NHL Core Four Rankings Part 4 #16-11

by Pub Sports Radio

TGIF everybody and welcome back to the NHL Core Four rankings. We are now on part four of this ranking and are one more article away from revealing who I believe in which ten teams have the best core four in the NHL and where they will be placed inside the top ten. Today I will reveal which teams landed in 16 through 11. Like the last two articles if aren’t caught up to this point, don’t worry I got you here are the last three articles if you need to refresh or get caught up:

Part 1 of NHL Core 4 Ranking: #31-27

Part 2 of NHL Core Four Ranking: #26-22

NHL Core Four Part 3 Rankings #21-17

Now let’s get started with number 16!

#16: Chicago Blackhawks

1. Kirby Dach
2. Adam Boqvist
3. Alex DerBrincat
4. Dylan Strome
Dach, who was drafted with the third overall pick in last year’s draft, had a pretty solid rookie season. Though his point total to some would say otherwise with just 23 points (8 goals, 15 assists) in 64 games, it was the little things he did on the ice that made him a good player for the Blackhawks this season. Winning faceoffs, being responsible in his zone, and creating offensive chances for others on the Blackhawks. He’s got size and tons of skill, but when it comes to his upside, he’s probably a second-line center that produces 50-60 points consistently. Boqvist has had issues defending in his own-end, causing turnovers and scoring chances for the opponents. But his puck-moving and offensive game are top-notch for a defenseman; he reminds me a little of John Carlson when it comes to his offensive game. He still has plenty of time to improve his defense, and if he does, he will be a top 20 defenseman. DeBrincat had a slightly down year this season after notching 40 goals the season before. For his size, he likes going to the crease to score goals but also has a great shot of his own to shoot anywhere on the ice. He could score 40 again, possibly later in his career, but I think his ceiling is a 25 to 30 goal scorer in each and every year. Expect him to bounce back possibly in the qualifying rounds, but more so next season. Strome, a former third overall pick for the Arizona Coyotes in 2015, has turned into a beautiful second-line center for the Blackhawks after not finding his footing for Arizona. It will be interesting to see what Strome will get paid as he will be an RFA this offseason, but don’t expect Chicago to let him go as they don’t have the prospects to replace him.


#15: New Jersey Devils

1. Jack Hughes
2. Nico Hischier
3. Mackenzie Blackwood
4. Ty Smith
Hughes, the first overall pick from last season’s draft, had a rough rookie season after all the expectations coming into this season. But even after this season, it will be a learning curve for Hughes as I believe he will go into next season and possibly set the league on fire. He’s got all the skills in the world to become an elite centerman in this league for years to come as he will be ranked alongside players like Matthews, Mackinnon, Draisaitl, and McDavid. Another first overall pick in Hischer has a lot of talent, but he will never be the superstar that his teammate Hughes is projected to be. However, Hischier is a terrific second-line center, which brings a lot to the table, as he can produce 50-60 points consistently and possibly have a 70 point season. New Jersey fans should be excited about the future of their one-two punch that will patrol the center positions for years to come. Blackwood is looking like the goaltender of the Devils future. He was very good this season even after a dismal season for the Devils. He won’t be a star goalie like Carey Price or Tuukka Rask, but he can be a solid goalie like Fredrik Anderson, who isn’t the best goaltender but can be a goalie who helps the Devils’ win the cup. Smith has his defensive flaws, but his puck-moving and offensive creativity will turn him into a top-four defenseman who can pair well with Damon Severson, who’s an excellent two-way defender.

#14: Ottawa Senators

1. Thomas Chabot
2. Brady Tkachuk
3. Erik Brannstrom
4. Drake Batherson
Chabot is a minutes-munching, top-pair defenseman. He will be crucial to the Senators’ future in bringing the franchise back from irrelevancy. He led all players in the NHL in time on ice (TOI) with 26:00 per game. He is very skilled offensively for a defenseman; he moves the puck very well in his end, has the size, and skates very well for his size. Chabot’s ok defensively but has shown improvement each of the last seasons, and I believe that trend will continue. Chabot’s potential is very high and could very well win a Norris trophy when his career is all said and done. Brady, just like his brother Matt is a pain in you know what to play against. He drives the pace of play very well. He brings great leadership to a very young team even though he is young himself, could be Ottawa’s captain going into next season. The offensive results haven’t been there quite yet. However, he is getting the chance. Next season keep a close eye on him as next year could be his breakout season that could also propel the Senators back into a playoff race. Brannstrom is ridiculously talented in all aspects of his game, which was one of the reasons he was the centerpiece in the Mark Stone trade last season’s trade deadline.

People comparing his game to former Senators d-man Erik Karlsson has Ottawa fans chomping at the bit to watch him play. His development curve has been a little slower than most expected. Next year he will be a mainstay on the backend for the Senators, but give it two years, and you will get to see Brannstrom’s play take-off alongside Chabot to give the Senators a one, two punch on the backend. Batherson was well over a point-per-game in the AHL this season. Expect him to move to NHL full-time next season. Potential-wise, Batherson looks like he could be a real right second-line center with some comparing his game to Boston’s David Krejci.

#13: Florida Panthers

1. Sasha Barkov
2. Aaron Ekblad
3. Owen Tippett
4. Grigori Denisenko
Barkov is a star top ten centermen in this league. His defensive numbers have dropped off in recent years, but he’s still an elite force in this league and can carry a team on his back. Ekblad has not lived up to the first overall selection hype that people put on him in 2014. Comparing him as a right-handed shot Niklas Lindstrom, Ekblad has given up the reign as ace defenseman of the Panthers to Mackenzie Blackwood. Barring something miraculous, Ekblad looks at best like a second pair defenseman rather than the number one defenseman people thought he would be. Tippett is incredibly gifted offensively and just knows how to score goals. He should get a great look next season in Florida, especially if one or both Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov don’t resign with the team this offseason. Denisenko is a speedy and super skilled winger drafted in 2018. He’s one of the most talented players outside of the NHL. However, his bad numbers in the KHL are a slight concern. Denisenko, like Tippett, can be the replacements for Hoffman and Dadonov if one or both leave this offseason via free agency.

#12: Detroit Red Wings

1. Dylan Larkin
2. Moritz Seider
3. Flip Zadina
4. Flip Hronek
Larkin has been the Wings’ best player during their rough years these past three-four years. He has incredible speed, probably the top five fastest players in the league, great skill, plays a good two-way game, and is very good in the faceoff circle. Right now, he is the face of the franchise and will likely be named the captain next season for the Wings. The only question people have about Larkin is whether or not he’s a true #1 center on a contending team. Drafted with the sixth pick last year, Seider is one of the best defensemen outside the NHL. He’s a big, mobiledefenseman that can move the puck extremely well and makes a significant impact on both sides of the puck. He will be one the Wings next season, but give him 2 to 3 years, and he will already be the number one d-man for the Wings and be a massive factor for them for a LONG time. Zadina is extremely skilled. As he gains his confidence in the NHL, expect his confidence and offensive numbers to pop big-time in the next few years. Could end up being a steal for Wings even if he was drafted in the top ten in 2018. Hronek is the Wings’ best defenseman right now. He is a very slick skater who plays well offensively and is steadily improving the defensive side of the puck. Hronek is playing the role of number one d-man decent, but that will never be his true role. Where he will most likely be slotted in the next five years is as a top-four defenseman.

#11: New York Rangers

1. Kaapo Kakko
2. Adam Fox
3. Igor Shesterkin
4. Anthony DeAngelo

The second overall pick in last year’s draft not only had a rough season for a rookie, but by the numbers, he was considered the worst forward in the league this season. Now, Rangers fans don’t get worried, Kakko will get back on track, and how can’t he. Kakko has all the tools along with the size he has to be an absolute star in the league. From how it looks now, he may have needed more time to develop and adjust to the league than most people had thought. Fox has already turned into a great puck-moving, top-pair defenseman after a great rookie year. The jury is still out if he will the Rangers #1 dman, but if his rookie season was any indication, he could very well be on his way to becoming that. Shesterkin looks to be the franchise goaltender for Rangers, who will have some incredibly huge shoes to fill as he will be taking the throne from the future Hall of Famer Henrik Lundqvist. He will need to win time from both Lundqvist and Georgiev to establish himself as the starter sooner rather than later. The playoffs could change all that. DeAngelo is very good offensively but has big negative drawbacks on the other side of the puck along with an attitude problem. The latter won’t affect that much, but after this big season, DeAngelo had how much will the Rangers be willing to pay to keep his services or will let him walk as an RFA.

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