The Intermission’s 2018-19 NHL Team Rankings, a five-part series as part of the 2018 NHL Preview coverage, will have Lee and Mike rank all 31 teams from worst to first, based on each team’s viability and general expectations of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup next June. Each part in the series will be comprised of a different grouping or “tier” of competitive standards, featuring six to seven teams at a time, until we reach those true Cup contenders for this season.
31. Ottawa Senators
2017 Record: 28-43-11 (67 points)
2017 League Ranking: 30 (-1)
IN: Mikkel Boedker (Sharks)
OUT: Mike Hoffman (Sharks)
STAYING: Cody Ceci, Mark Stone
Lee: It comes down to a single player: Erik Karlsson. This franchise has terrible ownership, inept management (see ownership) and a head coach that looks like a Bond villain. Something stinks in the Nation’s capital.
Mike: It’s impossible to believe that just two seasons ago, this team was only a single win away from a Stanley Cup Finals appearance. Now, it’s completely decimated, almost beyond recognition. FUBAR my friends. How Erik Karlsson is still a part of this roster is astonishing.
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30. Montreal Canadiens
2017 Record: 29-40-13 (71 points)
2017 League Ranking: 28 (-2)
IN: Joel Armia (Jets), Max Domi (Coyotes), Steve Mason (Jets), Tomas Plekanec (Maple Leafs)
OUT: Alex Galchenyuk (Coyotes)
STAYING: Phillip Danault, Jacob de la Rose
Lee: No offense and no Shae Weber. Unfortunately in 2018, the (Carey) Price is wrong b*tch! (unless he can get back to his peak self and become a Hart Trophy winner). Poor Claude Julien. A great coach with a bad team.
Mike: Seems like all that’s left from almost a complete roster flip is Carey Price. He’ll keep the team in games, but where will the offense come from? Tomas Plekanec ain’t walkin’ through that door anytime soon. Oh, he did? Well, problem solved!
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29. Vancouver Canucks
2017 Record: 31-40-11 (73 points)
2017 League Ranking: 26 (-3)
IN: Jay Beagle (Capitals), Antoine Roussel (Stars), Tim Schaller (Bruins)
OUT: Daniel Sedin (Retired), Henrik Sedin (Retired)
STAYING: Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund
Lee: Going in the right direction by bringing in players like Jay Beagle. They have some great young prospects, but will need at least another year or two to be formidable.
Mike: Love them or hate them, this team is going to miss the Sedins dearly. Tremendous careers they’ve had and represented the heartbeat of the Canucks for over a decade. Clearly there’s a much needed youth movement happening. Will be rough in 2018.
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28. Arizona Coyotes
2017 Record: 29-41-12 (70 points)
2017 League Ranking: 29 (+1)
IN: Alex Galchenyuk (Canadiens), Michael Grabner (Devils), Marian Hossa (Blackhawks)
OUT: Max Domi (Canadiens), Marcus Kruger (Blackhawks), Luke Schenn (Ducks)
Lee: The Coyotes are slowly getting better, but they still don’t possess enough high-end talent or a legitimate number one netminder to compete night in and night out.
Mike: I don’t mind the Domi for Galchenyuk swap, since Domi wore out his welcome in the desert. It’s a fresh start for both. Marian Hossa could be a nice leader for the young guys, if he plays. Spinning the wheels on a Darcy Kuemper/Antti Raanta combo in net could be trouble.
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27. Detroit Red Wings
2017 Record: 30-39-13 (73 points)
2017 League Ranking: 27 (–)
IN: Jonathan Bernier (Avalanche), Thomas Vanek (Blue Jackets)
STAYING: Andreas Athanasiou, Mike Green, Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha
Lee: Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The Wings had a very good draft and some decent talent now, but it’s another transition year (or two). This team won’t have enough offense, but could be a tough out on a nightly basis.
Mike: Homer alert! Yes, it’s been a rough couple of seasons after witnessing ALL of that success over the past quarter century (1+1+1+1 = 4 Cups). It’s definitely another transition season for my Wings, but I love what they did in the draft with the Zadina/Veleno heists and that they took care of their young core with extensions.
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26. New York Rangers
2017 Record: 34-39-9 (77 points)
2017 League Ranking: 24 (-2)
OUT: David Desharnais (KHL)
STAYING: Kevin Hayes, Vladislav Namestnikov, Brady Skjei, Ryan Spooner, Jimmy Vesey
Lee: Speaking of teams in transition, the Rangers are too old, too slow and had/have too many bad contracts. Glen Slather might need more cigars to get him through this season. Could this be the beginning of the end for the King of New York?
Mike: To me, it’s very strange to see a team from New York be so quiet in free agency. The Rangers made zero enhancements, instead focusing on re-signing some of their young talent. Not a terrible strategy, but this team continues to fade as others around them get better.