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Super 16

Super 16: Penguins start season at No. 1

Lightning second with healthy Stamkos; McDavid, Oilers round out top five

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

To the victors go to the soaring expectations.

The Pittsburgh Penguins were always going to start the season as the team to beat in the NHL. That's what happens when you're attempting to three-peat as Stanley Cup champions.  

But considering what the Penguins have done, they also get the distinction, or potential burden depending on the point of view, of being the team picked to be the best in the NHL before a single game is played. 

Pittsburgh was voted as the No. 1 team in NHL.com's preseason Super 16 power rankings by a panel of 10 staff members. 

To create the power rankings, each of the participating staff members puts together his or her version of what they think the Super 16 should look like. Those are submitted and a point total is assigned to each.

The team picked first is given 16 points, second gets 15, third gets 14 and so on down to No. 16, which gets one point.

Twenty-three of the 31 NHL teams received at least one point. The Penguins were ranked first by six of the staff members and were in the top four of each ranking submitted. 

Expectations also are soaring for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who came in second in the preseason Super 16, were ranked first by two staff members, and were in the top four of seven of the rankings submitted. 

The Super 16 will run every Thursday during the regular season beginning Oct. 12. 

Check out how the rest of the preseason rankings shook out once the math was finished, and be sure to stay for the information:

 

1. Pittsburgh Penguins (50-21-11 last season)

Total points: 153

Hit: Forward Jake Guentzel had nine points (three goals, six assists) in four games this preseason and figures to be a solid fit on a line with Sidney Crosby. Defenseman Kris Letang is back and should be good to go for the season opener against the St. Louis Blues at PPG Paints Arena on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV).

Miss: The Penguins' bottom-six center depth, a strength the past two seasons with Nick Bonino on the third line and Matt Cullen on the fourth line, is questionable going into this season. Greg McKegg, who has played in 65 NHL games in four seasons with three teams, currently is the third-line center. Carter Rowney, who played on the wing last season, is the fourth-line center. 

Video: Can the Penguins win a third consecutive Stanley Cup

 

2. Tampa Bay Lightning (42-30-10)

Total points: 121
 
Hit: Center Steven Stamkos, who missed the last 65 games of 2016-17 with a knee injury, appeared in four preseason games and looked strong each time.

Miss: Stamkos still is working on getting his timing back. He didn't score a goal in any of the preseason games.

 

3. Columbus Blue Jackets (50-24-8)

Total points: 115

Hit: Forward Brandon Dubinsky, who had wrist surgery in the offseason, declared himself ready to start the regular season after he had six hits in 16:24 of ice time in his preseason debut Saturday.

Miss: Forward Josh Anderson missed all of training camp because of a contract impasse. He signed a three-year contract with the Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

 

4. Nashville Predators (41-29-12)

Total points: 114

Hit: Forward Kevin Fiala's play in the preseason (five points in five games) is a strong sign that his leg is 100 percent after he broke it in Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference Second Round.

Miss: Bonino, who signed a four-year contract with the Predators on July 1, did not play in any preseason games because he was trying to gain strength in his right leg, which he fractured during the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. He is planning to play against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; FS-TN, NESN, NHL.TV).

 

5. Edmonton Oilers (47-26-9)

Total points: 110

Hit: It certainly looks like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will start the season together on the top line, giving the Oilers one of the most dangerous lines in the NHL. McDavid, who won the Hart and Art Ross trophies last season (100 points), led the League with 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in five preseason games.

Miss: Despite the obvious terrific potential from the top line, coach Todd McLellan said he is looking for increased 5-on-5 production from the other lines. He was not happy with that production in the preseason.

Video: The guys discuss McDavid's impact on the Oilers

 

6. Anaheim Ducks (46-23-13)

Total points: 96

Hit: Forward Rickard Rakell will get a chance to be the second-line center behind Ryan Getzlaf because Ryan Kesler is recovering from offseason hip surgery. Rakell had 33 goals last season playing on the wing.

Miss: The injuries at the start of the season create a challenge for the Ducks. Kesler is joined on the sideline by defensemen Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm, who each is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

 

7. Chicago Blackhawks (50-23-9)

Total points: 88

Hit: Rookie forward Alex DeBrincat has impressed enough to make the opening night lineup. DeBrincat (5-foot-7, 165 pounds) could start the season on a line with right wing Patrick Kane.

Miss: The Blackhawks are optimistic, but it remains to be seen how and where they will miss forward Marian Hossa, who is out for the season because of complications from a skin disorder.

 

8. Dallas Stars (34-37-11)

Total points: 84

Hit: Center Martin Hanzal made his debut Saturday, in the Stars' last preseason game. He won 10 of 12 face-offs and had coach Ken Hitchcock praising him afterward, saying Dallas needs more players to compete like Hanzal does.

Miss: Hitchcock wasn't as happy with the level of competitiveness of some other unnamed players in training camp and was hoping that the Stars would pick it up in advance of their season opener against the Vegas Golden Knights at American Airlines Center on Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, NHL.TV).

 

9. Washington Capitals (55-19-8)

Total points: 82

Hit: In a training camp devoid of major storylines, forward Devante Smith-Pelly jumped out as the biggest surprise with four points (two goals, two assists) in five games, good enough to make the final roster.

Miss: Unsure of which young defenseman will be able to handle top-four minutes because none stood out in training camp, the Capitals are instead turning back to Brooks Orpik to open the season on the second pair with John Carlson. They were hoping to start Orpik on the third pair.

Video: NHL Tonight: What the Capitals have been missing

 

10. Toronto Maple Leafs (40-27-15)

Total points: 79

Hit: Center Auston Matthews looks like he's picking up right where he left off. Matthews tied for the League lead with five goals in four games in the preseason.

Miss: Frederik Andersen was strong in the preseason with a .937 save percentage in 200 minutes, but his backup, Curtis McElhinney, didn't fare as well, with a .902 save percentage in 195 minutes.

 

11. Calgary Flames (45-33-4)

Total points: 59

Hit: Jaromir Jagr will sign with the Flames on Wednesday, TSN reported, and should start in a third-line role. 

Miss: Signing Jagr is impactful, but it's also a sign that some other players didn't step up as management would have hoped in training camp. Forwards Troy Brouwer and Curtis Lazar did not score a point in four preseason games each.

 

12. Montreal Canadiens (47-26-9)

Total points: 56

Hit: Rookie defenseman Victor Mete was the surprise of training camp and made the team. He is expected to start the season as Shea Weber's partner on the Canadiens' top defense pair.

Miss: Backup goalie Al Montoya struggled throughout the preseason (4.77 GAA, .838 save percentage in 151 minutes) and was nearly beaten out for the job by rookie Charlie Lindgren. The difference is Lindgren didn't require waivers to be sent to the American Hockey League, and the Canadiens want him playing a lot, not merely backing up Carey Price.

 

13. New York Rangers (48-28-6)

Total points: 54

Hit: Goalie Henrik Lundqvist had a strong preseason with a .934 save percentage in three games (five goals on 76 shots). In addition, 18-year-old rookie center Filip Chytil was impressive enough to make the roster. He is expected to start on a line with Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello.

Miss: Right wing Jesper Fast will not be ready to start the season. He is recovering from offseason hip surgery and likely won't be available until late October or early November.

 

14. Minnesota Wild (49-25-8)

Total points: 48

Hit: Rookie center Joel Eriksson Ek made the team and will play third-line center behind Mikko Koivu and Eric Staal. The Wild have high expectations for Eriksson Ek. 

Miss: Left wing Zach Parise is nursing a back injury and will not be ready for the Wild's season opener at the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV).

 

15. San Jose Sharks (46-29-7)

Total points: 26

Hit: Center Joe Thornton expects to be in the lineup against the Philadelphia Flyers at SAP Center on Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV), more than five months after having surgery to repair a torn MCL and ACL in his left knee. Thornton played in one preseason game, against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday, and won 10 of 12 face-offs in 15:33 of ice time.

Miss: Scoring is a concern going into the season. The Sharks were 19th in goals per game last season (2.67) after finishing fourth in 2015-16. They no longer have Patrick Marleau, who was third on San Jose with 27 goals last season, and did not replace him with another veteran goal-scorer.

Video: The guys preview the 2017-18 San Jose Sharks

 

16. Ottawa Senators (44-28-10)

Total points: 24

Hit: Defenseman Erik Karlsson is skating again. That's a positive step in his recovery from offseason foot surgery. Karlsson won't be in the lineup at the start of the season, but his goal is to play sometime in October. 

Miss: With Karlsson out, rookie defenseman Thomas Chabot was seen as a likely candidate to make the opening night lineup. However, he was sent to Belleville of the AHL on Sunday after he had a minus-5 rating in a 9-2 loss against Montreal on Saturday.
 

Others receiving points: St. Louis Blues, 22; New York Islanders, 7; Carolina Hurricanes, 5; Boston Bruins, 4; Winnipeg Jets, 2; Los Angeles Kings, 1

 

HERE'S HOW WE RANKED 'EM

TIM CAMPBELL

1. Pittsburgh Penguins; 2. Anaheim Ducks; 3. Minnesota Wild; 4. Edmonton Oilers; 5. Dallas Stars; 6. New York Rangers; 7. Calgary Flames; 8. Montreal Canadiens; 9. Tampa Bay Lightning; 10. Chicago Blackhawks; 11. Nashville Predators; 12. Washington Capitals; 13. Ottawa Senators; 14. San Jose Sharks; 15. Toronto Maple Leafs; 16. Columbus Blue Jackets

BRIAN COMPTON

1. Pittsburgh Penguins; 2. Edmonton Oilers; 3. Columbus Blue Jackets; 4. Calgary Flames; 5. Tampa Bay Lightning; 6. Minnesota Wild; 7. Anaheim Ducks; 8. Toronto Maple Leafs; 9. Chicago Blackhawks; 10. Washington Capitals; 11. Nashville Predators; 12. San Jose Sharks; 13. Ottawa Senators; 14. St. Louis Blues; 15. New York Islanders; 16. Boston Bruins

NICK COTSONIKA

1. Pittsburgh Penguins; 2. Nashville Predators; 3. Dallas Stars; 4. Tampa Bay Lightning; 5. Columbus Blue Jackets; 6. Chicago Blackhawks; 7. Edmonton Oilers; 8. Ottawa Senators; 9. New York Rangers; 10. Anaheim Ducks; 11. Toronto Maple Leafs; 12. Washington Capitals; 13. Montreal Canadiens; 14. Calgary Flames; 15. San Jose Sharks; 16. St. Louis Blues

LISA DILLMAN

1. Pittsburgh Penguins; 2. Columbus Blue Jackets; 3. Tampa Bay Lightning; 4. Edmonton Oilers; 5. Dallas Stars; 6. Toronto Maple Leafs; 7. Nashville Predators; 8. New York Rangers; 9. Washington Capitals; 10. Montreal Canadiens; 11. Minnesota Wild; 12. Anaheim Ducks; 13. Chicago Blackhawks; 14. Calgary Flames; 15. Carolina Hurricanes; 16. Los Angeles Kings

TOM GULITTI

1. Pittsburgh Penguins; 2. Chicago Blackhawks; 3. Tampa Bay Lightning; 4. Columbus Blue Jackets; 5. Nashville Predators; 6. Edmonton Oilers; 7. Anaheim Ducks; 8. Washington Capitals; 9. New York Rangers; 10. Toronto Maple Leafs; 11. Calgary Flames; 12. Montreal Canadiens; 13. Dallas Stars; 14. Minnesota Wild; 15. St. Louis Blues; 16. New York Islanders

ROBERT LAFLAMME

1. Columbus Blue Jackets; 2. Tampa Bay Lightning; 3. Nashville Predators; 4. Pittsburgh Penguins; 5. Chicago Blackhawks; 6. Washington Capitals; 7. St. Louis Blues; 8. Anaheim Ducks; 9. Minnesota Wild; 10. Dallas Stars; 11. Edmonton Oilers; 12. Montreal Canadiens; 13. Toronto Maple Leafs; 14. Ottawa Senators; 15. New York Rangers; 16. Winnipeg Jets

MIKE G. MORREALE

1. Nashville Predators; 2. Toronto Maple Leafs; 3. Pittsburgh Penguins; 4. Columbus Blue Jackets; 5. Edmonton Oilers; 6. Montreal Canadiens; 7. Dallas Stars; 8. Washington Capitals; 9. San Jose Sharks; 10. Chicago Blackhawks; 11. Anaheim Ducks; 12. Calgary Flames; 13. New York Islanders; 14. New York Rangers; 15. Carolina Hurricanes; 16. Minnesota Wild

SHAWN ROARKE

1. Pittsburgh Penguins; 2. Chicago Blackhawks; 3. Nashville Predators; 4. Tampa Bay Lightning; 5. Edmonton Oilers; 6. Columbus Blue Jackets; 7. Washington Capitals; 8. Anaheim Ducks; 9. Dallas Stars; 10. Montreal Canadiens; 11. Calgary Flames; 12. Minnesota Wild; 13. Toronto Maple Leafs; 14. Boston Bruins; 15. New York Rangers; 16. Winnipeg Jets

DAN ROSEN

1. Tampa Bay Lightning; 2. Pittsburgh Penguins; 3. Edmonton Oilers; 4. Anaheim Ducks; 5. Columbus Blue Jackets; 6. Toronto Maple Leafs; 7. Nashville Predators; 8. Washington Capitals; 9. New York Rangers; 10. Chicago Blackhawks; 11. Calgary Flames; 12. St. Louis Blues; 13. Dallas Stars; 14. San Jose Sharks; 15. Montreal Canadiens; 16. Carolina Hurricanes

MIKE ZEISBERGER

1. Tampa Bay Lightning 2. Pittsburgh Penguins 3. Edmonton Oilers 4. Dallas Stars 5. Anaheim Ducks 6. Nashville Predators 7. Toronto Maple Leafs 8. Washington Capitals 9. Columbus Blue Jackets 10. Calgary Flames 11. Montreal Canadiens 12. San Jose Sharks 13. Ottawa Senators 14. New York Rangers 15. Chicago Blackhawks 16. St. Louis Blues 

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