Who would you pay your hard-earned money to see in the NHL these days?
Certain guys are legends already, while the league’s shift towards young guns is opening up a whole new category of candidates.
In this issue’s countdown, we’ve ranked all 31 franchises in terms of star power, based on their current players only. Keep in mind, this is not a ranking of how good a team necessarily is. The Carolina Hurricanes, for example, looked like world-beaters in the first few weeks of the season, but ask casual hockey fans to name a member of the team and they probably come up blank.
Teams got more consideration if they had multiple stars or superstars in their lineup, but a truly incandescent player – we’re looking at you, No. 97 – can also have a big impact on his team’s rating. And while the league is getting younger, there are still a lot of veteran players with pull. In this ranking, having a bunch of All-Star Game appearances or Stanley Cup rings means a boost for a player’s visibility overall, and that was taken into consideration.
Personality can also play a role, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the San Jose Sharks and their eclectic bunch rated high here. But, just like in the 2016 Stanley Cup final, they still couldn’t dethrone the star-powered Pittsburgh Penguins.
- PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are two of the best centers in NHL history, and the Penguins also employ hockey folk hero Phil Kessel.
- SAN JOSE SHARKS
Joe Thornton may have shaved, but he and still-bearded Brent Burns are now joined by the dashing Erik Karlsson for extra fun.
- TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
The combination of John Tavares and Auston Matthews on the same team has been terrifying, plus the Leafs have Mitch Marner.
- EDMONTON OILERS
The Oilers really only have one star, but he’s the brightest light of them all: Connor McDavid. Leon Draisaitl’s worth watching, too.
- WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Come for Alex Ovechkin’s cannon blasts, stay for Evgeny Kuznetsov’s birdman celebrations. The Stanley Cup champs bring the sizzle.
- TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov make magic up front together, while Victor Hedman is the tower of power on defense.
- WINNIPEG JETS
Patrik Laine and Mark Scheifele lead an incredibly dangerous forward corps. Dustin Byfuglien is the main event on the blueline.
- LOS ANGELES KINGS
The team might not be a contender anymore, but it’s still fun watching Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar and Ilya Kovalchuk.
- NASHVILLE PREDATORS
When P.K. Subban is in the building, you’re always guaranteed excitement. Filip Forsberg and Ryan Ellis aren’t too shabby, either.
- CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
An early-season shocker, Blackhawks legends Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are thumbing their noses at the “young NHL.”
- DALLAS STARS
Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin lead an attack-oriented squad that also features the beautiful skills of John Klingberg on the back end.
- CALGARY FLAMES
Johnny Gaudreau is always worth the price of admission, while James Neal, Mark Giordano and a deep crew back him up.
- COLORADO AVALANCHE
It’s all about the remarkable top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen. Speed, power and plenty of scoring.
- BUFFALO SABRES
Eventually the wins will come, but in the meantime, just sit back and enjoy the wicked skills of youngsters Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin.
- BOSTON BRUINS
The B’s boast the best line in hockey with Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, plus living legend Zdeno Chara on the back end.
- VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Young guns Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson have made the Canucks an entertaining team to watch early on. They make the future look bright, too.
- COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Enjoy Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky while you can, Columbus fans. At least Seth Jones and Zach Werenski will be there long term.
- PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
Claude Giroux has become an Art Ross Trophy threat while young blueliners Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov will be big names soon.
- FLORIDA PANTHERS
Everyone loves Roberto Luongo. Aleksander Barkov is well on his way to NHL stardom, while Aaron Ekblad has the pedigree and opportunity.
- ANAHEIM DUCKS
Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are the household names, but John Gibson and Hampus Lindholm are making names for themselves, too.
- VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
It’s tough to beat Marc-Andre Fleury in terms of universal love – is it the smile or the winning? Otherwise, the Golden Knights are a collective.
- NEW JERSEY DEVILS
The Devils win through hard work and speed, but the headliners are obvious: the dynamic top-line duo of Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier.
- ST. LOUIS BLUES
Another team that has a bunch of pretty good players, while the Blues also have goal-scoring machine Vladimir Tarasenko on their side.
- NEW YORK ISLANDERS
This is a team in transition, but there’s no doubt that Mathew Barzal has an incredibly bright future. And Anders Lee can rip goals.
- MONTREAL CANADIENS
The Habs’ brightest stars have passed their primes, but Carey Price and Shea Weber are still two of the biggest names in the game.
- NEW YORK RANGERS
Like the rival Islanders, the Rangers are rebuilding, so their star power is lacking. Other than handsome icon Henrik Lundqvist, that is.
- MINNESOTA WILD
Imagine if the Wild had Ryan Suter, Zach Parise and Eric Staal together 10 years ago instead of now. Mathew Dumba is a riser.
- CAROLINA HURRICANES
Everyone should know Sebastian Aho by now, but the quiet Finn hasn’t fully arrived just yet. The Canes are better than their clout suggests.
- ARIZONA COYOTES
Arizona has a pair of dynamic talents in Clayton Keller and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, but until the wins start flowing, the recognition will be muted.
- OTTAWA SENATORS
The scrappy Sens got off to a hot start, but the big names are still developing. Matt Duchene is known. The kids are on their way.
- DETROIT RED WINGS
Speedy Dylan Larkin is the man in the middle with Henrik Zetterberg gone, but the rebuilding Wings could really use top 2019 draft prospect Jack Hughes.