The 2018-2019 NHL season is now about a month old, and it’s safe to say that there’s quite a few teams at the top that weren’t even close last year. So far, there has been a fair share of both positive and negative surprises from NHL fans 11-15 games into the season. Here are the top 10 NHL squads after month one.
10: Vancouver Canucks (9-6-0)
Before the season began, most didn’t even predict that the Canucks would be better than a bottom five team. To be three games above .500 15 games into the year, is nothing short of incredible for this Canucks squad.
The vast majority of their success is accredited to 2018 fifth overall pick Elias Pettersson. Pettersson won rookie of the month for October and continued his dominant performance by putting up a five point night against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday. The Swedish native currently has 15 points in only nine games.
9: Winnipeg Jets (8-5-1)
The Jets had a breakout year last season registering 114 points and making it all the way to the Western Conference Final. With a loaded roster, there was high expectations for a repeat performance and so far the Jets have done mostly that.
Captain Blake Wheeler who led the team in scoring last year with 91 points in 81 games has continued his elite play into this season. He currently has 16 tallies in 14 contests and is tied for second in the NHL in assists with 14.
As a team, the Jets are ranked second in power play percentage with a 33.3 percent success rate with the man advantage according to NHL.com.
8: Colorado Avalanche (7-4-3)
The Avalanche had one of the greatest turnarounds in NHL history last year finishing with 95 points compared to only 48 in the prior season. In the early stages of the 2018-2019 season, they have not taken their foot off the gas.
The top line for the Avalanche has been outright unstoppable. Before Saturday night, the Avalanche’s first-line had the same about of points as the entire Los Angeles Kings roster with 63 according to NHL Discussion.
Center Nathan MacKinnon is currently tied for second in the league in points with 21 and tied for first in goals with 11. Right winger Mikko Rantanen who won player of the month in October, leads the NHL in both points with 24 and assists with 19. Captain Gabriel Landeskog is tied for eighth in points with 18 and matches MacKinnon with 11 goals.
7: Edmonton Oilers (8-4-1)
The Oilers took a step back last year finishing fifth in the Pacific Division with only 78 points. The team swore that next season would be better, and it has been.
Despite an average 3-3-1 start, the Oilers have rebounded in a huge way by going 5-1-0 in their last six games.
Back to back Art Ross Trophy winner Connor McDavid continues his torrid reign by setting an NHL record for scoring in all of the Oilers’ first nine goals according to Sporting News. The 21-year-old is currently tied for second in the league in points with 21.
6: New York Islanders (8-4-1)
After superstar John Tavares parted ways with the Islanders and signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs during the off-season, NHL critics thought the team was done. However, this Islanders squad has proved just the opposite.
The Islanders have quickly erased a sluggish 3-4-1 start by winning five straight games. In addition, the Islanders are currently tied for second in the league in goal differential with a plus 12 which shows they lose by a little, but win by a lot.
29-year-old Josh Bailey broke out in a big way last year putting up 71 points in 76 games. He has resumed his impressive play with 15 tallies in 13 contests to start the 2018-2019 season.
5: Calgary Flames (9-5-1)
The Flames were in a playoff spot for most of the 2017-2018 season. However, they let it slip away by finishing 2-9-0 in their last 11 games. With off-season additions such as James Neal, Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin, the Flames are hoping that this year is not a repeat performance.
One trend they are continuing from last season is their knack for late game comebacks. On Thursday night, they erased a 4-1 deficit by exploding for five goals in the third period in a 6-5 victory against the Colorado Avalanche. The very next game, the Flames dug out of a 3-1 hole against the Chicago Blackhawks with four unanswered tallies earning themselves a 5-3 win
The Flames are currently on a four game winning streak and atop the Pacific Division.
4: Toronto Maple Leafs (9-5-0)
Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas wasn’t shy to bust out the wallet during the off-season as he landed elite center John Tavares. After the Tavares acquisition, the Maple Leafs were instantly ranked as Stanley Cup favorites and so far they have proved that they can roll with the top dogs of the league.
Despite recently losing first-line center Auston Matthews to a shoulder injury, the Maple Leafs are only one point behind the Atlantic Division leading Tampa Bay Lightning.
Without Matthews, they’ve had to rely upon other scorers such as 2015 fourth overall pick Mitch Marner who is currently tied for eighth in the NHL in points with 18 and tied for second in assists with 14. Defenseman Morgan Rielly broke Bobby Orr’s record by putting up 12 points in his first five games of the season according to Maple Leafs Nation.
3: Minnesota Wild (8-3-2)
At the beginning of the year, almost no one predicted that the Wild would finish in the top five of a competitive Central Division. 13 games into the season, they are proving all of the critics wrong.
The Wild have won an astounding seven of their last eight games and have shown that their mediocre 1-2-2 start was merely a warm up. They have gotten continuous production from right winger Mikael Granlund who has 13 points in as many games and left winger Zach Parise who has 12 tallies in 13 contests.
Statistics wise, the Wild are currently ranked fifth on the penalty kill at 85.2 percent and third in point percentage with .692 according to NHL.com.
2: Tampa Bay Lightning (9-3-1)
The Lighting came close to hoisting their first Stanley Cup since 2004, but fell short after losing in game seven of the Eastern Conference finals to the Washington Capitals. With the stacked roster that they contain, it is either Stanley Cup or bust for this Lightning squad.
22-year-old Brayden Point had a breakout year last season putting up 66 points in 82 games. So far, the former third round pick leads the Lightning in points with 15. Russian native Nikita Kucherov who demolished the league last year with 100 tallies in 80 contests is right behind Point with 14.
The Lighting have also shined in the statistics category as well. At the moment, they are ranked sixth on the power play with 26.1 percent and first on the penalty kill with 93.9 percent.
1: Nashville Predators (11-3-0)
Last year, the Predators were at the top of the food chain finishing with 117 points and winning the Presidents Trophy. This season, the Predators have proved that they are equally as dominant.
Left Winger Filip Forsberg is quietly tied for second in the league in goals at 10 and tied for first in plus-minus with a plus 12. Center Ryan Johansen currently leads the Predators in points with 15.
The Predators have not only displayed that they win a lot, but they also do it in convincing fashion. At the moment, they are first in the NHL in goal differential with a plus 17 and have already registered three shutouts.