Midseason report cards on all 31 NHL teams

Remember that moment of uncertainty back in school when report cards were sent home? That moment when you were sure that you aced a class but wondered if the teacher saw it differently? Or, conversely, that moment when you silently hoped that D you thought you'd have to explain to your parents might, miraculously, become a C instead?

Progress reports are always stressful, but ultimately, they serve as equal parts validation and motivation. So we decided to hand out report cards to all 31 teams as they head down the stretch of the season to the trade deadline. Stats are collected from sites like Corsica, Natural Stat Trick and Hockey Reference.

It's time to separate the honor roll from those headed for detention.

Note: Read through all 31 teams, or click below to skip ahead to your favorite:



102.5

98

B+

Whether or not you believe the line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak is the best line in the NHL, they are the heartbeat of this Bruins team, accounting for 63 of the Bruins' 145 goals as a team. David Krejcihashad a fine season as the anchor of a second scoring line, usually with Jake DeBrusk, with 40 points. Sean Kuraly has played well enough to have made Riley Nash a distant memory. But they're going to need some more from their bottom six to overcome the deep contenders in the East, and they're going to need that elusive top-six winger at the deadline to really get the Stanley Cup parade rolling.

B+

About what you'd expect. Torey Krug has 33 points in 39 games, with 21 of them on the power play. Zdeno Chara is still doing Zdeno Chara things, and his pairing with Charlie McAvoy (when healthy) is solid. Brandon Carlo is good support for Krug, and the Kevan Miller and Matt Grzelcyk pairing isn't bad for what it is.

A-

Tuukka Rask worked through some issues this season to find his form, posting a .919 save percentage and an 8.33 goals saved above average. The Bruins have gotten eerily identical numbers from Jaroslav Halak. One of the best tandems in the NHL.

B

The Bruins have a lethal power play, second in the NHL at 27.3 percent. Their penalty kill is middling at 16th in the league (80.3 percent). Marchand and Bergeron play on both.

B+

Bruce Cassidy has the benefit of having a few constants anchoring his lineup as he tries dozens of combinations around them to see what works. But he has done well to keep the ship running during some frustrating injuries.

B+

Don Sweeney had some nice summer additions that have worked well, including Halak and defenseman John Moore. He swung and missed on Rick Nash during the last trade deadline, but one assumes he's going to get another pitch this deadline with guys like Wayne Simmonds and Artemi Panarin potentially on the move.

David Pastrnak

Pastrnak has taken things to another level this season, with 28 goals in 50 games.

David Backes

Backes has five goals in 41 games, skating 13:40 per game. He makes $6 million annually through 2022 and was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career this season.

B+

A very solid foundation for a championship team that still feels like it's a big piece or two away from really making that push.



80.5

92

B

Sometimes as hockey fans, we should all take a step back and ask what we did to deserve such joys as watching Jack Eichel (16-37-53) and Jeff Skinner (31-14-45) coexist on the same line. Whether it's with Sam Reinhart or Jason Pominville, that line has dominated to the tune of a plus-19 in goal differential. And then ... a bit of a drop-off. The duo of Conor Sheary and Casey Mittelstadt has been together for much of the season, with the latter player starting to find his game after a horror show December (two points in 13 games). Kyle Okposo is a veteran hand on different lines, while Evan Rodrigues and Tage Thompson are starting to contribute. Zemgus Girgensons and Johan Larsson have been a decent duo, while Vladimir Sobotka can still win a faceoff.

C+

Rasmus Dahlin has been overshadowed in the rookie race by Elias Pettersson, which is a shame, because the first overall pick has been strong -- the Sabres have an on-ice save percentage of .937 when he's out there. Zach Bogosianhasbeen a strong partner for him. Rasmus Ristolainen has 31 points and defensive deficiencies. The rest of the blue line has had its struggles.

B+

Carter Hutton (.911) and Linus Ullmark (.914) have similar numbers across the board, with Ullmark just a shade better in fewer games (19, to Hutton's 31). It's a little amazing that the Sabres solidified their goaltending position by jettisoning Robin Lehner, who might now be a Vezina Trophy candidate for the Islanders. What a world.

B

The Sabres are 22nd in the NHL at 16.8 percent on the power play. Their penalty kill is a bit better at 81.8 percent, good for ninth.

C+

Phil Housley's front-runner status for the Jack Adams seems years ago, rather than months. He has moved pieces around to try to find the right fit. The Sabres are very much in the hunt, but some of their underlying numbers leave something to be desired.

B+

Jason Botterill brought on Skinner, Hutton and Sheary. He also watched as Patrik Berglund, a key part of the Ryan O'Reilly trade, took his puck and went home.

Jeff Skinner

Who knew all Jeff Skinner needed was an All-Star center to threaten 50 goals in a contract year?

Marco Scandella

Scandella was acquired as a puck-moving offensive defenseman. He has nine points in 40 games this season and has been getting rolled at 5-on-5 in shot attempts.

B

The Sabres aren't that team winning 10 in a row, and they're not that team that lost the next five games after they did. They're a team blessed with a dominant top line that is clearly still building toward contention. Just being in a playoff race will do wonders for Eichel and Dahlin.



75.5

72

B

Dylan Larkin has 48 points in 51 games, working well with Gustav Nyquist (32 assists) and a variety of wingers that has included Tyler Bertuzzi (28 points) and old standby Justin Abdelkader (five goals in 51 games). Andreas Athanasiou is finally putting his blazing speed to good use with his best offensive season, scoring 17 goals and adding 13 assists in 45 games, although his line has been outpossessed 5-on-5. Anthony Mantha is just a tick down from his previous two seasons but has been strong. Old hands Frans Nielsen and Thomas Vanek do what they do, while 19-year-old top prospect Michael Rasmussen has contributed with 13 points in 41 games.

C+

The Red Wings have tried several combinations of defensemen: Nicklas Jensen, Niklas Kronwall, Danny DeKeyser, Mike Green, Filip Hronek, Jonathan Ericsson, rookie Dennis Cholowski and the currently injured Trevor Daley. Some of these combinations were the result of injuries, while others were out of ineffectiveness. Of the group, Jensen was featured most prominently on the combinations that produced the best results. This is not a coincidence.

B+

We are all witnesses to the Jimmy Howard renaissance. The 34-year-old career Wing has a .916 save percentage and a quality starts percentage of .636 in 34 games. He earned his trip to the All-Star Game. Jonathan Bernier was brought in to tandem with Howard, but his .892 save percentage in 20 games wasn't what Detroit bargained for.

D+

Detroit has the 25th-best power play in the NHL at 16.2 percent. They have the 23rd-best penalty kill at 77.6 percent. Their special teams are ... not special.

C+

The success obviously hasn't been there for Jeff Blashill, who will spend what many assume will be his last season in Detroit out of the playoffs again. But the Red Wings play hard, and he has done well in developing some of their young talents.

C

Ken Holland made a bold draft pick in Filip Zadina, who has looked promising in Grand Rapids. He made a strong trade last season when he sent Tomas Tatar to the Golden Knights at the deadline. He has other assets to move this season -- although some of them have trade protection, because, well, it's Ken Holland. Then, we'll all wait to see if he moves on to other opportunities.

Nicklas Jensen

As mentioned, Jensen has been one of the most underrated players in the NHL this season, posting an expected goals plus/minus of plus-1.79 playing with a variety of defense partners. Will the Red Wings keep him around?

Luke Glendening

Glendening has 17 points on the season. He also has a minus-156 in shot attempts and a minus-8.13 in expected goals. Woof.

C

Not as bad as their record, but not good either. But boy, that Jimmy Howard has been good.



94.5

82

B

The Panthers are 15th this season with 152 goals, and over half of them have come from five forwards. Mike Hoffman (23 goals) is on the best goal-scoring pace of his career. Evgenii Dadonov (18) and Aleksander Barkov (17) have been a reliable duo. Frank Vatrano has been a revelation, with 16 goals in 47 games, both career highs. Jonathan Huberdeau leads the team with 49 points in 48 games, with 12 of them coming on goals. (Vincent Trocheck, an offensive dynamo, has 18 points in 21 games due to injury. Nick Bjugstad was limited to 32 games.) Now the bad news: The Panthers are having a rough defensive year, and that includes the forwards, where even the reliable Barkov is a minus-7 in goal differential. And the rest of the forward group has been underwhelming.

C+

If Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad could play the entire game, the Panthers would be fine. They've been great this season, with Ekblad notching 21 points and Yandle tallying 31 with an even goal differential. Mackenzie Weegar and Bogdan Kiselevich have been surprisingly effective, while Mark Pysyk and Mike Matheson have been subpar. Like the forwards, it's a top-heavy group.

D

Through 48 games, the Panthers don't have a goalie with a save percentage greater than .900. Roberto Luongo (.896),James Reimer(.897) andMichael Hutchinson(.839) have by far been the team's weakest group. Luongo, 39, is having arguably the worst season in his storied NHL career, with a goals saved above average of minus-8.01.

B+

The Panthers have an outstanding power play, third in the league at 26.8 percent. They have a middling penalty kill at 80.6 percent, good for 14th.

C-

Bob Boughner obviously can't play goal himself, or else he might have tried it by now. The Panthers are 11th in shot attempts but 20th in percentage of scoring chances at 5-on-5. If Florida misses the playoff cut again, Boughner should hire a private eye to keep tabs on Joel Quenneville's whereabouts.

B

Dale Tallon managed to launder Mike Hoffman through San Jose, which has worked out nicely. He also got Edmonton to overpay for Alex Petrovic, which was also addition by subtraction. There's a strong foundation here. Tallon just needs to figure out how to tie it all together, which honestly is an annual struggle.

Frank Vatrano

Vatrano went from being a low-key deadline pickup last season to someone who might post more goals this season than he has in his career to date.

Roberto Luongo

We all want Roberto Luongo to win. We all want Roberto Luongo to be a part of this league as long as possible. But this season has been injury-plagued and deleterious to the Panthers, and he turns 40 in April.

C-

The Panthers have shown some life lately, but it's probably too late to rally for a playoff spot. One of the NHL's biggest disappointments this season.



80.5

98

A-

The Canadiens have gone from 29th in the NHL last season in goals to 14th in 2018-19, and their improved forward group has been a major factor in that. Max Domi (44 points), Tomas Tatar (38 points), Joel Armia (12 points) and rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi (23 points) all arrived in the offseason. Phillip Danault (33 points) has taken a leap in production, while holdovers like Jonathan Drouin (37 points), Artturi Lehkonen (23 points) and the always delightful Brendan Gallagher (30 points) and Andrew Shaw (24 points) have all been strong this season.

B

Shea Weberhasbeen fantastic since returning from injury, with 16 points in 27 games and transforming Victor Mete into his new Ryan Suter. Jeff Petry has been paired with both Mike Reilly and Jordie Benn, and neither combo really took off. Brett Kulak has been in the mix, too.

B+

Carey Price has a goals saved above average of plus-8.52 this season, which is being celebrated as a return to form for the former Vezina winner. He has a .915 save percentage and a .541 quality-starts percentage in 37 starts. Antti Niemi has been a less-than-stellar backup.

C-

It's a good thing Montreal is so dominant at 5-on-5 because its power play is 30th in the NHL (13 percent) and the penalty kill is 19th overall at 79.5 percent.

A-

Claude Julien probably hasn't gotten the love he deserves yet for this Montreal turnaround -- that's what happens when Barry Trotz sucks all the air out of the room -- but he's working the lines well and has this team playing a tenacious style that has paid off offensively and defensively at even strength. Last season the Canadiens were 13th in percentage of scoring chances at 5-on-5; this season, they're fifth.

B+

Look, to paraphrase Black Widow from "The Avengers," Marc Bergevin has red on his ledger. There are many mistakes he has made and many mistakes that have yet to come to light. (Let's revisit that Carey Price contract in a few years.) But right now, this season, you have to give the man credit for the additions he made up front, which are paying dividends.

Max Domi

Domi is like a transfer student from Arizona who arrives on the first day of class and ends up valedictorian. His pace has slowed a bit, but 44 points in 51 games is beyond anyone's expectation for him.

Matthew Peca, Charles Hudon

Neither Peca nor Hudon has managed to surpass each other in competition for a forward spot this season, in the sense that both have been overwhelmed at 5-on-5. In 29 games, Peca has a minus-9.49 in relative Corsi.

A-

The Canadiens are not out of the woods yet, with the Eastern Conference bubble still featuring the Sabres and Hurricanes trying to pick someone off. But with 61 points in 51 games, the Canadiens look like a playoff team.



69.5

71

B

Mark Stone has 50 points in 50 games. Matt Duchenehas 47 points in 41 games. That's the good news. The bad news is that they're both pending free agents, and their contract status could mean their time in Ottawa could be at an end. But what a season they've had so far. Ditto Ryan Dzingel, who is in the last year of his deal and has 20 goals. Beyond these three players, who have played together, it has been a mixed bag for Ottawa. There have been solid contributions from Chris Tierney (32 points), Mikkel Boedker (27 points),Zack Smith(19 points in 41 games) and Bobby Ryan (30 points in 47 games). There has been promise from young players like Colin White (26 points) and Brady Tkachuk (23 points). Also, Magnus Paajarvi was on the team.

C+

Thomas Chabot has been a revelation this season, with 39 points in 42 games. He has primarily played with Dylan DeMelo in an effective duo (plus-10 goal differential). Less effective? Almost every other pairing. Mark Borowiecki, Maxime Lajoie, Christian Jaros, Ben Harpur and Christian Wolanin have all seen time.

C-

The Senators have used five different goalies this season, including Craig Anderson (.906, 3.55) and Anders Nilsson (.931, 2.14 in seven games). Their .898 team save percentage is actually No. 22 in the NHL, but the Senators have the worst goals-against average (3.74).

D+

Ottawa is 15th on the power play, at 20.3 percent, and 29th on the penalty kill, at 75.5 percent.

C-

For a minute earlier this season, it appeared that Guy Boucher would have this Ottawa team defiantly contending in the Eastern Conference. That minute passed officially around the Senators' eight-game losing streak from Dec. 21 through Jan. 9.

C+

Say what you will about Pierre Dorion, but he found a defensive partner for Chabot and a forward who has averaged 17:35 per game from the Erik Karlsson trade, along with a draft-pick bounty. Does that excuse the fact that Colorado owns what might be the first pick overall in the draft from Ottawa, having traded it for Matt Duchene, who might not even re-sign with the Senators? Um, no.

Mark Stone

Stone is having a tremendous offensive season to go along with (finally) some Selke Trophy buzz in a contract year.

Cody Ceci

In danger? With yet another possession-disaster season (minus-290 shot attempts, minus-20 in 5-on-5 goal differential), Ceci is repeating the grade at this point.

D

The Senators are who we thought they were: a bad hockey team with a few outstanding veteran players and some hope for the future. Well, save for that lottery pick they no longer own ...



107.5

125

A

The deepest collection of forwards in the NHL. Nikita Kucherov is chasing an MVP and a scoring title, with 78 points in 49 games. Brayden Point is chasing a massive new contract, with 65 points in 49 games and the growing reputation as the NHL's next great two-way center. Steven Stamkos (57 points in 49 games) is chasing his first Cup. Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Yanni Gourde, J.T. Miller, Alex Killorn, Anthony Cirelli, Cedric Paquette, what's left of Ryan Callahan ... what an assemblage of talent.

A-

This defenseman corps might just match the forwards for quality depth. Victor Hedman has entered his "perennially contending for the Norris Trophy" phase of his career. The Bolts have had him with (much maligned) veteran Dan Girardi. Ryan McDonagh has cooled off since a Norris-caliber start, but he has contributed at both ends. Mikhail Sergachev and Braydon Coburn are first and second in shot-attempt plus/minus for the Lightning, while Anton Stralman can play with anyone. Erik Cernak has been used as well.

A-

Andrei Vasilevskiy had a .925 save percentage through his first 28 games, which meant a 15.47 goals saved above average. He's a legit Vezina contender. While Louis Domingue can't replace him as a Stanley Cup-caliber goalie, should some injury befall Vasilevskiy, he filled in admirably during the starter's absence in the regular season.

A

The Lightning have the NHL's top power play (29.5 percent) and fifth-best penalty kill (83.5 percent).

A

Jon Cooper had the Lightning on a historic points pace for most of the season and has juggled this roster's many parts expertly. The Jack Adams usually goes to the guy who turns around a bad team rather than the guy who captains the fastest ship in the fleet, but you expect Cooper would be a finalist at this point.

INC

Julien BriseBois took over from Steve Yzerman in September, and in fairness, we're not going to judge the guy for the Slater Koekkoek-for-Jan Rutta trade. But suffice it to say, he helped Yzerman build this roster (and did so with perennial cap acrobatics).

Brayden Point

Point needed 82 games to score 32 goals and 66 points last season. He scored 30 goals and recorded 65 points in his first 49 games this season. A massive breakout year for the 22-year-old center.

Anton Stralman

Stralman isn't anywhere close to flunking, but we should note that he's the only player on the current roster for the Lightning that's in negative expected goal differential territory (-1.96 through 31 games in an injury-plagued season).

A

The best team in the NHL this season through the first 50 games.



106.5

104

A-

The addition of John Tavares (54 points in 49 games) to Mitch Marner's life has been gigantic, as the Leafs winger leads the team with 62 points. Tavares has 30 goals on the season, with a chance to pass his career best of 38. So that's one line. The other line features Auston Matthews (1.23 points per game) and William Nylander, the latter of whom is still trying to find his game after his contract negotiation went deep into the season. So that's two lines. Then there's Nazem Kadri (32 points), who has skated with Patrick Marleau (22 points) this season.Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, Zach Hyman, Connor Brown ... it all adds up to a talented group that Mike Babcock has deployed in waves this season.

B

So what happens with Morgan Rielly (50 points) now? Does the Norris contender play with the recently acquired Jake Muzzin, whose presence bumps the Leafs up a notch in the report card? Does Ron Hainsey slip down the lineup to where Travis Dermott and Igor Ozhiganov reside? Toronto fan pariah Jake Gardiner and Nikita Zaitsev are the other combination. Muzzin helps, but this group needs another impact player to be at a championship level.

A-

Frederik Andersen (.923) has been an incredible last line of defense for the Leafs, with a .676 quality starts percentage and a plus-16.51 goals saved above average.Garret Sparks(.907) is 6-3-1 as a backup.

B+

The Leafs are ninth on the power play (22.1 percent) and 12th on the penalty kill (81.1 percent). Could be better; could be worse.

A-

Babcock has the Leafs playing a strong possession game (ninth in shot-attempt percentage) that helps power a dynamic offense (3.55 goals per game). But the test isn't in the regular season. It's in Babcock winning a playoff round for the first time since Nicklas Lidstrom retired.

A-

Bed sheets or not, Kyle Dubas successfully sold Tavares on coming to the Leafs, got Nylander on the contract he was comfortable with and made a potentially strong trade for Muzzin. There are still further steps in this plan, but it's coming together.

Mitch Marner

At this rate, Marner is going to pass his career high in points before Valentine's Day. It's going to be a very, very interesting contract tango with Marner and Matthews and Dubas.

Ron Hainsey

Hainsey is the Leafs' worst player for shot-attempt differential and has a relative expected goals for percentage of minus-5.77.

A-

The Leafs have an overpowering offense when it's clicking, a goalie who can win them games by himself and a defense that they hope can handle the other beasts of the East. For now, they're just short of an A.



85.5

89

C

Another team carried exclusively by their top line. The Canes have endured some anemic stretches, which might cost them a playoff spot. Acquiring scoring help is an extreme necessity.

A-

Carolina might have the deepest blue line in the NHL, full stop. They'll likely auction a defenseman off in a trade, for scoring help, though let's laud these guys for allowing the fewest shots per game in the league.

C

The Scott Darling situation is unfortunate. Carolina thought it might have a decent backup option in Petr Mrazek, but they lucked out on waivers with Curtis McElhinney, who has put up gratifying performances and a .914 save percentage.

C-

Another year of a drab power play (it ranks 23rd in the league). At least there are signs of hope that it can be fixed; in one four-game stretch earlier this month, the Canes scored five power-play goals.

B

Dealing with limited resources, rookie head coach Rod Brind'Amour has churned a lot out of this group. They're having fun and buying into his up-tempo style. But they still don't look like a playoff team.

B-

There have been some shrewd moves: the Calvin De Haan offseason acquisition, grabbing McElhinney on waivers and the trade to land Nino Niederreiter. There have also been some misses. We hope this team won't be stunted by frugality.

Sebastian Aho

The third-year forward began the season with a 12-game point streak and never let up; Aho is now at 57 points in 50 games. He is the team's most consistent and exciting forward.

Scott Darling

It's an unfortunate situation, but there's a chance we'll never see Darling realize his full potential as an NHL starter.

C+

They're having fun, they're still rocking great Corsi figures and ... they're still not in the playoff picture. There's a lot of potential here, but Carolina isn't quite ready to level up.



97.5

99

B+

The Blue Jackets have blossomed as a top-10 scoring team, and it's not just the Artemi Panarin show. The entire first line has been sensational, with Cam Atkinson (28 goals) and Pierre Luc Dubois (18) pulling weight. The second line is tough to play against, but production trails after that.

A-

The Blue Jackets are getting production from their defensemen, who control shot share and push the pace of play. The blueliners have been crucial, with the team getting less-than-expected production in net.

B

As Sergei Bobrovsky enters contract uncertainty, it hasn't been his best season; he has allowed three or more goals on 20 occasions, sandwiched by some signature strong play. Joonas Korpisalo has emerged as a proficient No. 2.

B-

The power play is once again a burden (ranking 27th in the league at the break), but at least the team is addressing it, hiring Martin St. Louis as a consultant. Columbus has a top-10 penalty kill.

A

John Tortorella gets an A solely for this: The team's two most talented players are mired in dramatic contract situations, something that could derail a locker room. And yet, it hasn't felt like a distraction at all. Kudos to a veteran coach for keeping the group on message.

B-

Jarmo Kekalainen made a good bet on Anthony Duclair and a whiff (so far) on Riley Nash. How he ultimately handles Bobrovsky and Panarin -- the most pressing decisions for any GM this year -- will be the ultimate basis for judgment.

Cam Atkinson

On pace for 48 goals and 85 points -- which would shatter his previous career bests of 35 goals and 62 points, set in 2016-17 -- Atkinson's offensive surge eases a bit of the anxiety over potentially losing Panarin at the trade deadline.

Riley Nash

He was the Blue Jackets' only big free-agent acquisition (signed to a three-year, $8.25 million deal to shore up center depth) and hasn't matched the expectations, recording just six points while averaging 10:30 of ice time per game and potentially having a career-worst season in the faceoff circle (43.2 percent).

B+

It's been a season beset by uncertainty behind the scenes, given the looming free agency of Panarin and Bobrovsky, and yet the Blue Jackets have played distraction-free hockey. Depending on how the trade deadline shakes out, could this be the year they finally win a playoff series?



91.5

75

C+

Taylor Hall's prolonged absence leaves a unit that needs playmakers. Six players have double-digit goal totals, which is promising.

D+

This defense lacks two things: depth and dominant players. That means the Devils are often playing catch-up; they've allowed the fifth-most goals in the league at 3.37 per game.

D+

Rookie MacKenzie Blackwood has shined of late, which helps forgive what the Devils got out of the position at the beginning of the season, which was dreadful. Keith Kinkaid crashed back to Earth, while we might have seen the last of Cory Schneider.

B+

If there's a silver lining to this Devils' season, it's the penalty kill, which has been consistently excellent. New Jersey has the second-best mark in the league at 87.4 The power play ranks 18th.

C+

Coming off the finest season in his career, it's hard to fault John Hynes too much for New Jersey's current state. He wants his team to play more physical; let's see how his team responds.

C+

Rob Shero did nothing to address his defense in the offseason, and the results show. Of course, Shero is in for the long play, and he likely predicted this regression, therefore he isn't giving his team every resource -- just yet.

Kyle Palmieri

He filled in for Taylor Hall at All-Star Weekend, which was emblematic of his role for the Devils this season. In the absence of the reigning MVP, the 27-year-old Palmieri is carrying the load, on pace for a career-high 39 goals.

Cory Schneider

The 32-year-old Schneider is on the books for $6 million over the next three seasons, which leaves the Devils in a predicament. He's slow, allows goals in bunches and looks like he might not ever fully recover from hip surgery.

D

We knew the team would likely take a step back from last season's revelation, but not quite like this. Plagued by poor goaltending and a lack of playmakers, the Devils are biding their time in the rebuild.



82.5

105

B+

The Islanders are able to roll out four lines, independent of matchups. New York has been able to get balanced production, though there are weak spots -- the third line, particularly, has had a few rough patches.

A

The Islanders were last in goals against at 3.57 per game last season and hit the All-Star break in first this season, at 2.41. Credit is due to goaltending, but also to a refocused bunch led by a healthy Johnny Boychuk and top partner Nick Leddy. Others have stepped up, too; Scott Mayfield and Devon Toews have been delights.

A

After detailing past battles with alcoholism and bipolar disorder, the new scenery and structure has worked wonders for Robin Lehner, who at $1.5 million is the league's 46th-highest-paid goaltender. At the break, he led the league in save percentage (.931) with a stingy 2.02 GAA. Thomas Greiss has played terrific as well.

D

The Islanders' 5-on-5 numbers are spectacular. Conversely, the power play (ranking 24th at the break) and penalty kill (22nd) are not.

A

Barry Trotz won the midseason Coach of the Year Award, as voted by the Pro Hockey Writers Association. What he has been able to do with this team -- motivating a buy-in post-John Tavares, creating a defensive structure -- is nothing short of extraordinary.

A-

We were skeptical of Lou Lamoriello this summer. After losing Tavares, it appeared the strategy was to sign every fourth-line forward available. Some of of the patchwork fixes have worked. The goaltending acquisitions have been huge. Signing Trotz was a grand slam.

Robin Lehner

Lehner's renaissance is the league's most compelling comeback story. His resurgence aligns perfectly with the Islanders' resurgence.

The power play

The man-advantage unit has been a momentum killer at times. Perhaps a trade-deadline acquisition -- the Islanders could be in on any of the top forwards available -- could add a jolt and reward this group for its strong start.

A

The Islanders are the most impressive first-half team in the league. There was no pity after losing the franchise center. The once-porous defense and goaltending suddenly are strengths.



75.5

82

C

Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes and Chris Kreider are thriving under new coach David Quinn. Most everyone else is underperforming, with high-profile youngsters -- namely Pavel Buchnevich, Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson, who has been shuttling to the AHL -- taking longer to fit in.

C-

This eight-man rotation just isn't working. It's a blend of bloated contracts (Kevin Shattenkirk, Marc Staal), streakiness (Brady Skjei) and youngsters who are raw. New York has allowed the sixth-most goals in the league at 5-on-5, and fourth-most shots per game.

B

Henrik Lundqvist's win in the Save Streak competition at All-Star weekend was perfectly emblematic of his current role with the Rangers: down to the last chance, still capable of brilliance, ultimately it's inconsequential.

C-

The power play hovers around the league average -- Zibanejad has been particularly lethal here, with 16 power-play points -- but the penalty kill ranked 26th entering the All-Star break.

C+

Taking the job at the cusp of the rebuild? That's no easy task. Quinn is trying to motivate via benchings and is teaching by holding more intensive practices than his predecessor. The results should come eventually, but it's definitely going to be a process.

B-

The letter to fans came out about a year ago outlining the rebuild, and to this point, management has stayed true to the plan. Full marks for that. Even bigger marks if they can recoup value at the deadline.

Mika Zibanejad

Among veterans, he might be the Rangers' only untouchable forward at the deadline, or at least he should be. The 25-year-old center will likely smash his previous career high of 51 points. As of the break, he was on pace for 75.

Mats Zuccarello

For most of the first half, the Norwegian fan favorite was mired in a terrible slump. The impending UFA is a good bet to be gone by the trade deadline, and unfortunately, his value is quite low.

C-

Rebuild commence. The first month was a red herring, and there will be difficult months ahead. As long as the team sticks to the plan, though, this season will be remembered as the roughest in the transition.



97.5

79

C-

The Flyers are 22nd in the league, averaging just 2.82 goals per game. The big free-agent acquisitionJames van Riemsdyktook a while to get going, while other players the Flyers are depending on -- Nolan Patrick and Jakub Voracek -- have been frustrating.

C

The team's two most talented defensemen, Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov, are having off seasons. There have been bright spots, though. See: Radko Gudas, Robert Hagg. Philadelphia has allowed 3.4 goals per game, fourth-most in the league, but goaltending is partially to blame.

D

Hextall was preaching patience, but it's evident Hart is ready to be a star ... now. His recent emergence masks what was becoming a hysterical game of musical chairs for Flyers goalies. The collective struggles nearly cost the team the season.

F

The Flyers have the worst power play in the league. They're at risk of finishing below 12.2 percent, which is the franchise-worst mark (set in 1967-68). Philadelphia has the fourth-least-efficient penalty kill in the league.

INC

Dave Hakstol's message was getting stale with the players, so he got the cut. Now it appears Scott Gordon is giving a jolt, but it's too early to tell if it's sustainable.

INC

Chuck Fletcher inherited a roster in peril. He has threatened seismic moves -- everyone is available, it seems, besides Claude Giroux and Carter Hart -- and he'll be closely scrutinized at the deadline.

Carter Hart

The numbers are impressive: a .922 save percentage through his first 13 starts. Yes, it's a small sample size, but Hart has given fans a reason to believe and the team something to rally around. He's not a franchise-saver, but it feels like saving this season.

Every goalie not named Carter Hart

The Flyers have already tied the NHL record for cycling through seven goaltenders in a season. The six used before Hart arrived ranged from unlucky to inept.

D

The team had high hopes, but expectations spiraled quickly. Coach Hakstol and GM Ron Hextall became quick casualties as new GM Fletcher is forced to salvage the roster.



102.5

98

B+

The Pens score a ton (3.49 goals per game, fifth in the league). No, Evgeni Malkin doesn't look like himself, but he's still at higher than a point-per-game pace. The Pens would like better production from their bottom six, but what team wouldn't?

B-

The Penguins have managed shorthanded (without Justin Schultz) thanks to Kris Letang's bounce-back season and Marcus Pettersson, who has charmed since being acquired from the Ducks. The team is allowing too many shots, though, nearly 33 per game.

B

Matt Murray had concerning play to start the season, but since returning from injury in mid-December he is 10-1-0 with a .944 save percentage. Casey DeSmith is developing quite nicely and has the numbers (.917 save percentage through 28 games) to prove it.

A-

Once again, the power play has the ability to be lethal, and the Pens rank sixth in the league (24.8 percent). The penalty kill also ranks sixth in the league (83.3 percent).

A-

Mike Sullivan is a coach who is constantly making adjustments, and that helped pull the Penguins out of a poor start into a scorching hot December. It doesn't feel like Pittsburgh has hit its full potential just yet.

A-

Jim Rutherford is a GM who is never satisfied. He probably overpaid for Jack Johnson in free agency, but his midseason adjustments -- specifically, swapping Daniel Sprong for Pettersson -- have turned out to be just what the team needed. Does he have another move up his sleeve before the deadline?

Kris Letang

He hasn't been flawless. But the fact that the team's No. 1 defenseman has returned to form has been pivotal, as he's averaging 26-plus minutes per game, his second-best career average.

Derick Brassard

Not the best way to go into free agency. Brassard was so coveted as a No. 3 center heading into last season's trade deadline, and he now finds himself expendable and likely to be traded.

B

It has been a streaky four months for Sidney Crosby & Co. -- from goaltending to winning and losing in bunches -- but the Penguins still lurk in good playoff position and look to hit their stride at the right time.



97.5

98

B

Alex Ovechkin is on another ridiculous tear, and the Capitals can score in bunches; plus, they have the league's fourth-best shooting percentage (11.2). But that's masking some depth issues. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Lars Eller and the third line are underperforming.

B-

The Caps have had to weather injuries to Christian Djoos and Brooks Orpik, as well as a few lapses by other regulars. Overall, though, it's very similar to last year's group; the promotion of Todd Reirden (who was previously in charge of defense as an assistant) has allowed for stability.

B+

Braden Holtby was selected to his fourth-straight All-Star Game and has been solid enough, although we know he is capable of more. New backup Pheonix Copley, meanwhile, has been one of the best surprises, with 10 wins in his first 15 appearances.

C

The power play began the season hot (20-for-67 in the first 21 games) but slumped from Dec. 15 on (6-for-52) and now ranks 10th in the league at 21.8 percent. The penalty kill, which ranks 25th, has allowed multiple power-play goals on 10 different occasions.

B

As a rookie head coach, Reirden has been as even keel as they come. With a veteran roster, there isn't too much space for coaching, although he'll be tested to pull the team out of the midseason funk.

B+

There's not a lot of reason to criticize Brian McClellan. After rightfully keeping the band (mostly) together, he has been able to find depth replacements for defense (Jonas Siegenthaler) and goaltending (Copley) from within.

Alex Ovechkin

It feels like this team goes as their captain goes, and my, oh my, has the 33-year-old been hot. Ovechkin has more than double the number of goals of any other Capital.

Andre Burakovsky

In the final campaign of a two-year bridge contract, Burakovsky has not been able to consistently produce as the Caps imagined. He's a trendy name on the trade market and could benefit from a change of scenery.

B

What's worse than a hangover? A delayed hangover. The Capitals looked like they could fend it off with familiar early-season play but entered a tailspin before the break. Hopefully a week off gets them back on track.



85.5

72

B

This is a class divided. The marquee stars are soaring. Patrick Kane is on pace for a career-high 114 points. Jonathan Toews shrugged off any rust from last season and is on pace for a career-high 35 goals. Alex DeBrincat is the next sure thing. And then ... there's everyone else. Depth is a serious concern.

D

Have there been some bright spots? Sure. Henri Jokiharju has been a delight, andErik Gustafsson is an offensive revelation. But Brent Seabrook can still be a liability and -- despite a few corrective moves to clear bad signings -- this feels like a group in transition, waiting for the young prospects to fill in next season.

D+

The Blackhawks warmly welcomed backCorey Crawford, but the 34-year-old sustained his second concussion in under a year, and it's unclear when he will return. Cam Ward is a genial guy who can still kick it at age 34, but his $3 million signing is an overpay considering the production (.888 save percentage). Plucky 24-year-old Collin Delia is waiting in the wings.

C+

The Blackhawks have the league's worst penalty kill at 74.1 percent. For most of the season, their power play has been just as putrid. They must have enlisted extra tutoring sessions after the coaching change, because since Dec. 23, Chicago actually has the best power play in the league (17-for-41, 41.5 percent).

INC

He's not the grizzled Hall of Famer he replaced, but Jeremy Colliton is no substitute teacher, either. Having recently turned 34, he has the full vote of confidence from management. We've seen encouraging flashes, but also some stagnant play. We probably won't get our full sense of Colliton as a coach until his first full NHL season.

B-

If we were grading Bowman in the offseason, he'd get a D. But he has been busy this season doing something few GMs do: admitting mistakes. Erasing the Jan Rutta (regrettable) and Brandon Manning (even more regrettable) signings was strong work. Buying in on Dylan Strome is panning out already. Firing Joel Quenneville was bold, but the common theme here is Bowman acting with conviction, a powerful trait.

Patrick Kane

Despite the Blackhawks' turmoil over the past two seasons, the star winger has been the constant. He's not linemate-dependent; he's producing at a spectacular rate. Unfortunately, it's all going to waste.

Chris Kunitz

Bowman's Band-Aid signings in the summer weren't terribly inspiring, and unfortunately, Kunitz encapsulates that theme. The 35-year-old has had a forgettable tenure in Chicago and isn't going anywhere given his no-move clause.

D

We didn't expect much from the Blackhawks after last season's regression. Chicago is wading through an organizational transition, and an early coaching change meant the team had to take a further step back before it could move forward.



89.5

85

B-

First line? Those guys get an A-plus. Higher than an A-plus, if possible. Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen have accounted for nearly 50 percent of the team's goals. But besides some bright spots, like 33-year-old renaissance man Carl Soderberg, everyone else gets a D.

C

The defense, which has allowed a ninth-worst 3.22 goals per game, still looks like a work in progress and is prone to serious defensive lapses. They also have a puzzling 1-7 record in overtime.

D+

Semyon Varlamov has shown flashes but can't sustain it. Meanwhile, Philipp Grubauer (who many figured would win the starting job eventually) has looked uncomfortable with his new team and doesn't look as good as he did in Washington, albeit in limited appearances.

B-

The power play is dynamite (thanks, largely -- you guessed it -- to PP1 and that top trio). The penalty kill is fifth-worst in the league; it doesn't help that the Avalanche have taken the most penalties (206 entering the All-Star break).

C+

Jared Bednar has been insistent on keeping the top line together, for better or worse. He got into a public shouting match with his star player, MacKinnon, over when to pull the goalie, though both downplayed the incident. It's not easy for Bednar, considering what he has to work with. His true test will be if he can pull this team out of a slide for a playoff return.

B

Joe Sakic didn't do much to this roster this season, preaching patience. The discipline is admirable, but at some point, a shakeup -- even something small -- might be exactly what this team needs to level up.

Nathan MacKinnon

The No. 1 center is building yet another MVP case. But more than that, MacKinnon is the soul of this team. As he goes, so do the Avs.

The goaltenders

Look, it's not totally dire. But the uninspired play of Varlamov and Grubbauer, especially of late, could have the Avalanche tumbling out of the playoff picture for good.

B-

Let's keep things in context. This team is still ahead of schedule. But a warm start has cooled off significantly. An uninspiring supporting cast could cost this team a playoff spot.



94.5

89

C

This should be a fast, high-octane attack, freed from the structured reins of Ken Hitchcock. Instead, this is a lackluster group that can't get it going in the first period (a league-low 23 goals in that frame through 49 games) and ranks 29th in the league in goals per game.

B

The Stars have been without Stephen Johns for the entire season, and now it appears Marc Methot is done for the season. The rotating cast of blueliners has been something to behold. And yet, defense hasn't been a disaster. Thank the overachievers, like Miro Heiskanen and Taylor Fedun.

A

Both Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin have been stabilizers for this team. Among goalies with at least 20 appearances, Bishop quietly led the Western Conference into the All-Star break with a .921 save percentage.

A-

The power play is just OK, but the penalty kill is actually quite good. In fact, the PK -- which ranks seventh in the league -- might be Dallas' top asset, besides goaltending.

B-

Look, drama and injuries aside, this team is in playoff position. That's a minor miracle considering the highest-paid players are underperforming (though not as badly as the team CEO made it out to be) and the fact that players are adjusting to a completely new scheme yet again. Jim Montgomery told the Dallas Morning News that he lost his way a bit in December, but he seems to have settled in since then.

C-

The Stars whiffed on their big free-agent targets. The Valeri Nichushkin signing was a bust. There have been a few minor tweaks since then, but nothing too inspiring yet. Over the second half of the season, could Jim Nill be fighting for his job?

Miro Heiskanen

In an otherwise forgettable first half (at least a first half the Stars would like to forget) we'll remember the play of the 19-year-old rookie as exceptional. The Stars were bullish about drafting the Finn at No. 3 in 2017 -- ahead of Elias Pettersson -- and you can understand the justification.

Valeri Nichushkin

The Stars lured their 2013 first-round pick (No. 10 overall) back from the KHL with a two-year, $5.9 million deal. Nichushkin was supposed to add a scoring punch on the second line. He has yet to record a goal in 37 games. It has been a bust so far.

B-

The Stars have been a blob of inconsistency, and off-ice drama could have derailed the season. And yet, they're in playoff position. That's a sure sign of resiliency, though there is plenty of room for improvements.



95.5

90

B-

The Wild rank 24th in the league in goals per game. Jason Zucker and Eric Staal have crashed back to Earth, and the first line hasn't been consistent, but the return of a healthy Zach Parise has been crucial. Charlie Coyle is showing slight improvements from his slump, despite toying with positions.

A-

Losing Matt Dumba in December hurt, but Minnesota's depth has come through, even as GM Paul Fenton picks up some bottom-pair candidates from waivers (guys he's familiar with from his Nashville days). The Wild are among the league's stingiest in terms of shots allowed per game (29.2).

B+

Devan Dubnyk is putting together a fine season, especially turning it on of late. The Wild's lone All-Star has a .913 save percentage and a 2.57 GAA -- figures that are improving. Expect him to get a heavy workload down the stretch. Alex Stalock isn't the most dependable backup.

A-

The penalty kill ranks third in the league (84.2 percent). Minnesota misses Dumba on the power play (he had 12 power-play points, 6 goals and 6 assists in his first 32 games) but has maintained in his absence, hitting at 20.9 percent, which is above league average.

B+

Putting together a successful regular season is old hat for veteran Bruce Boudreau. Getting this team over the playoff hump is the real challenge.

B-

Paul Fenton did virtually nothing to the roster he inherited for the first six months on the job. You can't fault that; the team is playoff-ready. Trading Nino Niederreiter was inevitable, and the return (at first glance) was questionable. We have a feeling he has more on the way.

Zach Parise

Parise has rebounded quite nicely, playing in his first full season since the October 2017 back surgery. In fact, the 34-year-old is arguably playing his best hockey since he was a New Jersey Devil a decade ago.

Eric Staal

Hey, we didn't expect Staal to set a franchise record for goals. We knew the 42 goals last season were the by-product of a perfect storm: right player, right situation, right time. But his regression -- in his overall play -- is not what he wants entering unrestricted free agency, through which he hopes to cash in and stay with his current club.

B-

With nearly the same roster as last season, the Wild are about where we expected them to be: sometimes streaky, but poised for a playoff run.



105.5

101

B-

The Preds haven't had a fully healthy roster for long, which makes it hard to judge. But we agree with this assessment from GM David Poile, appearing on ESPN 102.5 The Game last week: "Our first line, we're very confident that that's one of the best lines in the league. But we're not as confident in our second line, and that's because [Kyle] Turris has been out a couple of times this year, and there's been some inconsistencies with some of the other players. I feel confident on the third and fourth lines, whatever we put together."

A-

Nashville boasts one of the most talented defensive corps in the league. Despite P.K. Subban missing 19 games, this group has shown the ability to play a structured game and shut out other top units when they need to. Entering the All-Star break, they've allowed only 87 goals at 5-on-5, the fourth-best mark in the league.

A-

Pekka Rinne, unsurprisingly, looks terrific. Fresh off of signing a two-year extension, his .883 high-danger save percentage is second among all goalies with at least 1,000 minutes entering the All-Star break. Backup Juuse Saros has struggled at times, but there's no reason to fret about the 23-year-old just yet.

D

The power play has been brutal, ranking 30th in the league at the break (13.14 percent); even though the Predators have been without key pieces, we're not grading on a curve. The penalty kill is just OK, ranking 16th in the league.

A-

That the Predators still hover atop the Central Division, wading through a litany of injuries and suspension, is not just a testament to roster construction, but coaching as well. Peter Laviolette has had to juggle lines more than he has liked.

B+

Poile is in maintenance mode now. He has essentially the same roster from last season and has only had to manage call-ups due to injuries. Poile probably made the right decision waiving Anthony Bitetto, who was dispensable as an eighth defenseman. The real test comes at the trade deadline.

Ryan Johansen

The first line can compete with the best in the NHL when all three linemates are together, and so far this season, Johnasen has been the only constant (thanks to health). The No. 1 center is on pace to match his career high in points (71) and smash his previous high for assists (56).

Kevin Fiala

His underlying numbers are OK, but the production has not been there for the 22-year-old winger for whom management and fans have high hopes (just seven goals and 21 assists at 5-on-5 in 52 games). Could the impending RFA be dangled in a trade?

A-

The Predators have weathered a bevy of injuries to big-time players and still find themselves near the top of the Central. They might not win the Presidents' Trophy again this season, but once healthy, they should rack up the wins.



96.5

82

C+

Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn, Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko are all producing at lower levels than last season, with Schenn especially taking a step back. Newcomer Ryan O'Reilly has delivered for sure, but the early-season malaise especially affected the forward corps.

C-

The team's best defenseman, Alex Pietrangelo, doesn't look like himself, with more defensive lapses than usual. That sets the tone for the rest of the group, which has been middling, at best.

C+

Jordan Binnington was the No. 4 goaltender at camp and emerged as one of the team's true delights. The 25-year-old is keeping the group -- which sent Chad Johnson to waivers and has Jake Allen playing like Jake Allen -- afloat.

B-

The power play is serviceable, hitting at just below 20 percent. The penalty kill has looked terrific at times, and at other times has been quite leaky.

INC

Since Craig Berube took over, the Blues continued their struggles, then began heating up. Overall, their record with Berube is just above .500. GM Doug Armstrong gave him the nod for the rest of the season.

C-

Ryan O'Reilly? Absolute home run addition. David Perron has performed, too. But the rest of the construction feels shaky, and if Armstrong keeps it status quo, the Blues will be just that: a team left yearning for more come spring time.

Ryan O'Reilly

Not only does O'Reilly, the big summer acquisition, lead the Blues in goals, but he has 15 more points than the next closest St. Louis player. He's a leader setting the tone. He just needs everyone else to follow.

Doug Armstrong

Armstrong is a GM in crisis. He has threatened to make seismic moves before, but hasn't followed through, and now he has a roster that only shows up on some nights. It's noteworthy his name has already begun to circulate for other GM openings, like Edmonton or Seattle, meaning others in the league don't figure him to stay in this role very long.

C-

It was a catastrophic start for St. Louis, a team with hefty Cup aspirations. Coach Mike Yeo was the early fall man. The Blues have shaped up since then, but we fear the cuts are already too deep.



106.5

108

A-

The second line has had its woes; things might have turned out differently if Paul Stastny stayed instead of choosing Vegas. As long as the team is committed to keeping Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele together, the top line will be among the league's elite.

B-

Dustin Byfuglien was beginning to put together a Norris Trophy campaign before his lower-body injury on Dec. 29 (he has not played since). The Jets are giving up more quality scoring chances (and goals) than they did last season.

B

It has been a step back for Connor Hellebuyck, a breakout star of the 2017-18 season. It has been a giant leap ahead for Laurent Brossoit, a relatively unknown free-agent signing who emerged as one of the league's best backups.

B+

The power play can look dynamite at times (and ranks fourth in the league overall), though it had a pedestrian go from Jan. 1 until the All-Star break, hitting on just 17.2 percent of opportunities. The penalty kill appears decent enough.

A-

The Jets' Cup window is wide open. Some of the best players are still on entry-level contracts, the backup goalie turned out to be a diamond in the rough, Scheifele's contract has been exposed as the league's biggest bargain and Wheeler is affordable too -- until his cap hit increases by nearly $3 million next season. Securing a second-line center remains a goal, but overall, this has been solid roster management from Kevin Cheveldayoff & Co.

B+

Paul Maurice still has to figure out how to get the second line clicking, but he might get some help after the trade deadline. His biggest challenge is getting the offense to strike like it did in December, without sacrificing defensive structure.

Mark Scheifele

Scheifele plays hard in all situations (and more than a minute more per game than any other Winnipeg forward) and is on pace for more than 100 points. What more could you want from your No. 1 center?

Jack Roslovic

The 21-year-old is finally getting an expanded role -- he's averaging nearly 14 minutes per game since Jan. 6 -- but he's still not producing, with only two goals on the season and none since Dec. 2.

A

The Jets entered the season with weighty expectations thanks to last season's results. And they don't seem fazed by any of it. What's more, it feels like they haven't even hit full stride yet.



94.5

82

D

A mushy soufflé of injuries, disappointments and underwhelming returns, the Ducks' forward corps has exactly two players whose points-per-game average is higher this season than in the entirety of last season: Ondrej Kase, who appeared in 30 games before a torn labrum ended his season, and Nick Ritchie, who didn't come to terms on a new contract until Oct. 17. Corey Perry has missed the season. Ryan Getzlaf is the only player with more than 30 points through 51 games. Their younger players weren't ready for prime time.

C+

Not nearly as disappointing as the forwards, but a mixed bag. Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Montour have been solid, both on the positive side of goals-for percentage at 5-on-5. Cam Fowler (limited to 28 games) and Josh Manson have had down years. Not a single defenseman is positive in possession metrics at 5-on-5 with more than 20 games played, and the Ducks surrender 34.1 shots per game. Which is why ...

A

John Gibson's back might finally be breaking after carrying the Ducks for months. But he still has a .619 quality starts percentage and 15.40 goals saved above average in 43 games.

C

The Ducks' power play is ranked No. 28 (14.5 percent), and their penalty kill is ranked No. 13 (80.7). That's down from last season, but for Anaheim, what isn't?

C-

The Ducks have some of the least impressive numbers in the NHL this season, measured by either traditional or advanced stats. Yet while other coaches have been kicked off a cliff by middling teams, GM Bob Murray has stayed loyal to his friend, coach Randy Carlyle.

B-

Murray's grade is bolstered by some shrewd signings -- Kase at $2.6 million with RFA status is just great -- but otherwise he has been moving the deck chairs and protecting a coach who probably has earned a pink slip.

John Gibson

He has contributed over nine points to the Ducks' total on his own. He's an MVP candidate for most of the season for dragging what's left of the Ducks to playoff contention.

Josh Manson

What on earth happened here? A minus-152 in shot attempts and a minus-8.08 in expected goals in 5-on-5 over 46 games. He started 2019 with zero points in 10 games. All of these are way off his career averages.

C

Honestly, we'd love to grade this Ducks team harsher, but the fact remains that in the wacky West, they're still on the wild-card bubble. Gibson carries them to an average mark.



81.5

82

C-

Sigh. It wouldn't be the Coyotes if we weren't talking about what might have been, either due to injury (free-agent signing Michael Grabner, trade pickup Nick Schmaltz and promising Christian Dvorak) or underwhelming results (whither Derek Stepan?). Alex Galchenyuk is actually on the same pace he was with Montreal last season; it's just tough to laud that when Max Domi has 44 points in 51 games for the Habs.

B-

More injury fun, as Kevin Connauton and Jakob Chychrun missed time and Jason Demers could miss the season. But Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson have been fantastic this season. Hjalmarsson has a 52.25 scoring-chances-for percentage, best on the team. He's a rock defensively, as evidenced by starting just 34 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, and the kind of defensive defenseman any team would covet (like, say, Chicago ... ouch).

B+

This almost seems like it should be an incomplete considering that, yet again, an injury to Antti Raanta dramatically altered the Coyotes' season. But Darcy Kuemper (5.07 goals saved above average) has been strong, and Adin Hill has had his moments. Bottom line: The Coyotes are ninth in goals-against average, with 2.82.

B+

The Coyotes have the 19th-best power play (18.2 percent) and the best penalty kill (86.9 percent) in the NHL.

B

Do we blame Rick Tocchet for a team with an 8.5 shooting percentage? We'd rather praise him for keeping the Coyotes in playoff contention despite all of these injuries and an 8.5 shooting percentage.

C+

John Chayka is always going to be cut some slack because of the Coyotes' challenges: monetarily, and that lingering arena mystery. There is also a lot to praise in his moves, including getting Ekman-Larsson locked in an eight-year extension, and a lot to excuse due to injuries. But at some point, the general manager's grade has to reflect his team's ability to make the playoffs, which they haven't since 2012.

Clayton Keller

Keller leads the team with 35 points in 50 games, a lone offensive high spot for a team that ranks 28th in goals scored this season.

Josh Archibald

Archibald is a depth forward. He's also a team-worst minus-114 in shot attempts at 5-on-5 and a minus-4.49 in expected goals plus/minus. But he has had other things on his mind.

B-

Despite all of these offensive deficiencies and massive injuries, the Coyotes remain very much in the wild-card race.



93.5

114

A

Johnny Gaudreau is making a strong bid for the Hart Trophy, with 73 points in his first 51 games, good for a 1.43 points-per-game average. But he's one of four Calgary forwards with better than a point-per-game average: Sean Monahan (1.20), Elias Lindholm (1.14) and Matthew Tkachuk (1.12) are the others. The Flames have contributors throughout their lineup, but the top line and that partnership between Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund are something special.

A-

Could they use some help on their bottom pairing? Sure. But the top pairings of Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie, as well as Noah Hanifin and Travis Hamonic, are among the best in the NHL. Giordano and Brodie have a plus-14 goal differential.

B+

"Big Save" David Rittich saved the Flames' season. He has a quality starts percentage of .704 in 30 games, with a stellar 8.29 goals saved above average. Mike Smith, in contrast, has a goals saved above average of minus-12.40. Yikes.

B

The Flames are eighth on the power play, with a 23.6 percent conversion rate. They're 21st on the penalty kill, with a 79.0 percent rate.

A-

While Bill Peters has been the beneficiary of some great goaltending from Rittich, he has also sprinkled something on this roster to make it the second-best offensive team in hockey, with a 3.73 goals-for average.

A-

Outside of one misstep (see below), Brad Treliving has constructed a team with championship potential. Peters has been a great fit as coach. He found Rittich. The Dougie Hamilton trade has, in the short term, worked well for Calgary, with Elias Lindholm fitting about as perfectly onto this team as Treliving could have imagined. Best of all? He has so many major pieces on this team locked in through 2022.

Mark Giordano

Giordano is the current favorite for the Norris Trophy. He's second in points (52 in 41 games) and playing outstanding defense, to the tune of a plus-168 in shot attempts. It's time he graduated into the upper tier of NHL defensemen, because he has been building that case for years.

James Neal

With five goals in 49 games and a contract that runs through 2023, Neal remains one of the biggest free-agent flops of the past year.

A

The Flames' journey to the top of the Pacific Division might be unexpected, but it's completely legitimate ... as long as Rittich doesn't turn into a pumpkin. Their offense is good enough that they can hang with anyone.



89.5

80

C

Like everything else in Edmonton he's trying to drag to success by himself, Connor McDavid raises this grade from the failure chasm. His 73 points in 49 games put him on pace for a career-best 1.49 points per game. Leon Draisaitl has 61 points in 50 games, which is outstanding; the caveat being that he has not become the Malkin to McDavid's Crosby, as his metrics take a noticeable dip without McDavid on his line. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has 46 points in 50 games and is finally getting the recognition for his 200-foot game in that "Hey, maybe don't trade this great young forward, too" kind of way. But outside of Alex Chiasson's remarkable 17 goals, there are more busts than booms up front. Milan Lucic is still getting $6 million per season for 12 points (thus far). Jesse Puljujarvi is still gestating into a consistent NHL player.

D

Injuries have played a role here, as the Oilers miss Andrej Sekera's competence and really missed Oscar Klefbom's everything during a recent spiral in the standings. The metrics aren't kind to the Oilers who have played this season: While Darnell Nurse has 24 points in 50 games, his expected goals plus/minus at 5-on-5 is a brutal minus-10.44, for example. Adam Larsson has been ordinary, recently fired GM Peter Chiarelli's scrambling acquisitions have underwhelmed and it remains one of the great mysteries of life how Edmonton shipped out so many assets in the past three years without securing a single top-tier, puck-moving defenseman.

C-

Mikko Koskinen has been adequate at best, with a .910 save percentage, and in Edmonton, "adequate" gets you a contract extension. Cam Talbot declined for a second straight season, down to a .894 save percentage in 27 games. Overall, this might be the first documented instance of Ken Hitchcock being unable to inflate the numbers of the goalies on a team he's trying to rescue.

C+

The Oilers are 11th on the power play at 21.1 percent and 24th on the kill at 77.3 percent. McDavid ranks ninth in power-play points with 23 in 49 games.

INC

We can't in good faith give a letter grade to either Todd McLellan (9-10-1) or Ken Hitchcock (14-14-2) given their bodies of work, so we'll just say that the former wasn't nearly as bad as indicated and the latter is cooking the best meal he can with the few gourmet ingredients he has in the cupboard.

F

We do, however, have enough of a body of work this season to flunk Chiarelli, who was a rare in-season general manager firing for the Oilers. Even putting aside the slapdash and archaic manner in which he constructed this team, his moves during the season were like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as it rested at the bottom of the ocean off Newfoundland. And no partial credit for Hitchcock agreeing to work with his old Team Canada cronies.

Connor McDavid

It's getting to the point where we need to call Seal Team 6 to extract McDavid from this franchise. Failing that, maybe the Oilers steal a wild-card spot so McDavid can win the Hart Trophy.

Tobias Rieder

Rieder was brought on to bring speedy offense and to kill penalties. He hasn't scored a goal in 36 games, and the penalty kill hasn't exactly been bolstered by the presence of this pending RFA. Another Chiarelli classic.

C-

Again, it's hard to really throw the Oilers into detention when there's still a chance they can make the playoffs. It just feels like they're a smoldering dumpster fire of mismanagement that has surrounded the best player in the world with mediocrity.



92.5

72

D

What a difference a year makes. Anze Kopitar went from his best offensive season to his worst (0.69 points per game). Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Adrian Kempe have all underwhelmed, while Dustin Brown and Alex Iafallo at least hit their marks in point production. Ilya Kovalchuk has 22 points in 40 games but has arguably been their worst forward defensively. The Kings' 2.26 goals per game is the worst in the NHL.

C

The Kings' woeful season even dragged the reliable Drew Doughty down, as he's posting the worst possession numbers of his career thanks mostly to Derek Forbort's bad season. Alec Martinez and the since-traded Jake Muzzin had a steady pairing. Dion Phaneuf has a minus-13 in goal differential in 43 games.

C+

It hasn't gotten the spotlight, but the Kings' goaltending has been the best thing about a bad team. Jonathan Quick was limited to 24 games due to injury and has mustered a .904 save percentage with a .542 quality start percentage on a last-place team. Jack Campbell had a .931 save percentage in his 17 games. Even rookie Cal Petersen had a strong run in December.

D

The Kings have the 26th-worst power play (15.3) and the 30th-worst penalty kill (74.3) in the league.

D+

John Stevens got a raw deal, getting fired after 13 games in a panicky move by the Kings. Interim coach Willie Desjardins wasn't able to squeeze much out of this group and has made some baffling decisions during what should be his lone season behind the Kings bench.

C-

Rob Blake fired Stevens too early and helped build a team that's clearly out of sync with where the NHL is in 2019. But the return for Jake Muzzin was strong, and there's still a chance to bring this grade up higher with a few more deadline deals like that.

Alex Iafallo

Iafallo is one of the few Kings to improve offensively year-over-year and has been the best player on the ice many times this season -- which is good, as he's 25 and it's nice for this team to have some hope for the future.

Tyler Toffoli

What happened to Tyler Toffoli? He's on track for his worst goal and point production season. He's an unrestricted free agent in 2020, and one wonders if he hasn't played himself out of the Kings' plans.

F

The worst team in the NHL this season and, without much debate, the most disappointing.



101.5

103

A-

The emergence of Timo Meier, who leads the Sharks in primary points per 60 minutes (at 5-on-5), has bolstered what was already a potent group. Joe Pavelski (27 goals), Tomas Hertl (22), Evander Kane (21) and Logan Couture (19) have all had strong offensive campaigns. Joonas Donskoi has chipped in. And Joe Thornton keeps chugging along, with 25 points in 43 games. The Sharks go three lines deep and aren't overly reliant on any combination to carry them.

B+

When you look at their average ice times, there's a chance that Brent Burns and/or Erik Karlsson will be on the ice for the Sharks for over three-quarters of the game, which is an advantage few teams enjoy. Burns leads the team with 55 points. Karlsson has been Karlsson since a first-month adjustment period. But the defense's grade gets dragged down a bit by the inexplicable dud season for Marc-Edouard Vlasic, whose pairing with Justin Braun yielded some stunningly bad results until Vlasic's injury in early January. One wonders if a Vlasic/Karlsson duo is what's best for the Sharks (which would pair Braun with Brenden Dillon).

C-

Not great, Bob. Martin Jones (.895) and Aaron Dell (.891) have both been underwhelming, with Jones sporting an elephantine minus-13.75 goals saved above average -- by far the Achilles heel of this otherwise championship-caliber group.

B+

The Sharks have the No. 9 power play in the NHL at a 24.7 percent conversion rate, as one might expect with Burns and Karlsson back there. They're 10th on the penalty kill (81.3 percent).

A-

Peter DeBoer's team is blessed with star talent, but he has also shown he knows how to juggle this roster and manage a veteran team.

A-

Doug Wilson has put nearly all the pieces in place for a run at the Stanley Cup. And then the Sharks can worry about the fallout from some of these bold moves, including the future of Erik Karlsson.

Joe Pavelski

Pavelski is on the best goal-scoring pace of his career, with 27 in 52 games. And hey, would you look at that, his contract is up this summer. What a coincidence.

Martin Jones

His numbers have fallen off a cliff while the rest of the team around him has improved. He had a nice stretch of games in January before giving up 17 in three games.

A-

The Sharks are keeping pace with the Flames for the lead in the Pacific Division. This grade would be bumped up if the goaltending was where it should have been this season.



77.5

84

B+

The arrival of Elias Pettersson was a game-changer in every way for Vancouver: a top scorer, a top-six center and a player who can anchor a second scoring line in support of the reliable fireworks of Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat. The rest of the lineup has had players who have chipped in (Jake Virtanen, Nikolay Goldobin, Loui Eriksson and Antoine Roussel) here and there. Bottom line: a tough group to play against, with one absolute star player.

B

Chris Tanev and Alexander Edler have been a stabilizing force for an inconsistent group, and by that we mean Ben Hutton and Erik Gudbranson have a minus-18 goal differential and a minus-155 in shot attempts together. Derrick Pouliot and Troy Stecher have played above expectations at times.

C+

Jacob Markstrom is giving the Canucks about what they expect from him, which is a .622 quality-starts percentage and 10-game stretches in which he's exceptional. Anders Nilsson didn't really work out as a backup. It'll be interesting to see how much action goalie of the future Thatcher Demko gets down the stretch, as that'll really affect their final grade.

C

The Canucks' special teams have been in the bottom third of the league, with a power play at No. 21 (16.8) and a penalty kill at No. 20 (79.2).

A-

Travis Green has made the Canucks the kind of team opponents hate to play against.

B+

Jim Benning continues to make small moves that matter, whether it's bringing in a veteran like Roussel or rescuing Josh Leivo or collecting future assets in sell-offs. It'll be interesting to see what happens with Edler, a pending UFA.

Elias Pettersson

Pettersson is averaging 3.02 primary points per 60 minutes at 5-on-5, which is just extraordinary. He basically won the Calder Trophy by November.

Erik Gudbranson

I'll never quite understand how Gudbranson, an underwhelming defender and a perennial black hole for possession, got a three-year extension last February, but here we are.

B

Pettersson has shifted the trajectory of this franchise in a post-Sedin twins world, and the vibe he has brought to the roster has lifted the Canucks into their role as an unexpected wild-card contender -- warts and all.



101.5

98

B+

The magic of the Jonathan Marchessault (35 points) line last season has faded to the point where he, Reilly Smith (27 points) and William Karlsson (32 points, with 16 goals) have been moved around the lineup a bit. (Their line has been together for over 500 minutes, for a disappointing 44.74 goals-for percentage.) But when they're healthy, this is a strong group for Vegas. Max Pacioretty has 15 goals, and Paul Stastny has 18 points in 22 games. Alex Tuch is having a breakout season, with 40 points to lead the team. And their checking-line duo of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Ryan Reaves is a pain to play against.

B+

Deryk Engelland and Shea Theodore have been strong together, with a plus-123 in shot attempts. Nate Schmidt and Brayden McNabb have been solid offensively, while Colin Miller, Nick Holden and Jon Merrill have had their moments. Overall, the group still lacks one defenseman to tie it all together. You know, that Erik Karlsson type ...

A-

Marc-Andre Fleury was recently voted as a midseason Vezina Trophy finalist by the PHWA, which is as reputation-based a vote as you'll find. It's not that he has been bad; with a .911 save percentage and a 3.67 goals saved above average, Fleury has been the Knights' best player during rough stretches. But this isn't the same dominance we saw in the inaugural year of the franchise. Malcolm Subban is 2-5-0 as a backup, while Fleury has played 45 games.

B-

The Knights are a disappointing 20th on the power play (17.9), but they're fourth on the penalty kill (83.8).

A-

As he did last season in winning the Jack Adams, coach Gerard Gallant helped lead Vegas through some rough injury patches and into playoff contention.

B+

George McPhee's aggressive acquisitions of Pacioretty and Stansty are finally paying off now that they're healthy. The depth on this team he built is considerable, but there are still flaws: Losing Schmidt for that PED suspension at the start of the season showed there's a lack of quality puck-movers on his blue line.

Alex Tuch

Tuch has already surpassed his previous career highs in goals and assists, with 16 tallies and 24 helpers through just 44 games.

Cody Eakin

No one on the team should be worried about flunking out at this point, but Eakin hasn't had the season at even strength that his numbers (13 goals and 13 assists) might indicate. He's only a plus-2 in shot attempts on a team that's a possession monster otherwise.

B+

Still a very dangerous contender, with a goaltender who keeps the team competitive nearly every night -- as in, he basically plays every night.
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