2023-24 NHL Offseason Power Rankings

Updated:

I’m going to publish my first NHL offseason power rankings for the 2023-24 season. The NHL draft is over and NHL free agency got underway on July 1st, with several of the top names off the board already.

The Vegas Golden Knights are fresh off winning the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. Connor Bedard went #1 overall to the Chicago Blackhawks and is the most hyped NHL prospect since Connor McDavid, but that’s not going to help the Blackhawks get out of the basement on my NHL offseason power rankings.

Top 10 NHL Free Agent Acquisitions

Here are the top 10 NHL free agent acquisitions based on the average annual value of the contract:

  1. Dmitry Orlov signed a two-year 15.5M ($7.75M AAV) contract with the Hurricanes.
  2. Alexander Killorn signed a four-year $25M ($6.25M AAV) contract with the Ducks.
  3. Tyler Bertuzzi signed a one-year $5.5M ($5.5M AAV) contract with the Maple Leafs.
  4. Jason Zucker signed a one-year 5.3M ($5.3M AAV) contract with the Ducks.
  5. J.T. Compher signed a five-year $25.5M ($5.1M AAV) contract with the Red Wings.
  6. Ryan Graves signed a six-year $27M ($4.5M AAV) contract with the Penguins.
  7. Ryan O’Reilly signed a four-year $18M ($4.5M AAV) contract with the Predators.
  8. Michael Bunting signed a three-year $13.5M (4.5M AAV) contract with the Hurricanes.
  9. John Klingberg signed a one-year $4.15M ($4.15M AAV) contract with the Maple Leafs.
  10. Shayne Gostisbehere signed a one-year $4.125M ($4.125M AAV) contract with the Red Wings.

*List is subject to change as remaining free agents sign deals.

A lot of the contracts signed during NHL free agency don’t offer a lot of term and that’s because the NHL salary cap is expected to increase by $4M next season. There were lots of one-year deals.

Biggest Movers in NHL Offseason Power Rankings

There weren’t any superstars hitting the NHL free agent market this offseason. Orlov was regarded as the top target on most NHL free agent rankings lists. There were numerous top-six forwards available when the market opened, but none with the star power to shift 2024 NHL Stanley Cup odds dramatically.

Here are the biggest movers in NHL offseason power rankings:

New Jersey Devils

The Devils are getting a lot of early action to win the Cup in 2024. The Devils opened up at +1300 odds and now have average odds of +1080. Is the hype warranted? New Jersey lost to Carolina (4-1) in the second round of the playoffs after ranking in the top 10 in scoring and goals allowed during the regular season. In June, they signed Timo Meier and Jesper Bratt to eight-year contracts.

Do the Devils have enough to take another step forward

They also traded for Tyler Toffoli (34G and 39A last season) to fill a top-six role. New Jersey have lost two important players during NHL free agency, though. Ryan Graves and Miles Wood are gone. 

Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina were swept in the Eastern Conference Finals by Florida, but all four games were decided by one goal and the first two games needed overtime. The Hurricanes signed Orlov to strengthen one of the best defensive units (2.6 GA/G last season). The Max Pacioretty experiment is over after he played just five games last season due to injury, but Bunting (23G and 26A last season) was brought in.

Carolina also retained goaltenders Frederik Andersen (two-years at $6.8M) and Antti Raanta (one-year at $1.5M), plus re-signed Jesper Fast who had nine points in 15 playoff games last season. After opening at +1300 odds to win the Stanley Cup, Carolina have average odds of +1120 to win it all.

Vegas Golden Knights

Vegas opened at +1300 to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. The Golden Knights Stanley Cup odds are already starting to shorten (average odds of +1220). Reilly Smith (26G and 30A last season) was traded to open up cap space.

The Golden Knights were able to re-sign Ivan Barbashev (five-years at $25M) and Adin Hill (two-years at $9.8M), though. Hill went 11-4 in the playoffs with a 2.17 GAA and .932 SV%.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs have made a big splash to remain near the top of the NHL offseason power rankings. Toronto opened up at +1100 to win the Cup in 2024 and now have average odds +1040. Toronto are always among the Stanley Cup favorites during the offseason due to the rabid fanbase.

On Day 1 of NHL free agency, the Leafs lost O’Reilly, Bunting, Alexander Kerfoot and Noel Acciari who combined for 63 goals last regular season. They also lost Luke Schenn and Justin Holl on defense, but then on Day 2 of NHL free agency, the Leafs signed Bertuzzi and Max Domi (one-year at $3M). Toronto also brought in Ryan Reaves to add some toughness and change the locker room culture. Klingberg was added to the blue line on a one-year deal and he had 33 points (10G and 23A) in 67 games last season.

The four big movers above are among the top teams on my NHL offseason power rankings, but I also want to highlight a team that made a lot of improvements already during the offseason.

Nashville Predators

Barry Trotz is just the second general manager for Nashville after David Poile retired. He’s already in the process of building a legitimate playoff contender if they can stay healthy. Trotz has already brought in O’Reilly, Schenn and Gustav Nyquist (two-years at 6.37M). He also traded Ryan Johansen and bought out Matt Duchene to improve the culture. The Preds are moving in the right direction.

Nashville went 42-32-8 (92 points) and just missed out on the playoffs last season despite dealing with a ton of injuries and ranking 28th in goals scored (2.7 GPG). I wouldn’t bet on the Predators to win the Cup in 2024, but with some offensive improvement, they’re a team to target to make the NHL playoffs.

Odds aren’t out yet, but I’ll be looking to bet the Preds to make the playoffs this season.

NHL Offseason Power Rankings for the 2023-24 Season

It’s still a little early to see how the NHL offseason is going to shake out. There are a lot of rumors of star players being on the trading block, which could swing my early NHL offseason power rankings.

There are still some big name free agents available to sign as well. Some of the guys still available are Matt Dumba, Vladimir Tarasenko, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Two other important free agents include Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, but neither are expected to switch teams. Boston will try to sign both to make another Cup run, but there are rumors that one or both players could retire.

Here are my 2023-24 NHL offseason power rankings:

  1. Vegas Golden Knights
  2. Carolina Hurricanes
  3. Dallas Stars
  4. Edmonton Oilers
  5. New Jersey Devils
  6. Colorado Avalanche
  7. Toronto Maple Leafs
  8. Florida Panthers
  9. Boston Bruins
  10. New York Rangers
  1. Los Angeles Kings
  2. Tampa Bay Lightning
  3. Minnesota Wild
  4. Seattle Kraken
  5. New York Islanders
  6. Nashville Predators
  7. Winnipeg Jets
  8. Buffalo Sabres
  9. Pittsburgh Penguins
  10. Ottawa Senators
  1. Calgary Flames
  2. Detroit Red Wings
  3. Washington Capitals
  4. St. Louis Blues
  5. Vancouver Canucks
  6. Montreal Canadiens
  7. Columbus Blue Jackets
  8. Chicago Blackhawks
  9. Philadelphia Flyers
  10. Arizona Coyotes
  11. San Jose Sharks
  12. Anaheim Ducks