NHL contender tier rankings at the midpoint of the 2021

The NHL blockchain platform has been in development since the 2018 offseason and will be fully operational by 2021. The league currently holds a majority of the games on its website, however it plans to create an independent decentralized network with each team’s own token where users can bet on every game for real money.

The NHL is in a very interesting position heading into the 2021 season. There are three teams that can be considered contenders for winning this year’s Stanley Cup, but we have yet to see any of them go on an extended run where they stay at the top of their respective standings.

The “nhl divisions 2021” is a list of the NHL’s current contenders, ranked by division. The rankings are based on how teams have played so far this season.

The St. Louis Blues were a.500 club on this day in 2019, having given up 10 more goals than they had scored. They were outside of the postseason picture, and interim coach Craig Berube was having trouble turning things around.

They were also about to begin an 11-game winning streak, followed by a playoff berth, and then a postseason run that would culminate in the franchise’s first Stanley Cup title.

Of course, they’re an anomaly. During the salary cap era of the NHL, 77 percent of clubs in a playoff seed on Thanksgiving made the playoffs. The Blues of the 2018-19 season were not in one, finishing bottom as their supporters ate cranberry sauce.

All of this serves as a reminder that the NHL regular season is a combination of predictable standards and unexpected twists and turns that keep us tuned in until the 82nd game. Keep that in mind as you read the newest NHL contender tiers, which attempt to differentiate the contenders from the pretenders at the halfway mark of the season. In a short period of time, a lot may happen. For example, back in December, we had the Edmonton Oilers tasting the Cup(!) in our quarter-mark rankings!

The newest NHL Stanley Cup candidate levels are as follows:


Hurricanes of Carolina Avalanche of Colorado Panthers of Florida The Toronto Maple Leafs are a professional hockey team based in Toronto

At this stage in the season, I feel these four clubs are the genuine Stanley Cup favorites.

The Hurricanes are a complete team. They were first in goals against average and fourth in goals per game after 39 games, owing in part to Frederik Andersen, who was second in the league in goals saved above average. Sebastian Aho reminds me of Anze Kopitar in the following way: He’s a No. 1 center who is widely regarded as a terrific player, and he’ll be promoted to “elite franchise player” as soon as he hoists the Stanley Cup. I also have complete trust in this front staff to make the necessary roster additions before the trade deadline. Or at the very least, I am certain that Eric Tulsky will advocate for them.

Another club I anticipate to make a substantial acquisition before the trade deadline is the Avalanche, who are attempting to reach the championship round for the first time since 2002. Even if they don’t, this is one of just two NHL teams averaging more than four goals a game, which is ridiculous. Their defense is a result of weak forward depth and a penalty kill that ranks in the bottom 10 in the league. The good news is that as the season progressed, worries about Darcy Kuemper faded. Maybe he won’t steal a playoff round, but he won’t cost them one either?

The Panthers are the only other club that scores more than four goals per game. (With average game totals of seven goals, the NHL would treble its popularity in the United States by 2030 if the spirit of the Cats and Avs could be injected into the DNA of every club in the league.)


On Friday, Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, the NHL All-Star Weekend kicks off with the Skills Competition. The All-Star Game will be televised live on ABC and ESPN+ on Saturday, Feb. 5 at 3 p.m. ET.

• Sign up for ESPN+ to learn more about the All-Star Game

GM Bill Zito has built a strong group that scores in waves, headlined by Jonathan Huberdeau, who the hockey world unanimously agreed should be a Hart Trophy contender. This season, I’ve had more pleasure watching the Panthers than any other NHL club, and I expect the mayhem to continue into the playoffs.

The new Washington Capitals are the Toronto Maple Leafs. They’re putting together a streak of strong regular-season performances as a group, while a generational goal-scoring talent dazzles, and none of it counts until they escape self-destruction in the playoffs. They must exorcise their playoff demons and break through, much like the pre-Cup Ovechkin Capitals. In the case of Toronto, it means winning a playoff round for the first time since Usher’s “Yeah!” (featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris, for the record) was the country’s most popular song. What if they do? Prepare for the procession in advance.

Well, maybe. It’s possible to argue that their postseason humiliations justify their position in this category.

The layer of ‘if, then’

Bruins of Boston The Nashville Predators are a professional hockey team based in Nashville Penguins of Pittsburgh Blues of St. Louis The Tampa Bay Lightning are a professional hockey team based in The Golden Knights of Vegas are a professional hockey team based in

If the Boston Bruins can get “Tuukka Rask” (present save percentage:.844) to become Tuukka Rask (lifetime save percentage:.921) once again in the playoffs, they might be a force to be reckoned with. (Of course, in the first round, one of these Tuukkas may surprise the Leafs.)

The Nashville Predators can be a factor in the Western Conference if they can find a little more scoring. The Predators rank 20th in predicted goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five despite their regular-season success. With more goals in front of a back end headed by Roman Josi and Juuse Saros, plus they’ve got something in Nash Vegas, one expects GM David Poile may go hunting for pop at the trade deadline.


This season, ESPN, ESPN+, Hulu, and ABC will broadcast 103 exclusive regular-season games, with more than 1,000 out-of-market games accessible on ESPN+. • • Subscribe to ESPN+ to watch. • Watch NHL games on ESPN.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are a legitimate contender if they get this version of Tristan Jarry in the playoffs and the Steel City Trinity of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang are all healthy — which is never assured, sadly.

The St. Louis Blues’ stunning transition into an offensive steamroller means they might win the Western Conference if they receive playoff-worthy performances from either Jordan Binnington, who is on a nine-game postseason losing skid, and/or Ville Husso, who has never played in the playoffs.

The Tampa Bay Lightning can three-peat if they rediscover their defensive game in the playoffs. Let me start by noting that a squad with Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy on defense isn’t exactly a fortress. However, they’re allowing more five-on-five scoring opportunities this season than the previous two, with just a modest increase in predicted goals against. In addition, they have a worse winning % when leading after the first period than they did the previous two seasons. Again, there’s no reason to worry, but the key to this team’s back-to-back Cup victories was the kind of defense they don’t play every night.

The Vegas Golden Knights will reach the Western Conference finals if they improve when Jack Eichel comes. They’ll have to answer some lineup questions, and Chandler Stephenson and William Karlsson will undoubtedly be interested in hearing them, but no NHL club will have a late-season addition to their roster on the level of Eichel. And the Golden Knights have already shown to be a formidable opponent.


Linda Cohn and Emily Kaplan, hosts, bring their hockey knowledge and enthusiasm to the show, analyzing the latest news from the league and interviewing the greatest stars on and off the rink. Listen to it here »

The Islanders (13.6 percent) have the greatest chance of reaching the playoffs out of this group, aided by the fact that they have four games in hand on the Boston Bruins, who are in the last playoff spot. The Canucks (9.1%) are racking up points in the Pacific Division, as Bruce Boudreau tries to walk away with the Jack Adams if he can salvage their dreadful season and get them into the playoffs.

The Blackhawks (5%) have a greater chance of reaching the playoffs than the nine clubs they’ll be joining in earning a draft lottery choice. Well, perhaps: Please remember that the Blue Jackets received the Hawks’ 2022 first-round selection as part of the Seth Jones transaction, unless Chicago wins one of the draft lotteries and their choice is in the top two. It was clearly worth it to give up rather than wait until the summer to sign him. Sigh.


Foul of the Week in Jersey

During a recent Carolina Hurricanes game versus the New York Rangers, the following happened:

This guy had a strategy going into the game.

He is determined to win at any costs. pic.twitter.com/sch6SZFzcF

January 22, 2022 — Ryan Mead (@OhRyanMead)

So here’s my take on the FrankenJersey: Phillip Di Giuseppe was a Hurricanes forward who also played for the Rangers. Maybe a family member? Though that fails, we’ll just argue that the combination of the New York word mark and the Hurricanes emblem makes it seem as if the front of this jersey says “New Toilet Flush.”

There are three things to note about the ironman record.

1. Why wasn’t Keith Yandle of the Philadelphia Flyers beating Doug Jarvis’ record for consecutive games played a larger deal? Playing 965 consecutive games in the NHL is an incredible feat, as our pals on “Around The Horn” properly pointed out. It’s even more incredible to do so as a defender. Yandle’s ability to keep the streak alive without injuries and through two pandemic seasons in which hundreds of players were forced to skip games because to the procedures leads me to think he is Bruce Willis from “Unbreakable.”

2. I was at the game when he set the record on Tuesday night. They didn’t halt the game for a celebration or anything, despite the fact that they had broken a record that had stood for more than three decades. They announced it during the first period on the UBS Arena PA system, and the feat was met with a half-standing ovation at a sparsely attended game. However, Islanders fans’ response seemed to be in line with the rest of the hockey world, which was overwhelmingly dissatisfied. Is it because Phil Kessel has 941 games under his belt and we’re waiting our praise for until he passes Yandle?

3. I was glad Yandle, a Boston native, had so many family members there to celebrate with him at the Islanders game. However, I was disappointed that this album was released at this juncture in Yandle’s career. He doesn’t have the same emotional attachment to the Flyers as, say, Patrick Marleau had when he established the all-time games played record with the Sharks. He’s played in 43 games for the Flyers, and it’s been a disaster: 13 assists, a minus-23 rating, and his lowest average ice time since his second season in the NHL. Due to his performance and the team’s circumstances, Flyers fans reacted to Yandle’s record with “bitterness, sarcasm, and downright fury all over the place,” according to Charlie O’Connor of The Athletic. Yandle may have taken a day off in the previous 13 years if he had known this would be the local response to breaking the record.

The week’s winners and losses

Video proof is the winner.

In minor league hockey, there have been two recent cases of racism. The AHL has banned San Jose Barracuda player Krystof Hrabik for 30 games after he made a racial gesture at Tucson Roadrunners forward Boko Imama during a game on Jan. 12. Jacob Panetta has been banned indefinitely by the ECHL for what South Carolina Stingrays defenceman Jordan Subban described as a racial insult on Saturday night. The Jacksonville Icemen, Panetta’s club, released him.

In all situations, the leagues were reacting to player claims as well as, more importantly, accessible video proof. In the Subban incident, it was a video taken by a supporter of Panetta’s team that went viral when P.K. Subban of the New Jersey Devils tweeted it in support of his brother. “It’s a shame that we’re still dealing with racism as we are in 2022,” a fan told First Coast News.

I bring this up because of what Jalen Smereck stated in favor of Jordan Subban on Instagram. Last year, Smereck was the recipient of a racial remark from Ukrainian Hockey League player Andrei Deniskin.

“It’s just the first month of 2022, and two racist gestures have already occurred in North America’s second and third top leagues,” he remarked. “Imagine how many things happen to young kids at the youth level that we don’t see or know about because the game isn’t being recorded.”

It’s a comfort that these instances were captured on tape. It’s depressing to consider how many more went unnoticed.

‘Hockey is for Everyone,’ says the loser.

It’s difficult to say that hockey is for everyone when incidents like these continue to deter people from taking part in our sport. The implied motivation behind the suspended players’ acts pales in comparison to the real suffering they inflicted. The time spent developing alibis for the offending gamers may have been better spent listening to players of color explain why their conduct alienates them. Players like Jordan’s cousin, Marselis Subban, who wrote:


January 24, 2022 — Marselis Subban (@MarselisSubban)

I believe Akim Aliu of the Hockey Diversity Alliance was correct when he said: “‘Let’s Make Hockey for Everyone,’ we might say. Let us accept our flaws and strive for something concrete.”

Jim Rutherford is the winner.

In Vancouver, the 72-year-old was entrusted with creating a winner. Instead, he broke the NHL front office template. He recruited Patrik Allvin, who became the NHL’s first Swedish-born general manager. Émilie Castonguay, a former player agent, was recruited as the league’s second female deputy general manager. Rachel Doerrie, a former Devils analyst, was recruited as an analyst for their analytics department. Talk about a shift in energy.

Chuck Fletcher is the loser.

No CEO likes to hold a press conference in January and say, “OK, that didn’t work, so here’s the new plan,” but that’s what happens after a franchise-record losing stretch like the Flyers’.

Gordle comes out on top.

“Gordle” is “Wordle” with hockey player names, created by a Puck Soup podcast listener. It’s also really addicting. For what it’s worth, my first guess is “Oates.”

Aaron Dell is a loser.

The NHL Department of Player Safety should have given Buffalo Sabres goalkeeper Aaron Dell a considerably longer ban for a deliberately hazardous hit on Ottawa’s Drake Batherson. In San Jose, he did something similar, landing a hit on Mark Stone. In the NHL, if you look at a goalkeeper the wrong way, you’ll receive a penalty; nevertheless, Dell utilizes Batherson’s endangered species status to knock him out, depriving him an All-Star Game appearance. Dell deserved more than three games, unless “playing for the Sabres” is considered sufficient punishment.

Teddy Bear Toss is the winner.

Life is difficult. Fans in various hockey cities get to enjoy the ultimate warm-and-fuzzy sensation once a year. Perhaps “cold and fuzzy” is a better term. A goal is scored by the home team. The plush creatures begin to fly. The Teddy Bear Toss is a charity event. Last weekend, the Hershey Bears claimed to have established a new world record by gathering 52,341 teddy bears in a throw. I counted 52,342 people, but we’ll settle with their official figure.

Headlines by Puck

  • Ray Bourque’s role in assisting Brad Marchand in understanding how to respect fans. “This is something I’ve returned to countless times. After a youngster asks for an autograph or approaches you and wants to chat to you, he urged me to appreciate it, not take it for granted, and cherish those times because when you retire, no one would care.”

  • Interesting news from the Chicago Blackhawks: They’re looking for a general manager “both inside and outside of hockey,” and Rocky and Danny Wirtz are expected to face fans and media in a “town hall” meeting next week, their first since the Jenner & Block report was released.

  • Players in Germany’s professional league are requesting that the league’s activities be halted before the Olympics because to a huge COVID epidemic. “In the next days, it’s critical to keep any danger to a minimum and to maximize the likelihood of players isolating as much as possible.”

  • The Buffalo Sabres are expected to bring back the “goat-head” jerseys as a vintage jersey next season. Is it possible that the slug isn’t far behind?!

  • Meanwhile, the NHL and Adidas are bringing back reverse throwback jerseys, including one for the Seattle Kraken, for the next season. So, what do you think of this year’s jersey?

  • Josh Ho-Sang is an Olympian on the verge of a career full of ups and downs. The Toronto Maple Leafs are ecstatic about him.

  • Where did the Washington Capitals go wrong?

From your ESPN buddies

For the second half of the season, we have some bold predictions! Granted, some people are more daring than others.

Related Tags

  • when is the stanley cup 2021
  • when are the nhl playoffs 2021
  • when does the nhl season end