Hockey fans, the time has finally come. The final NHL Power Rankings before the best postseason in all of sports. This time next week, the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be well underway to determine the champion of the league's 107th season. Over six months since the Tampa Bay Lightning and Nashville Predators kicked off the 2023-24 campaign back on October 10, it'll be the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks concluding the 1,312-game regular-season this Thursday, April 18.

And two days later, playoff hockey will be back for the first time since the Vegas Golden Knights dismantled the Florida Panthers 9-3 in Game 5 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Final, winning their inaugural championship in the process.

In the Western Conference, the eight teams have already been determined. The only Round 1 matchup that's been confirmed is the Central Division 2 vs. 3, which will pit the Avalanche against the Jets, starting potentially a week to the day Winnipeg crushed Colorado 7-0. That should be a terrific series. Otherwise, the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators and Los Angeles Kings have all booked their spot in the dance.

In the Eastern Conference, it's a completely different story. The New York Islanders' recent hot streak has them a point away from advancing — joining the New York Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. But the final wild card berth is a dog fight featuring the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. Only one of those teams will get in, and thus, the final days of the regular-season are going to be as thrilling as ever.

Will it be Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby missing the postseason in back-to-back years for the first time in their respective careers? Or will it be both? That's a million dollar question, and with only two games left (just one for Philly), it looks like it'll be one of the Pens, Caps or Wings facing either the Rangers or Hurricanes — one of which will win the President's Trophy — in Round 1.

It's the last four days of the regular-season, and thus the last week of the NHL Power Rankings. But ClutchPoints won't be going anywhere, with weekly playoff editions beginning once the final 16-team field is set. For the other half of the league, this will be goodbye — at least until 2024-25. We've waited all year for this, and it's time to lock in for postseason puck once more. Let's have some fun.

Previous 2023-24 NHL Power Rankings: Week 26 | Week 25 | Week 24 | Week 23 | Week 22 | Week 21 | Week 20 | Week 19 | Week 18 | Week 17 | Week 16 | Week 15 | Week 14 | Week 13 | Week 12 | Week 11 | Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3Week 2 | Week 1

1. New York Rangers (no change)

They didn't begin the season at the peak of the NHL Power Rankings, but that's where the Rangers will end after 82 games. A win against the Senators at Madison Square Garden on Monday night would secure New York's first President's Trophy since 2015 — and earn a well-deserved No. 1 spot. It's been an incredible season in The Big Apple — no iteration of this team has ever won as many games. The 1993-94 Blueshirts team that won the Stanley Cup triumphed 52 times, while the league-winning 2014-15 Rangers got to 53. This time around, it's 54-23-4, with an excellent chance to make it a clean 55 against the lowly Sens.

It's a franchise record any way you slice it, and this core is looking more potent than it has since the team marched to the Stanley Cup Final a decade ago. New York has a great chance to make noise again this year, although if they lose to Ottawa and Carolina wins their last game, the Hurricanes will vault the Rangers for the top spot in both league standings and the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers know what's at stake, and will bring their A-game to make sure that doesn't happen. Riding a Hart Trophy-caliber season from Artemi Panarin, and with a plethora of weapons around him, this is the best team in the world heading into the postseason.

2. Dallas Stars (no change)

For the first time since 2015-16, the Stars have won the Central Division. And that's quite an accomplishment considering the Jets and Avalanche completed a three-headed monster all campaign long. It was Dallas who pulled away at the last, winning 11 of 13 times since March 17 to capture the division. After losing to the eventual champion Golden Knights in six games in last year's Western Conference Final, it's Stanley Cup or bust for this iteration of the Stars. This is a similar core to the one that went all the way to the SCF back in 2020, but a very different roster. This season, the additions of Chris Tanev, Wyatt Johnston, Matt Duchene and Logan Stankoven — just to name a few — will be critical once the playoffs roll around. It could be a nightmare matchup against Vegas in Round 1 if the Knights can't get the No. 3 spot in the Pacific Division, but it'll be difficult either way with the Kings the other potential opponent. No easy matchups in the Western Conference, and despite a phenomenal regular-season, none of that matters in Texas once playoff hockey returns to American Airlines Center.

3. Carolina Hurricanes (+1)

Not to be outdone by the team they're battling tooth and nail with in the Metro, the Hurricanes have won five games in a row and climbed into the top-three of the NHL Power Rankings in the final week of the regular-season. Very impressive. There could be no hotter team in the league right now than the Canes, who clearly mean business ahead of their sixth postseason in a row. Also impressive. But over the last five, Carolina has been unable to advance to the sport's ultimate series, losing in two Eastern Conference Finals — including a bizarre sweep at the hands of the Panthers in 2023. With the inclusion of Jake Guentzel and Evgeny Kuznetsov, along with the breakout of Seth Jarvis and continued excellent play from leader Sebastian Aho, the Hurricanes are well-positioned to make another deep run. But first, a win over the lowly Blue Jackets in their final game, coupled with a Rangers loss to the Senators, and it'll be a President's Trophy in Raleigh for the first time ever. What a season it's been in Carolina, but a lot more work to do, regardless of how the regular-season finishes.

4. Boston Bruins (+1)

Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) celebrates a goal with center Charlie Coyne (13)against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period at PPG Paints Arena
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The expectations on the shoulders of the Bruins heading into the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs was, understandably, monumental. A record-setting year, the final go for Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, and a team that looked absolutely unstoppable down the stretch. It was heartbreak when the Panthers erased a 3-1 series deficit and won Game 7 in overtime at TD Garden. Most expected that it would be another Stanley Cup in Beantown, their first since 2011. Fast forward a year and although Boston is still elite, those expectations are much less prevalent. And that's probably going to work out better for Jim Montgomery's club. Playing just over .500 hockey over the last week isn't ideal, but this roster knows what's at stake heading into the postseason. But first, they'll be looking to win the Atlantic Division again, and victories over the Capitals and Senators would crown them for the second straight season.

5. Vancouver Canucks (+1)

The Canucks were one of the most consistent teams in the league in 2023-24, exceeding all expectations and now sitting on the verge of their first division title in over a decade. If the Oilers lose to the Sharks in any fashion on Monday, the Pacific Division will be Vancouver's. That's hard to believe after this core went through a couple of dark, dark years in the early 2020s. It looks like those days are long in the rearview, and the Nucks will finish just a few points short of winning the Western Conference, too. If Thatcher Demko can get healthy, and the superstar core continues to deliver — Quinn Hughes, JT Miller, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser — this could be a very tough out in the postseason. With a very manageable first-round looming against the Predators — the same team they beat en route to a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2011 — it'll be intriguing to see if this roster can win a round for the first time in four seasons.

6. Florida Panthers (+1)

The Panthers have battled the injury bug throughout the season, but we saw the wagon this club can be when healthy. We saw it throughout the postseason in 2023, and we saw it once Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour returned from injury about halfway through this season. But with Ekblad back on the shelf, and a few other injury concerns, the Cats struggled in the month of March. They've been able to figure it out with three straight wins as of late, and have a chance to go into the postseason winners of four consecutive if they can knock off the Leafs in their regular-season finale on Tuesday. Interestingly, it'll almost certainly be this same Toronto team on the other side of the rink in Round 1. Florida beat Toronto in five games in last year's Eastern Conference second-round, although basically all five of them could have went either way. Two 100+ point teams playing in the first-round doesn't make a ton of sense, but this will be one of the marquee first-round matchups.

7. Colorado Avalanche (-4)

What has happened to the Avalanche over the last couple of weeks? After winning nine games in a row in March, and looking like a true Stanley Cup favorite in the process, Colorado has lost seven of its last 10. That includes a 7-0 shellacking at the hands of the Jets, who have briskly closed the gap in the NHL Power Rankings. Winnipeg is trending towards having home-ice advantage for the series as well, which isn't ideal. The main problem is Alexandar Georgiev forgetting how to stop a puck, and Justus Annunen hasn't provided a ton of confidence in relief. The goaltending needs to be a ton better; the Avs are 24-2-2 when they have a save percentage over .900. They don't even need league average goaltending, but regardless, they aren't getting it. And with Connor Hellebuyck on the other end of the rink — a Vezina Trophy favorite — this will be a much harder Round 1 than last year against the wild card Kraken. And the Avs lost that series. What they have going for them is the significant Stanley Cup experience, Nathan MacKinnon at his best, and a roster that has been revamped since last postseason. Still, the Avalanche are floundering at the worst possible time, and need to get momentum back on their side in their regular-season finale against the Oilers on Thursday.

8. Winnipeg Jets (+4)

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) reacts with goaltender Laurent Brossoit (39) after the game against the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

We were all ready to chalk up the Jets to first-round fodder after six consecutive losses between March 21-30. But in somewhat surprising fashion, Winnipeg is back after winning six straight immediately after. The headliner was the 7-0 beatdown of the Avs, which has this roster just a single spot away in the NHL Power Rankings. Will the Jets be on top in the first edition of the playoff power rankings later this week? Probably. But for now, they remain just behind despite holding a one-point lead for the Central Division's No. 2 spot. Overall, it's been a great season in Manitoba, especially after a brutal Round 1 loss last year and subsequent buyout of captain Blake Wheeler. This team is humming right now, being led by Hellebuyck but getting contributions from throughout the lineup. It'll be another two 100+ point teams meeting in the opening round, and Jets-Avalanche promises to be a phenomenal matchup.

9. Nashville Predators (+1)

The Predators uncharacteristically missed the playoffs in 2023 after advancing to eight straight previous postseasons. And after a slight blip, Nashville is back on the map — and into the dance. Although the critics were quick to write this team off before the year started, a franchise-best campaign from Filip Forsberg was the catalyst of a resurgent season in Smashville. Juuse Saros is back to form, Roman Josi is again putting together a Norris Trophy-caliber season, and the Preds are looking like they'll finish as the top wild card team in the Western Conference. That will likely mean a matchup with the Pacific Division-leading Canucks, which is reasonable for both squads. It should be an excellent battle, and without a postseason series win since 2018, it's going to be loud at Bridgestone Arena next week.

10. Edmonton Oilers (-2)

The Oilers lost their first two games of the season against the Canucks, and they've been chasing them at the top of the Pacific Division ever since. With the gap nearly fully closed, Edmonton had a chance to beat Vancouver and put themselves in an excellent position to win their division for the first time since 1986-87. Quick pause; that's an absolutely ridiculous stat. The Oil have actually finished second in the Pacific for four straight years, but haven't won a division since the days of Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier. It'll soon be five straight after the Canucks beat the Oilers 3-1 on Saturday night. Now five points back with a game in hand, it's looking certain that Connor McDavid and co. will be the runners up for the fifth straight year. And that will mean either a rematch against the Kings (for the third straight year) or a nightmare Round 1 matchup against the defending champions. Regardless, the clock is ticking for this core, and we're deep in Stanley Cup or bust territory in 2024.

11. Tampa Bay Lightning (-2) 

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) is congratulated by right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) and left wing Anthony Duclair (10) after he scored against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the first period at Amalie Arena.
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Nikita Kucherov continues his Art Ross and Hart Trophy quest, and the Russian superstar is up to an absolutely otherworldly 141 points in 79 games. And he still might not win MVP? There must be a few other guys above 130 points, or maybe one who is on the verge of scoring 70 goals…Still, Kuch has been the driver of the Lightning all year long, and there really is not a single team you'd rather play less in the first-round. If the playoffs started today, it would be Bolts-Bruins, and that's the most likely outcome as the season concludes this week. Despite losing in the first-round to the Leafs last year — a series that truly could have gone either way — Tampa Bay has the star power, the experience, and a fully healthy Andrei Vasilevskiy. Despite them sitting in a wild card spot, they have as good a chance as any team to come out of the Eastern Conference at the end of May. If they can get it done this year — marking three Stanley Cups in five seasons — it would be firmly dynasty territory for the best team of the 2020s. But after losing three of their last four, the house needs to get back in order for two more-regular season tilts first.

12. Vegas Golden Knights (+1)

The defending champions were once No. 1 in the NHL Power Rankings, but an injury-plagued year has knocked the Golden Knights out of the top-10, as well as out of a top-three berth in the Pacific Division. After winning five of their last eight games — and with the Ducks and Blackhawks on the other side of the rink in the final two — there's still a chance Vegas can leapfrog Los Angeles and set up a mouthwatering Round 1 matchup with the Oilers. Either way, there's a wild card team in both conferences no one wants to play. It's Tampa in the East, and of course, it's Vegas in the West. With Mark Stone back on the ice, and the injections of Noah Hanifin, Anthony Mantha and Tomas Hertl into the lineup, this is going to be a very tough out again in 2024. Nobody came close to knocking out the Golden Knights last year, and despite a less-than-ideal regular-season, everything will change come next weekend. Can Vegas channel their inner Tampa and go back-to-back in 2024?

13. Toronto Maple Leafs (-2)

Being a top team in the Atlantic Division basically means that if you don't win the crown, you'll play a 100-point team in the first-round. And that's exactly what's happening to the Maple Leafs in 2024. Toronto is locked into the No. 3 berth, meaning they'll almost certainly get a powerhouse Panthers team in Round 1. Better them, or the Bruins? You'd have to ask a Leafs fan. Either way, it's going to be a large, large task to get revenge on a squad that beat them in five games. That will be even more difficult without home-ice advantage, which they had against Florida last year. It's going to be a fantastic series, but the way the Leafs are playing lately, they won't be considered the favorites. Still, gotta beat the best to be the best, and the Cats were the top team in the Eastern Conference when all was said and done in 2023. The Leafs finally won a round last year, their first since 2004. Can they make it two (or more) this time around?

14. Los Angeles Kings (no change)

For the third straight year, it's looking like the Kings will play the Oilers in the first-round. After back-to-back heartbreaking losses in seven and six games, respectively, can Los Angeles finally slay the dragon in 2024? They won't be the favorites, especially as Edmonton has home-ice advantage, but it promises to be a hard-fought series either way. Of course, there is still a chance the Kings drop to the second wild card spot, which would set them up for a Round 1 matchup with the Stars instead. Both Edmonton and Dallas are excellent teams, but LA has had another solid season to secure a third straight playoff berth. But as Anze Kopitar's career winds down, just making the postseason won't be enough. This franchise hasn't won a playoff round since beating the Rangers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, and a decade later, it's about time.

15. New York Islanders (+1)

Just as the Eastern Conference wild card race really heated up, the Islanders decided they didn't want any part of it. Instead, New York won six consecutive games, followed it up by getting a point in a shootout loss to the Rangers, and convincingly took over the No. 3 spot in the Metropolitan Division. Barring a miracle, that's where Patrick Roy's club will finish in 2023-24. It's an impressive turnaround, especially considering the club was out of a playoff spot just a few weeks ago. Of course, the Round 1 matchup is going to be brutal, with either the Hurricanes or Rangers waiting — two teams that have won north of 50 games this season. The Canes beat the Isles last year in the playoffs, the Rangers beat the Isles two days ago, and either way, it'll take quite an upset. But New York is battle tested, and Ilya Sorokin is still one of the best goalies in the league. The Blueshirts and Canes might just be too potent, but for now, this squad is just happy to get in.

16. St. Louis Blues (-1)

It's a shame the Blues aren't in the Eastern Conference, because they'd be playoff planning, not getting ready for the golf course. Based on purely points percentage, St. Louis is better than Pittsburgh, Washington, Detroit and Philadelphia, although one of those teams still has a chance to advance. The Blues were eliminated last week, and that's despite winning three of their last four games. Obviously, STL won't be in the No. 16 slot once the playoff power rankings roll around — they'll be nowhere to be found. Back-to-back missed postseasons is a tough pill to swallow in Missouri, especially after the team won the Stanley Cup in 2019, but it was still a decent season. At 43-33-5, they'll end up missing by mere points, and this roster could look a lot different next season. Is it time for a retool in St. Louis?

17. Pittsburgh Penguins (+1)

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) sits on the ice while taking a stick from Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) during the first period at PPG Paints Arena.
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

And now we must decide who will earn the final wildcard berth in the Eastern Conference. Although the Penguins are a point behind the Capitals, Red Wings and Flyers in league standings, they are on top in the NHL Power Rankings. But honestly, it doesn't really matter. If Sidney Crosby can will his team to two more wins — against the Predators and Islanders in Week 27 — this roster will probably have the best chance of securing an upset in Round 1. The Pens have won seven of 10, after all, and are looking playoff ready with just days left. But after a dismal 6-4 loss to the Bruins to end last week, it'll need to be two straight victories, and maybe even a little bit of help, to get in. For some reason, my money is on Pittsburgh when the dust settles.

18. Washington Capitals (+1)

But hey, maybe the Penguins lose to the Preds on Monday night, while the Capitals beat the Bruins at the same time. That would certainly shake things up. It looked like Washington was headed back to the postseason after a rare miss when they racked off six wins in seven tries in mid-March. Somehow, the team has won just twice since (in nine attempts), making things as precarious as they can possibly be. Like the Pens, the Caps will need to win both of their games and probably get some help, and they aren't exactly easy matchups against Boston and Philly. What we know for sure is that either Crosby or Ovechkin will miss the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, and that just doesn't seem right. But alas, age comes for us all. Let's see if the Capitals can dig deep and win their last two games of 2023-24.

19. Detroit Red Wings (+1)

As the Flyers only have one game left, they certainly have the worst chance of the four to capture an elusive Eastern Conference playoff berth. And we've gone on and on about Sid the Kid and The Great Eight. But what about Patrick Kane and the Red Wings? In fact, this Atlantic Division club has the best chance to break their long playoff drought. That's because they already own the second wild card spot, are tied with the Penguins and Capitals at 80 games played, and have a back-to-back set against the rebuilding Canadiens on April 15 and 16, respectively. If Detroit wins both of their games, they're in — and will play whichever of the Rangers or Hurricanes wins the President's Trophy. It's a great place for this team to be in — everything is in their control. But the Habs have a huge chance to play spoiler, and these next two games could be more important than any non-playoff series in the last decade. It begins at Little Caesars Arena on Monday night.

20. Philadelphia Flyers (+1)

Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella during the second period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

We're not going to count the Flyers out just yet. John Tortorella has done a phenomenal job taking a rebuilding roster and turning it into a playoff contender, but it looks like Philadelphia is going to fall just short. The No. 3 berth in the Metro was theirs to lose, and they lost it. Philly stunningly dropped eight games in a row at the most critical juncture of the season, and not even two bounce-back wins are going to be enough. The Flyers need to beat the Capitals, and hope that the Pens and Wings lose both of their games. Could it happen? Yes. Will it happen? No. And fans of this franchise should be upset. This was a wire-to-wire playoff team that is going to miss right at the last. And that's heartbreaking. But a hugely encouraging season nonetheless, and this franchise will be back — as should Tortorella next season.

21. Minnesota Wild (-4)

Since the Wild were eliminated from playoff contention last week — and aren't on the same level as the Blues — it only made sense to drop them below the Penguins, Capitals, Red Wings and Flyers in the NHL Power Rankings. Certainly, Minnesota doesn't deserve a drop of this magnitude, but as the postseason is now an illusion anyways, it really doesn't matter. Kirill Kaprizov did everything he could inn 2023-24, and Matt Boldy had another fantastic season, but there just isn't enough there in the State of Hockey right now. It was still an above .500 campaign, but that won't be enough to avoid another playoff miss. With the front office strapped tight to the salary cap, there aren't too many improvements that can be made ahead of next season. And this could be the beginning of a dark few years in Saint Paul.

22. New Jersey Devils (no change)

As soon as the Devils were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, Jack Hughes was shut down for the rest of the year. He underwent shoulder surgery, a nagging ailment that didn't seem to slow the superstar down too much down the stretch. Still, it was just another problem added to a worst-case scenario for New Jersey this year. They locked up Jesper Bratt and Timo Meier long-term in the offseason, and Lindy Ruff looked to be the right fit after helping the Devils upset the Rangers in Round 1. There will be no such playoff hockey in Newark this year, and Ruff is no longer a part of the organization. Enough said. With a healthy Dougie Hamilton, and presumably some better goaltending, NJ should be right back in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race in 2025.

23. Buffalo Sabres (+1)

Along with the NFL's New York Jets, the Sabres are in the midst of the longest postseason drought in professional sports. There hasn't been a playoff game in Western New York since 2011, which is truly a shame for a passionate fanbase. The hope was that, after getting within a win last year, Buffalo would be able to finally get over the hump in 2024. But for too long did Tage Thompson play unlike a superstar, and for too long was there unreliable play between the pipes. Maybe Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen can drag this team in next year, or maybe Bowen Byram will be the answer to the unsolvable question. But right now, it's going to be a repeat of the last 13 years: a very long offseason.

24. Ottawa Senators (+1)

DJ Smith said at the beginning of the year that the goal for 2023-24 was simple: make the playoffs. Fast forward six months and he is no longer the coach, the Senators are 11 points back of the final wild card berth, and we're in the final days of a hugely disappointing campaign in Canada's capital. Nothing went right, from losing a draft pick because of a trade, to Shane Pinto being suspended half the season for better-related activity, to two of the team's head scouts being let go. New owner Michael Andlauer is making the best of a bad situation, and this roster is still well-positioned to compete for a postseason berth next year. But now seven seasons without playoff hockey, the patience this front office preached to the fan base when this rebuild began is wearing out.

25. Calgary Flames (-2)

Calgary Flames left wing Andrei Kuzmenko (96) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Arizona Coyotes during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Brett Holmes-USA TODAY Sports

Andrei Kuzmenko struggled mightily under Rick Tocchet in Vancouver, but it's looking like the Flames may have fleeced the Canucks in one of the more notable trades of the season. Kuzmenko is looking much more effective than Elias Lindholm is with the Nucks, and Calgary also got a first and third-round pick, along with a top prospect. Lindholm could be saving his A game for the postseason — a place where the Flames won't be  — but Kuzmenko has been red hot in Alberta, especially as of late. The Russian is up to a ridiculous 16 points in his last nine games, while Yegor Sharangovich just broke the single-season points record for Belarussians with 59. It was another tough year in Calgary, and a retool could be on the horizon. But there are still a couple of effective pieces on this team that could end up becoming the core next season and beyond.

26. Arizona Coyotes (no change)

The Flames beat the Coyotes 6-5 in one of the final games of Week 26, and thus the Coyotes will finish the season in the same spot in both the NHL Power Rankings and league standings: No. 26. Credit to this team for continuing to battle despite the ‘mental warfare' the players and personnel have been dealing with on the heels of a bombshell report this franchise could be moving to Salt Lake City. That no longer looks to be a report, with the Yotes legitimately on the verge of moving to Utah in 2024. It's been decades of problems in Arizona, with attendance and arena issues at the forefront, and not a ton of confidence that the product can remain viable in the desert. Hopefully, a team will return, but it looks like this could be the end of the Arizona Coyotes…for now. Can't say it's been a great run, but with Utah's potential owner planning to be aggressive both in free agency and the trade market, maybe this roster can compete for a playoff spot in a different city in 2025.

27. Seattle Kraken (no change)

It seems like a lot longer than one season removed from the Kraken completing one of the more improbable upsets in the expansion era. Seattle matched up horribly against the powerhouse Avalanche the year after Colorado won the Stanley Cup, but the roster got it done in a shocking Game 7 upset in 2023. Then they almost upset the Stars in Round 2. This was nearly a Western Conference Final-worthy team in just its second year of existence. But the third year has been a lot more like the first, with inconsistent goaltending and a glaring lack of star power. The Kraken have faded away since being mathematically eliminated, and at first glance, they'll have a real tough time getting a better result next season.

28. Montreal Canadiens (no change)

With two games left in the regular-season, the Habs have an ultimate chance to play spoiler against the Red Wings. Win even one of them and Detroit is probably out. Win both of them and they definitely are. Montreal has nothing left to play for, but with 10 points separating them from the Blue Jackets, nothing will change their lottery chances come June. Still, at least the final two contests will be interesting. The rebuild continues in Quebec, and the hope is that the team can be much healthier next year — mainly Kirby Dach, Arber Xhekaj and Alex Newhook. If that happens, along with continued goaltending development from Cayden Primeau and Sam Montembault, the Habs could be back to knocking on the door of playoff contention as soon as next season. And there's nothing like the postseason atmosphere at the Bell Centre.

29. Columbus Blue Jackets (no change)

The Blue Jackets have been hanging around at No. 29 in both the NHL Power Rankings and league standings for weeks, and that's not going to change in the finale. This has unfortunately turned into one of the league's most uninteresting franchises. The additions of Ivan Provorov and Damon Severson didn't make as much of an impact as hoped in Ohio, while Adam Fantilli's rookie season was marred by injury. Add another dismal campaign from Johnny Gaudreau, another long absence for Patrik Laine, and this is one of the worst stories of 2023-24. There is still a ton of potential on this roster, and if everything goes right, they should be competing for a playoff spot again soon. But when has anything gone right for a franchise that has only won a single playoff round in 23 seasons?

30. Chicago Blackhawks (no change)

Chicago Blackhawks forward Frank Nazar (91) celebrates after scoring his first NHL goal in his NHL debut in the first period against the Carolina Hurricanes at United Center.
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

We knew the Blackhawks were not going to be good this season — even with the injection of rookie phenom Connor Bedard — and that was evident for much of the 2023-24 campaign. It was also pretty evident in the NHL Power Rankings, with the squad never really getting out of the bottom-three. The month-and-a-half Chicago spent without the Calder Trophy favorite was just brutal, but Bedard treated the fans at the United Center to something similar to a young Patrick Kane, and it's clear this kid has a long and bright future in the National Hockey League. He did score at nearly a point-per-game clip in his inaugural campaign, and that's with a glaring lack of offensive help. How much he'll actually be able to accelerate the rebuild in Illinois will be an intriguing storyline to watch over the next few years, but as expected, the Hawks — and their 23 wins — aren't there yet. Could Chicago be a playoff contender in 2025? It's unlikely, but will be much more manageable if the franchise can strike gold twice and secure back-to-back No. 1 overall picks come June. And Frank Nazar is a great story, with the rookie scoring his first NHL goal on his first NHL shot. Doesn't get any better than that.

31. Anaheim Ducks (no change)

For the sixth straight year, it'll be an early offseason and no playoff hockey for the Ducks. Two once-powerhouse Pacific Division teams that hail from the same state have turned into the two worst rosters in hockey in 2024. For Anaheim, the 26 wins is an improvement on last year — and they have a chance to make it 27 in the regular-season finale against the Knights on April 18. In 2022-23, the team won just 23 times, and they finished in the basement of the division. That won't be the case this year thanks to the Sharks, which is probably not for the better as it will affect their chances of getting to pick first — and bringing Hobey Baker winner Macklin Celebrini to Anaheim. This could be an interesting summer for general manager Pat Verbeek, who could look to give Trevor Zegras a change of scenery, among other rumored moves. Still, it's been a long rebuild for fans of this franchise, and there isn't exactly a light at the end of the tunnel right now.

32. San Jose Sharks (no change)

The final week of the regular-season finally arrives for the worst team in the National. And I mean finally. It's been as forgettable a campaign as ever seen before in San Jose — this club will finish with less victories than in the 56-game shortened 2020-21 COVID year. That's just awful. Now 19-52-9, the Sharks haven't failed to win 20 contests in a full season since 1992-93, just the franchise's second year of existence. They somehow won just 11 times in 84 tries that year, but the fact remains, this has got to be rock bottom for this organization. Failing to win 20 games in an 82-game campaign — assuming they lose to both Edmonton and Calgary on the road in Week 27 — is not easy to do. With a great opportunity to pick No. 1 overall in the upcoming draft, there's a real chance Celebrini ends up speeding up what looks to be a lengthy rebuild in California. But until then, we'll pretend 2023-24 didn't exist for one of the worst teams in the history of the league.