Updated: Jan 14, 2022
Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Lightning for winning consecutive Stanley Cup Finals. It was an interesting NHL season to say the least, with a pandemic forcing the league to realign and two teams from what once was the Eastern Conference meeting in the Finals. Now that it is over, and we would assume the league will return to normal next season, let’s look at where we rank each team at the end of the season:
1.Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa continues their run as Titletown, USA after winning back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals. This team was solid throughout the season, but they found an extra gear in the playoffs. There should be no doubt left on anyone’s mind that the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Andrei Vasilevskiy, is the best goalie in all of hockey. This Tampa offense is elite as well. The only question left in Tampa is whether they can 3-peat.
2. Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens had a dream playoff run that fell just short of capturing their first Cup since 1993. Nobody expected this team to get passed the Leafs in the first round or even the Knights well after that. This is a team that fired their head coach in the middle of the season. Clearly, they are trending in the right direction. A full season under new leadership cannot come soon enough.
3. Vegas Golden Knights
Vegas remains one of the deepest rosters in the league and their depth took them right on the doorstep of yet another Stanley Cup Finals appearance in their extremely short existence. In the end, the Habs dream run was a historic one and proved that even the best teams are susceptible to a hot team in the NHL playoffs.
4. New York Islanders
This defensive-minded islanders team played at their best in the playoffs and cannot be faulted for falling just short of their first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1984. We were high on this team’s heart and leadership throughout the season, but we did not expect them to stand toe-to-toe against Tampa and force a Game 7. Islanders fans were rightfully upset after their playoff exit, but they cannot be disappointed in this team.
5. Colorado Avalanche
During the 2020-21 season, the Avs were one of the best constructed team in the league. They have an elite playmaker in Nathan MacKinnon and a high-end goalie in Phil Grubauer. In the end, a combination of injuries to key players and an unlucky matchup with the Knights kept Colorado short of lifting the Cup for the first time since 2001.
6. Carolina Hurricanes
Carolina may lack a true superstar, but they were one of the smartest and well-run teams in the league. Even without star talent, this team rivals the Knights as one of the deepest and most balanced teams. Carolina was a surprise to most this season, but we expect them to stick around at the top next season.
7. Boston Bruins
Most hockey fans expected Taylor Hall to bounce-back once he found a better situation, after some rough stays in New Jersey and in Buffalo, but it was hard to imagine the level of production he found at the end of the season and in the playoffs. It will be interesting to see if Boston is able to keep the star forward after he enters free agency this offseason.
8. Minnesota Wild
Plenty of hockey fans had the Wild as their darkhorse to lift the Cup. Even with an unlucky draw against the Knights in the first round, this dynamic team stretched the series to the distance.
9. Winnipeg Jets
Winnipeg is stacked with young offensive talent, but their weaknesses on the defensive end are glaring. This young team will be exciting to watch for the next few seasons and it will be interesting to see how aggressively they look to fill holes in the offseason.
10. Florida Panthers
The Panthers were another one of the surprise teams this season and were playing their best hockey at the right time. Unfortunately for fans in Florida, a first-round matchup against the Bolts was the worst thing that could happen.
11. Pittsburgh Penguins
This could easily have been one of the deepest teams that Sydney Crosby has played on. Sid still had plenty of spark left in him as well and finished in the conversation to win the Hart Trophy. A tough matchup against a surging Islanders team in the first round was unlucky.
12. Washington Capitals
Washington was up and down throughout the season. Ovechkin, now 35 years old, can still score at will, but injuries really hampered this team’s hopes heading into the playoffs. We will see if they can put together another run in the Ovechkin-era.
13. Nashville Predators
After much was expected from Nashville during the pre-season, this team got off to a miserable start. A late season surge propelled the Preds to the playoffs, but a middle of the league finish seems appropriate here. Pekka Rinne is still a quality goalie in this league.
14. Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton cannot be happy with their finish, especially not while they have the most dominant skater in hockey on their roster. Connor McDavid finished the season with a very impressive 105 points and won the Hart Trophy, so a first round loss to a much younger and less experienced Winnipeg team is nothing less than disappointing.
15. Toronto Maple Leafs
Heading into the playoffs, the Leafs were one of the top contenders to win the Stanley Cup, but yet another first round exit will haunt this team. Austin Matthews is too good to be losing like that, even against a storybook team like the Habs.
16. St. Louis Blues
St. Louis may have snuck into the playoffs, but they did very little to actually belong there. At their best, this is a middling team that plays inconsistent hockey.
17. Dallas Stars
18. New York Rangers
19. Chicago Blackhawks
20. Philadelphia Flyers
21. Arizona Coyotes
22. Calgary Flames
23. San Jose Sharks
24. Los Angeles Kings
25. Ottawa Senators
26. Vancouver Canucks
26. Detroit Red Wings
28. Columbus Blue Jackets
29. New Jersey Devils
30. Anaheim Ducks
31. Buffalo Sabres