowness. Bowness didn’t hesitate to make changes, stripping Blake Wheeler of the captaincy and getting the Jets to execute a more defense-focused system. It’s been a good fit for Bowness and Winnipeg, and now the Jets are firmly among the league’s top teams.
Previous ranking: 9
Points percentage: 63.95%
Next seven days: vs. MTL (Jan. 15), @ CBJ (Jan. 16), vs. BOS (Jan. 19)
New York’s tangled history with Jimmy Vesey hasn’t diminished his impact this season. Vesey’s second run with the Rangers — who originally signed him as a college free agent in 2016 and then brought him back as a UFA in September — has been surprisingly positive. The 29-year-old winger is solid defensively and chips in up front (14 points in 40 games), earning himself a two-year extension. Not bad at all.
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Previous ranking: 14
Points percentage: 62.22%
Next seven days: vs. NJ (Jan. 14), vs. DAL (Jan. 19)
Los Angeles took Kevin Fiala off Minnesota’s hands last summer via trade. What a move. Fiala subsequently signed a seven-year deal with the Kings and now paces the team in goals (15) and points (46) through 45 games. Amid an up-and-down season for L.A. in other respects, Fiala has delivered the desired consistency.
Previous ranking: 13
Points percentage: 60.00%
Next seven days: vs. WPG (Jan. 13), @ CAR (Jan. 14), vs. ANA (Jan. 16), @ OTT (Jan. 18)
Pittsburgh would be in a serious bind without Jan Rutta. The two-time Stanley Cup champion inked a three-year deal with the Penguins in July to bolster their blue-line group. Rutta’s practically running it now amid Pittsburgh’s swath of injuries. More minutes and responsibility are no problem for Rutta, who “gives us everything,” according to coach Mike Sullivan.
Previous ranking: 11
Points percentage: 59.09%
Next seven days: vs. PHI (Jan. 14), @ NYI (Jan. 16), vs. MIN (Jan. 17), @ ARI (Jan. 19)
Washington signed Stanley Cup champ and free agent Darcy Kuemper, and he’s delivered in D.C. When healthy, Kuemper has produced a 12-10-4 record, .919 SV% and 2.52 GAA. Staying available will be key for Kuemper in the second half to keep Washington rolling.
Previous ranking: 10
Points percentage: 60.98%
Next seven days: vs. ARI (Jan. 14), @ WSH (Jan. 17), @ CAR (Jan. 19)
Minnesota’s quiet offseason was punctuated by Sam Steel signing a one-year, $825,000 free agent contract in late August. Fast-forward to Steel emerging as the Wild’s top line center, hitting a career high in goals (seven) through 40 games and being on pace to have his best season ever. And he’s only 24. That’s a serious return on Minnesota’s investment.
Previous ranking: 15
Points percentage: 53.75%
Next seven days: vs. OTT (Jan. 14), vs. DET (Jan. 16), @ CGY (Jan. 18)
Colorado adding Alexandar Georgiev had the desired effect of seamlessly replacing former No. 1 goaltender Kuemper. In a season fraught with injuries throughout the Avalanche lineup, Georgiev’s stable play (.915 SV%, 2.75 GAA) has kept netminding from being another major concern.
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Previous ranking: 20
Points percentage: 54.65%
Next seven days: @ SJ (Jan. 13), @ VGK (Jan. 14), vs. SEA (Jan. 17), vs. TB (Jan. 19)
Edmonton brought Mattias Janmark in on a one-year deal to add offensive depth, which was swiftly required after an early-season injury to Evander Kane. Janmark has carved out a meaningful role for the Oilers since, clocking solid minutes at 5-on-5 and leading all forwards in short-handed minutes per game. He should remain in a prominent role even after Kane returns.
Previous ranking: 17
Points percentage: 54.65%
Next seven days: vs. MTL (Jan. 14), vs. WSH (Jan. 16), vs. BOS (Jan. 18), @ BUF (Jan. 19)
New York made its biggest change behind the bench, replacing Barry Trotz with Lane Lambert. It was a curious move but one that, so far, appears to be panning out. The Islanders are a playoff-caliber group again, producing more offense in the Lambert era than when he was Trotz’ assistant. Lambert isn’t afraid to hold his team accountable either, which bodes well for continued success even though inevitable struggles are expected ahead.
Previous ranking: 21
Points percentage: 53.66%
Next seven days: vs. BUF (Jan. 14), vs. CGY (Jan. 16), vs. CBJ (Jan. 17), @ STL (Jan. 19)
Nashville’s struggle for offense would be even more pronounced without Nino Niederreiter’s contributions. Carolina left Niederreiter on the open market last summer and since joining the Predators, he’s emerged as a top performer, checking in at second on the team in goals (12) and fifth in points (22). Nashville could use more producers like him.
Previous ranking: 16
Points percentage: 52.50%
Next seven days: @ NSH (Jan. 14), vs. FLA (Jan. 16), @ CHI (Jan. 17), vs. NYI (Jan. 19)
Buffalo eased Owen Power onto the NHL scene (technically, he already appeared in two games last season) and the rookie responded well in the first half of the season. Power hasn’t lit the lamp yet, but he’s a solid defender in the Sabres’ top four, bringing a mix of skill, speed and grinding play that’ll wear down opponents.
Previous ranking: 18
Points percentage: 56.98%
Next seven days: @ DAL (Jan. 14), @ NSH (Jan. 16), vs. COL (Jan. 18)
Calgary targeted Nazem Kadri for a reason — and the forward has been on fire for the Flames. He’s a top-six skater who punches up the power play and brings his signature blend of skill and spice at even strength. Scoring 16 goals and 32 points in 42 games is a nice return, too.
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Previous ranking: 23
Points percentage: 48.84%
Next seven days: vs. VAN (Jan. 14), @ BUF (Jan. 16), @ TOR (Jan. 17), @ MTL (Jan. 19)
Florida’s answer to “best thing that’s happened in the last six months” always seems to be: Matthew Tkachuk. Why fight it? He’s an All-Star forward who gives the Panthers effort, skill, physicality and a commanding on-ice presence. Blockbuster trades don’t go over much better than this one has for Florida.
Previous ranking: 22
Points percentage: 52.33%
Next seven days: vs. TB (Jan. 14), vs. OTT (Jan. 16), vs. NSH (Jan. 19)
St. Louis was a perfect match for Noel Acciari. The veteran center settled into a bottom-six slot from which he’s now on pace to produce his best totals in years (Acciari was already at nine goals and 16 points through 42 games). He also leads the Blues in hits and all St. Louis forwards in blocks. That’s the epitome of St. Louis hockey.
Previous ranking: 19
Points percentage: 53.75%
Next seven days: vs. CBJ (Jan. 14), @ COL (Jan. 16), @ ARI (Jan. 17), @ VGK (Jan. 19)
Detroit would be in trouble if not for Ville Husso. The new No. 1 netminder — acquired via trade with St. Louis last July — has been solid for the Red Wings at 13-8-5, with a .901 SV% and 3.03 GAA. Other newcomers like Dominik Kubalik have also provided Detroit with healthy returns, but it’s Husso’s addition the Red Wings will continue to benefit most from moving forward.
Previous ranking: 27
Points percentage: 48.81%
Next seven days: @ WSH (Jan. 14), @ BOS (Jan. 16), vs. ANA (Jan. 17), vs. CHI (Jan. 19)
Philadelphia can’t deny the impact that Tony DeAngelo has had on their blue line — even if coach John Tortorella did bench him during a subpar performance against Toronto. Overall, DeAngelo’s pairing with Travis Sanheim has clicked. DeAngelo is fourth on the team in points (23 through 36 games), and he munches on minutes (23:34 per game). That’s encouraging.
Previous ranking: 24
Points percentage: 50.00%
Next seven days: @ COL (Jan. 14), @ STL (Jan. 16), vs. PIT (Jan. 18)
Ottawa hit a home run signing Claude Giroux. His addition has paid dividends, even if the Senators aren’t climbing up the Atlantic standings as hoped. Giroux is elevating Ottawa’s current — and future — stars Brady Tkachuk and Tim Stutzle on the Senators’ top line, and generating excellent output himself with 15 goals and 36 points in 40 games. At 34, Giroux can still keep up with the kids.
Previous ranking: 26
Points percentage: 44.05%
Next seven days: @ NYI (Jan. 14), @ NYR (Jan. 15), vs. WPG (Jan. 17), vs. FLA (Jan. 19)
Montreal has a Cinderella story of sorts in Arber Xhekaj. He’s a 21-year-old undrafted defender who’s brought skill, physicality, personality and some fighting edge to the Canadiens’ ranks. Xhekaj’s five goals and 13 points ranked him fifth among the NHL’s defensive rookies, showing he’s no slouch on the scoresheet either.
Previous ranking: 25
Points percentage: 45.12%
Next seven days: @ FLA (Jan. 14), @ CAR (Jan. 15), vs. TB (Jan. 18)
Vancouver’s best surprise of the season continues to be Andrei Kuzmenko. He was an undrafted forward who came to the Canucks as a free agent last summer after years spent in the KHL. Through 39 NHL games, the rookie was second on his team in goals (17) and third in points (35). Now, can the Canucks extend Kuzmenko beyond his current one-year pact to keep the good times going?
Previous ranking: 30
Points percentage: 39.54%
Next seven days: vs. EDM (Jan. 13), vs. NJ (Jan. 16), vs. DAL (Jan. 18)
San Jose’s blue line is more than just Erik Karlsson — Matt Benning is on patrol there, too. The defender has been a productive addition to the Sharks’ back end, generating a career-high 17 assists and 18 total points through 41 games. His adept puck-moving ability might have been a pleasant surprise for San Jose.
Previous ranking: 29
Points percentage: 37.80%
Next seven days: @ MIN (Jan. 14), @ WPG (Jan. 15), vs. DET (Jan. 17), vs. WSH (Jan. 19)
Arizona is getting plenty out of veteran Nick Bjugstad. He’s been able to play everywhere — and with anyone — in the lineup, including alongside rookies Dylan Guenther and Matias Maccelli. Bjugstad has taken advantage of his opportunity as a player (with 10 goals and 17 points through 40 games) and a mentor, which is good business for all.
Previous ranking: 28
Points percentage: 31.71%
Next seven days: @ DET (Jan. 14), vs. NYR (Jan. 16), @ NSH (Jan. 17), vs. ANA (Jan. 19)
Columbus pumped the most it could out of Johnny Gaudreau in what has been a difficult season. Gaudreau’s first-season performance includes leading the Blue Jackets in points (38 through 40 games) and being an expectedly key piece of the power play. Lately, Gaudreau’s production has slowed in reduced minutes from coach Brad Larsen, who believes there is even more Gaudreau can give. There’s little doubt he’ll try.
Previous ranking: 31
Points percentage: 33.33%
Next seven days: vs. NJ (Jan. 13), @ PIT (Jan. 16), @ PHI (Jan. 17), @ CBJ (Jan. 19)
Anaheim has a surging rookie on its hands in Mason McTavish. The Ducks may ultimately be eyeing a draft lottery win (and Connor Bedard from there) but for now, McTavish is doing more than enough to satisfy Anaheim’s rookie quota. His 26 points in 41 games was third on the club and only seven back of Troy Terry for the team lead. That’s all the more impressive given McTavish’s slow start, too.
Previous ranking: 32
Points percentage: 32.50%
Next seven days: vs. SEA (Jan. 14), vs. BUF (Jan. 17), @ PHI (Jan. 19)
Chicago might not have expected Max Domi to emerge as its leading scorer when the Blackhawks signed him to a one-year deal, but Domi’s become that guy anyway. The veteran winger had 12 goals and 28 points in 39 games to prove he can still bring the heat offensively. That’s an energy the Blackhawks have needed with Patrick Kane on the sidelines recently.