The Oil Rig Canadian NHL Power Rankings 2022–23: The Toronto Maple Leafs easily remain on top

With the 2022 year coming to an end and the NHL headed towards the halfway mark of the season, let’s take a look at where each Canadian team ranks amongst each other.

1. Toronto Maple Leafs

Holding on tightly to the number one spot since our last Power Rankings are the Toronto Maple Leafs. Currently sitting second in the Atlantic Division, the Leafs are 22–8–6 with only three regulation losses in the last month.

For December, goaltender Ilya Samsonov lost only one of his five games and managed back-to-back shutouts. Matt Murray also managed to gain a shutout in this time.

Mitch Marner leads the Leafs with 41 points, 13 goals and 28 assists, including an astounding 23-game point streak that was ended by the New York Rangers. Joining Marner in the 40-point club are Auston Matthews and William Nylander both with 40 points.

The Leafs hold onto our top power rankings spot with the other Canadian teams far behind in points.

2. Winnipeg Jets

Another team that was able to hold onto their spot are the Winnipeg Jets. They’re not only second in our power rankings but also in the Central Division with a 22–13–1 record. The Jets and the Calgary Flames tie for the Canadian team playing the most games in December with sixteen games.

Connor Hellebuyck, drafted in 2012 by the Jets, currently leads the league in shots against and also saves. The two go hand in hand as he has saved 805 out of 869 shots. Currently with 0.926 SV%, fourth league-wide, this is on track for a career high for him. His campaign is garnering due attention for the Vezina Trophy.

Defenceman Josh Morrissey leads the team in points with 42, six goals and 36 assists, including an impressive 11-game point streak. However, Mark Scheifele leads the team in goals with 23 goals including two hat tricks this month. Sam Gagner, former Oiler and fan favourite, played in his 1000 NHL game this week and he currently has six goals and five assists.

The captain-less Jets have been looking strong since the beginning of the season but with many injuries sustained in December, the Jets may not be able to hold onto second place for much longer.

3. Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers held onto third in our power rankings and are also third in the Pacific Division. With a 7–2 blowout last night against the Seattle Kraken, the Oilers now boast a 20–15–2 record.

Connor McDavid is still first in the league for points and goals at 72 and 32, respectively. The Oilers captain currently has a 17-game point streak including yesterday’s five-point night. Although his fellow MVP, Leon Draisaitl, did not play last night, Draisaitl is still second in the NHL for points with 57—21 goals and 36 assists.

Draisaitl once again had a five-point night against the Nashville Predators with a 6–3 defeat. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also had a phenomenal month scoring eight goals and 13 assists, only three goals less than his entire 2021–22 season. He currently sits at a total 45 points including 18 goals and 27 assists.

Stuart Skinner got a majority of the starts this month with 11 games. The 24-year-old goaltender had an unbelievable game against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday saving 46 out of 47 shots and a 0.979 SV%. Skinner is currently the best in the Pacific when it comes to goals saved above expected, which only reinforces GM Ken Holland’s decision to sign Skinner to a three-year extension. His tandem tendie, Jack Campbell, played three games and only had one regulation win. Hopefully in the new year, coach Jay Woodcroft will allow Campbell to gain his confidence back so that the games are evened out between the Broth Brothers.

Tonight the Oilers will face the Jets for the first time this season and start a four-game homestand. As the halfway mark nears, with or without Draisaitl, the team will have to keep up their momentum to lock in a playoff spot.

4. Calgary Flames

Jumping up one spot from last time are the Calgary Flames. Now fourth in the Pacific Division with 17–13–7, the Flames have been teetering on both ends of the wildcard positions.

Swedish forward Elias Lindholm currently leads the Flames with 33 points, 11 goals and 22 assists. He had back-to-back three-point nights against the San Jose Sharks this month. His linemate, Tyler Toffoli, ranks first in goals for the team and second in points with 15 goals, 14 assists totalling 29 points.

This month’s games were somewhat split between the two goalies. Dan Vladar only allowed two losses, both in overtime, out of his six games while Jacob Markstrom only had three wins out of his nine.

Has coach Daryl Sutter finally found the groove for the team after losing major key players during the off-season? If they continue to play this way, the Flames could easily move up a few spots on our power rankings.

5. Vancouver Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks are slowly moving up, now in fifth for our power rankings. Sixth in the Pacific, 16–16–3, the Canucks are sitting outside of the wildcard spots while watching the other Pacific Division teams play hot potato with it all month. The Canucks had two shootout wins, three overtime wins, and two regulation wins over 12 games in December.

Swedish forward Elias Pettersson leads the teams in points with 43—16 goals and 27 assists—including an amazing five-point night against the Seattle Kraken just last week. Captain Bo Horvat is second in points but first for the team in goals with 26 goals for a total of 39 points. Horvat had two spectacular four-point games this month.

Goalie Thatcher Demko has been out since December 1 with a lower body injury. Spencer Martin has played all but three games in December. He currently has a GAA of 3.57, with multiple games in December where he allowed four or more goals. Martin also has a GSAx of -11.4, putting him near the bottom compared to all NHL goalies.

The Canucks currently are 30th in GAA with 3.47. With Demko still out for a few more weeks, can Martin tighten up his game so that the Canucks can make their way up to a wild card slot, perhaps even lock in a seeded playoff spot? It’s crunch time for the Canucks but they do have games in hand to claw back into the wild card race.

6. Ottawa Senators

Sitting seventh in the Atlantic Division and sixth in our PR are the Ottawa Senators with 16–16–3. Their record still puts them ten points behind to even be considered for a wild card position. The Senators have fourteen games in December, not including the postponed game against the Detroit Red Wings due to a massive snowstorm hitting the East.

Captain Brady Tkachuk leads the team with 37 points, 13 goals and 24 assists. His linemate, Claude Giroux, leads the Senators in goals with 14 goals. Drake Batherson currently has an 11-game point streak with 33 points while Alex DeBrincat has 35 points going only one game in December without a point or more.

Former Edmonton goalie Cam Talbot had nine starts and earned his second shutout of the season making 32 saves against the Anaheim Ducks on December 12. He also had a phenomenal win against the Boston Bruins saving 49 out of 51 shots, a 0.961 SV%. Anton Forsberg only won one game out of his four played. However, he managed to stop all 14 shots against the Los Angeles Kings after Talbot let in five goals earlier in the month.

7. Montreal Canadiens

Coming in last and moving down three spots in our PR are the Montreal Canadiens. Last in the Atlantic Division with a record of 15–17–3, the Canadiens so far have only won four games out of 14 games this month and are set face the Washington Capitals tonight. The team has had a tough December starting off with a four-game road trip and also entering the new year in the tail-end of a seven-game road trip.

Captain Nick Suzuki remains the team leader in points with 31 points, 15 goals and 16 assists. Cole Caufield is second in points at 28, leading the Canadiens in goals with 19. Joining his linemates, Kirby Dach has 22 points—five goals and 17 assists. The Canadiens top line trio currently has been held point-less by their opponents in the last four games. Not a good way to ring in the new year.

Jake Allen has started ten games and only won three of them while Sam Montembeault only won one out of three games. Montembeault had two games in December with seven goals against.

From our first power rankings it seemed like the Canadiens had an upwards trajectory but December had a different plan in mind. With many players expected to return from injury in January, let’s hope the Canadiens find that upward trend again.

The northern showdown

So far it looks like four out of seven Canadian teams will make playoffs, but we all know how things can quickly change. The last month has shown us how volatile the wild card spots in the Pacific Division can be. There is still over half a season of games to play so anything can happen.

With all seven Canadian teams playing tonight, it could drastically affect where each team sits in the standings going into the new year. This concludes our power rankings for this month, be sure to tune in for the next one!

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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