Season Simulation Power Rankings 2012-2013

If you haven’t heard yet, we’ll be simulating the 2012-2013 NHL Season in its entirety using NHL®13. The simulations will be released on a weekly basis and will include the top headlines for that week, box scores for each game and statistics for the league leaders. The rosters used in the simulation will include all transactions made during the 2012 NHL Free Agency period.

To give you a taste of what’s to come, today we’re releasing our 2012-2013 NHL Season Simulation Power Rankings. Here’s how the teams stack-up:

1) New York Rangers ()

The Rangers will be the favorite in almost every game this year with Henrik Lundqvist backstopping one of the league’s top defensive teams.  There is high-end talent throughout the lineup and the addition of Rick Nash was exactly what this team needed to get over the final hump. 

2) Los Angeles Kings ()

The reigning Stanley Cup champions are bringing back an almost identical squad which steamrolled their opponents throughout the playoffs.  With Koptiar, Doughty and Quick all entering their prime, this team has the talent and depth to repeat.

3) Pittsburgh Penguins ()

Even with Crosby out for most of last season the Penguins managed to finish near the top of the league standings.  They have two former league MVPs and if Fleury can bounce back from his subpar 2012 playoff performance, Pittsburgh will be a major threat.  

4) Vancouver Canucks ()

Even with a changing of the guard in net, look for similar results in the overall standings.  The Canucks are well balanced throughout their lineup and depending on how the Luongo situation plays out the team could be adding another solid piece to their roster.       

5) Philadelphia Flyers ()

Offensively no other team in the league has more upside.  The Flyers are stacked with great young forwards to support Claude Giroux who will challenge for this year’s scoring title.  If Chris Pronger ever comes back the Flyers could top this list.     

6) Boston Bruins ()

With Tim Thomas out of the picture, the Bruins now hand the goaltending reins to Tuukka Rask. Can he carry the load? Tyler Seguin should make the jump to elite status this season and the rest of the team will continue to play the type of hockey that beats opposing teams into the ground.   

7) Chicago Blackhawks ()

The only question mark for the Blackhawks is whether Corey Crawford can rebound and provide Chicago with quality goaltending after taking a step back last season.   Chicago still has their core intact and will continue to be a threat in the West for many years.   

8) Tampa Bay Lightning ()

After missing the Stanley Cup Finals by only a game in 2011 the Lightning struggled to find consistency all of last year.  However the future looks bright for Tampa with Stamkos leading the charge and the additions of Andres Lindback, Matt Carle and Sami Salo solidifying a defense that was a league worst in goals against. Look for a huge bounce back season.  

9) St. Louis Blues ()

With Ken Hitchcock taking over behind the bench the Blues surprised many as they finished last year near the top of the standings.  As long as they continue to get solid goaltending from the Halak/Elliott tandem they are a threat in every game this year.  Look for the Blues to fall back a bit – but not too much.   

10) Nashville Predators ()

The loss of Ryan Suter in free agency was heartbreaking but if anyone can keep the Predators on track its coach Barry Trotz.  Look for Ryan Ellis to play a bigger role and for Weber and Rinne to continue to do their thing.  The Preds always get the most out of their players, expect the same this year.

11) Buffalo Sabres ()

Last year was a frustrating one for the Sabres as they underachieved all of last season.  Expect Ryan Miller to come back to Vezina Trophy form and for the Sabres to make the playoffs.  If things start clicking for the Sabres their offence could be a potent one.

12) Detroit Red Wings ()

The Lidstrom era in Detroit is officially over and it could be a bumpy road for the next few years.  The Red Wings struck out in free agency and now look pretty thin on the back end.  Datsyuk and Zetterberg will keep the team afloat, but if the injury bug starts to bite the Wings will no longer have the depth to remain a contender.

13) Carolina Hurricanes ()

It has been a while since the Hurricanes were relevant but this offseason changed all that as they added Jordan Staal, Alexander Semin and extended the contract of Calder trophy winner Jeff Skinner.  With Cam Ward between the pipes, look for the Canes to make a jump and to be in the playoff mix.     

14) Dallas Stars ()

Following in the footsteps of their unheralded stars, Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn, the Stars have quietly put together a very solid team this offseason.  The addition of Jagr will surely help a powerplay that finished last in 2012. If Kari Lehtonen can stay healthy this team has the talent and depth to be a playoff team. 

15) Washington Capitals ()

With Adam Oates taking over behind the bench expect the Caps to revert to their attacking offence from a few years back.  Hopefully this will benefit Alex Ovechkin as he is coming off the lowest scoring season of his career.  If he becomes the Ovechkin of old the Caps could move up these rankings pretty quickly. 

16) Minnesota Wild ()

Dreams came true this offseason for Wild fans as the team added two franchise players in Parise and Suter.  The only question is whether these two huge contracts will handicap the Wild long-term and prevent them from adding depth.     

17) San Jose Sharks ()

After years of being a preseason Stanley Cup favorite, the window has officially closed for the Sharks.  Their franchise stars are on the wrong side of their careers and the torch is ready to be passed to the younger generation of Couture and Pavelski.  They will likely have a good regular season but will continue to disappoint in the playoffs. 

18) Phoenix Coyotes ()

The Coyotes will continue to be well coached and solid defensively but eventually the ownership situation and lack of offence will have to catch up to them.  Look for Mike Smith to be good, but it will be tough for him to repeat his Tour de Force performance of last season. 

19) Toronto Maple Leafs ()

Last year the Leafs started off as one the hottest teams in the league before going into a freefall.  The Leafs have a solid top two lines and an underrated defensive unit.  If they can avoid long losing streaks and rely on stable goaltending from Reimer or Scrivens, the Leafs could actually put together a solid season. 

20) Winnipeg Jets ()

The honeymoon is officially over and now there is going to be fan pressure for the Jets to be competitive in the East.  The Jets are solid on the backend and have several young forwards in Kane, Wheeler and Little who are ready to deliver strong performances.  If they can start winning some road games, look for them to surprise in the East.  

21) Florida Panthers ()

No team exceeded expectations more than the Panthers last year as they won their first ever division title – were they a flash in the pan or the real deal?  Looking at their roster they were realistically somewhere in the middle and will be a competitive team that struggles to make the playoffs.

22) Colorado Avalanche ()

A team on the rise, the Colorado Avalanche have a lot of young offensive talent.  We fully expect Matt Duchene to bounce back from his injury plagued season and for Captain Landeskog, O’Reilly, and Jones to continue to improve.  It is probably still too early but once this team matures they have the ability to be scary good. 

23) Edmonton Oilers ()

The Oil had a solid offseason as they locked up their young stars long-term and won the Justin Schultz sweepstakes.  Offensively the talent is there and there is no doubt that they will be able to put up goals.  However, there are still huge question marks regarding their goaltending and defensive core.  Devan Dubnyk must emerge as top 20 goaltender for the Oilers to have a shot at the playoffs.

24) Ottawa Senators ()

Last year almost everything went right for the Senators - everyone stayed healthy, Karlsson had a career year and Anderson was solid in net.  All that being said they only finished in 8th place in the East and were bounced in the first round.  Expect the Senators to take a step back. 

25) New Jersey Devils ()

The Cup Final hangover is going to be a dry-mouth, crusty-eyed, head-throbbing one for the Devils.  They lost their captain and franchise player in free agency and did not do much to improve their team.  Although Marty Brodeur had a great playoff run he struggled in last year’s regular season and will be at the overripe age of 40 once the season starts.      

26) Calgary Flames ()

The Flames have meddled with mediocrity for years.  They have not been good enough to make a playoff run and have not been bad enough to stockpile high end talent through the draft.  Expect much of the same this year as Kipper will likely keep them in enough games to finish just outside the playoffs and out of a lottery spot. 

27) Anaheim Ducks ()

Although they may have the most talented first line in the league, the rest of the Ducks roster leaves much to be desired.  Their bottom six forwards are fringe NHL players and are sometimes exposed against even average NHL talent.      

28) Montreal Canadiens ()

The next few years are going to be rough for this once storied franchise.  However, as long as new GM Marc Bergevin continues to retool around Price, Subban and Pacioretty, the Habs may soon be competitive again.   

29) New York Islanders ()

After John Tavares and Matt Moulson you really don’t know what you are going to get from the rest of the Islanders roster.  The young talent is there but it will be a couple more years before this team is competitive in the East.

30) Columbus Blue Jackets ()

Following the trade of Rick Nash, the only star in franchise history, the Blue Jackets have stated they are in rebuilding mode. Scary as they have finished at the bottom of the NHL standings for the past three years.

 

Stay tuned to www.ESPN.com/nhl and www.EASPORTS.com/nhl each week for stats, storylines, conference standings, and our weekly highlight video from the NHL 13 Season Simulation.