With the first month of the NHL season in the books, it seems fitting to look back on how each team has performed thus far. It is with great pleasure to present the first rendition of The Oil Rig’s Canadian team power rankings!
1. Calgary Flames
Well, it certainly looks like the Calgary Flames have forgotten all about the fact that they lost two of their best players, Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk. Together they finished last season with a combined total of 219 points.
The Flames have been red hot to start the season, with a record of 5–2–0, good for ten points, and are third in the Pacific Division. Brad Treliving’s new additions of Nazem Kadri, Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar have practically been plug-and-play for the team and seem to have generated chemistry almost instantly. Calgary’s strong play in all areas of the game through the first month is why they have been ranked first among Canadian teams.
2. Edmonton Oilers
Although the Oilers had a lacklustre start to the season, they seem to be returning to last year’s form. They’re currently on a four-game winning streak with their last win over Calgary and now have a 6–3–0 record on the season—a total of 12 points.
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are not only leading the team in goals, assists and points again this season, but also leaders within the league. Furthermore, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been the Oilers’ secret forgotten weapon, scoring five goals and six assists for 11 points in nine games. This year’s start is looking much better than last year, where he scored only 11 goals during the entire season. Zach Hyman has also had a solid start to the season, contributing six goals and five assists in nine games.
An area for concern has been in the net, where Jack Campbell has struggled thus far. Campbell has posted an SV% of 0.888 and a GAA of 3.89 through his first six games with his new club. The good news is Stuart Skinner is thriving with another great performance to beat the Flames on Saturday’s BoA. In four games played, Skinner has a 0.955 SV%, which is currently the best among all goalies in the league.
If the Oilers are able to keep up the momentum, it won’t be a surprise they’ll be first in the next edition of these power rankings.
3. Winnipeg Jets
Even with their new head coach Rick Bowness not being behind the bench due to contracting COVID-19, the Jets have been off to a pretty good start to the season. They are now 5–3–1 in their first nine games and currently have ten points on the season, placing them second in the Central Division. They are flying into Las Vegas riding a three-game win streak to take on the Golden Knights, who have been one of the best clubs in the NHL since the start of the season.
The 2019–20 Venza Trophy winner, Connor Hellebuyck, is playing incredibly well to start the season; he currently has a 0.931 SV% in seven games. The Jets have been able to pull off some close-call wins over the Los Angeles Kings and the Arizona Coyotes. They also have relied primarily on Hellebuyck, Mark Scheifele, and depth scoring to win their games. It will be interesting to see how the team performs against the Golden Knights and how the team plays once they have their new head coach behind the bench.
4. Ottawa Senators
The Senators made some significant additions to their team during the offseason picking up Claude Giroux from Florida, Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and Mathieu Joseph from Tampa Bay. They have also seen the emergence of Shane Pinto, who has been on a tear early this season, scoring six goals in eight games.
The Senators are now 4–4–0 on the season, good for eight points and seventh in the Atlantic Division. Although their starting goalie, Cam Talbot, was injured during practice before the regular season started, their backup tender, Anton Forsberg, has held his own between the pipes with a 0.908 SV%. Still, it would be a big boost for the team to have their starter back.
5. Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens have been off to a good start this season with a 5–4–0 record, especially considering the club finished dead last in the Atlantic Division last season. The Canadiens currently have ten points placing them sixth in the Atlantic Division.
Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki have been lights out since the start of the season, scoring a combined 11 goals and 20 points in nine games. The new additions of Sean Monahan and Kirby Dach have been pitching in and providing significant support to the top-end players with a combined 11 points. In net, the tandem of Jake Allen and Sam Montembeault seems to be working well and has a combined SV% of 0.917. It will be interesting to see if the Canadiens can keep up their strong play over the next month; if so they will definitely be moving up in the rankings.
6. Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs have seen inconsistent results since the start of the season, and although it has not been terrible, most people would have expected the club to be better than their current 4–4–2 record, seventh place in the Atlantic Division. Despite the team being loaded with top-end talent, it seems they are struggling out of the gate this season.
Things started going wrong for the club early this season with their new starting goalie, Matt Murray, getting injured during a morning skate after only playing one game. On top of that, Auston Matthews is struggling to find the back of the net, posting only two goals in his first nine games. Although the team has been hit with many injuries early in the season, not all is doom and gloom around. Ilya Samsonov has been filling in for Matt Murray quite well, with a 0.920 SV% in the six games he has played, and John Tavares has had a good start to the season with around a point per game.
7. Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks have been breaking records and not in a good way: the club started the season with a seven-game losing streak—a new franchise record. The club did manage to break the losing streak with a 5–4 win over the Seattle Kraken on Thursday, and since then, has managed to string together a two-game win streak, boosting their record to 2–5–2 and placing them at sixth in the Pacific Division.
Team defence has been a significant issue for the Canucks, especially when holding on to leads heading into third periods. Thatcher Demko has had a rough start to the season, currently at a SV% of 0.874, with a GAA of 4.05. Although those numbers are pretty bad, it’s fair to assume that they have been inflated by the poor defensive play in front of him.
Vancouver newcomer Andrei Kuzmenko has been a bright spot for the team and has meshed well on the second line with Elias Pettersson and Ilya Mikheyev; Kuzmenko has three goals and six points in nine games.
Although the Canucks have had a poor start to the season, there are still plenty of games left to make up for lost ground and get into a playoff spot before the end of the regular season.
The northern showdown
This concludes this month’s Canadian NHL team power rankings, let us know your thoughts in the comments! Be sure to check in at the end of next month for the next one!
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire