Trib Total Rankings reveal some changes since camps opened.


Well, dear readers, it’s that time of the year. These are the first of my whenever-I feel-like-it NHL team ratings, which have changed since my first tally for the bi-weekly USA Today panel upon which I proudly serve. The USA Today ballot ranking for each team is in parentheses.

1 – Bruins (1)

They will be raising the only banner that matters. That’s good enough for the top spot right now.

2 – Canucks (2)

They came within a win of the Cup, and they are deserving of the top Western slot as the season begins.

3 – Red Wings (3)

Call them old, but also call them the likely Western Conference favorites.

4 – Penguins (10)

A motivated Evgeni Malkin is worth a big jump in this poll.

5 – Capitals (4)

This isn’t April, which means they should be feared.

6 – Devils (7)

No way they start horribly two consecutive years, right?

7 – Kings (8)

They’ll be the best team in La-La Land even when (if) the Lakers start playing ball.

8 – Sharks (5)

Good idea to shake up the roster after another disappointing postseason.

9 – Lightning (6)

How that system holds up in Year 2 of the Guy Boucher tenure is up for debate.

10 – Ducks (11)

The hockey world, not just Southern California, is better for Teemu Selanne playing one last season in the NHL.

11 – Blackhawks (9)

Patrick Kane as a center… uh, anybody remember that Sidney Crosby as a winger experiment?

12 – Canadiens (13)

They took the Bruins to seven games in Round 1 last spring, and that was with a depleted defense corps.

13 – Rangers (12)

Quietly, John Tortorella has remolded them in his image. Look for big things this season.

14 – Sabres (15)

A whole lot of spending money for Western New York’s club should pay off in the form of help for Ryan “Captain America” Miller.

15 – Hurricanes (14)

They’re better this season, but so is most of the Eastern Conference.

16 – Flyers (17)

Jaromir Jagr looked great on the power play in September. It was September.

17 – Maple Leafs (19)

A strong start is a must for this playoff drought to end.

18 – Predators (16)

Score. Some. Goals. Please.

19 – Islanders (22)

No, this isn’t a typographical error.

20 – Flames (23)

Tick, tock goes the clock on the great Jarome Iginla’s realistic chance to bring the Cup back to Calgary.

21 – Coyotes (24)

This much is guaranteed: Dave Tippett will get the most out of this group.

22 – Blue Jackets (20)

They are definitely capable of making a huge jump in these rankings over the next few weeks.

23 – Panthers (27)

That is one mad chemistry experiment in South Florida. At least the jerseys are red again.

24 – Wild (25)

It was a bold move by former Penguins assistant GM Chuck Fletcher to hire former Penguins assistant coach Mike Yeo to be the man in the State of Hockey.

25 – Avalanche (26)

After the mess of last season, should there be any job security in Denver?

26 – Blues (21)

They have an awful lot of ground to make up in arguably the league’s best division.

27 – Oilers (29)

Bet on this being the last season to kick around these kids.

28 – Jets (18)

Winnipeg crowds will be amazing. The home team – not so much.

29 – Stars (29)

Alex Goligoski might need to be at Norris Trophy-level for them to make a playoff run.

30 – Senators (30)

Same goes for Sergei Gonchar and these guys.