November 27, 2017
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
Most nights, the Bolts look like an All-Star team out there. With Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos leading the charge, there hasn't been much stopping this team, so far. But the depth they've shown at both ends of the ice has been most impressive. We'll see if they can keep it up.
2. St. Louis Blues
The Blues have surprised a few experts so far this season, but they're getting the job done by committee. Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn have been outstanding, Vladimir Tarasenko continues to dominate, and the team's defensive corps has been on point.
3. Nashville Predators
Winners of eight of their last 10 games, the Predators are back on track and seem to be more motivated to return to the Stanley Cup Final than some may have expected. Don't get in this team's way.
4. Winnipeg Jets
Safe to say, the Central Division is pretty stacked. With their goaltending position presumably solidified, the Jets' offensive game is poised to take this team into a battle for the Central crown. But if they can pull that off, how much further can they go?
5. Vegas Golden Knights
Okay, we all agree the Knights maintaining this pace is remarkable. But they aren't showing any significant signs of slowing down -- it's pretty fun to see.
6. Toronto Maple Leafs
With Frederik Andersen playing on top of his game and Toronto's offense being spread around, the Leafs are looking pretty good this season. They're likely to address their blueline later in the season, but this team is set to compete.
7. Columbus Blue Jackets
Winners for six straight, the Blue Jackets are right where they want to be, battling for top seed in the Metro Division. They're clicking together, and if management can find the top centre its looking for, they'll be in prime position for a run at the Cup.
8. New York Islanders
Whatever the Islanders are putting in their water these days, it's working. John Tavares is playing like a player on a mission, he's getting the proper support, the team's depth is excelling, and GM Garth Snow is looking to add to his already-solid roster. Things are good in Brooklyn.
9. New Jersey Devils
Nobody expected the Devils to keep up their pace of play, and while they're faltered a bit as of late, they're still doing enough to remain in the top-3 in a very tough Metro Division.
10. Los Angeles Kings
Anze Kopitar. Dustin Brown. Drew Doughty. Jonathan Quick. Each one of them is back to his old self, for the most part, and the rejuvinated Kings squad is showing the type of life it once had just a few seasons ago. Marian Gaborik's back in the lineup and if he can provide some secondary scoring punch, the Kings will be a contender this season.
11. New York Rangers
The Rangers are an up-and-down team this season, and right now they're up. How much longer they keep this up remains to be seen, but for now, they'll take it.
12. Washington Capitals
The Capitals are starting to play like one of the NHL's best teams, and they certainly have the talent to spark that argument. Alex Ovechkin is starting to get hot again, and ultimately he dictates how far this team goes.
13. Pittsburgh Penguins
Yes, it's true. Phil "The Thrill" Kessel is the Penguins' leading scorer, so far, and it's not really that close. The team doesn't seem to care who's on top, as long as they're competing and the Penguins are just starting to get back on track.
14. Chicago Blackhawks
Youngster Alex DeBrincat has found a home on Chicago's roster, giving the Blackhawks another weapon they can count on. With Patrick Kane leading the team offensively, DeBrincat's emergence provides additional scoring depth to a team with plenty of talent that's just starting to really get its act together.
15. Calgary Flames
Johnny Gaudreau has been ridiculous these first two months of the season and he isn't showing any signs of slowing down. He's second in the NHL in scoring and has the Flames on track to compete for the Pacific Division crown.
16. San Jose Sharks
It's nice to see Brent Burns collecting points again, but if the Sharks want to make a splash this season, they're going to need their secondary scorers producing -- it's still an issue for this team and there's only so much Burns and Co. can do.
17. Dallas Stars
Dallas' depth needs to pick up some of the slack in order for this team to make a strong case for post-season play... and goalie Ben Bishop playing better on the road wouldn't hurt, either.
18. Vancouver Canucks
Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat have taken the reigns for the Canucks this season, as the faces of the franchise are starting to change. Vancouver's transition is in full swing and their younger stars are taking control, which is what you want to see if you're a Canucks fan.
19. Minnesota Wild
Minnesota's in arguably the toughest division in the NHL this season and unless they can get stellar performances from their top players, they're in tough to make the post-season.
20. Carolina Hurricanes
Carolina just doesn't have enough bodies up front to make some real noise this season, especially in the Metro Division. They'll continue to grow, and attempt to add, but this season is merely a stepping stone for the club's future.
21. Boston Bruins
The Bruins are a team in transition, and their play reflects that. They aren't as dominant as they were in past years and as the core gets older, younger bodies will be stepping in. You have to wonder when GM Don Sweeney takes a serious look at moving captain Zdeno Chara.
22. Colorado Avalanche
Colorado's keeping up with its decent play this season, but they just don't have enough firepower in a fully-loaded Western Conference. It will be interesting to see what the next move GM Joe Sakic has up his sleeve later on this season.
23. Detroit Red Wings
The Wings may be third in the Atlantic Division, but they're flirting with .500 hockey and that won't be enough to secure a playoff spot by the time the season ends. Other than Dylan Larkin, the team's guns up front need to be firing more often if they want to play hockey past mid-April.
24. Ottawa Senators
Matt Duchene hasn't put this team over the top just yet, but it's still fairly early in the season. Ottawa's depth has taken a bit of a backseat, for whatever the reason, but there's too much talent on this team to fall out of the playoff picture.
25. Anaheim Ducks
The injury bug has taken over the Ducks' locker room, and that's played a big part in how subpar they've performed so far this season. They're slowing getting bodies back, which is a good thing, as the wheels haven't fallen off, just yet.
26. Montreal Canadiens
The first two months of the season haven't been kind to the Canadiens, or their fans, but the return of Carey Price has already proven to pay off. Not only did the Habs win 3-0 on Saturday, but Jonathan Drouin and Alex Galchenyuk picked up a couple of points, each. If the Habs want to rebound their season, all three players need to be at the tops of their games.
27. Philadelphia Flyers
There certainly looks like there is some turmoil in Philly, as the Flyers just don't look like they're responding properly, for whatever the reason. The Flyers seem to lack depth, which has put them in a tough spot at this point in the season, a hole that might be too deep to climb out of.
28. Florida Panthers
The Panthers thought they'd be in a better position at this point in the season, but they clearly have some work to do and some holes to fill.
29. Edmonton Oilers
Well, nobody predicted this. And the worst part is the Oilers do not seem like they're about to turn their season around any time soon. If they don't, how much longer does management wait before doing something dramatic?
30. Buffalo Sabres
Things are getting ugly in Buffalo and if this team can't get its act together quickly, management is going to focus on next season and that may not go over too well with the fans. But at this rate, GM Jason Botterill may not have any other choice.
31. Arizona Coyotes
It certainly hasn't been the season the Coyotes envisioned, thus far, and even though they've picked up a few wins lately, there doesn't appear to be much light at the end of the tunnel for this season.