NHL Power Rankings: Checking in on ‘Cy Young candidates’ from all 32 teams

With the spirit of Valentine's Day still in the air, Ryan Dixon gives some love to NHLers who might not be having enough recognition for their breakthrough seasons or bounce-back performances.

Does it catch anyone else off guard that Major League Baseball pitchers and catchers basically report to spring training on Valentine’s Day?

It seems like you shouldn’t really be thinking about flyballs until at least St. Patrick’s Day, but here we are, ready to hear the snap of a ball hitting a mitt. 

In honour of MLB rousing from its winter hibernation and teams infiltrating cities across Florida and Arizona, we decided to adopt a baseball theme for this edition of the power rankings and identify some Cy Young guys for all 32 teams.

Scoring goals is ultimately the goal of the game, right? So here’s a peek at the players who eschew the pass in favour of firing that disc in the net themselves. 

1. Vancouver Canucks (36-12-6) Nils Hoglander is 17-6. It’s been a tough go for the Swede since he scored at a 19-goal clip in the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season, but he’s well on his way to his first 20-goal NHL season. 

2. Boston Bruins (32-11-10) Jake DeBrusk had a nice bounce-back last year, but he’s sitting 12-13 right now and likely departs Boston as a UFA this summer. 

3. Edmonton Oilers (31-17-1) Evander Kane is 19-14 through 48 contests. He’s got 321 career goals compared to 285 assists. 

4. Dallas Stars (33-14-6) Evgenii Dadonov has been a useful depth scorer for Dallas this year. He’s 12-11 and could hit 20 goals with a nice push from here to April. 

5. Florida Panthers (34-15-4) Sam Reinhart’s scorching season — ahead of potentially hitting the open market this summer — has been something to behold. He’s 39-25 with a legit shot at the Rocket Richard Trophy. 

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6. New York Rangers (34-16-3) Jimmy Vesey has a solid shot at scoring a career-best 18 goals this year. Right now he’s 12-5. 

7. Vegas Golden Knights (31-16-6) Original Golden Misfit — and 2023 Conn Smythe winner — Jonathan Marchessault is going to blow past his previous career-best of 30 goals this year. He’s 27-16 with 29 games to go and — potentially — unrestricted free agency to follow this summer. 

8. Winnipeg Jets (32-14-5) A couple guys who’ve battled injuries this year are Cy Young candidates. Kyle Connor is 19-11, while Gabe Vilardi is 11-9. 

9. Colorado Avalanche (33-17-4) Undrafted Logan O’Connor and his 13-12 line is a success story. Ryan Johansen and his 11-8 line is not. Valeri Nichushkin was 22-20 when he entered into the NHLPA player assistance program.

10. Carolina Hurricanes (30-17-5) Teuvo Teravainen had eight goals 10 games into the season; he’s got six since and sits 16-18 right now. 

11. Toronto Maple Leafs (27-16-8) In honour of Auston Matthews’ 42-21 line, here are some all-time Cy Young seasons: Brett Hull went 86-45 in 1990-91, 72-41 in 1989-90 and 70-39 in 1991-92. Alexander Mogilny went 76-51 in 1992-93 and more recently, Alex Ovechkin was 65-47 in 2007-08. 

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12. Tampa Bay Lightning (29-20-5) Big Nick Paul is likely to register his first 20-goal season at age 28. He’s 14-15 right now, on pace for 21 tallies. 

13. Philadelphia Flyers (29-19-6) Owen Tippet went 27-22 last year in his first full season as a Flyer and he’s tracking a 31-goal showing in Year 2, sitting 19-13 right now. 

14. Detroit Red Wings (27-19-6) The rare appearance by a D-man! Jake Walman is 11-9. Up front, Robby Fabbri is 13-8 in 39 games. 

15. St. Louis Blues (28-22-2) Jake Neighbours has been picking up the pace lately, with six tallies in his past dozen outings. He’s 18-5 overall. 

16. New Jersey Devils (27-21-4) Will Dawson Mercer still be with the Devils after the trade deadline? He’s a wonderful young player — sitting 15-11 right now — but could be flipped for goalie help in the next few weeks. 

17. Los Angeles Kings (24-16-10) Trevor Moore has just one goal in his past 10 outings, but his 21-15 showing is still a nice story for Los Angeles. Not so nice: Pierre-Luc Dubois’ 11-10 line. 

18. New York Islanders (22-18-13) Anders Lee and Brock Nelson must have grown up playing baseball because they’re both classic Cy Young guys. Lee is 13-7 this year, while Nelson is 22-19. Meanwhile, sophomore Simon Holmstrom is 12-6. 

19. Minnesota Wild (25-23-5) Ryan Hartman has never gotten back to the 34-goal heights he posted a couple years back, but he is burying at a 25-goal clip this year, going 15-12 in 48 contests. Joel Eriksson Ek, meanwhile, is 24-20 and is on a 37-goal pace this season. 

20. Pittsburgh Penguins (23-20-7) Sidney Crosby with more goals than assists? So strange. Sid is 28-24 this year for Pittsburgh. 

21. Calgary Flames (25-23-5) Even without a tally in his past half-dozen games, first-year Flame Yegor Sharangovich is 20-16 this season. That has to be viewed as a win in Southern Alberta. 

22. Nashville Predators (27-24-2) Colton Sissons is almost surely going to move past his previous career best of 15 goals. The 30-year-old is 13-12 this season. 

23. Seattle Kraken (22-21-10) Jared McCann is 88-70 since he started in Seattle two-plus years ago and the 40-goal guy from last year is 21-17 this season. 

24. Washington Capitals (23-21-8) The Washington Nationals would kill for this staff: Dylan Strome (20-15), Anthony Mantha (16-10) and Tom Wilson (12-9). And, of course, in the year Crosby has more goals than assists, Ovechkin is likely to finish with more helpers than tallies for just the fifth time in his career. Maybe Ovi (14-23) will still flip the balance now that he’s scored in six straight contests. 

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25. Montreal Canadiens (22-23-8) This would normally be Cole Caufield territory, but the winger has shown strong playmaking chops this year and is 17-25. Joel Armia is rocking the 9-1 line, though. 

26. Ottawa Senators (22-25-2) Brady Tkachuk is 25-19 and could hit 40 goals for the first time in his career. Could Josh Norris ever hit that number, too, if he ever gets a full 82 in? The oft-injured centre is 13-13 in 42 contests this season. 

27. Buffalo Sabres (23-25-4) It’s been a tough year for 15-14 Tage Thompson, but my guess is he bounces back next season and is on Team USA at the 4 Nations Face-off. J.J. Peterka’s 19-17 campaign is encouraging for the 22-year-old German.

28. Arizona Coyotes (23-25-4) How about a 1-2 of Lawson Crouse at 19-10, followed by 15-5 Michael Carcone?

29. Columbus Blue Jackets (16-26-10) Boone Jenner is 16-5 in 37 games, while three young Russians are posting Cy Young numbers. They are 14-10 Yegor Chinakhov, 15-12 Kirill Marchenko and 13-13 Dmitri Voronkov. 

30. Anaheim Ducks (18-32-2) Frank Vatrano has six assists to one goal in his past 10, but still sits 22-16 on the season. Could a contender try to pluck him from the Ducks ahead of the deadline?

31. San Jose Sharks (14-33-5) Fabian Zetterlund had 15 career NHL goals entering this season, so his 14-7 line is a nice story. 

32. Chicago Blackhawks (14-36-3) Jason Dickinson is 16-10 this year and appears to have found a long-term home with the rebuilding Hawks.

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