As we approach American Thanksgiving weekend — and a triple-header of matchups on ABC, ESPN+ and Hulu — we’ve also traversed another week of the 2021-22 NHL schedule. And for the second straight week, we’ve got a new No. 1 team atop the ESPN NHL Power Rankings.
Moreover, now that teams are at or near the 20-game mark, it’s time to identify the player on each club who has broken out this season — keeping in mind that veterans are allowed to break out too!
How we rank: A panel of ESPN hockey commentators, analysts, reporters and editors rates teams against one another — taking into account game results, injuries and upcoming schedule — and those results are tabulated to produce the list featured here.
Note: Previous ranking for each team refers to last week’s rankings, published on Nov. 17. Points percentages are through Tuesday’s games.
Previous ranking: 2
Points percentage: 0.853
Upcoming schedule: @ SEA (Nov. 24), @ PHI (Nov. 26), vs. WSH (Nov. 28)
Seth Jarvis. Goodbye, Portland Winterhawks. Hello, NHL. The rookie Jarvis has been everything Carolina hoped for when it recalled him from the WHL this month. Jarvis collected four goals and five points in his first nine games, becoming the fourth freshman in franchise history to record goals in three or more consecutive games. After that, how could the Hurricanes not keep Jarvis past nine games, even if it means burning a year off his entry-level contract?
Previous ranking: 7
Points percentage: 0.725
Upcoming schedule: vs. WPG (Nov. 27), vs. PIT (Nov. 29)
Andrew Mangiapane. In the past, you could count on Mangiapane as your setup man. Lately, he’s a goal-scoring machine. Mangiapane’s previous career high in goals was 18 in 56 games last season; through 19 games this season, he had already scored 15 (with 14 coming on the road). The last Flames player with that kind of output was Jarome Iginla, putting Mangiapane in good company — and firmly on the league’s radar.
Previous ranking: 1
Points percentage: 0.722
Upcoming schedule: @ ARI (Nov. 24), @ VGK (Nov. 27)
Jesse Puljujarvi. If Puljujarvi can keep this up, he’ll crush every previous high of his career. The Oilers’ winger had 14 points in his first 17 games, and become an integral part of Edmonton’s top six. It’s no secret Puljujarvi has had his struggles, but this is when patience seems to be paying off. Now that the Finn is using his size and speed to advantage he can be the impact player Edmonton wanted when they used the No. 4 pick on him in 2016.
Previous ranking: 3
Points percentage: 0.806
Upcoming schedule: vs. PHI (Nov. 24), @ WSH (Nov. 26), vs. SEA (Nov. 27), vs. WSH (Nov. 30)
Owen Tippett. Lost somewhere in the Panthers’ flashy start has been the rise of Tippett. He has played a consistent role in Florida’s lineup, whether on the second line with Jonathan Huberdeau or now clicking with Frank Vatrano and Joe Thornton. Tippett’s confidence has kept building along the way, complete with solid scoring streaks that added up to four goals and 10 points in 18 games. He just keeps getting better.
Previous ranking: 10
Points percentage: 0.675
Upcoming schedule: @ LA (Nov. 24), @ SJ (Nov. 26), @ ANA (Nov. 28)
David Kampf. Kampf was not a sexy offseason signing. But it looks now like he was Toronto’s best addition, and he has emerged in a big way. Having Kampf at center gives the Leafs a real shutdown third line, and his chemistry with Ondrej Kase is outstanding. Kampf has already tripled his goal total from last season (1) in 20 games, too, proving there’s more to his game than just holding opponents at bay.
Previous ranking: 5
Points percentage: 0.711
Upcoming schedule: vs. MTL (Nov. 24), vs. FLA (Nov. 26), @ CAR (Nov. 28), @ FLA (Nov. 30)
Ilya Samsonov. Sure, it’s Alex Ovechkin stealing most of the Capitals’ headlines, but someone’s got to stop the puck for them too. Samsonov has done that well. It took some time for the Russian goaltender to get rolling, with a couple shaky losses puncturing his early-season stats. But Samsonov has really settled in, recently posting 56 saves in back-to-back shutouts over Los Angeles and San Jose. He looks poised to keep climbing.
Previous ranking: 13
Points percentage: 0.694
Upcoming schedule: @ NYI (Nov. 24), @ BOS (Nov. 26), vs. NYI (Nov. 28)
Ryan Lindgren. There are arguments for a few breakout candidates in New York, namely Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko. But Lindgren has been doing a lot for the Blueshirts’ back end. Lindgren plays a smart game, knows where to put himself in each zone, and makes the simple play to gets pucks in the right hands. This season, Lindgren is also capitalizing himself. He scored his second goal of the season with 0.7 seconds left against Buffalo, not only forcing overtime but besting his career high in goals from any season of his six-year career. And that’s only in 18 games.
Previous ranking: 9
Points percentage: 0.639
Upcoming schedule: @ NJ (Nov. 24), vs. WPG (Nov. 26), vs. TB (Nov. 28), vs. ARI (Nov. 30)
Ryan Hartman. When Hartman joined the Wild in 2019, it was his fourth team in four years. No wonder it took a while to break out like this again. Hartman now leads the Wild in goals through 18 games with nine — matching his total from all of last season — and is second in points (13). But more than that, Hartman seems to finally have found his role in Minnesota’s lineup. That has made all the difference to his confidence.
Previous ranking: 6
Points percentage: 0.694
Upcoming schedule: vs. SEA (Nov. 26), @ MIN (Nov. 28), @ STL (Nov. 30)
Mathieu Joseph. If there’s a silver lining to Tampa’s spate of injuries this season, perhaps it’s the emergence of Joseph. After Nikita Kucherov went down early, Joseph ascended the lineup and has played over 15 minutes per game while amassing three goals and seven points in his past 13 games. Plus, he has been a stalwart on the penalty kill. Now that Brayden Point is out too, the Lightning will need even more from guys such as Joseph. Let the breakthrough continue.
Previous ranking: 14
Points percentage: 0.633
Upcoming schedule: vs. ANA (Nov. 24), @ DAL (Nov. 26), vs. NSH (Nov. 27)
Nazem Kadri. Breakout seasons aren’t only for young players! Just ask Kadri, a 10-year NHL veteran amid his own resurgence in 2021-22. Colorado has had myriad issues with COVID-19 and injury-related absences, and Kadri has filled the void. He’s one of only five skaters to appear in all 15 games this season, and he leads the Avalanche with 23 points (for reference, Kadri had 32 points all last season). The run he’s on now has been especially hot, including five goals and 14 points during a nine-game point streak.
Previous ranking: 20
Points percentage: 0.611
Upcoming schedule: @ CBJ (Nov. 24), @ MIN (Nov. 26), @ CGY (Nov. 27), vs. ARI (Nov. 29)
Pierre-Luc Dubois. Pretend last season didn’t happen. Surely Dubois has tried. The forward stormed into this season with a purpose, surpassing his goal total (8) through 41 games last season with 10 goals in 18 games so far. Dubois has been showing off the high skill and defensive detail the Jets wanted when they acquired him in January. Now Dubois is having every bit the breakout season he — and Winnipeg — really needs.
Previous ranking: 8
Points percentage: 0.605
Upcoming schedule: @ COL (Nov. 24), vs. OTT (Nov. 26), vs. TOR (Nov. 28), @ LA (Nov. 30)
Trevor Zegras. You already know about Troy Terry. And Ryan Getzlaf. It’s time to talk some about Zegras. In a crowded field of high-flying newcomers, Zegras’ solid campaign isn’t getting as much love. But Zegras has been a catalyst in the Ducks’ flight up the Pacific standings. He’s tied for second on the team in goals (6), and nine of his 11 points have come at even strength. The 20-year-old is also fresh from recording the first back-to-back multigoal games of his career. Zegras plays with so much confidence, even Terry admits he’s jealous.
Previous ranking: 4
Points percentage: 0.6111
Upcoming schedule: @ DET (Nov. 24), @ CHI (Nov. 26), vs. CBJ (Nov. 27), vs. TB (Nov. 30)
Jordan Kyrou. Like the rest of the Blues, Kyrou came out hot this season. And while St. Louis has been skidding (4-5-1 in their past 10), Kyrou’s emergence has continued. He leads the Blues in goals (8) and points (18) this season, and he recently pulled off a six-game point streak. That type of consistently has been woefully missing in St. Louis of late, making Kyrou’s continued emergence even more important.
Previous ranking: 21
Points percentage: 0.625
Upcoming schedule: vs. WPG (Nov. 24), vs. VAN (Nov. 26), @ STL (Nov. 27), @ NSH (Nov. 30)
Vladislav Gavrikov. There wasn’t much to write home about regarding Gavrikov last season. This season, you’d have some material. The defenseman is a steady, stay-at-home presence Columbus can rely on all over the ice while he maintains good overall numbers; he’s on the positive side of 50% in both Corsi for percentage and expected goals for percentage. Gavrikov is also pitching in offensively, matching his goal total from last season (2) along with seven assists, while eating up over 21 minutes per game for the Blue Jackets.
Previous ranking: 11
Points percentage: 0.600
Upcoming schedule: @ BUF (Nov. 24), vs. NYR (Nov. 26), vs. VAN (Nov. 28), vs. DET (Nov. 30)
Jeremy Swayman. Yes, Swayman is coming off one of his worst performances this season. But that 4-0 loss to Calgary snapped an eight-game winning streak at home for Swayman, and it does not totally undo all the good he has done for Boston in a tough campaign for the club. Prior to getting burned by the Flames, Swayman had won four straight, and he’s 5-3-0 on the season with a .908 save percentage and 2.39 goals-against average. The Bruins’ top players have been streaky this season, and it’s only underscoring the need for Swayman to continue bringing the heat.
Previous ranking: 18
Points percentage: 0.559
Upcoming schedule: @ FLA (Nov. 24), vs. CAR (Nov. 26), @ NJ (Nov. 28), vs. NYI (Nov. 30)
Carter Hart. Hart is back, and he’s bringing consistency to the Flyers’ net. Philadelphia is near the bottom of the league in scoring (only 43 goals tallied all season), and Hart has done an admirable job of keeping pucks out at the other end. He’s in the top 10 in save percentage (.928) among goalies with at least 10 starts, and he has a respectable 2.39 goals-against average. If the Flyers ever find their way offensively, Hart’s play will earn even more attention.
Previous ranking: 19
Points percentage: 0.583
Upcoming schedule: vs. VGK (Nov. 24), vs. NJ (Nov. 26), @ COL (Nov. 27), vs. CBJ (Nov. 30)
Tanner Jeannot. Another team, another standout rookie. Jeannot isn’t your typical first-year player, what with leading the Predators in penalty minutes and generally asserting himself as a tough-guy power forward. But he can score too, sitting among the top five on the team with five goals and nine points, while averaging over 15 minutes of ice time per game. Jeannot may not be the talk of the entire league, but he’s generating buzz in Music City.
Previous ranking: 15
Points percentage: 0.579
Upcoming schedule: @ NSH (Nov. 24), vs. EDM (Nov. 27)
Chandler Stephenson. Stephenson lost both his linemates in week one. But the absence of Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone only seemed to help Stephenson spread his wings. He tallied nine points in his first eight games away from his usual linemates, and he now leads Vegas with 17 points. It’s still early, but Stephenson hasn’t been on pace for that kind of production in seasons past. There’s no doubt his consistency and leadership have been integral to the Golden Knights overcoming their tough start.
Previous ranking: 23
Points percentage: 0.594
Upcoming schedule: vs. MIN (Mov. 24), @ NSH (Nov. 26), vs. PHI (Nov. 28), vs. SJ (Nov. 30)
Dawson Mercer. No Jack Hughes? No problem. Dawson Mercer is having a moment. The Devils rookie has stormed onto the scene (and through quite a few defenses) to become New Jersey’s most electrifying player. His 12 points in 16 games is tied for most on the team, he is second in goals with six and he has registered at least one point in five of his past six games. Mercer has playmaking skills too, with good speed and awareness on the ice.
Previous ranking: 22
Points percentage: 0.556
Upcoming schedule: vs. VAN (Nov. 24), @ NYI (Nov. 26), vs. MTL (Nov. 27), @ CGY (Nov. 29)
Evan Rodrigues. It’s been a while since Rodrigues had this good of a season. Thanks to Pittsburgh’s injuries and illnesses, Rodrigues is playing a role like he had years ago with Buffalo. Even then, Rodrigues topped out at nine goals in 79 games. This season, he is tied for second on the Penguins in goals (6) and is second in points (13), and he has been able to make an impact while playing anywhere in the lineup.
Previous ranking: 16
Points percentage: 0.528
Upcoming schedule: vs. OTT (Nov. 24), vs. TOR (Nov. 26), @ CHI (Nov. 28), @ NJ (Nov. 30)
Jonathan Dahlen. It’s a shame that Dahlen was hurt in last week’s game against Washington, hitting the brakes on a breakout rookie campaign. The 23-year-old has earned more ice time as the season has gone along, playing all the way up onto the Sharks’ top line. Dahlen has been consistently productive in scoring seven goals and nine points through 16 games, and he is deserving of some credit for helping the Sharks weather their own string of COVID-19 issues this season.
Previous ranking: 12
Points percentage: 0.528
Upcoming schedule: vs. TOR (Nov. 24), vs. OTT (Nov. 27), vs. ANA (Nov. 30)
Alexander Edler. When you lose a Norris Trophy-winning defenseman like Drew Doughty early on, it can set a bad tone. The veteran Edler has stepped up to keep that from happening. He is a calming salve on the Kings’ blue line, offering steadiness and consistency as L.A. has navigated its challenges. Edler also has had a role to play in the Kings’ staying stingy, as they currently sit in the league’s top 10 in both goals against and shots against.
Previous ranking: 24
Points percentage: 0.529
Upcoming schedule: vs. COL (Nov. 26), @ ARI (Nov. 27), vs. CAR (Nov. 30)
Miro Heiskanen. Through the Stars’ plodding start, Heiskanen has been a beacon of consistency. The defenseman does it all for Dallas, drawing the toughest matchups while leading the squad in ice time (nearly 25 minutes per game), points (14) and assists (11) . It speaks to Heiskanen’s emergence as one for the NHL’s preeminent offensive defenseman, able to balance heavy responsibilities at both ends of the ice.
Previous ranking: 26
Points percentage: 0.475
Upcoming schedule: vs. STL (Nov. 24), vs. BUF (Nov. 27), @ BOS (Nov. 30)
Lucas Raymond. No disrespect to rookie Moritz Seider‘s similarly excellent breakthrough season here, but fellow freshman Raymond is really turning things up. The 19-year-old continually seems to improve, especially in how he can drive play. It’s no wonder Raymond is not only the NHL’s top rookie scorer but has passed Tyler Bertuzzi for the Red Wings’ lead in points (19). Raymond also has seven goals. The Red Wings have an exciting young talent on their hands.
Previous ranking: 17
Points percentage: 0.400
Upcoming schedule: vs. NYR (Nov. 24), vs. PIT (Nov. 26), @ NYR (Nov. 28), @ PHI (Nov. 30)
Brock Nelson. Nelson earns the distinction here mostly for being the only Islander who can still find the back of the net. He is pacing New York with nine goals and 11 points, but he suffered a lower-body injury on Sunday that puts his status in question. Look, it’s been a rough start for New York. Playing the first 13 games on the road will do that. Nelson — and goaltender Ilya Sorokin — have been at the forefront of holding these Islanders afloat. Even if this isn’t a textbook “breakout” season for Nelson, his early performance could ultimately prove critical to the Islanders’ turning their season around.
Previous ranking: 25
Points percentage: 0.444
Upcoming schedule: vs. BOS (Nov. 24), vs. MTL (Nov. 26), @ DET (Nov. 27), vs. SEA (Nov. 29)
Tage Thompson. It’s been one of those kind of seasons for the Sabres already, but only 18 games have passed. In that span, Thompson has busted out. He leads Buffalo in goals (8) and points (13) while pacing all forwards in ice time (almost 18 minutes per game). That in itself is a breakthrough, but Thompson also has done it all while moving from the wing to play center — on the Sabres’ top line, no less.
Previous ranking: 31
Points percentage: 0.368
Upcoming schedule: vs. STL (Nov. 26), vs. SJ (Nov. 28)
Brandon Hagel. Hagel has more game-winning goals (1) for the Blackhawks in their first 18 games this season than Jonathan Toews or Seth Jones. That’s got to mean something! For these purposes, anyway. Hagel has been a versatile piece for Chicago in a roller-coaster season. He gives them 16 minutes of ice time per game and has scored six goals and eight points, all at even strength. Hagel is a bright spot.
Previous ranking: 27
Points percentage: 0.368
Upcoming schedule: @ PIT (Nov. 24), @ CBJ (Nov. 26), @ BOS (Nov. 28), @ MTL (Nov. 29)
Nils Hoglander. Few things have broken the storm clouds around Vancouver. Nils Hoglander has had his moments. In his second pro season, Hoglander has nine points in 19 games and is one of the few Canucks who is crafty and creative enough to make life tough on a goaltender (even when the puck doesn’t go in). Will Hoglander surpass the 27 points he accrued in 56 games a season ago? It would help Vancouver immensely if he could pick up the pace even more.
Previous ranking: 29
Points percentage: 0.306
Upcoming schedule: vs. CAR (Nov. 24), @ TB (Nov. 26), @ FLA (Nov. 27), @ BUF (Nov. 29)
Brandon Tanev. Sure, Tanev already has matched his goal total from last season (7) in 18 games with the Kraken. But that’s not the only reason he is having a breakout campaign. Seattle fans absolutely love him too. Tanev is quirky and unabashedly himself, exactly the sort of character a new franchise can rally around. Despite how the Golden Knights made it look, being an expansion club isn’t easy. Players like Tanev make the growing process a little more fun.
Previous ranking: 30
Points percentage: 0.300
Upcoming schedule: @ WSH (Nov. 24), @ BUF (Nov. 26), @ PIT (Nov. 27), vs. VAN (Nov. 29)
Ryan Poehling. Consider this a vote of confidence on future returns, for a potential breakout to come. Poehling hurdled himself onto the scene two years ago with a three-goal NHL debut, and he’s back to try to get something going now for the beleaguered Canadiens. In six games since being recalled from the AHL, Poehling already has three goals, including a two-goal showing against Nashville.
Previous ranking: 28
Points percentage: 0.281
Upcoming schedule: @ SJ (Nov. 24), @ ANA (Nov. 26), @ LA (Nov. 27)
Drake Batherson. Everything is slightly askew right now in Ottawa thanks to a slew of players — including Batherson — being placed in COVID-19 protocols and the cancellation of three games last week. Batherson isn’t expected back with the team immediately; but at least until the pause, he was having quite the standout season. The winger exploded for seven goals and 16 points (11 of which came at even strength) in his first 14 games, and he was playing 19 minutes per game. Until he is good to return, there’s no question Ottawa will miss Batherson.
Previous ranking: 32
Points percentage: 0.263
Upcoming schedule: vs. EDM (Nov. 24), vs. DAL (Nov. 27), @ WPG (Nov. 29), @ MIN (Nov. 30)
Lawson Crouse. Individually, Crouse could be on pace for a career year. He already has surpassed last season’s goal total with five, and he tallied 10 points in his first 19 games. The more responsibility Crouse gets, the better he seems to play, and that’s been good news for the Coyotes, who need all the help they can get.
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