With three months of the NHL season in the books, the league is about split into two groups. Buyers and sellers will emerge after the league’s three-day holiday break, with bottom feeding teams like the New York Islanders selling off assets while top-end squads with some cap space to burn will begin to add pieces.
The rumor mill was churning full steam ahead prior to the roster freeze, and once that embargo is lifted, expect chatter to pick up in a big way.
Regardless of which teams add which pieces, a few clubs have really differentiated themselves from the rest of the pack and will be tough to compete with. The Anaheim Ducks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks and L.A. Kings have all emerged as the class of the NHL. All the rest of the teams gunning for the Stanley Cup will need to keep pace with these four teams. The Boston Bruins and perhaps even the St. Louis Blues could be included in that group as well.
Same rules as always. No team can rise or fall more than five spots in the rankings. This isn’t meant to be a direct reflection of the standings, and there is a bit more emphasis put on recent winning ways. That’s why you’ll see the Colorado Avalanche a bit further down here than you might elsewhere.
All statistics appear courtesy of NHL.com unless otherwise noted. Win-loss records, streaks and so on are accurate prior to December 23’s contests.