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Super 16 NHL Power Rankings
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Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Super 16: Second place in '15 draft not bad place to be

Friday, 03.20.2015 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

Connor McDavid's credentials to be the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft are beyond reproach. The sensational center for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League is one of the most-hyped prospects of the past 25 years, reaching a level only Eric Lindros, Sidney Crosby and maybe John Tavares have.

Jack Eichel's resume is also pretty great. The freshman forward at Boston University is also one of the best prospects to enter the draft of the past quarter century. He'd have a chance to go No. 1 in any of the seasons since Tavares was picked in 2009, but he's likely destined to be the second half of the "McEichel" sweepstakes.

Craig Custance from ESPN.com recently wrote about the astronomical price another team would have to pay if whoever gets the No. 1 pick would consider moving it and passing on the chance to add McDavid. One general manager, Tim Murray of the Buffalo Sabres, told Custance on the record he'd try to trade for the No. 1 pick if the Sabres end up in the No. 2 spot.

Super 16: Norris Trophy race has no clear-cut favorite

Friday, 03.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

With about a month left in the season, the top three or four candidates for every major individual award except one are pretty clear.

That one is the Norris Trophy, and this might be the most wide-open race of any individual award in the past several seasons. Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames was considered a favorite by many prominent pundits, but his injury has left as many as 15 or 16 defensemen with a case to be in the conversation.

There is no clear-cut favorite. If someone says there is, that someone isn't paying nearly enough attention to the data available to judge defensemen.

Super 16: Jagr continues to cement place in history

Friday, 03.06.2015 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

Jaromir Jagr is the third best forward in hockey history.

Repeat that statement in parts of Canada or Michigan or Connecticut (or Western Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., for that matter) and expect a pretty negative response. As Jagr, who was traded to the Florida Panthers before the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline, continues to amass goals and points and play at a high level despite being 43 years old, his place in hockey history is starting to come more into focus.

Jagr is by no means the third most iconic forward. He's certainly not the third most popular. Critics of the statement above will immediately turn to words like leadership and toughness to try and prove it wrong.

Super 16: Kings' resurgence deeper than recent streak

Friday, 02.27.2015 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

No team in the analytics era has reminded people that process is a better indicator of future success than recent results like the Los Angeles Kings have.

In two of the past three seasons, the Kings appeared to be stumbling along near the middle of the NHL pack, before a late surge in the standings led into a championship run. Analysts pointed to the underlying numbers, and how Los Angeles was a great possession team dealing with some bad luck, especially last season.

In 2012, the Kings added Jeff Carter (and subtracted Jack Johnson) right about the time the shots started going in. Last season, Carter moved to center and the Kings added Marian Gaborik just as, after a season of carrying a near League-worst shooting percentage, the shots starting going in.

Super 16: Maple Leafs have advantages if they rebuild

Friday, 02.20.2015 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Toronto Maple Leafs made a significant trade this week, sending defenseman Cody Franson and forward Mike Santorelli to the Nashville Predators.

There has been plenty of speculation about the direction of the Maple Leafs in the wake of that trade. Although not yet eliminated, Toronto is likely going to miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the ninth time in 10 seasons. For the second consecutive season, a collapse has derailed a campaign that began with success in the standings despite analytics suggesting it was unsustainable.

Toronto has a new team president, Brendan Shanahan, and a new, much-publicized analytics department headed by Kyle Dubas. What's unclear is, are the Maple Leafs ready to commence a legitimate, full-scale rebuilding project?

The Maple Leafs do have young talent, and they have been close (again, in the standings) to a playoff spot in recent years. They also have little salary-cap space and a roster that is not a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.

Super 16: Bet on Kane could pay off big for Sabres

Friday, 02.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

Too often the focus on a young player in the NHL is about what he doesn't do well or facets of his game or personality that may be a product of being a young player.

When Alex Ovechkin entered the League, he reached levels of performance no hockey player has since before a combination of goaltending equipment and instruction and evolution of defensive systems and video technology made suppressing offense easier for even bad teams.

Yet there was always a but. Sure, he's the most gifted goal scorer of his generation, but questions about his defensive play and ultimately the failures of the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs were pinned on him.

Super 16: Developing goaltenders proves no easy task

Friday, 02.06.2015 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

Braden Holtby played in his 150th NHL game Thursday night for the Washington Capitals.

This isn't a particularly notable milestone, but he is the first drafted goaltender since the 2006 NHL Draft to reach 150 games. In fact, he's the only goalie from the past nine draft classes to have reached 100 NHL games.

Anders Lindback (Dallas Stars) is at 94, but is not receiving regular playing time. Robin Lehner (Ottawa Senators) is at 80, but would need a long-term injury to Craig Anderson or a trade to reach 100 in 2014-15. Frederik Andersen (Anaheim Ducks), who has the quirky honor of leading two NHL draft classes in games played by a goalie, is at 70.

Super 16: Class of 2003 further solidifying its status

Friday, 01.30.2015 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend doubled as a class reunion.

Eleven members of the NHL Draft Class of 2003 were in Columbus, and a 12th was originally selected but could not participate because of injury. That's more than double any other draft class, and another example of the exemplary talent that extraordinary draft cycle produced.

"We actually talked about that on the bus," Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter said on All-Star media day. "Guys were asking what draft other guys were in and who was in that draft, and we've got a lot of good players from that draft. It is pretty cool."

Super 16: East gaining ground in balance of power

Friday, 01.16.2015 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

For several seasons, the NHL's balance of power has tilted to the left.

The Western Conference has won more games against their brethren in the Eastern Conference for years. The West has been home to six of the past eight Stanley Cup champions, and the two that lost had a Game 7 on home ice in the Final.

That has not changed at this point in the 2014-15 season, but the two conferences might be a little closer to equal than they were a season ago, at least at the top. The East is 112-94-22 against the West through games on Wednesday.

Basically, the Eastern teams are collecting points at an 89-point pace in games against the West. That's a slight uptick from last season, when the East teams were essentially an 86-point team against the West and Western teams were a 102-point team against the East.

Super 16: Panthers' Ekblad having season for the ages

Friday, 01.09.2015 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Florida Panthers have been amassing young talent for several years, with a rather random Southeast Division title mixed in among four forgettable seasons.

Their misfortune in 2013-14 led to the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, and it might finally be time to say the Panthers are done picking high in the draft because of Aaron Ekblad. Not only has Ekblad held his own as an 18-year-old defenseman in the NHL, he's thrived and been a key reason why Florida has shrugged aside some early-season offensive woes and looks primed for a run at a Stanley Cup Playoff berth.

Ekblad could be in the midst of a historic season for a defenseman of his age. Very few defensemen stick in the NHL at 18, and even fewer play most of their rookie season before celebrating a 19th birthday.

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