As the first installment of our 2014 NHL Season Preview Series, we give you our preseason power rankings of the Top-10 teams in the NHL heading into the 2014-15 season.
1) L.A. Kings:
The defending champs hold the top spot in our rankings, and deservingly so. Apart from proving that they are the newest dynasty in the NHL, the Kings retained nearly all of their championship pieces from last year, setting themselves up for another championship run.
2) Chicago Blackhawks:
Adding Brad Richards in the offseason adds depth to an already deep and dangerous forward line, making Chicago, once again, a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference, despite their bitter loss in the Conference Finals to the Kings.
3) Anaheim Ducks:
The Ducks had a breakout year of sorts in the 2013-14 season, making a name for themselves as one of the top teams in the Western Conference. Although they faltered in the playoffs, Anaheim is now on everybody’s radar and for good reason.
4) Colorado Avalanche:
The Avalanche, by many peoples’ standards, underachieved last season. An early exit in the playoffs by the hands of Minnesota was not the outcome Colorado was looking for, especially after their hot start. But the additions of veterans Daniel Briere, Jarome Iginla and Brad Stuart make Colorado a legitimate threat to the rest of the west.
5) Tampa Bay Lightning:
The first team from the Eastern Conference to make it in the power rankings, and one that some people might say is ranked too high, but the Lightning, with the addition of Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle and Jason Garrison are poised to have an Anaheim-like season, as they have the potential to fly under the radar and surprise a lot of people.
6) New York Rangers:
The Rangers are going to be one of the top three teams in the east, despite the loss of Brad Richards. The Rangers are still the defending Eastern Conference champions as they come off of a spirited playoff run and as long as Henrik Lundqvist is in goal for New York, they will always be in contention for the Stanley Cup Finals.
7) St. Louis Blues:
The Blues had a solid 2013-14 campaign, but not good enough to call it a success, at least by their standards. St. Louis made a key acquisition in the offseason by adding the best center on the market in Paul Stastny and will definitely make some noise in the crowded Western Conference.
8) Boston Bruins:
It seems as though the Bruins are in the conversation as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference every year. They may have lost Jarome Iginla, but they still have the pieces around Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask to once again retain the status quo.
9) Minnesota Wild:
The Wild are coming off of a better-than-expected season, as they advanced to the conference semi-finals and lost in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks. Much like the Blues and Ducks, the Wild are one of the up-and-coming teams in the West that everybody must take serious note of.
10) Washington Capitals:
Yes, the Capitals. An abysmal season last year kept the Caps out of the playoffs for the first time in what feels like forever. The Achilles heel of the Caps in the past has been their lack of defense, but with key additions in the offseason on the defensive side and an increased emphasis on the blue line, Washington has a lot of potential to get back to its glory days.