Skip to content

NHL Power Rankings: The Final 16

Photo illustration by Julian Catalfo / theScore

This is the 14th edition of theScore's NHL Power Rankings for the 2023-24 campaign and the first for the playoffs. Check back after Round 1 for updated rankings.

In this edition, we rank the 16 postseason teams.

1. New York Rangers (55-23-4)

Previous rank: 1

Yes, we know about the Presidents' Trophy curse. Only eight teams have ever won the Stanley Cup after holding the mantle as the league's best regular-season squad, and we all saw what happened to the Bruins last year. However, putting the Rangers anywhere else just didn't make sense thanks to the sheer amount of star power and depth they have.

2. Dallas Stars (52-21-9)

Previous rank: 2

The Stars are riding high after winning 12 of their last 14 games to claim the top seed in the West. They're one of the NHL's most complete teams, but their chances of success likely live and die with Jake Oettinger. Dallas will need the goalie to be better than he was last spring to win it all.

3. Florida Panthers (52-24-6)

Previous rank: 9

Florida snatched the Atlantic Division crown thanks to a four-game heater to end its schedule. The Panthers fully look the part of a contender with stingy defense, strong goaltending, offensive game-breakers, and a tenacious play style that can drive opponents wild throughout a series.

4. Carolina Hurricanes (52-23-7)

Josh Lavallee / National Hockey League / Getty

Previous rank: 4

The Hurricanes lost out on a division title but are rightfully overwhelming favorites for their first-round clash against the Islanders. Carolina is an elite defensive team and has benefitted greatly from some late-season roster reinforcements. The club is 15-4-1 since adding Jake Guentzel - who has 25 points in that span - while goaltender Frederik Andersen is 9-1-0 with a .951 save percentage since returning to the crease.

5. Winnipeg Jets (52-24-6)

Previous rank: 8

Life is pretty good right now for the Jets. They're entering the playoffs on an eight-game win streak and finished second in the Central, their highest placement since 2019. Winnipeg's reward? A first-round meeting with the 2022 Stanley Cup champion Avalanche. Luckily for the Jets, they have Connor Hellebuyck, the likely Vezina Trophy winner, between the pipes.

6. Edmonton Oilers (49-27-6)

Previous rank: 6

The Oilers' putrid start to the regular season feels like a lifetime ago, and they've been one of the league's best teams since Kris Knoblauch took over. It's difficult imagining Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl taking a step back from their usual playoff dominance, and Edmonton has a favorable draw in the Pacific Division. If goaltending holds up, this group is tough to beat.

7. Vancouver Canucks (50-23-9)

Previous rank: 7

The Canucks are back in the playoffs sooner than many expected, but they limped to a division title down the stretch with an 8-6-2 record after Thatcher Demko got hurt. If he's fully healthy, Vancouver's certainly a threat in the West, but only having two games under his belt before ramping up to playoff intensity gives us pause.

8. Boston Bruins (47-20-15)

Ben Jackson / National Hockey League / Getty

Previous rank: 3

Boston finished this season with 26 fewer points than in 2022-23. That sounds bad, but the Bruins were just freakishly good last year. They still managed to finish with over 100 points this campaign despite the retirements of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Boston will undoubtedly be hungry to avenge last spring's upset at the hands of the Panthers.

9. Colorado Avalanche (50-25-7)

Previous rank: 5

After winning the Central for two straight seasons, the Avalanche had to settle for third place this time. Much of that is down to Alexandar Georgiev's occasionally shaky goaltending, which remains their biggest weakness. Colorado might get captain Gabriel Landeskog back, but last time we checked, he isn't a goalie.

10. Vegas Golden Knights (45-29-8)

Previous rank: 11

The Golden Knights haven't quite looked like themselves for the past few months, but doubting the reigning Stanley Cup champions doesn't feel wise at all. Vegas has been steamrolled by injuries, but if it can get fully healthy with captain Mark Stone back, then it'll certainly pose a problem for a Stars team looking to make a deep run.

11. Toronto Maple Leafs (46-26-10)

Previous rank: 10

The Maple Leafs enter the playoffs on a four-game skid, allowing 22 goals over that span. Perhaps Auston Matthews' pursuit of 70 goals was a distraction from the team's overall game, but Toronto will have to tighten up quickly if it's to have any hope of beating a Boston team that convincingly swept the regular-season series.

12. Tampa Bay Lightning (45-29-8)

Kevin Sousa / National Hockey League / Getty

Previous rank: 13

The Lightning don't boast strong even-strength metrics but can swing any game thanks to a top-ranked power play and fifth-ranked penalty kill. Tampa also has arguably the ultimate playoff X-factor in Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Bolts aren't the same team that went to three straight finals but shouldn't be taken too lightly.

13. Nashville Predators (47-30-5)

Previous rank: 14

The Predators don't strike the average fan as a Cup contender, but they've been one of the Western Conference's best teams in 2024. They've accrued the same number of wins (27) as their first-round adversary in the Canucks. Nashville has a supremely talented core, a capable goalie, and strong five-on-five metrics, all of which they'll need to reach Round 2.

14. Los Angeles Kings (44-27-11)

Previous rank: 12

The Kings ran out of steam after a blistering start to the regular season and will have their hands full against the Oilers for the third straight opening round. Maybe the third time's the charm for Los Angeles, but goaltending is a huge question mark, and the talent disparity largely favors Edmonton.

15. New York Islanders (39-27-16)

Previous rank: 16

New York improved slightly under new head coach Patrick Roy, which was enough to finish in third place in the Metropolitan. However, the Islanders are set to meet Carolina in the first round for the second straight year. The Hurricanes took care of business in six games last spring.

16. Washington Capitals (40-31-11)

Patrick Smith / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Previous rank: 18

Look, it's admirable that the Capitals scratched and clawed their way into the postseason, but their time in the playoffs will probably be short-lived. The Rangers pose a daunting challenge for Washington and its minus-37 goal differential.

(Analytics sources: Evolving Hockey, Natural Stat Trick)

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox