Grading Every NHL Team's 1st Half of the 2022-23 Season (2023)

Grading Every NHL Team's 1st Half of the 2022-23 Season

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    Grading Every NHL Team's 1st Half of the 2022-23 Season (1)

    Andrew Lahodynskyj/NHLI via Getty Images

    As the NHL rolls into the All-Star break, we are officially through more than one half of the 2022-23 season.

    That is a significant sampling of games to get a sense for what each team is, and it is becoming clear as to which squads have exceeded expectations and which have failed to meet them.

    So with that in mind, it is time to hand out some report cards through the first half of the campaign. Grades are handed out on a little bit of a curve, combining actual performance versus preseason expectations.

    We'll break things down on a division-by-division basis, with teams listed in alphabetical order.

Atlantic Division

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    Grading Every NHL Team's 1st Half of the 2022-23 Season (2)

    The Bruins are leading the Atlantic Division heading into the All-Star break.Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

    (Video) Grading NHL Teams in the First Quarter of the 2022-23 Season

    Boston Bruins (Grade: A). They not only get an A, but they also are probably closer to an A-plus, as they have been the best team in hockey. The returns of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci this season meant the Bruins kept their longtime one-two punch at center. David Pastrnak is still a superstar. And they have an outstanding duo in goal with Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman.

    They have no weakness and do everything well. Given the ages of players like Bergeron (37) and Krejci (36), as well as the unknown futures of them and Pastrnak, this might be their last best shot at winning another Stanley Cup. They are taking advantage of it.

    Buffalo Sabres (Grade: B). This is an example of a team that has wildly exceeded preseason expectations and is clearly on the upswing. The Sabres have a real chance to end the league's longest playoff drought, but even if they do not get there, they have set the tone for where this organization is going.

    They have serious offensive talent and are one of the league's most entertaining teams with Tage Thompson, Alex Tuch and Rasmus Dahlin leading the way. They still need to solidify their goaltending situation and their depth on defense, but they are on their way to better days.

    Detroit Red Wings (Grade: D). This felt like a year in which the Red Wings might take an actual step forward. They went into last offseason with a promising core led by Lucas Raymond, Moritz Seider and Dylan Larkin and then spent big to bring in David Perron, Dominik Kubalik, Ville Husso and Olli Määttä. But Seider has had a major sophomore slump, and the team remains buried in the Eastern Conference standings, with the playoffs looking unlikely. At some point, the Red Wings have to show real improvement to make anybody believe general manager Steve Yzerman's plan is working.

    Florida Panthers (Grade: D). There should have been some expectation that Florida would regress this season, even with the addition of Matthew Tkachuk. But this much of a regression? Going from the Presidents' Trophy to missing the playoffs is a far drop, and that is what the Panthers are in danger of. The regression of goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and an abysmal teamwide defensive performance have made the Panthers one of the league's most disappointing squads and given new head coach Paul Maurice another mediocre season on his resume.

    Montréal Canadiens (Grade: C). In a lot of ways, the Canadiens are just doing what everybody expected them to do. Lose. And lose a lot. There have been some encouraging developments with their young core, and Kirby Dach looks like he might become a player they can use long-term. But they simply do not have enough talent. Injuries have also been disappointing, with none bigger than the season-ending shoulder injury for young star Cole Caufield.

    Ottawa Senators (Grade: C). The Senators won the offseason with the additions of Alex DeBrincat, Claude Giroux and Cam Talbot, but it has not resulted in enough wins on the ice. They are on track to have their best season since the 2016-17 campaign when they reached the Eastern Conference Final, but they still need more help to become a real playoff contender.

    Tampa Bay Lightning (Grade: A). At some point, you have to imagine this team will start to slow down a little bit, but we are not there yet. After three consecutive trips to the Stanley Cup Final, the Lightning are again back near the top of the league standings. Their superstars (Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point) are still dominating, and Andrei Vasilevskiy is starting to hit his stride after a slow start. Do not count them out on making another extended playoff run.

    Toronto Maple Leafs (Grade: A). The Maple Leafs will ultimately be graded on what they do (or do not do) in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but for now, they get an A for their performance in the regular season. Their star players are playing great, they are a much better defensive hockey team than they get credit for, and even their goaltending has answered a lot of doubts from the preseason. Nothing to complain about here. Until the playoffs, that is.

(Video) GRADING ALL 32 NHL Teams Half Way Through The Season

Metropolitan Division

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    Grading Every NHL Team's 1st Half of the 2022-23 Season (3)

    New Jersey Devils center Jack HughesRich Graessle/NHLI via Getty Images

    Carolina Hurricanes (Grade: A). Once again, they are one of the best teams in the NHL and looking like a top-tier contender in the Eastern Conference. And they have done this while getting virtually nothing from one of their big offseason additions in Max Pacioretty. His Achilles injury also gives them the salary-cap flexibility to potentially add another impact talent before the March 3 trade deadline.

    Columbus Blue Jackets (Grade: D). Signing Johnny Gaudreau in free agency turned out to be the high point of their campaign. Everything since then has been a mess. The goaltending has struggled again. Veterans Zach Werenski, Gustav Nyquist and Jakub Voracek have had injury issues. And Cole Sillinger has regressed after a strong rookie year.

    New Jersey Devils (Grade: A). The Devils have been the biggest positive surprise in the league this season, rapidly emerging as a top team in the Eastern Conference. Jack Hughes has blossomed into a bona fide superstar, while their no-name defense has aided in locking things down. Vitek Vanecek has also helped solidify their goalie spot after it was a huge weakness in recent years.

    New York Islanders (Grade: D). To get a sense of just how much the Islanders have struggled this year, keep in mind that they have some of the best goaltending in the league, with Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov both recording save percentages of .918 or better. And New York is still on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. If that sort of goaltending cannot even get you into a wild-card spot, your team has problems. And a lot of them. Maybe the addition of Bo Horvat can help change that?

    New York Rangers (Grade: B). The Rangers are similar to last year's team in the sense that they are top-heavy, have a goalie in Igor Shesterkin who can steal games and have some questionable five-on-five depth. They are good. But are they just playoff good? Or are they are Stanley Cup good? They might need another big trade-deadline performance to go on another deep postseason run.

    Philadelphia Flyers (Grade: D). What we have seen from the Flyers this season is probably the best-case scenario for them. John Tortorella is squeezing every ounce of talent and production out of this roster that he can, but it is not enough to make the team a playoff threat. Philadelphia still needs to try an actual rebuild and be realistic about what its future is.

    Pittsburgh Penguins (Grade: C). The Penguins kept their core together, and for the most part, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust are what is keeping the team in contention. The top-six is great, and Tristan Jarry is a very good goalie when he is healthy. But Pittsburgh does not have anywhere near enough depth, and Jarry keeps getting injured. The Penguins should make the playoffs, but they need a big change at the bottom of their lineup to do anything when they get there.

    Washington Capitals (Grade: C). Considering the Capitals have had some big injuries this year, with Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson missing significant time, they are doing fine. Offseason addition Darcy Kuemper has been a big reason for that, as he has helped fix the goaltending problem, while Dylan Strome has been a great addition at center. Still, they are a fringe playoff team, and like their longtime rivals in Pittsburgh, their window seems to be inching shut.

Grading Every NHL Team's 1st Half of the 2022-23 Season (4)

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(Video) Which NHL Teams Surprised Us In the First Half of the 22-23 Season?

Central Division

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    Grading Every NHL Team's 1st Half of the 2022-23 Season (5)

    Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnonMichael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

    Arizona Coyotes (Grade: D). Nobody expected the Coyotes to win much this season, and they are not. The best thing to hope for here was that the veterans would boost their trade value and the players who figure into their long-term plan would show some progress. When it comes to the latter point, Clayton Keller has been outstanding and one of the few bright spots in Arizona this year. The Coyotes figure to be one of the biggest sellers at the trade deadline once again.

    Chicago Blackhawks (Grade: D). No team in the team gutted itself this offseason more than the Blackhawks, and that set the expectations at rock-bottom. Chicago has actually been a little better than expected at this point because it has simply been miserable instead of historically bad. But that could change after the trade deadline when Patrick Kane, Max Domi and Jonathan Toews get dealt.

    Colorado Avalanche (Grade: C). A quick look at the standings would suggest the defending Stanley Cup champions are one of the biggest disappointments in the league. They are in a fight just to make the playoffs and having their worst season in years. But the driving force behind that has primarily been injuries. We have not seen this team at 100 percent all season, and assuming it can get there (and perhaps make a trade-deadline addition), it should still be dangerous come playoff time.

    Dallas Stars (Grade: A). The Stars entered the All-Star break as the top team in the Western Conference, and they have more than earned that spot. Their top line of Jason Robertson, Joe Pavelski and Roope Hintz remains one of the best in the league. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn have rebounded to have big years offensively, and they are getting some big contributions from newcomers Mason Marchment and rookie Wyatt Johnston. Add in a superb No. 1 defenseman (Miro Heiskanen) and a young franchise goalie (Jake Oettinger), and this team might have what it takes to win the West this year.

    Minnesota Wild (Grade: B). The Wild entered this season (and will enter future campaigns) with a major disadvantage regarding the salary cap as they continue to deal with the buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. That will limit how deep they can make their roster, but they have received some big contributions from the players already on the team. Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello remain one of the league's best offensive duos, while Matthew Boldy (age 21) and Calen Addison (22) are providing a nice jolt of youth.

    Nashville Predators (Grade: C). At this point, what you see is what you get with the Predators. They are not particularly good, and they are not particularly bad. They just exist somewhere in the middle of the NHL's landscape. If Juuse Saros goes into superman mode, he might carry them to a wild-card playoff spot, but they will probably not do anything if they get there. They need every little thing to go right just to be a low-level playoff team. That is what happened a year ago, and then they got crushed by a far superior squad.

    St. Louis Blues (Grade: D). Losing David Perron and Ville Husso (with no real replacements coming in) has been brutal for the Blues, made even worse by the continued struggles of Jordan Binnington in goal. Now they have to deal with the pending free agency of veterans Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O'Reilly and figure out if they want (or need) to move them before the trade deadline. The playoffs are slipping away no matter what they decide.

    (Video) NHL Power Rankings at the All-Star Break

    Winnipeg Jets (Grade: A). All Winnipeg needed was an upgrade at head coach, for Connor Hellebuyck to return to his elite status and for Josh Morrissey to have a breakout season and play like a Norris Trophy candidate. The Jets still have some depth concerns (at both forward and on the blue line), but their top-line players are capable of taking them a long way in a wide-open Western Conference.

Pacific Division

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    Grading Every NHL Team's 1st Half of the 2022-23 Season (6)

    Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavidCurtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Anaheim Ducks (Grade: F). I did not give out many F's in this update, but the Ducks have more than earned one. This is not a team that was trying to be bad this season. It made a real effort to be good. It added Frank Vatrano, Ryan Strome and John Klingberg in free agency, kept goalie John Gibson and had some really good young players to try to build around. And the Ducks are not only going to miss the playoffs, but they have also been arguably the worst team in the NHL.

    Calgary Flames (Grade: C). Even though they lost Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau this offseason, there was still a belief that the Flames would remain a top contender thanks to the additions of Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri and MacKenzie Weegar. But it has not played out that way, largely due to the disappointing performances of Huberdeau and starting goalie Jacob Markstrom. They are still in the playoff hunt, but they should be better than this.

    Edmonton Oilers (Grade: B). There are still valid and concerning questions about this team's depth beyond Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, as well as its defense and goaltending. But the fact that the Oilers are solidly a playoff team despite free-agent acquisition Jack Campbell having a disastrous start to the season is a testament to how well the rest of the squad has played—especially the two superstars at the top.

    Los Angeles Kings (Grade: B). The Kings are on the right track. But there are some concerns here, particularly with the lack of quick development from some of their best young players, as well as the fact that their goaltending has been a problem all year (bottom 10 in goals against). If they want to take a big step forward, they are going to need Quinton Byfield and Arthur Kaliyev to truly become stars and find a consistent answer in net.

    San Jose Sharks (Grade: D). Erik Karlsson has been by far the biggest bright spot, but is that only making him easier to trade? And if you are going to trade him, you might as well deal Timo Meier as well. The Sharks badly need a rebuild, and this might be the time to kick-start it.

    Seattle Kraken (Grade: A). After a disappointing debut season, the Kraken have come back in their sophomore year and looked like a potential contender in the Western Conference. They had a great offseason and welcomed Matthew Beniers into their lineup, and he is looking like a runaway Calder Trophy winner as the league's top rookie. They could use a goaltending upgrade still, and if they get that, they might be a force to be reckoned with in the West.

    Vancouver Canucks (Grade: F). What a mess this season has been. The Canucks looked like they found something in the second half of the 2021-22 campaign under head coach Bruce Boudreau but fell flat on their faces this year. And then management handled the firing of Boudreau (who never actually got a full season to coach in Vancouver) about as badly as possible. Bo Horvat has already been traded, and the team needs way more dramatic changes to fix its horrendous salary-cap situation. This team might have one of the worst long-term outlooks in the NHL right now.

    (Video) Grading Each NHL Team Mid-Season Review (Eastern Conference)

    Vegas Golden Knights (Grade: B). There was reason to believe the Vegas Golden Knights could rebound from the disappointment of the 2021-22 campaign with some better health luck, and for the most part, they have. But this has been a tale of two different seasons. They stormed out of the gate with a 15-4-1 mark in their first 20 games but have gone just 14-14-3 in the 31 since then. Which team is the real Vegas? The Golden Knights need Logan Thompson to keep playing league-average hockey in goal and could probably stand to add some insurance behind him. Center Jack Eichel also needs a big second half of the season for them to secure a playoff spot.


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