Power Rankings: There's Little Quality Dropoff After NHL's Elite Teams – Sports Illustrated

Take a look past the top tier of Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Toronto and what you’ll find are a bunch of teams having sneakily good seasons. Bet you didn’t realize just how dangerous the Islanders’ offense is. Did you know how good Los Angeles is on defense?

All of that makes things interesting. After the top tier, there are 14 teams—Nashville to Chicago on this list—that have legitimate shots at doing something like winning at least a round in the playoffs. That’s 17 really good teams in the NHL. For all the talk about just how bad Arizona and Buffalo have been, the quality of play at the top of the NHL is better than ever.

Here’s how we see teams stacking up in the NHL, from 31-1 (stats and records through Monday’s games):

31. Arizona Coyotes
Last week: 31 (—)
Record: 7-18-5

Nothing’s changed—they’re still struggling, especially now that Clayton Keller has cooled off.

30. Buffalo Sabres
Last week: 30 (—)
Record: 6-17-4

Probably time to start thinking about who they can get for Evander Kane—could be a nice return, too.

29. Florida Panthers
Last week: 29 (—)
Record: 10-13-4

James Reimer made some really good saves and also gave up four goals to the Rangers. He might be pressed into service if Roberto Luongo’s injury on Monday proves to be bad.

28. Ottawa Senators
Last week: 24 (-4)
Record: 9-10-6

Still nothing from Matt Duchene. Buyer’s remorse? Probably too soon to tell.

27. Edmonton Oilers
Last week: 28 (+1)
Record: 11-14-2

Not having Cam Talbot (IR, undisclosed injury) in net makes a bad situation worse. Is it time for Peter Chiarelli to start selling some veterans and looking forward to 2018-19?

26. Philadelphia Flyers
Last week: 25 (-1)
Record: 9-11-7

A bunch of tough OT losses in a row, but now, despite Ron Hextall’s reassurances, you have to worry

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