Super 16: Sabres back in power rankings; Kraken continue to climb


The Sabres are No. 16, nudging their way in ahead of the Washington Capitals by three voting points. They were No. 16 three weeks ago.

The top six remains the same from last week, although the No. 2 Carolina Hurricanes closed the gap slightly on the No. 1 Boston Bruins, picking up two voting points by being ranked No. 1 by two of the voting members.

Boston had been the unanimous No. 1 for three weeks in a row.

The theme of the Super 16 this week is an evaluation of each team at the All-Star break, if they’re better, worse, or exactly where we thought they would be nearly one month ahead of the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline on March 3.

A select member of the voting panel offered his or her thoughts on each ranked team and their season to date.

As a reminder, to come up with the Super 16 each week, the 13 voters put together their own version of what they think the rankings should look like. A point total assigned to each with the team selected first is given 16 points, second 15, third 14, and so on down the line.

Here is the Super 16:

1. Boston Bruins (39-7-5)

Total points: 206
Last week: No. 1

“OH MY GOODNESS THEY’VE HIT A BUMP IN THE ROAD. Seriously, the Bruins were always going to go through dips and downturns as the season went on, given the historic pace they were on during the first half. But they remain exactly where they want to be at the break, leading the NHL and Atlantic Division, and with the prospect of getting forward Jake DeBrusk back in the near future. They remain better than anyone could have anticipated, steaming full speed ahead toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs.” — Amalie Benjamin, staff writer

 

2. Carolina Hurricanes (34-9-8)

Total points: 197
Last week: No. 2

“The Hurricanes are exactly where you’d expect them to be, at the top of the Metropolitan Division and looking like a top contender for the Stanley Cup. Carolina extended its winning streak to seven games with a 5-1 victory against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday, and forward Sebastian Aho scored to extend his goal streak to six games (nine goals). The Hurricanes have done this without forward Max Pacioretty for all but five games. Pacioretty returned from offseason surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon Jan. 5 only to tear it again Jan. 19 to end his season. Expect the Hurricanes to be aggressive in trying to add another scoring wing before the trade deadline. Other than that, Carolina doesn’t have much to worry about during its time off.” — Tom Gulitti, staff writer

Video: LAK@CAR: Hurricanes complete 4-goal comeback

 

3. New Jersey Devils (32-13-4)

Total points: 169
Last week: No. 3

“There was optimism surrounding the Devils entering the season, but no one could have predicted this. A big reason for the turnaround is Vitek Vanecek, a goalie acquired in a trade with the Capitals on July 8 who has won nine straight starts. The move for the 27-year-old has to be one of the more underrated transactions of the offseason. The Devils are a stronger defensive unit in front of their goalies with a healthy Dougie Hamilton leading the way. Ryan Graves, Jonas Siegenthaler, Damon Severson and Brendan Smith are each contributing in their own unique way. Jack Hughes (64 points; 33 goals, 31 assists) is having his best NHL season. Captain Nico Hischier has taken his exceptional 200-foot game to another level. Jesper Bratt has reached 50 points for the second consecutive season. It’ll be interesting to see how far the much-improved Devils can go when the games matter the most.” — Mike G. Morreale, staff writer

 

4. Toronto Maple Leafs (31-13-8)

Total points: 167
Last week: No. 4

“The Maple Leafs found their groove after a 4-4-1 start and have been in the top 5 in the NHL standings for much of the past three months. Talent-wise, with a team led by Mitchell Marner, John Tavares, William Nylander and Auston Matthews, that’s not really a surprise. It’s probably where they should be. A bit of a surprise has been the solid, at times outstanding, play of goalies Ilya Samsonov and, to a lesser extent, Matt Murray, whose former teams — the Capitals for the former, the Ottawa Senators for the latter — opted to move on from them last offseason. The Maple Leafs have allowed 140 goals this season, which is tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Nashville Predators for ninth in the NHL. Given the uncertainty of the goaltending situation entering the season, that’s been a pleasant development for coach Sheldon Keefe and his staff.” — Mike Zeisberger, staff writer

Video: NYI@TOR: Nylander fires in a wrist shot

 

5. Tampa Bay Lightning (32-15-1)

Total points: 163
Last week: No. 5

“Led by a core group that has reached the Stanley Cup Final three consecutive seasons, the Lightning clearly have figured out how to pace themselves through the regular season to be at their best when the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin. Third place in the Atlantic Division at the break is about right, and not far from where they were last season at this point. They’ve built a cushion on the teams behind them and remain close enough to the Bruins and Maple Leafs ahead of them to force those teams to keep pushing. What’s important for the Lightning is that their play has made incremental improvements each month. After starting 5-4-0 in October, they were 8-4-1 in November, 10-3-0 in December and 9-4-0 in January, including a three-game winning streak to close the month. The Lightning are smart and experienced, and likely already planning another deep postseason run.” — Adam Kimelman, deputy managing editor

 

6. Dallas Stars (28-13-10)

Total points: 135
Last week: No. 6

“I thought the Stars would be competitive in the Central Division, but they’re doing better than I expected. They’re first in the Central, one point ahead of the Winnipeg Jets, another team that has exceeded expectations in my opinion. Forwards Jason Robertson and Joe Pavelski are again having strong seasons, as is goalie Jake Oettinger. But the Stars’ success is also about others reviving their game and production. Captain Jamie Benn has 44 points (19 goals, 25 assists) in 51 games, two points shy of the 46 (18 goals, 28 assists) he had in 82 games last season, and defenseman Miro Heiskanen‘s 40 points in 48 games are more than the 36 he had in 70 games. Dallas is in good shape entering the stretch run.” — Tracey Myers, staff writer

Video: CAR@DAL: Robertson snipes the puck home in the 1st

 

7. Seattle Kraken (29-15-5)

Total points: 108
Last week: No. 9

“The Kraken are empirically better than their inaugural NHL season of 2021-22 (27 wins and 60 points), two wins and three points ahead of those totals with 33 games remaining. Think about that for a minute. That is a patently ridiculous statement, but also true. Every facet of their game has been better. Matty Beniers is the frontrunner for the Calder Trophy given to the best rookie in the NHL and was named to the 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Game before withdrawing with an injury. Vince Dunn has quietly been one the best defensemen in the League, eating major minutes and providing an offensive jolt. The goalie tandem of Martin Jones and Philipp Grubauer has been reliable if unspectacular, something that was missing last season. Put it all together and it has the makings of one of the best stories in a first half that defied expectations in so many other ways.” — Shawn P. Roarke, director of editorial

 

8. New York Rangers (27-14-8)

Total points: 106
Last week: No. 8

“The Rangers have 62 points through 49 games, pretty much what I expected from them and exactly where I think they should be based on their play and how they finished last season, with 110 points and going to Game 6 in the Eastern Conference Final. I figured 62 points through 49 games would have been good enough for second place in the Metropolitan Division, but the Devils have been the surprise team and lead New York for second by six points, setting up the potential for a Hudson River rivalry playoff series, the first since the 2012 Eastern Conference Final, and it would be a blast. But to get there, the Rangers must come out of the break playing the type of hockey they were playing going into it. They’re 16-4-3 since Dec. 5, second in the NHL with a .761 points percentage behind the Hurricanes (.827). They turned it around after an inauspicious start (11-10-5) and now have to maintain their strong play.” — Dan Rosen, senior writer

 

9. Winnipeg Jets (32-19-1)

Total points: 105
Last week: No. 7

“Not only are the Jets coming into the All-Star break in a better position than most people expected, I rank them as one the most improved teams in the NHL. They have 10 more wins than last season after 52 games, have scored 17 more goals (166-149) and allowed 18 fewer (137-155). The penalty killing has improved from 24th (76.6 percent) to third (83.3 percent). They have three players scoring at a point-per-game pace (minimum 40 games) or better, Kyle Connor, Josh Morrissey and Pierre-Luc Dubois; last season they had two (Connor and Mark Scheifele). Most importantly, they were 12th in the Western Conference, six points out of the playoff picture, last season at the 52-game mark. This season, they’re second in the West with 12 more points.” — Paul Strizhevsky, staff writer

Video: STL@WPG: Morrissey nets 2nd goal of night in 3rd

 

10. Colorado Avalanche (27-18-3)

Total points: 82
Last week: No. 10

“The Avalanche obviously are lower in the NHL standings and the Super 16 than we thought they’d be. The defending Stanley Cup champions have been plagued by injuries. Forwards Darren Helm, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Valeri Nichushkin, and defensemen Josh Manson and Bowen Byram, each has missed a significant amount of time. But they’ve played better lately (7-3-0 in their past 10), their injury situation appears to be improving and though on one hand they’re on the playoff bubble, on the other they still have a good shot to finish at least third in the Central Division. If they regain their health and form down the stretch, they could mount a stiff defense of their title.” — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist

 

11. Edmonton Oilers (28-18-4)

Total points: 76
Last week: No. 12

“I have the Oilers at No. 10 but feel there is room for growth. Goalie Stuart Skinner has been a nice surprise, but I think Jack Campbell would be the first to admit he hasn’t met expectations since signing a five-year, $25 million contract with Edmonton in the offseason. He needs to make the most of his opportunities in the second half and help the Oilers in this heated Pacific Division race. They will need him.” — Brian Compton, managing editor

Video: CHI@EDM: Draisaitl scores PPG in tight

 

12. Vegas Golden Knights (29-18-4)

Total points: 73
Last week: No. 11

“The Golden Knights are exactly where I thought they would be, competing for first in the Pacific Division. I did not think the Kraken would be in first (who did?) but had the Golden Knights competing with the Oilers and Calgary Flames? After starting 13-2-0, Vegas has cooled with one win in its past eight games since Jan. 14 (1-5-2), tied with the St. Louis Blues for fewest points in the NHL in that span and scoring 2.00 goals per game. Jack Eichel (one assist in his past eight games) is among the players who need to turn it around or Vegas could be in danger of missing the playoffs for the second straight season, something that seemed impossible two months in.” — David Satriano, staff writer

 

13. Minnesota Wild (27-17-4)

Total points: 58
Last week: No. 15

“The Wild are solid and meeting expectations. They’re third in the Central Division with 58 points with the Avalanche one point behind them and Nashville Predators winners of three in a row and four points back. I figured the Wild would be third but did not figure they would be seven points behind the Jets. That’s to the Jets’ credit, but the Wild need to improve their center depth to make a push down the stretch and be a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. They do not have a No. 1 center. Bo Horvat would have been a great addition, but he’s gone to the New York Islanders. I don’t know where they turn now, but depth at center is going to be key the rest of the way.” — Rosen

Video: PHI@MIN: Zuccarello scores in OT to lead Wild to win

 

14. Los Angeles Kings (28-18-7)

Total points: 55
Last week: No. 13

“The Kings are where we expected them to be, in the heart of the Pacific Division race. After 53 games, their record is almost a cut and paste from a season ago: second last season with 65 points (29-17-7) and second this season with 63 points. They’ve scored 12 more non-shootout goals (169-157), but have allowed 38 more (182-144), way too many goals-against. They’ll need to straighten up things defensively in their last 30 games to clinch a playoff berth.” — Robert Laflamme, LNH.com senior writer

 

15. Pittsburgh Penguins (24-16-9)

Total points: 22
Last week: No. 14

“The Penguins have been two different teams this season. Early they were a team that looked like its streak of 16 consecutive seasons in the playoffs was going to end, going 4-6-2 through 12 games. But then they looked like one that was 100 percent playoff bound, going 15-3-2 from Nov. 9-Dec. 20 for an NHL-best 32 points in that stretch. But they have five wins in 17 games since (5-7-5), a .441 points percentage that’s equals the San Jose Sharks, who have 15 wins all season, the latest 6-4 against Pittsburgh on Jan. 28. This has to be concerning for the Penguins, who have prided themselves on their consistency since coach Mike Sullivan took over Dec. 12, 2015. They are hanging onto a playoff spot in the East, but that’s not where we expect them to be. I didn’t even have them in my Super 16 this week. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I haven’t had the Penguins in my weekly Super 16 the past five years.” — Rosen

 

16. Buffalo Sabres (26-20-4)

Total points: 18
Last week: Unranked

“The Sabres are higher than I thought they’d be at this point, fourth in the Atlantic Division and two points ahead of the Florida Panthers, the Presidents’ Trophy winners last season. It’s unlikely they go any higher than fourth, but they’re in the thick of the wild card race in the Eastern Conference. I thought the Sabres would be in the bottom half of the division, playing meaningful games but too far outside of the playoff race to be serious contenders. I thought they were a season ago. They might still be, but there’s hope for their first playoff berth since 2011 and that’s huge, especially considering it didn’t look good for Buffalo when it went 0-8-0 from Nov. 4-19. The Sabres have rebounded nicely and have since been one of the most consistent teams in the NHL. They might be buyers before the trade deadline for the first time in a long time.” — Rosen

Others receiving points: Washington Capitals 15, Nashville Predators 7, Calgary Flames 5, Florida Panthers 1

Dropped out: Capitals (No. 16)

 

HERE’S HOW WE RANKED ‘EM 

AMALIE BENJAMIN 

1. Boston Bruins; 2. Carolina Hurricanes; 3. New Jersey Devils; 4. Toronto Maple Leafs; 5. Tampa Bay Lightning; 6. Dallas Stars; 7. Winnipeg Jets; 8. Seattle Kraken; 9. New York Rangers; 10. Los Angeles Kings; 11. Colorado Avalanche; 12. Edmonton Oilers; 13. Vegas Golden Knights; 14. Minnesota Wild; 15. Buffalo Sabres; 16. Pittsburgh Penguins

BRIAN COMPTON

1. Boston Bruins; 2. Carolina Hurricanes; 3. New Jersey Devils; 4. Tampa Bay Lightning; 5. Toronto Maple Leafs; 6. Seattle Kraken; 7. Dallas Stars; 8. New York Rangers; 9. Minnesota Wild; 10. Edmonton Oilers; 11. Colorado Avalanche; 12. Vegas Golden Knights; 13. Los Angeles Kings; 14. Pittsburgh Penguins; 15. Buffalo Sabres; 16. Nashville Predators

NICHOLAS J. COTSONIKA

1. Boston Bruins; 2. Carolina Hurricanes; 3. New Jersey Devils; 4. Toronto Maple Leafs; 5. Tampa Bay Lightning; 6. Dallas Stars; 7. Seattle Kraken; 8. New York Rangers; 9. Winnipeg Jets; 10. Vegas Golden Knights; 11. Minnesota Wild; 12. Edmonton Oilers; 13. Los Angeles Kings; 14. Colorado Avalanche; 15. Pittsburgh Penguins; 16. Buffalo Sabres

TOM GULITTI 

1. Boston Bruins; 2. Carolina Hurricanes; 3. New Jersey Devils; 4. Toronto Maple Leafs; 5. Tampa Bay Lightning; 6. Dallas Stars; 7. Seattle Kraken; 8. Winnipeg Jets; 9. New York Rangers; 10. Vegas Golden Knights; 11. Colorado Avalanche; 12. Minnesota Wild; 13. Edmonton Oilers; 14. Los Angeles Kings; 15. Buffalo Sabres; 16. Washington Capitals

ADAM KIMELMAN

1. Boston Bruins; 2. Carolina Hurricanes; 3. Toronto Maple Leafs; 4. Tampa Bay Lightning; 5. Dallas Stars; 6. Winnipeg Jets; 7. New Jersey Devils; 8. New York Rangers; 9. Seattle Kraken; 10. Edmonton Oilers; 11. Colorado Avalanche; 12. Vegas Golden Knights; 13. Buffalo Sabres; 14. Minnesota Wild; 15. Pittsburgh Penguins; 16. Washington Capitals

ROBERT LAFLAMME 

1. Boston Bruins; 2. Carolina Hurricanes; 3. New Jersey Devils; 4. Toronto Maple Leafs; 5. Tampa Bay Lightning; 6. Dallas Stars; 7. Winnipeg Jets; 8. New York Rangers; 9. Seattle Kraken; 10. Vegas Golden Knights; 11. Los Angeles Kings; 12. Edmonton Oilers; 13. Colorado Avalanche; 14. Minnesota Wild; 15. Pittsburgh Penguins; 16. Washington Capitals

MIKE G. MORREALE

1. Boston Bruins; 2. Carolina Hurricanes; 3. Tampa Bay Lightning; 4. New Jersey Devils; 5. Toronto Maple Leafs; 6. Vegas Golden Knights; 7. Colorado Avalanche; 8. Minnesota Wild; 9. Washington Capitals; 10. Dallas Stars; 11. New York Rangers; 12. Pittsburgh Penguins; 13. Seattle Kraken; 14. Los Angeles Kings; 15. Winnipeg Jets; 16. Edmonton Oilers

TRACEY MYERS 

1. Boston Bruins; 2. Carolina Hurricanes; 3. Toronto Maple Leafs; 4. New Jersey Devils; 5. Dallas Stars; 6. Winnipeg Jets; 7. Tampa Bay Lightning; 8. Seattle Kraken; 9. Vegas Golden Knights; 10. Los Angeles Kings; 11. New York Rangers; 12. Minnesota Wild; 13. Colorado Avalanche; 14. Edmonton Oilers; 15. Washington Capitals; 16. Calgary Flames

SHAWN P. ROARKE 

1. Carolina Hurricanes; 2. Boston Bruins; 3. Tampa Bay Lightning; 4. Colorado Avalanche; 5. Winnipeg Jets; 6. New Jersey Devils; 7. Toronto Maple Leafs; 8. Dallas Stars; 9. Edmonton Oilers; 10. Seattle Kraken; 11. New York Rangers; 12. Minnesota Wild; 13. Los Angeles Kings; 14. Buffalo Sabres; 15. Nashville Predators; 16. Florida Panthers

DAN ROSEN 

1. Carolina Hurricanes; 2. Boston Bruins; 3. Tampa Bay Lightning; 4. New Jersey Devils; 5. Toronto Maple Leafs; 6. Edmonton Oilers; 7. Colorado Avalanche; 8. Dallas Stars; 9. New York Rangers; 10. Seattle Kraken; 11. Los Angeles Kings; 12. Winnipeg Jets; 13. Nashville Predators; 14. Buffalo Sabres; 15. Minnesota Wild; 16. Calgary Flames

DAVID SATRIANO

1. Boston Bruins; 2. Carolina Hurricanes; 3. New Jersey Devils; 4. Toronto Maple Leafs; 5. Tampa Bay Lightning; 6. Dallas Stars; 7. Winnipeg Jets; 8. New York Rangers; 9. Edmonton Oilers; 10. Colorado Avalanche; 11. Seattle Kraken; 12. Vegas Golden Knights; 13. Los Angeles Kings; 14. Minnesota Wild; 15. Washington Capitals; 16. Calgary Flames

PAUL STRIZHEVSKY

1. Boston Bruins; 2. Carolina Hurricanes; 3. Toronto Maple Leafs; 4. New Jersey Devils; 5. Tampa Bay Lightning; 6. Seattle Kraken; 7. Dallas Stars; 8. New York Rangers; 9. Winnipeg Jets; 10. Vegas Golden Knights; 11. Edmonton Oilers; 12. Minnesota Wild; 13. Colorado Avalanche; 14. Los Angeles Kings; 15. Pittsburgh Penguins; 16. Buffalo Sabres

MIKE ZEISBERGER 

1. Boston Bruins; 2. Carolina Hurricanes; 3. Toronto Maple Leafs; 4. Tampa Bay Lightning; 5. New Jersey Devils; 6. Dallas Stars; 7. New York Rangers; 8. Winnipeg Jets; 9. Seattle Kraken; 10. Vegas Golden Knights; 11. Edmonton Oilers; 12. Pittsburgh Penguins; 13. Los Angeles Kings; 14. Colorado Avalanche; 15. Calgary Flames; 16. Minnesota Wild

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