Hockey fans, we finally made it to opening night. Exactly 124 days since the Vegas Golden Knights manhandled the Florida Panthers to win their first Stanley Cup, regular season National Hockey League play will resume in Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, and Las Vegas on Tuesday night. For the first time, ClutchPoints will be compiling a weekly NHL Power Rankings series, starting of course with Week 1 ahead of the 2023-24 campaign.

Can the Golden Knights go back-to-back in 2024? Will McDavid and Draisaitl be able to get Edmonton out of the West? Is this the year the Devils or Canes are playing for a Stanley Cup? And can Connor Bedard get Chicago out of the Central Division basement?

I apologize in advance if your favorite team didn't make it to the No. 1 spot. The great thing is, we have about 26 more weeks to do this. Without further ado, here are our Week 1 NHL Power Rankings.

32. San Jose Sharks

The Sharks enter our inaugural NHL Power Rankings as the No. 32 ranked team. Gone are Timo Meier and Erik Karlsson, and along with those two stars, any chance this team had of being competitive in the Western Conference this year. The Sharks escaped the league basement by two points last season, but with absolutely nothing going for them and Kaapo Kahkonen manning the crease, it's going to be a long campaign in California.

31. Philadelphia Flyers

Deep into the rebuild are the Philadelphia Flyers, who traded away Ivan Provorov this summer and maybe got the steal of the draft in Matvei Michkov at No. 7 overall. Danny Briere is doing the rebuild right, and there's optimism that this team will be competitive again very soon. But even with the return of Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson in 2023-24, this is still a very bad hockey club.

30. Chicago Blackhawks

The only thing keeping the Chicago Blackhawks out of the basement of these rankings is 18-year-old Connor Bedard. He holds the weight of a franchise that has won three Stanley Cups since 2010 on his shoulders. No pressure. Still, fans in Illinois will be mesmerized by the most-hyped NHL prospect of all time this year, and he should make going to the United Center fun this season. The rest of the team, not so much.

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29. Montreal Canadiens

Expect a bounce-back season from Cole Caufield in 2023-24 after he missed 36 games last year, and the top line of him, Nick Suzuki, and Josh Anderson will do damage. Sam Montembeault is an underrated starting goalie and could surprise. A few new additions will be fun to watch, including Alex Newhook and a full season from Kirby Dach. Still, the defense is bad, the forward depth is bad, and in a division as competitive as the Atlantic, the Habs are poised to fade away early.

28. Anaheim Ducks

I don't think the Ducks are anywhere near as weak as any of the teams below them. They have an elite goaltender in John Gibson, a young core of Trevor Zegras, Troy Terry, and Jamie Drysdale that is signed long-term, and a veteran presence with the offseason additions of the fearsome Radko Gudas and Stanley Cup champion Alex Killorn. No. 2 overall pick Leo Carlsson is also expected to contribute. Finishing last place in 2022-23 doesn't inspire confidence, but this team should improve by at least 10-15 points this season.

27. Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes are one of those teams that could fade away early or could be battling for a playoff spot right until the end. In a weaker-than-usual Central Division, there is a very small sliver of hope that this young core can improve even more next year. 70 points in 82 games is not too shabby, all things considered, and the Yotes had an excellent offseason. Add Matt Dumba, Jason Zucker, Alex Kerfoot, and Sean Durzi to a team that already boasts a superstar talent in Clayton Keller, and there could be some surprises coming out of the desert in 2023-24.

26. Nashville Predators

I debated putting the Preds even lower on this list, but I'll give the star core of Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg, and elite goaltender Juuse Saros the benefit of the doubt. Nashville nearly made the playoffs last year, but it was a mass exodus with Matt Duchene, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Johansen, Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, Tanner Jeannot, and Eeli Tolvanen all leaving in the offseason. Ryan O'Reilly and Luke Schenn absolutely cannot offset that, and I expect the Predators to be one of the worst teams in the Central this year.

25. Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets were abysmal last year, but a lot of it was out of the team's control. Star D-man Zach Werenski went down with a shoulder injury early, Patrik Laine was on and off the injured reserve, and it took Johnny Gaudreau some time to acclimate to his new team. Now with Damon Severson and Provorov in the equation, along with No. 3 overall pick Adam Fantilli, I expect the Jackets will surprise some people in the Metropolitan and have a much, much better season.

24. Vancouver Canucks

I'll admit, I grew up cheering for the Vancouver Canucks, so I have a tough time putting them this low. The team has playoff aspirations this season, but that has been the case for the last three years and each one of those campaigns was derailed for one reason or another. The Canucks have an excellent core, and Elias Pettersson and captain Quinn Hughes will be even better next season. The X-factor will be a bounceback from Thatcher Demko, and Filip Hronek playing like a true top-pairing D-man. If those things happen, and the offense can stay healthy (see Ilya Mikheyev), they will be on the playoff bubble.

23. New York Islanders

The New York Islanders can't score goals. That was the case in the postseason against the Carolina Hurricanes, and it's an issue that continues to plague the team. Ilya Sorokin is one of the best goaltenders in the league, and the defense remains strong. But if Bo Horvat and Matt Barzal can't do what Anders Lee and Brock Nelson have been the only ones doing (putting the puck in the net), it could be a rare non-playoff year in Long Island.

22. St. Louis Blues

It's very hard to tell if the Blues missing the 2023 postseason was the start of a rebuild or just an anomaly. The team certainly has the talent to compete in the Central Division, but the defensive core will need to be a ton better. A forgettable season from Colton Parayko and Torey Krug exacerbated an overall atrocious defensive structure. Jordan Binnington was atrocious last year and he needs to return to form. That and a huge year from the top line of Robert Thomas-Pavel Buchnevich-Jordan Kyrou could be enough to get this squad back to the dance.

21. Detroit Red Wings

Alex DeBrincat is going to be so fun to watch on Dylan Larkin's wing this season. Other than that, I'm not too high on the Wings this year. The center depth is questionable with JT Compher and Andrew Copp, Hronek is gone, and Ville Husso can be better. Still, Detroit will be competitive in the Atlantic Division, but I just think it's too good for them to get in in 2024.

20. Washington Capitals

The Capitals missed the postseason for the first time in a decade in 2022-23, and the reasons why are as clear as day. John Carlson and Nicklas Backstrom each missed half the year, Evgeny Kuznetsov had a rare down year, and the team was unable to overcome a slow start. Peter Laviolette is gone, and Spencer Carbery should have this team playing much faster hockey next year. The playoffs will be tough for this aging core, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if this team made the most strides on this list as the year goes on.

19. Calgary Flames

What happened to the Calgary Flames last season? They went from winning the Pacific Division and looking like a powerhouse in 2021-22, to losing Johnny Gaudreau for nothing, to trading away one of the best power forwards of this generation in Matthew Tkachuk. It was a long year in Alberta, but Jonathan Huberdeau and Jacob Markstrom will bounce back, Elias Lindholm and Nazem Kadri will have strong years, and this core should be back to competing for the Pacific crown in 2023-24.

18. Minnesota Wild

The Wild are in salary cap hell, with Ryan Suter and Zach Parise's buyouts absolutely hamstringing the team. Still, Kirill Kaprizov exists, and so does Filip Gustavsson, who had an amazing season in 2022-23 and will need to be even better if Minnesota hopes to return to the postseason next April. Keep an eye on Matt Boldy, and look for him to break out and finish second in scoring behind Kaprizov.

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17. Ottawa Senators

The Senators are so close to competing for a playoff spot, and right when they shore up the top six, they lose Josh Norris to yet another shoulder injury and Shane Pinto due to contract-related difficulties. I'm high on the Sens and think they have what it takes to finish third in the Atlantic Division, especially with Tim Stutzle, Brady Tkachuk, Claude Giroux, Drake Batherson, and new addition Vladimir Tarasenko leading the way. The top three D is also great with Thomas Chabot, Jake Sanderson, and Jakob Chychrun. But until they sort out Norris and Pinto, the center depth just isn't good enough.

16. Buffalo Sabres

Is this the year the Buffalo Sabres snap the 12-year postseason drought, the longest in National Hockey League history? I'm going to say yes. Tage Thompson will be even better, Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power will be excellent on the back end, and Devon Levi will make a Calder Trophy case between the pipes. This team is so close, and was one win away from advancing in 2023. In 2024, I think playoff hockey will finally return to Western New York.

15. Winnipeg Jets

It seemed like the Jets were in absolute disarray, and out of nowhere, they locked up Mark Scheifele and Connor Hellebuyck on matching megadeals on Monday. That completely changes the team's trajectory, and they figure to be a top-three team in the Central Division again. It's basically the same squad that lost to the Golden Knights in five games in Round 1 last year, and with two key stars locked up, I expect another trip to the dance for the former Atlanta Thrashers in 2024.

14. Seattle Kraken

I strongly considered putting the Kraken much lower on this list, as I do believe they will regress. Jared McCann won't get 70 points again, and Vince Dunn likely won't get 64. But Seattle shocked the Avalanche in Game 7 and took the Dallas Stars to another seven-game series. They were one win away from the Western Conference Final, and for that reason, they are getting the benefit of the doubt in Week 1. Still, Philipp Grubauer will likely be the reason this team sinks or swims in 2023-24.

13. Boston Bruins

Yes, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are no longer Boston Bruins. Neither are Connor Clifton, Tyler Bertuzzi, Taylor Hall, or Dmitry Orlov. Yes, this team will not get 65 wins or 135 points. Nowhere near it. But David Pastrnak is fresh off scoring 60 goals, Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman make up one of the best tandems in the league, and the D is still solid, led by Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm. Boston is still a playoff team and will be treated as such until the decline sets in.

12. Los Angeles Kings

Anze Kopitar, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Phil Danault and Quinton Byfield make up arguably the best depth down the middle in the NHL. The Kings are a great team at both ends of the ice, with strong, solid defensemen and speedy scoring wingers in Viktor Arvidsson and Kevin Fiala. The problem is the goaltending. Cam Talbot and Phoenix Copley inspire absolutely no confidence and could be the difference between this team competing for the Pacific Division crown, and fighting for a postseason berth altogether.

11. Pittsburgh Penguins

A first powerplay unit that features Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel, Erik Karlsson, and Kris Letang? Yes, the Penguins are back to being Stanley Cup contenders after missing the playoffs for the first time in the Crosby era. It is still an aging team, but one squad you do not want to see in April (or beyond) is the 2023-24 Pens.

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10. Florida Panthers

The Panthers are getting the benefit of the doubt after an electric run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2023. Without Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad, who are months away from returning, it's a completely different team. Sergei Bobrovsky is also a huge regular-season question mark. Matthew Tkachuk and Sasha Barkov still exist, but the Panthers are going to be battling for their lives to be a top eight East team. If they get in, they can beat anyone. I'm just not sure if they can stay afloat long enough for the reinforcements to arrive.

9. Tampa Bay Lightning

I've heard people all offseason talk about how the Lightning are not the team they once were. I believe if they had beaten the Leafs last year, they would have had a great shot to defeat the Panthers and Hurricanes to play for a fourth straight Stanley Cup. That's just the parity in the NHL today. The core is still excellent, although no Andrei Vasilevskiy for two months is going to hurt. I don't think this is the year the Bolts fade away, and they can beat anyone in the postseason. But a top-three finish in the Atlantic might be too much to ask with Jonas Johansson between the pipes until December.

8. New York Rangers

It was an absolutely awful postseason for the Rangers, just a year removed from taking the Lightning to six games (and leading 2-0) in the 2022 Eastern Conference Final. But honestly, it says more about how good the Devils are becoming. New York is still a powerhouse, with star power at all three positions and a few nice complementary additions this offseason, most notably Blake Wheeler. The Rangers will finish top three in the Metro; whether or not they can beat a team like New Jersey or Carolina in the playoffs is a different story. But after one bad playoff experience, the aging core will be hungry to bring hardware back to the Big Apple.

7. Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs are a wagon. This could actually be one of the best Toronto teams I've seen on paper. Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi will be excellent additions to the first two lines, and even John Klingberg could have some value in this high-octane offense. Ilya Samsonov will be motivated to play well so he can cash in next summer, and the core remains elite with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and John Tavares still top players in the game. The only thing missing is playoff success, and after winning a round last year, it's Stanley Cup or bust for this team in 2024.

6. Edmonton Oilers

Another team that is Stanley Cup or bust is the Edmonton Oilers. After losing to the eventual champion in two straight seasons (2022 Avs, 2023 Knights), it's time for Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to add the only piece of hardware that matters for the two superstars. The Oilers finally have a good supporting cast, and the emergence of Evan Bouchard on the back end and Stuart Skinner in net could be what puts this team over the top. A lock to finish top three in the Pacific, the clock is ticking for one of the best cores in the game.

5. Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars have been knocking on the door for nearly half a decade. They lost to the Lightning in the 2020 Stanley Cup Final and came within two wins of advancing again before losing to the Knights in 2023. The Stars are excellent. The first line is absolutely electric, Miro Heiskanen gets better every year, and Jake Oettinger is making a case as a top-five goalie in the NHL. A great mix of veterans (Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Matt Duchene) along with some exciting young talent (Wyatt Johnston, Sam Steel) make the Stars one of the best teams in the Central, and a true Stanley Cup contender in 2024.

4. New Jersey Devils

The Devils just keep getting better and better. After a true breakout campaign from former No. 1 overall pick Jack Hughes in 2022-23, coupled with the additions of Timo Meier and Tyler Toffoli, the top-six is excellent. Hughes, Meier, and Jesper Bratt will feast on the top line, and Nico Hischier will thrive along with Toffoli and Dawson Mercer. Luke Hughes will be a ton of fun to watch in his first full NHL season, and the Devils will be competing for the Presidents' Trophy after finishing third overall last year. The question is, can Akira Schmid or Vitek Vanecek provide the kind of goaltending this team deserves in the postseason?

Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils

3. Carolina Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes are the best team in the East. They were swept by the Panthers in an ECF that was a lot closer than a lot of people think last year. The goaltending is solid, the defense rivals the team below them for the best unit in the league, and the offense will be even better with Michael Bunting and a full season of Andrei Svechnikov. It was the final four this year, but no hockey fan would be surprised if this team advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since winning it all (shoutout Cam Ward) in 2006.

2. Colorado Avalanche

It took so much willpower to put the Avalanche not at No. 1. Yes, a depleted Colorado team was stunned by the Kraken last year. Yes, Gabriel Landeskog will not be an option again this regular season. It doesn't change the fact that Cale Makar headlines the best defensive unit in professional hockey, and Alexandar Georgiev has blossomed into a top-10 goaltender after shedding backup duties with the Rangers. The key question is what the new additions will do. Can Jonathan Drouin, Miles Wood, Tomas Tatar, Ross Colton and Ryan Johansen help to fix the offensive depth that was so glaringly obvious last postseason? Only time will tell, but I'm going to say yes.

1. Vegas Golden Knights

It isn't a glamorous pick, but I chose the safe bet in ClutchPoints' Week 1 NHL Power Rankings. And it's not just because they won their first Stanley Cup in 2023. It's because the Vegas Golden Knights dominated the 2023 postseason and are entering a new campaign with the same team (minus Reilly Smith) in 2023-24. If Adin Hill can play as well as he did in June, there's a great chance this team will win the Central Division again. With Jack Eichel and Mark Stone healthy, and a team that is built for the postseason, Vegas will likely be the toughest out of any team in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs.