Final NHL Power Rankings: Best moments, performances of 2015-16

by | Hockey writer
The Caps had the Presidents' Trophy wrapped up with two weeks to go. (USATSI)
The Caps had the Presidents' Trophy wrapped up with two weeks to go. (USATSI)
The 2015-16 season was interesting in a lot of ways, and in others, it became a little monotonous. There was a fun race to the finish that saw the final weekend of the season become crucial for several teams to set the stage for the playoffs at least.

Consider the fact that the biggest talking point of the entire season was the widespread lament of the lack of goals being scored. In a lot of ways that's a conversation that needs to be had, but the tedium of it sometimes distracted from some of the truly amazing things that happened this year.

That's why I wanted to take our final power rankings and briefly run down some of the best moments, performances and happenings from the season that was.

For one, the Washington Capitals put together the best season by any team in a decade. Their 56 wins put them with the eighth most in NHL history, joining a top 10 that includes dominant Montreal Canadiens teams of the 1970s and Detroit Red Wings squads of the 1990s and 2000s, as well as one of Wayne Gretzky's Edmonton squads. The Caps had the Presidents' Trophy wrapped up with two weeks to go in the season.

In the process of that incredible run, Braden Holtby tied Martin Brodeur's single-season wins record with 48 while Alex Ovechkin notched his seventh 50-goal season with a hat trick in the second-to-last game of the season. Only Gretzky and Mike Bossy had more 50-goal campaigns.

Then there was Patrick Kane becoming the first American-born player to lead the NHL in scoring. He had 106 points, making him one of the few to reach the century mark in recent years. Twenty-seven players have done it since 2005-06, but only four have hit 100 points since 2010-11.

This year's rookie crop produced some of the most exciting first-year players we've seen in years. Had Connor McDavid played the whole season, he could have been among the NHL's top scorers, if his points-per-game were any indication. Artemi Panarin gave the Blackhawks a Russian-Kane clone to add to their mix, while Jack Eichel, Dylan Larkin, Max Domi, Shayne Gostisbehere and so many more provided a breath of fresh air to the league.

However, the old guys showed they still could hack it, too. How about Jaromir Jagr's season? The guy turned 44 in February and remained one of the top scorers on a division champion. He also surpassed Gordie Howe and Brett Hull for third all-time in points and goals. And he doesn't even look like he's close to finished.

Other seasoned veterans like Joe Thornton and Jagr's teammate Roberto Luongo showed that nobody better be counting them out any time soon. Thornton was one of the league's most dominant offensive players, while Luongo helped steal some games for the Panthers in a record-breaking season.

This season wasn't always the most fun. There was a reason that the scoring debate dominated, but the players listed above and the compelling races to the playoffs at least set us up for what should be a fantastic postseason.

So with one final look back, here's our end of season NHL Power Rankings to provide a final snapshot of 2015-16. These are not to be confused with our playoff team rankings, which used different criteria for judging the teams ahead of the postseason.


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