It feels good to be back, hockey fans.
The 2022-23 NHL season is shaping up to be one of hockey’s best in a long time. After the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup over the Tampa Bay Lightning in triumphant fashion earlier in the summer, hockey fans have been waiting patiently for the start of a new season to grace our eyeballs.
And now the long summer is over; our prayers have been answered and the NHL has returned to us once more! Much like last year, you can watch the upcoming 2022-23 season on ESPN+, with the NHL’s opening day scheduled for October 7 when the San Jose Sharks take on the Nashville Predators in Europe as part of the Global Series.
With a full slate of 82 games scheduled for each team once again, it may be hard to discern which NHL teams are worth your time and which ones you can safely ignore. Good news! We’re here to set you straight on which NHL teams are worth following as the grind of yet another hockey season begins.
Here are all 32 NHL teams ranked from least to most watchable for the 2022-23 season.
Please, dear god, do not watch the Flyers this year. No Ryan Ellis and no Sean Couturier due to injury. Claude Giroux was traded last spring. They lost out on Johnny Gaudreau — who wanted to come to Philadelphia! — because they didn’t have enough cap space to sign him. Godspeed to all Flyers fans who stick out the season because there’s not a lot to be excited for here!
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will not be enough to carry the gutted carcass of the Blackhawks to the playoffs. Seems like it’s going to be yet another long winter for the city of Chicago.
The Sharks’ window to compete has well and truly passed them by. Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture might still be good players, as was Erik Karlsson once upon a time, but until team truly commits to the rebuild, they’ll continue to languish in the NHL’s basement.
Tage Thompson, Casey Mittelstadt, and Owen Power are fun, young NHL talent that are worth keeping an eye on. That being said, the Sabres are still rebuilding at the end of the day so adjust expectations accordingly.
I know what you’re thinking. Why are the Coyotes, one of the NHL’s basement teams, so high? Well, playing in a college arena should make for quite the unique atmosphere for a professional hockey game. I suspect the novelty will wear off fast, though.
In recent years, the Devils have always overpromised and underdelivered and I don’t see that changing in the 2022-23 season. How they managed to make Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, and Dougie Hamilton boring to watch is beyond me, but here we are!
The Canadiens look to have a bright future ahead of them, but expect the 2022-23 season to be another year of painful growth for Martin St. Louis’ club. Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki, and Juraj Slafkovsky should all turn up on the highlight reel frequently, at the very least.
The Jets’ leadership issues may make for interesting off-ice drama, but it’s going to take a lot of work from new head coach Rick Bowness to get the team back to its old winning ways. While there may not be a lot of defense when Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele are on the ice, the pair can still provide a stunning offensive punch at times. And hey, let’s not forget near 50-goal scorer from last season, Kyle Connor, either!
Alex Ovechkin’s quest to catch Wayne Gretzky is compelling in its own right, but boy is this team old. In fact, the Capitals are the oldest team in the NHL and likely slipping out of playoff contention sooner rather than later. Still, the fact that Ovechkin could very well hit 50 goals again this season at age 37 is absolutely something to keep on your radar this year.
Parodying the words of Senator Palpatine for a second here, but I will be watching the Kraken with great interest this season. Shane Wright and Matthew Beniers have the makings of a real fun one-two punch down the middle for Seattle. I even think the Kraken have a legitimate chance at a playoff spot if all goes well for them this season. But at the same time, they could also be bad again, which would be its own fun can of worms!
Hockey fans got a taste of what Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond can do at the NHL level last season. Detroit also added David Perron into the mix this offseason, giving their offense quite the boost as well. It’ll be a tough road for the Red Wings to make the playoffs, but they’re surely not the easy two points they once were not too long ago.
Kevin Fiala will absolutely be a much-needed addition to this Kings squad after they bowed out in the first round of the playoffs last season. Keep an eye out for Quinton Byfield too, who should have a much better season after missing half of last year due to an ankle fracture.
With a full season of Bruce Boudreau at the helm, the Canucks should fare better this year compared to last. The recent extension of J.T. Miller also means trade talks won’t be hanging over the Canucks’ heads throughout the season. If Boudreau can continue to get the best out of the team’s young core of Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Quinn Hughes, Vancouver will be in the playoff mix once more.
The Ducks are going to be incredibly fun to watch as long as Trevor Zegras continues to post jaw-dropping highlights like these.
Anaheim’s still a young team with lots of room to grow, but keep an eye on them as a team possibly on the cusp of a playoff spot.
Jordan Binnington must have a bounce back season if the Blues want a chance at a playoff spot. With Ville Husso in Detroit now, St. Louis no longer has the safety net it once did last season. But hey, if Binnington has a bad year again, the likelihood of him throwing tantrums on the ice is exponentially higher, and that always makes for good television!
Here’s hoping the Stars pay Jason Robertson his due soon so fans can get back to watching the future of Dallas on the ice. Robertson’s breakout rookie season last year surprised many, as did Joe Pavelski’s 81-point season at age 37. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn may not be the studs they once were, but this Stars team can still surprise with its electric young talent.
With Barry Trotz gone, the Islanders might be finally free of the “boring” — but effective! — style of hockey that fans have ragged on them for in recent years. Of course, new head coach Lane Lambert might not be so keen on changing up the Islanders’ style of play because, after all, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
It’s fair to say that the Islanders’ 2021-22 season didn’t go as planned, but considering they won’t be going on another five-week road trip to open their year, it feels like they’re primed for a bounce back.
This year is truly the Bruins’ last with this core group. Eight of their forwards — including David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and David Krejci — will be unrestricted free agents after this season. With the team up against the salary cap as it is, it’s hard to see everyone getting brought back. It’s a shame then that Boston will have to weather a slew of injuries early on in the midst of the toughest division in the NHL.
Still, everyone loves a good one last ride story and the Bruins are the epitome of that for the 2022-23 season.
Kirill Kaprizov’s thrilling style of play should be enough for you to tune into Wild games this season. Last year’s sophomore sensation scored 108 points and 47 goals, transforming into one of the NHL’s most exciting stars right before our very eyes. In his third year of play, Kaprizov will have to do without Fiala — who was moved in a trade to Los Angeles — but there’s seemingly nothing stopping him from hitting 50 goals this season.
Either the Golden Knights will storm back to their rightful places in the playoff conversation or be complete disasters once more due to incredibly unfortunate injury luck. Vegas missed the playoffs for the first time ever last season due to the latter — and a salary cap crunch that caused one failed trade at the deadline — and there’s no way the 2022-23 season can be worse, right?
Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon is not a patient man, as this Vegas team is constantly in win-now mode, no matter the consequences. Is that a formula that’s sustainable for winning? Who can say, but at least it’s entertaining!
If you like phenominal goaltending, Juuse Saros is your man. As one of the Vezina runner ups from last season, Saros has cemented himself as the cornerstone upon which this Predators team lives and dies. Of course, they were helped out last season by Matt Duchene finally living up to his contract with a 43 goal, 86 point season. After general manager David Poile nearly blew up the team just a few trade deadlines ago, this Predators team has managed to rebound in a big way.
A team with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang is always one worth watching when all three are on their game. Sure, this Penguins trio may be getting older and are nearing their final days with the team, but we’ve got to enjoy it while it lasts!
The Penguins have had a rough go of it in the postseason lately, having not reached the second round since 2017–18. The clock is ticking for Crosby and his crew, but it seems as if the team will stop at nothing to try to get this core one more crack at a Stanley Cup.
Pierre Dorion may just have the last laugh on all of us after the offseason he just had. One year after his infamous “the rebuild is done” quote, the Senators… actually look like a team that could pose a threat. And all of that is thanks to Dorion’s offseason moves, from bringing in Giroux to fleecing the Blackhawks for Alex DeBrincat. Add all the Senators young talent into the mix as well — most notably Brady Tkachuk, Drake Batherson, and Tim Stutzle — and the potential of this team has suddenly skyrocketed.
This is surely the Senators’ most talented roster they’ve iced in some time and they very well could fall short of expectations by season’s end, but how can you not be excited about what this team has to offer?
The Gaudreau bump is real! Admit it though, you’re incredibly curious as to how Gaudreau will fit in with the Blue Jackets and alongside someone like Patrik Laine on the team’s top line. I have no idea if the Blue Jackets will be good enough to make the playoffs, but at least the team’s offense just got one incredible boost with Gaudreau after the summer’s most shocking signing.
Another team that rocked the boat tremendously in the offseason, the Panthers traded away two of their best players for one Matthew Tkachuk. Last season, Florida was the best offensive team in the NHL by a mile yet faltered hard in the playoffs, scoring just three goals in their four-game series against the Lightning.
Given that chaos incarnate Sergei Bobrovsky is still slated to be the team’s starting goaltender until Spencer Knight fully takes the job, the Panthers project to be one wild rollercoaster ride of a team. Time will tell if the Panthers made the right choice in trading for Tkachuk in the long run, but let’s hope Florida’s penchant for scoring goals in droves continues all season long.
The Hurricanes have been one of the NHL’s best teams for years now and have consistently been a fun watch for any hockey fan, casual or otherwise. Carolina’s mix of offensive skill starting from Andrei Svechnikov on down to their defensive prowess have made them a real unique team to follow as a season goes along.
Plus, of course, the Hurricanes boast the best post-win fan celebration in the Storm Surge, so what’s not to love here?
No one thought the Flames could possibly be offseason winners after losing both Gaudreau and Tkachuk, but here they are! Calgary recouped its losses and then some by acquiring Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar, and Nazem Kadri in just the span of a month, possibly making them even better than they were before.
The Flames were already one of the most fun NHL teams to follow last season and these additions only fuel their fire even more as possibly the second best team in the West.
The Rangers were a surprise success story last season, and much of that fell on the shoulders of 26-year-old Vezina-winning Igor Shesterkin. This is one talented team, with Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, and Chris Kreider making an incredibly deadly front to contend with night after night. And that’s not even mentioning the 2021 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox and the team’s two young, but still emerging, stars in Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko.
These Rangers are the real deal, folks.
If Connor McDavid — the best hockey player in the world — isn’t enough reason for you to pay attention to the Oilers, I don’t know what to tell you. The Oilers also boast some incredible star power in Leon Draisaitl, who is nearly McDavid’s equal when playing at his peak. The team also brought back the extremely talented Evander Kane, but he isn’t without controversy by any means.
The biggest win the Oilers scored this past offseason was getting out from the shadow of Mike Smith and netting themselves Jack Campbell as their starter for the next five seasons. With their goaltending shored up, the sky seems to be the limit for this Oilers squad.
The Maple Leafs are the center of the hockey world, like it or not. Their demoralizing — yet highly entertaining — first round playoff exits fuel the machine upon which the NHL turns year after year. Not only is Toronto talented up to their gills — from Hart Trophy winner Auston Matthews on down — they have the loudest, most obnoxious fanbase in the league. And I say that with all the praise in the world!
The NHL would be a different league altogether without the Maple Leafs and their highly entertaining soap opera drama. It’s time we all accepted the inevitability of the Maple Leafs in our lives, because we know we can’t escape them no matter how hard we try.
It’s been some time since the Lightning weren’t the kings of the NHL (no, not those Kings). Outside of Ondrej Palat and Ryan McDonagh, the Lightning are returning all their major pieces from their Stanley Cup runner up finish from last season, a scary proposition for their opponents. Given what we know of the Lightning’s drive to succeed, don’t be surprised if Tampa Bay is ruthless in their quest to get Lord Stanley back on their side this season.
You should all know this lesson by now but seriously, make the Lightning appointment viewing as a hockey fan this season.
As the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the Avalanche have had this spot locked up since June. Even without the absolute delight that is Kadri, the Avalanche are still an absolute force to be reckoned with. Cale Makar is one of the most transformative hockey players alive. Nathan MacKinnon now makes more money than McDavid and could very well go toe to toe with him in terms of talent. Gabriel Landeskog’s been a key cog for Colorado, even in the face of all the injuries.
If there’s one hockey team to follow this season, it’s the Avalanche. But honestly, you should have been paying attention to them a long time ago.