The 2021 NHL season consists of two weeks of play. Some teams have to withdraw from the league, while others have to start the season quickly – this is the ruthless nature of a shortened season.
We also know which players will play a role this season. For this week’s ESPN Power Rankings, we’ve identified the best acquisitions for each team, whether it’s a rookie getting off to a good start, a free agent or a trade that’s already paying off.
How are we doing? The current ESPN ice hockey team selects 1 to 31 players – taking into account past results and offseason additions – and those results have been incorporated into the list presented here.
Message: Each team’s previous ranking refers to our Week 1 edition, published on the 20th. January has been published.
Previous review : 2
Recording : 5-1-1
This week: against STL (Jan. 28); @ SJ (Feb. 1).
While Zach Whitecloud took his chances in the NHL last season, he is new to the Golden Knights’ regular rotation this season. For now, Dynamo and their coach Peter Deboer, 24, believe the defender is on an amazing path.
Previous review : 1
Recording : 3-1-0
This week: @ CAR (Jan. 28); vs. NSH (January 30-February 1).
The only real newcomer to Team Lightning this season is rookie defender Callan Foote (son of Adam). Tampa Bay slowly brought Foote into the rotation; he was spared in his first start and saw more action in his second start.
Previous review : 6
this week : EDM (29 and 30 January)
After a decade with the Flames (which earned him a tribute video on the JumboTron and the Sticks on Sunday), defenseman T.J. Brodie is now in Toronto. Leafs fans are happy with Morgan Reilly, a solid defender.
Previous review : 12 Savings: 4-0-2
This week: against CGY (Jan. 28, 30); against VAN (Feb. 1, 2).
General Manager Mark Bergevin has made many new hires this season, but the fact that Tyler Toffoli – a coveted free agent this summer – scored five goals in his first six games has Habs fans giddy.
Previous review: 4
record : 4-0-3
This week: against NYI (Jan. 28); against BOS (Jan. 30-Feb. 1).
Justin Schultz scored nine goals in his first six games as captain against the Caps, while the opposing team managed just three. The two-time Stanley Cup winner from Pittsburgh should help his former rival strengthen his defensive line.
Previous review: 3
record : 4-3-0
This week: against SJ (Jan. 28); @ MIN (Jan. 30 and 31); against MIN (Feb. 2).
In last week’s game against the Kings, in which the Avalanche used seven defenders, Devon Toews still got nearly 26 minutes of playing time. That should give you an idea of what the coaching staff thinks about their new quarterback.
Previous review : 9 Savings: 3-0-0
This week: @ DET (January 28); @ CAR (January 30, 31); @ CBJ (February 2).
Rookie Ty Dellandrea already has the confidence of the coaching staff, which was most evident in his second game, where he was used on power play, penalty kick and in a defensive zone altercation, with the Stars taking a one-goal lead by the end of the third game.
Previous review : 8Save: 4-1-
This week: vs. PIT (January 28); @ WSH (January 30, February 1).
By the time Craig Smith signed with the Bruins, he felt right at home. And of course, the Predators’ longtime wing defender has developed great chemistry with Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederick in Boston’s third row.
Previous review : 5Registration: 4-2-1
this week : @ NJ (January 28); vs. NYI (January 30, 31).
With almost the same team back, we need to focus on Erik Gustafsson. It was a tough start for the defender, although he was always considered a high-risk player (for defensive mistakes) and with high offensive potential. He took to the ice and scored seven goals for his team in a 5-5 tie.
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Previous review : 19
this week : @ BOS (Jan. 28); @ NYR (Jan. 30-Feb. 1); vs. NJ (February 2).
Finally, the Penguins want Kasperi Kapanen to play with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel (plum mission!), and he’s working on it after delaying the start of the season by about 40 due to visa issues.
Previous review : 15Registration : 4-3-0
This week: against Los Angeles (Jan. 28); against COL (Jan. 30, 31); @ COL (Feb. 2).
Besides Kirill Kaprizov, there are other players in the wilderness to talk about, but not as much fun. The move to the NHL seemed like a no-brainer for the 23-year-old former KHL All-Star, whose creativity and confidence are incredible.
Previous review : 7
this week : @ VGS (Jan. 28); @ ANA (Jan. 30, 31); vs. ARI (February 2).
Torey Circle’s offensive production may not be there yet, but it shows why he has always been undervalued defensively. It will be interesting to see if Krug and Colton Parayko remain in the lead duo or if Craig Berube changes the deal.
Previous review : 17
Registration : 5-2-0
This week: against EDM (Jan. 28); against VAN (Jan. 30); against CGY (Feb. 1, 2).
The Jets needed defensive support this season and GM Kevin Chevelday signed an undervalued contract with Derek Forbort. He was solid for the Jets and quickly impressed when he saved a one-handed goal in his first game.
Previous review : 10
Recording : 3-3-0
This week: WSH (January 28); IHP (January 30, 31); vs. BUF (February 2).
The Islanders don’t have many new faces this season, which means all eyes will be on rookie goalie Ilya Sorokin. While Semyon Varlamov is still 1A on Long Island, Sorokin is exploiting his potential by omitting such stops :
This is, uh… Here’s why we’re excited about Ilya Sorokin #Isles pic.twitter.com/R629hHqV1g
– Eyes on Isles (@eyesonislesFS) 25. January 2021
Previous review : 21Record : 3-5-0
This week: against TOR (Jan. 28, 30); against OTT (Jan. 31, Feb. 2).
Tyson Barrie was a big acquisition on the blue line, but Slater Kekkoek became one of the more stable members of Edmonton’s defensive core. He won’t hit you with the puck, but the resistance is there.
Previous review : 11Record : 2-1-0
This week: against TB (Jan. 28); against DAL (Jan. 30, 31); @ CHI (Feb. 2).
Vincent Trocheck joined the team last season, but only played seven games before the season break. So it was nice to see the former Panther get off to a good start, scoring two goals in the first three games, including that beauty :
Vincent Trocheck with a nice shot under the crossbar for the Hurricanes’ 2-1 lead over the Predators in the third period. It’s the second goal of the season for Trocheck. pic.twitter.com/aUikJI9BTr
– Brett Finger (@brettfinger) 19. January 2021
Previous review : 26
Registration : 3-2-1
This week: @ PHI (January 28); @ BUF (January 30, 31); @ PIT (February 2).
If you’re looking for a sleeper for the Calder Trophy race, may we suggest Ty Smith the Devil? The defenseman started his NHL career with five points, matching last season’s 2020 winner, Cale Makar.
Previous review : 16 Record: 3-0-0 this week: CBJ (January 28); DET (January 30 and 31).
It’s hard to tell the two apart, with Anthony Duclair and Carter Verhegh playing alongside captain Alexander Barkov in Florida’s new front line (in a small sample size). But both recruits have been effective so far.
Previous review : 23Record : 2-2-3
This week: @ FLA (Jan. 28); @ CHI (Jan. 29, 31); @ DAL (Feb. 2).
Michael Del Zotto is on his seventh NHL team in 12 years, but a reunion with John Tortorella is just what he needed to get back on track. Del Zotto, who joined Columbus on probation, provides offensive support for a team that is always looking for goals.
Previous review : 18Record : 3-3-0
This week: @ CHI (January 27); @ TB (January 30, February 1).
The Predators are still looking to improve their scoring and hope to have found some help for Luke Kuhnin. Two goals in the first two games is a good start.
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Previous review : 14Record: 2-1-1
this week: MTL (January 28, 30); WPG (February 1, 2)
This is the easiest way to create a new fan base: Block eight shots against your old team. That’s exactly what Christopher Tanev did on his second trip to the Flames. The Canucks miss him.
Previous review : 24
this week : @ COL (January 28); vs. VGS (February 1).
Ryan Donato has had an outstanding individual performance thus far – a good thing, because when the Sharks acquired him, they had a big role in mind. He scored two goals in his first six games and continues to be a dynamo on the penalty spot:
We proved ourselves tonight. #SJSharks pic.twitter.com/GeHHpzP8Dh
– San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) January 15, 2021
Previous review : 27
Registration : 3-2-2
This week: @ MIN (Jan. 28); vs. ANA (February 2).
Andreas Athanasiou may be in rehab in Los Angeles. He scored three goals in his first three games, but since those were his first three shots, he definitely gets the small puck.
Previous review : 20Record : 3-5-0
This week: against OTT (Jan. 27, 28); @ WPG (Jan. 30); @ MTL (Feb. 1, 2).
The most exciting addition to the Canuck list is rookie Nils Hoaglander. The 20-year-old Swede, who won the second round in 2019, showed a lot of confidence and seems to have secured himself a regular spot in the top six.
Previous review : 30
Registration : 3-2-2
This week: @ ARI (Jan. 28); vs. STL (January 30, 31); @ LA (February 2).
One of the Ducks’ key assets in the offseason is Kevin Shattenkirk, a veteran defensive end. As promised, he was one of the best defenders of the minute with Hampus Lindholm taking the power play position.
Previous review : 25
Registration : 3-3-1
This week: against New York (Jan. 28); against New Jersey (Jan. 30, 31); @ NYI (Feb. 2).
Taylor Hall was exactly what the Sabres were looking for, a seasoned playmaker who could keep up with Jack Eichel. Says the Flyers’ coach, Alain Vigneault: Probably one of the best power-duos in the National Hockey League.
– Who will be the best choice this summer?
– Top 32 top 32 in category
prospects – How COVID-19 will affect rankings.
Previous review : 13Record : 1-4-1
This week: @ BUF (Jan. 28); vs. PIT (30 January, 1 February)
K’Andre Miller, a 2018 first-round pick, may have been a surprise to the team, but he earned the trust of coach David Quinn. Miller’s most common defensive partner was Jacob Trouba on the Rangers’ first team.
Previous review : 22Record : 2-4-1
This week: against ANA (Jan. 28); @ STL (Feb. 2).
Derick Brassard was the 10th pick in the 2006 draft class with 300 assists in his career. The veteran center is an important addition to the Yotes line. Arizona won 7-3 in six games where Brassard was on the ice.
Previous review : 31
Registration : 2-3-2
This week : @ NSH (January 27); vs. CBJ (Jan. 29, 31); vs. CAR (February 2).
The Blackhawks have dominated the European free agent market in recent years – Chicago scouts have discovered some diamonds in the rough – so it’s probably not surprising that Pius Suter scored his first, second and third NHL goals… in one game.
Previous review : 29
Registration : 1-4-1
This week: @ VAN (January 27, 28); @ EDM (January 31, February 2).
In his first season as a regular in the NHL, Josh Norris proves that he can be an NHL center; but what’s even better, he shows great chemistry with Brady Tkachuk and Drake Baterson. The trio scored 67.33% for Corsi in five games.
Previous review : 28
this week : @ DAL (Jan. 28); vs. FLA (January 30, 31).
The Red Wings’ blue line has been reshuffled considerably this season, but it’s forward Bobby Ryan who has had the most impact early in the season. The veteran became the first player in franchise history to score four goals in his first three appearances with the team.