Power Rankings: Numbers 20 to 15

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The beginning of the playoff picture is beginning to take shape beginning with…

20) Philadelphia Flyers

This team had too many holes to be a playoff team. They have no real firepower other than the first line. The majority of their problems come from the goaltending position. They signed Ilya Bryzgalov as a solution but now he is gone and Steve Mason is the only one left. Gone are Mike Richards and Jeff Carter and the returning pieces have not provide enough. On the other hand the defense is solid with a core of Meszaros, Schenn, Coburn, and Timonen. Timonen in particular is coming off a fantastic year offensively and was the Flyers best payer. The health and ability to recover from injury of Claude Giroux is the most important factor. This team has pieces but holes at center and scoring depth. Lecavlier was signed in the offseason to get a bonafide second center or first if Giroux moves back to wing. Another bad season could see the departure of Peter Laviolette. There is a lot this Philadelphia team is playing for.

Key Players: Claude Giroux, Steve Mason, Kimmo Timonen, and Vincent Lecavlier

Predicted Finish: 5th in the Metropolitan

19) Phoenix Coyotes

Yet another team that has struggles with putting the puck in the back of the net. The difference between this team and Nashville is that the defense provides much more offense. Mike Smith is a great goalie bridging on elite status. He had an okay season last year and was injured but he will bounce back. The mobile defense is led by Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larson. Larson in particular emerged last year as potential a defensemen in the mold of Eric Karlsson. Shane Doan has returned and Radim Vrbata will have to have an equally as good season. This team is stocked with high level prospect but most are on defense. Max Domi is an elite level prospect on offense and will dazzle fans but is a year away. This is the year for Mikkel Boedker to finally break out and provide the coyotes the goals he is capable of. The Coyotes are very disciplined team and take very few penalties and there coach is one of the best in Dave Tippett. The addition of Mike Ribeiro will help but secondary scoring will be the key for the Coyotes to be successful.

Key Players: Mike Smith, Keith Yandle, Oliver Ekman-Larson, Radim Vrbata and Mikkel Boedker, Mike Ribiero

Predicted Finish: 2nd to Last in the Pacific

18) Edmonton Oilers

No team has more offense talent other than possibly Pittsburgh than the Oilers. The problem is they had no defense. With the addition of Andrew Ference and Darnell Nurse added to Jesse Schultz, Ladislav Smid, and Jeff Petry this team finally has defensive depth. Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle have broken out on the big stage. Now it is time for RNH or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins turn. Nail Yakupov is in his second year and had some dazzling moments last year but trailed off in the latter stages of the season. Taylor Hall was the best Oiler last season and will be primed for another this year. With the trading of Captain Shawn Horcoff the Oilers are without a Captain. The person who steps up and accepts the leadership of this young team is important. The majority of the goaltending responsibility falls on young Devan Dubynk. He was solid last year but now is the time for him to step up his game. With a new head coach this team will struggle at the beginning but their young guns will click and the goals will fly in.

Key Players: Andrew Ference, Jesse Shultz, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Devan Dubnyk

Prdicted Finish: 5th in the Pacific

17) Cloumbus Blue Jackets

This team missed the Playoffs by the hair of the nose. Now they will have the first full season without Rick Nash. So much of the success of this team last year was based on goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. The Veizna winner will be expected to have similar success if Columbus is to make a run. Marian Gaborik will need to score and score by the bucket load. The defense core is lacking star power but they seem to have their gem in Ryan Murray. Murray drafted 3rd overall is an elite two-way defensive prospect who one day could become the next Duncan Keith. This team has heart and the leaders are in every sense of the term emotional. Look no further than Brandon Dubinsky who was hurt most of the year. But when he came back the Clue Jackets went on a tremendous run. Jack Johnson will need to stay healthy, as well as James Wisnewski. Fedor Tyutin was solid as always. But the main key for the Blue Jackets is if Ryan Johansen can finally live up to expectations and become the number one center. The pieces are there in Columbus but how to they mesh is key to their success.

Key Players: Ryan Johansen, Sergei Bobrovsky, Jack Johnson, Marian Gaborik, and Brandon Dubinsky

Predicted Finish: 5th in the Metropolitan

16) Washington Capitals

Two years ago the Capitals without question would be in the top 10 but now they sit on the fringe at 16. Alex Ovechkin was poised for another let down season and if not for a scorching hot streak he would have. The Caps let Mike Ribeiro walk after having a spectacular season. Nick Backstrom will need to stay health if the Caps have any chance. John Carlson and Karl Alzner have been paired with one another for the better part of three years and provide Washington with great defense. Like a lot of other teams their weakness lies in goaltending. Braden Holtby shook the world and upset the reigning champion Bruins but since then has not liv up to those standards. The secondary players of Joel Ward, Brooks Laich, Jay Beagle, and Martin Erat simply need to pitch in. The teams in the NHL will stick their shutdown D-man on Ovechkin all night. Some of the offensive responsibility will also fall on Mike Green. Injured frequently, Green has never been able to replicate close to his 30 goal season. He will need to be elite caliber if the Capitals have any hope at a cup. This means the other lines need to produce to take pressure of the great 8. One the cream of the crop the Capitals moves to a new division with tons of talent.

Key Players: Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, Braden Holtby, Mike Green, and Brooks Laich

Predicted Finish: 4th in the Metropolitan

15) Montreal Canadiens

The surprise of last year’s NHL season was in no doubt the Montreal Canadiens. A team picked to finish last in the division ended up winning it. They had built the perfect team for a division built on rough and tough. They had speed and toughness up front and grit on the back end. Not to mention they have the reigning Norris winner in PK Subban. The return of Andrei Markov was crucial to their success. He provided the Habs with solid defense, leadership, and powerplay mastery. The young forwards also sparked the Canadiens. Brendan Gallagher step in and became a pest similar to Chicago’s Andrew Shaw and Bostons’s Brad Marchand and started to score. The defense is very mobile and contains mostly offensive defensemen. Josh Gorges became the glue and had a tremendous season. Carey Price gives the Canadiens stability and the chance to win every night. Alex Galchenyuk has elite speed and is the brightest player on the Canadiens roster. His breakout year will be this year as he shows his talents as an elite two-way forward. The problem will be replicating the success of last year in a tough division but they do have the capability of.

Key Players: PK Subban, Carey Price, Brenden Gallagher, Andrei Markov, Alex Galchenyuk, and Josh Gorges

Predicted Finish: 5th in the Atlantic

Follow Connor Coakley on Twitter: @CCokes33


Twitter: @FullScaleSport

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