Don’t get spooked, but Halloween is right around the corner. That means we’re three weeks into the season, and trends are beginning to solidify. For this week’s Power Rankings — voted, as always, by ESPN’s panel of 20 experts — we kept in the holiday spirit to identify the scariest player on every team.
How we rank: We use a panel of voters, and these rankings reflect who voters think would win head-to-head matchups. Higher-ranked teams would be favored against lower-ranked teams. A run of wins doesn’t guarantee a jump, and a couple of losses doesn’t guarantee a fall.
Week 2 ranking: No. 6
The scariest player on the Golden Knights? Whoever is in net. The Knights are down to their third-string goalie, 23-year-old rookie Oscar Dansk, and somehow haven’t suffered a drop-off. Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcolm Subban and Dansk have combined for a .930 save percentage and a 2.32 goals-against average.
Week 2 ranking: No. 3
Nikita Kucherov surpassed Alex Ovechkin as the NHL’s goal-scoring leader with 11. Kucherov is coming off a season in which he scored 40 goals and racked up 45 assists — without Steven Stamkos in the lineup. Yeah, this 24-year-old could be spooky-good.
Week 2 ranking: No. 11
If I’m an opposing team, I’m scared of Adrian Kempe. Why? He’s helping ease the loss of Jeff Carter (out indefinitely with a leg laceration). Promoted to second-line center between Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, Kempe still needs work on faceoffs (he lost 13 of 15 in a Tuesday night win against the Ottawa Senators). But the 21-year-old’s five goals through nine games, including the game-tying score against Ottawa, show he’s here to stay.
Week 2 ranking: No. 1
The Leafs are a balanced team. Of the 20 skaters in their lineup this season, only fourth-line center Eric Fehr (four games) has yet to record a point. The most dangerous player remains Auston Matthews, who has warded off all sophomore slump chatter with seven goals and five assists in nine games.
Week 2 ranking: No. 2
Let’s chalk up the four goals Corey Crawford allowed on 29 shots to the Golden Knights on Tuesday as a one-off. Vegas has been spooking everyone this season! Entering that game, the Chicago goaltender had been scary-good with a 5-2-0 record, 1.86 goals-against average and .945 save percentage.
Week 2 ranking: No. 9
There’s someone besides Vladimir Tarasenko scaring teams around the league: 25-year-old Jaden Schwartz, who plays fast and fearless and is third in the NHL with 14 points. Perhaps what’s scariest is the 1-2 punch of Schwartz and Tarasenko, who post nearly identical average ice time (19:36 and 19:37) and plus-8s.
Week 2 ranking: No. 4
Nineteen-year-old Jesper Bratt was a sixth-round pick in 2016. He’s 5-foot-10, a buck-75, and perfectly embodies why the Devils have been an early surprise sensation. Bratt was supposed to be sent back to juniors, but has surpassed expectations with versatility and production (six points in eight games) as New Jersey averages a stunning 3.75 goals per game.
Week 2 ranking: No. 7
What made Penguins fans nervous through the first two weeks? Sloppy and inconsistent defense. Especially with backup goalie Antti Niemi waived and top-six defensemen Matt Hunwick and Justin Schultz sustaining concussions, the pressure is on No. 1 goalie Matt Murray. Good thing is, Murray can be scary-good himself when he gets into a rhythm.
Week 2 ranking: No. 5
Columbus has two of the best young defensemen in the game (Seth Jones, Zach Werenski) and a balanced crop of forwards that awaits Artemi Panarin to fully blossom in a Blue Jackets uniform. And yet the most dangerous player has to be Sergei Bobrovsky (see: 34-save performance Wednesday night).
Week 2 ranking: No. 12
Erik Karlsson is so feared on defense, players on the No. 3 team in this week’s Power Rankings (the Kings) squabbled over who had to cover him: neither Dustin Brown nor Drew Doughty wanted the assignment. That offseason ankle surgery didn’t change a thing; apparently Karlsson never needed that chunk of bone in his ankle anyway.
Week 2 ranking: No. 8
The Capitals have been shaky after a hot start. Washington’s defensive depth (or lack thereof) is at risk of being exposed and now must replace second-line winger Andre Burakovsky, who is out six to eight weeks after thumb surgery. Alex Ovechkin has a way of taking over a game and keeping this team afloat. His 10 goals lead the team by far: T.J. Oshie has six goals, and no other Capital has more than three.
Week 2 ranking: No. 19
The captain, Ryan Getzlaf, made his season debut on Tuesday after sitting out with a lower-body injury. The still-banged-up Ducks were energetic, relentless and played sound hockey in a 6-2 win over the Flyers with him in the lineup. That’s no coincidence.
Week 2 ranking: No. 13
First a disclaimer: Downplay any potential drama between Ben Bishop and coach Ken Hitchcock over the goalie being pulled in a loss to the Avalanche last week. That feud won’t linger. What should keep heating up: Jamie Benn, who has 11 points in nine games as the Stars have won four of their past five games.
Week 2 ranking: No. 14
Anyone who wrote off Claude Giroux after an off season is looking foolish. The 31-year-old has made the move from center to left wing look seamless — even though he hasn’t played the position since 2007-08, his rookie season. The sneaky-good Flyers are benefiting from a resurgent Giroux and his 11 points through nine games.
Week 2 ranking: No. 10
The Predators might still be working through a hangover from last season’s Stanley Cup run (who can blame them?). Their scariest player is Filip Forsberg, who is having the best start of his career. Forsberg is the first Nashville player to score seven goals in the team’s first nine games.
Week 2 ranking: No. 22
The Sharks are finally at .500 after a shaky start. One forward has been scary-good lately: Logan Couture. The 28-year-old has nine points in his last four games, including a hat trick against the Islanders.
Week 2 ranking: No. 16
The Jets have settled a goalie controversy — this is Connor Hellebuyck‘s team now, not Steve Mason‘s — and early-season growing pains to come out of the first three weeks above .500. Nikolaj Ehlers is showing why he deserves his recent extension with six goals, but the most dangerous player on this roster is Patrik Laine.
Week 2 ranking: No. 26
Sharks backup goalie Aaron Dell still might be spooked by Josh Bailey‘s highlight goal last week. Bailey, who has picked up after a career season with 56 points in 2016-17, intercepted a pass, deked Joe Pavelski, then stick-handled in front of the net, sliding the puck through his own legs — a la Marek Malik — before scoring a beauty.
Week 2 ranking: No. 21
Matt Duchene is the scariest player on this team, both for his production now (he’s tied for the team lead with eight points) and in the future as trade bait.
Week 2 ranking: No. 29
Thirty-one-year-old Derek Dorsett, inexplicably, has been the biggest surprise for a team that went 4-1 on its latest road trip. After undergoing neck surgery, Dorsett wasn’t a lock to make this roster in training camp. Now he’s eating big minutes and matching it with production (five goals in nine games).
Week 2 ranking: No. 27
The Bruins have see-sawed with inconsistency. As they battle through injuries — nearly every top centerman, goalie Tuukka Rask and now Adam McQuaid (who is out for eight weeks) — it seems fitting that 40-year-old Zdeno Chara is the steadying, imposing force on defense. Chara’s offensive production is dwindling, but he still leads skaters in average ice time (22:50) and is a team-high plus-6.
Week 2 ranking: No. 17
Among the injury-stricken teams, perhaps the Wild have it worse. The latest: Zach Parise underwent back surgery and is out until Christmas. Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter are both still out. The scariest person in the Wild organization: the poor team doctor who has to deliver this news.
Week 2 ranking: No. 18
The scariest player on the Red Wings is defenseman Mike Green, whose 11 points ties Shayne Gostisbehere and Alex Pietrangelo as tops among d-men. Detroit can’t stay on top after a surprising 4-1 start, staggering 0-4-1 in their last five games. Somebody wake up the power play (5.9 percent in the five-game slide).
Week 2 ranking: No. 15
Mikael Backlund was a breakout star last season with 53 points and it would be scary if he caught fire again. Backlund is part of the Flames’ promising 3M line (along with Matthew Tkachuk and Michael Frolik) which, last week, celebrated its one-year anniversary as a unit.
Week 2 ranking: No. 20
Jeff Skinner could be a 40-goal scorer this season. He’s accounted for five of the team’s 17 goals so far — and, dating back to last season, has scored 22 goals in his last 25 games. The Hurricanes were lauded by many in the league as one of the toughest teams to play last season, but are struggling to get going.
Week 2 ranking: No. 30
Poor Jack Eichel. He’s an exceptional talent buried on a team constantly looking for footing. At least Eichel is earning his $80 million extension with 1.1 points per game.
Week 2 ranking: No. 28
Allowing five goals to the moribund Canadiens last week wasn’t a great look. An upcoming five-game homestand could get the Panthers going. Teams should be scared if James Reimer (filling in for the injured Roberto Luongo) can post solid performances in relief.
Week 2 ranking: No. 24
If you saw Connor McDavid undress Blackhawks defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook last week with a spin-o-rama, no-look pass to set up Patrick Maroon for a goal, you know exactly why McDavid is the scariest player on this team — and for the future of the NHL.
Week 2 ranking: No. 23
After an inauspicious start (which is putting it kindly), only one player is standing out on New York’s roster: Mika Zibanejad. The 24-year-old is a burst of energy for a team that’s slogging. Even after a five-game goal drought, Zibanejad has accounted for six of New York’s 25 goals; no other Ranger has more than three goals.
Week 2 ranking: No. 25
Nothing has gone Montreal’s way so far. They have scored only 18 goals (five of them coming in a 5-1 win against Florida on Tuesday, the Canadiens’ second win). But opponents are always wary of Carey Price. When Price is on, he can single-handedly do damage control.
Week 2 ranking: No. 31
It’s hard to find any bright spots in the Coyotes’ winless start, but rookie center Clayton Keller could be one. He has dazzled with sharp passing, toe drags and a strong hockey IQ. Here’s a scary thought: the Coyotes have such a good young core, they could post winning seasons soon. Just not this year.