It's a unique kind of panic when you think you've aced your midterms and it turns out you're teetering on the brink of failure. Especially when you've invested tens of millions of dollars in your "education," like NHL teams have.
As we pass the midpoint of the 2019-20 NHL season, here are report cards for all 31 teams, including our picks for potential class president and which student might flunk out. Stats are collected from sites such as Corsica, Natural Stat Trick and Hockey Reference.
Which teams make the grade, and which ones need to start cramming?
Note: Preseason over/under data is courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook, and team standings points pace is current as of Jan. 7.
Preseason over/under: 95
Current points pace: 98
Players: A- The Canes enjoyed a resurgence last season, but coach Rod Brind'Amour wanted to make sure his team could build off its success. Halfway through the season, the team is in decent shape. Offensively, Carolina generates a ton of shots, and the Canes can keep up in high-scoring games. Teuvo Teravainen has been an assist machine, and Sebastian Aho shook off a slow start to find himself on pace for 47 goals. It's been a delight to watch the ascension of sophomore Andrei Svechnikov, he of lacrosse goal fame. The 19-year-old is thriving in a top role (second on the team with 38 points). Erik Haula has shown flashes that suggest he can help Carolina's offensive depth, but the former Golden Knight hasn't been available much due to injury.
Defensively, the Canes once again have great depth, bolstered by the top pairing of Jaccob Slavin and Dougie Hamilton, one of the best duos in the league. Goaltending was projected to be an issue, and it has been as bad as feared; nobody knows how Petr Mrazek and James Reimer will hold up in the second half.
Coach: A- This team really buys into Brind'Amour's message, which is a testament to its cohesiveness. He's a demanding coach. The most promising thing about the Canes is that they have a clear identity.
GM: B+ Team president and general manager Don Waddell had quite the busy offseason, and a lot of his moves have panned out; Haula, when healthy, has been a boon to the middle six, and Ryan Dzingel is a good depth add. Waddell got a decent return from the Justin Faulk trade, and the blue line hasn't missed much of a beat without Faulk, even though the Jake Gardiner signing hasn't worked out all that well. Waddell's grade will improve when the team inevitably welcomes back former captain Justin Williams as a second-half reinforcement.
Class president: Dougie Hamilton. The defenseman has been fully embraced by the fan base and is playing some of the best hockey of his career. His offensive stats (he's on pace for 27 goals and 76 points) are eye-popping, and he should be in the mix as a Norris Trophy contender.
In danger of failing: Jake Gardiner. While one blueliner flourishes offensively, another one stalls. The Canes felt like big winners when they signed the former Maple Leafs defenseman, but he has just two goals and six assists plus a glaring minus-20 (compare that with Hamilton's plus-31). Gardiner is on the first year of a four-year deal.
Overall team grade: A- On pace for their first 100-point season since 2005-06 -- when they won the Stanley Cup -- the Hurricanes have proved they're not complacent after last season's success. They want more.
Preseason over/under: 84
Current points pace: 92
Players: B+ Nobody expected much out of the Blue Jackets this season, after they famously went all-in for last year's playoff run (and are paying for the consequences now). They lost several key players to free agency and opened the season with the NHL's lowest payroll. They've been decimated by injuries. And yet, they're hanging around in the playoff race and have put together some very hot streaks.
Goaltending was the biggest question mark entering the season, but Joonas Korpisalo quashed any concerns with excellent play (unfortunately for the team, he's injured right now). Elvis Merzlikins has been better than expected, and he now gets an extended audition with Korpisalo sidelined. The Blue Jackets are getting a mixed bag of production from their forwards, but the continued development of Pierre-Luc Dubois is a positive. On the negative side, it looks as if Nick Foligno might be regressing. The defense has been hit hard by injuries, but Zach Werenski (and lately, Seth Jones) have been playing great. Werenski, especially, seems to be enjoying a nice breakout.
Coach: A- John Tortorella gets a ton of attention for his off-ice antics (see: his rant toward NHL officials that got him fined $20,000 after a loss to the Blackhawks earlier this month). But the way he has guided this team to wins -- especially in spite of unrelenting bad injury luck -- is quite inspiring.
GM: B After being the most active GM in hockey last season, Jarmo Kekalainen has been much quieter. Kekalainen essentially put faith in his remaining roster and let those guys play it out. His one big signing, Gustav Nyquist, has worked out.
Class president: Joonas Korpisalo. The torn meniscus that is sidelining Korpisalo for four to six weeks felt especially cruel; the injury occurred during a shootout loss to the Blackhawks and shortly after Korpisalo was named to his first career All-Star Game.
In danger of failing: The team's trainers. Hey, it's probably not their fault, just bad luck. But only four Blue Jackets have played every game this season, with 31 skaters already suiting up for at least one game.
Overall team grade: B+ In what was supposed to be a lost season, the Blue Jackets have exceeded expectations and remain in the playoff race -- pretty impressive when you consider the hand they were dealt.
Preseason over/under: 91
Current points pace: 72
Players: D- The Devils are the NHL's most disappointing team when it comes to preseason expectations and where they are now. Quite frankly, it's been a disaster.
No. 1 pick Jack Hughes has tended to some minor injuries and is still getting his feet wet in the NHL. He's hardly the Devils' biggest problem. Goaltending doomed this team early -- the team has already cut its losses on Cory Schneider, who has been buried in the minors the past two months. It went out and acquired Louis Domingue from Tampa Bay, but that definitely wasn't the solution. The Devils allow the second most goals per game in the league.
New Jersey bailed on Taylor Hall once it realized it wasn't going to win this season and likely wasn't going to re-sign him in free agency. Depth scoring (actually, any scoring) remains a critical issue, and the blue line isn't in great shape. P.K. Subban's skating has regressed, and he looks like a shell of his Norris Trophy-winning self. Damon Severson's development might have stalled. There are plenty of good veteran locker room guys (Andy Greene and Wayne Simmonds come to mind), but that hasn't equated to wins.
Coach: Incomplete. New Jersey fired John Hynes in early December and promoted Alain Nasradine to interim. But Nasradine is a bona fide babysitter, just waiting out this nightmare of a season.
GM: D- Ray Shero took a few big swings this offseason and whiffed on most of them. He now faces an existential dilemma: reset or rebuild? He will be far better off if Kevin Bahl (acquired in the Hall trade) actually turns into a top defenseman.
Class president: Kyle Palmieri. The team's leading scorer (on pace to match his career high of 30 goals) has been the most consistent forward, and he's a fan favorite.
In danger of failing: P.K. Subban. The offensive defenseman is on pace for his worst NHL season -- he's on track to score 16 points after he recorded 59 just two seasons ago -- and at some point, the Devils are going to look at his $9 million cap hit and ask if it's worth it.
Overall team grade: F Things really couldn't have gone worse for the Devils, a bottom-feeding team that feels directionless. There are no silver linings to this lost season.
Preseason over/under: 91.5
Current points pace: 110
Players: A- Everyone expected the Islanders to take a step back from last season. But they continued where they left off, showcasing themselves as one of the league's stingiest defensive teams and one that can always find ways to win. At the season's midpoint, the Islanders had the league's second-highest win percentage in one-goal games. They're winning, once again, by scoring just enough goals; the Isles are in the bottom third in the league in goal scoring. Anthony Beauvillier continues to ascend -- and we're not just talking about getting Anna Kendrick's attention with a viral tweet in which the internet played wingman. The Islanders have been led mostly by Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson -- both on pace for career-high goal totals -- but production in the bottom six has been much harder to come by.
New York's goaltending duo is once again very good, and the defense is excellent. The team did take a huge blow last week as stud blueliner Adam Pelech is out for the rest of the season with an Achilles tendon injury. That will test the team's depth. Noah Dobson and Sebastian Aho should get their shot.
Coach: A When you have the talent the Islanders have and see the results they produce, give credit to the coaching. Barry Trotz once again has this group believing. The fact that Semyon Varlamov can step in and not be much of a drop-off from Vezina Trophy nominee Robin Lehner is a testament to the team's structure (with acknowledgement to the goaltending guru on staff, Mitch Korn).
GM: A- Lou Lamoriello didn't do much this offseason to change his team -- besides the aforementioned goaltending swap -- and the faith in his players and coach has paid off. The GM is on the clock, though, to get his team some depth and scoring help, or a lack of those could doom the Islanders in the playoffs.
Class president: Mathew Barzal. Nelson has been quite good as well (and is on the books for four winning goals), but top-line center Barzal is the face of this offense and has been the most productive Isle.
In danger of failing: The bottom six. The Isles aren't getting production from this side of the lineup, and the need for a true No. 3 center is glaring (especially as Derick Brassard is performing better on a second-line wing). Lamoriello needs to address this.
Overall team grade: A- This team shot out of the gate, tearing though the league on a 15-0-2 run, and hasn't dropped off much since. The Isles should be a threat in the playoffs.
Preseason over/under: 89
Current points pace: 84
Players C Entering the season, Rangers fans harbored hope their team could be a sneaky playoff team. Turns out, they're probably still a year away.
The rebuild timeline seemed to accelerate once New York landed the No. 2 pick in the draft (and selected Kaapo Kakko), then signed Artemi Panarin in free agency. It's going to take 18-year-old Kakko some time to adjust to the North American pro game, and the road so far has been rocky. Panarin, however, has been everything the Rangers hoped for and more after signing for $81.5 million over seven years. Ryan Strome has been a lovely surprise, especially filling in well when Mika Zibanejad (the team's second-best forward) missed time.
The 5-on-5 play hasn't been great in general, and the blue line presents a ton of problems. Jacob Trouba hasn't been the No. 1 stud the Rangers hoped he could be -- at least not yet -- though Adam Fox is coming along nicely. The Rangers allow the second most shots in the league. Luckily, they have two competent goaltenders, Henrik Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev, who can handle that workload better than most would.
Coach: B- It's difficult for any coach to manage a team through a rebuild. David Quinn has done quite well managing the situation, especially as plenty of young prospects rotate in and out of the roster. The Rangers need to address their fundamental defensive issues (though that might be more on management).
GM: B- Jeff Gorton got a ton of credit for how he steered the Rangers in and out of a teardown in record time, though he's not totally in the clear yet. Yes, the Rangers are in decent position to win while Lundqvist is still around, but Gorton needs to address quite a few areas, like the blue line, first. How he handles the trade deadline will be interesting. Keep an eye on what the Rangers do with Chris Kreider, who has plenty of suitors.
Class president: Artemi Panarin. There's no buyer's remorse here. The breadman has been earning his dough. He led the NHL in points in December (22) and has game-breaking skill to single-handedly tilt the ice in a few games for the Rangers.
In danger of failing: Kaapo Kakko. The future is still bright for the Finn, but his rookie season has been one to forget (besides that one eight-game stretch during which he put up five goals). Kakko is battling confidence issues as he adjusts to the longer and much more grueling NHL schedule.
Overall team grade: C In the big picture, this will probably be seen as a necessary transition season in the rebuild. Right now, the Rangers waffle between being a tantalizingly fun team to watch and a dumpster fire.
Preseason over/under: 90.5
Current points pace: 96
Players: B+ The Flyers entered the season with playoff aspirations. With Chuck Fletcher, Alain Vigneault and Carter Hart in new permanent positions, the Flyers are much better off than they were a year ago. And while they showed some improvements (and have played some exceptional hockey at the Wells Fargo Center), they're having a hard time separating from the pack.
Philadelphia has been slowed down by injuries. The most upsetting loss was forward Oskar Lindblom, who will miss the season after being diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer. A lot of forwards are playing well, with Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek among them. Top rookie Joel Farabee showed exciting flashes, but he has slumped since November and James van Riemsdyk can't find consistency.
The defense is immensely improved from last season. Matt Niskanen is a welcome addition and has brought out the best in Ivan Provorov, who regained form. However, we're still worried about Shayne Gostisbehere, who was benched for a stretch earlier this season. The Flyers use a seven-man rotation to get youngsters such as Philippe Myers and Robert Hagg playing time.
Coach: B+ The Flyers look like a much better structured team under Vigneault, and they aren't victim to as many slow starts. The defense has particularly improved, and for a while the penalty kill was fantastic (after being dreadful last season). The coaches are also doing a good job managing Hart's workload.
GM: B+ Fletcher inherited a good team when he took over, and he made it even better. Though many flinched at the cost for Kevin Hayes this summer, the forward has been great on both ends of the ice. The Matt Niskanen-for-Radko Gudas swap was also inspired.
Class president: Travis Konecny. The 22-year-old got a well-deserved All-Star nod as he's been the Flyers most consistent (and productive) forward this season. Konecny is living up to his new six-year, $33 million contract, already nearly matching his assist total for all of last season.
In danger of failing: Shayne Gostisbehere. Something is amiss with the defenseman, who just isn't the same player he was two seasons ago, when he recorded 65 points (midway through this season, he has just 12). The Ghost was even benched for a stretch earlier this season.
Overall team grade: B The Flyers are a malleable team at this point in this season. They could be shaped into a contender and are well positioned to do so. Or, they might fall apart.
Preseason over/under: 96
Current points pace: 107
Players: A Just how many injuries can one team endure and still compile wins? That's the question this season for the Penguins, who have had unrelenting injury luck yet still find themselves in playoff position -- right in time for Sidney Crosby to return from his two-month absence. Plenty of players have stepped up offensively in the interim, including Bryan Rust (16 goals in 26 games, despite two trips to the IR). Jake Guentzel, with 43 points in 39 games, was equally fantastic. But, in on-brand fashion for the 2019-20 Penguins, Guentzel underwent surgery that will sideline him for four to six months -- just after he was named to his first All-Star game. Brutal.
Kris Letang (who also dealt with an early-season injury) is once again shouldering a big workload, but the true surprise on the blue line has been John Marino, the 22-year-old newcomer who doesn't look out of place. While it's not encouraging to see Matt Murray continue to struggle, the Penguins have been ecstatic about the emergence of Tristan Jarry. The 24-year-old leads the league in save percentage, and if he keeps getting starts, might just pick up a Vezina Trophy nomination.
Coach: A The way Mike Sullivan has guided this group through adversity is nothing short of admirable. The players are buying in, no matter how many setbacks. One of the things Sullivan is doing especially well is managing rest and canceling many morning skates. The results speak for themselves. As Letang told me late last month: "With the way the league is going with all the young guys, sometimes the best thing is to rest and make sure they don't skate. Coach took that in his hands and made it easy for everyone so we don't have to make decisions."
GM: B Jim Rutherford has lucked out a few times this season. He exposed Casey DeSmith on waivers, and nobody picked him up, which maintained Pittsburgh's goalie depth. Rutherford fleeced Edmonton in getting Marino for a conditional sixth-round pick, though the Phil Kessel swap isn't getting great early returns. Knowing Rutherford's aggressive style, he's not done making moves yet.
Class president: Tristan Jarry. Have yourself a year, Jarry. The goaltender was named the NHL's second star for December after leading the league in wins (10), win percentage (.833) and goal differential (plus-16) and allowing the fewest goals overall (26).
In danger of failing: Alex Galchenyuk. The player acquired for Kessel ranks 13th on the team in points (only four goals and 10 assists in 31 games) and doesn't look like a great fit. The Penguins are shopping Galchenyuk, though continuous injuries might halt Rutherford's plans.
Overall team grade: A- Just imagine how good this team could be if it had a full lineup.
Preseason over/under: 98
Current points pace: 120
Players: A- The Caps have been cruising for nearly the entire first half, though historically they have tended to slump right about now. Nonetheless, this Alex Ovechkin-led team looks dangerous as ever. T.J. Oshie (16 goals) is still producing despite playing hard minutes, and Jakub Vrana (16 goals, 34 assists) is finally getting his breakout. We rarely talk about his offensive production, but Tom Wilson is on a career pace as well (13 goals, 27 assists so far). The revamped bottom six features a third line that has struggled to produce and a fourth line that has been very effective.
On defense, John Carlson gets a lot of attention, rightfully so, but 22-year-old Jonas Siegenthaler has quietly been progressing quite nicely and looks as if he could be a future mainstay on the blue line. Radko Gudas isn't an upgrade over Matt Niskanen, but he was never expected to be, in a trade that was made for salary-cap purposes. Washington is hovering around the league average in goaltending statistics, though 22-year-old Ilya Samsonov is showing a ton of promise.
Coach: B+ Todd Reirden, in his second full season, is back coaching the Metro Division at the All-Star Game, so it's hard to find too much to critique here. It would be great if he could get his third line going, though.
GM: B+ Overall, Brian MacLellan has done a good job preserving his roster after winning the Cup but also making necessary tweaks this summer, when he needed to shave down his budget. It's not easy seeing a guy like Andre Burakovsky flourish with a new team, but the Caps did give the winger ample opportunity in Washington. McLellan specifically did an excellent job building one of the best fourth lines in hockey, bringing in Nic Dowd, Garnet Hathaway and Brendan Leipsic over the past two years.
Class president: John Carlson. The 29-year-old has been the toast of the NHL pretty much since the season began and the defenseman began scoring at a historic pace. He's the front-runner for the Norris Trophy and should get plenty of "he's due" votes.
In danger of failing: Braden Holtby. Not for this season, though; the 30-year-old goaltender still firmly holds the No. 1 spot. But Samsonov has exceeded expectations, and he has better stats (albeit in far fewer starts). Given that Holtby is an unrestricted free agent this summer, it feels as if the Caps might be ready to move on from the goaltender, who will likely cost a lot in a new deal.
Overall team grade: A- The Caps look like a dangerous team and are one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup.
Preseason over/under: 101
Current points pace: 113
Players: A- Let's begin with the best: David Pastrnak (1.42 points per game in 43 games) and Brad Marchand (1.40) could both stake a claim to the Hart Trophy this season for their incredible offensive pace-setting -- the Bruins get 55% of their scoring chances with the duo on the ice, and 46% when they're on the bench. Add Patrice Bergeron (1.06 points per game in 34 games) to the mix and that gets bumped up to 59%. The supporting cast at forward has been good. Although David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk are a touch below their points pace from last season, Charlie Coyle and Sean Kuraly are ahead of theirs.
On defense, Charlie McAvoy is off his points pace, too, but the Bruins' top four of McAvoy, the ageless Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug (28 points in 35 games) and Brandon Carlo is as good as any. Tuukka Rask (.931 even-strength save percentage) and Jaroslav Halak (.923) are the best goalie tandem in the East.
Coach: A Despite some performances that are off of last season's marks, the Bruins are a better offensive team (3.25 goals per game) and defensive team (2.44) than they were last season. But the biggest number for coach Bruce Cassidy through the midway point: .686 points percentage, which has the Bruins ahead of last season and atop the Atlantic Division.
GM: B+ Offseason acquisition Brett Ritchie has been a disappointment (45.74 expected goals percentage), but GM Don Sweeney has built a steady winning machine with these Bruins. This seems like a broken record, but the acquisition of a winger at the deadline is of the utmost importance.
Class president: David Pastrnak. The winger's 31 goals currently leads the NHL. He's third in the league in goals scored since 2016, and he has cemented his place among the NHL's elite goal-scorers. Also, the man can sell a doughnut.
In danger of failing: Sean Kuraly. An absolute hero in the postseason for the Bruins, the center is under 50% on faceoffs and one of the worst Bruins forwards in terms of puck possession.
Overall team grade: A With a bit more secondary scoring, last season's bridesmaid could easily return to the ceremony this spring.
Preseason over/under: 84.5
Current points pace: 86
Players: B- To say that Jack Eichel brings up this average a bit is like saying Zdeno Chara slightly affects the Bruins' average height. Eichel is averaging 1.31 points per game in 42 games, by far the best offensive pace of his career and a Hart Trophy-worthy performance. At 55 points, he's 20 points better than the next highest scorer on the Sabres. That would be Victor Olofsson, the best rookie forward in the league through 42 games, although he's out for up to six weeks with a lower-body injury. Sam Reinhart and Marcus Johansson are doing as they've always done. On the other hand, Jeff Skinner is another story: He had 40 goals in last season's contract-year campaign but was on pace for 22 goals this season before an upper-body injury shelved him for four weeks. Casey Mittelstadt, a Jason Botterill pick, is in the AHL after another bust of a season.
On defense, Rasmus Dahlin has taken a step forward in his sophomore season, while Rasmus Ristolainen has skated 23:03 per game amid constant trade rumors. In goal, Linus Ullmark (3.7 goals saved above average) has been better than Carter Hutton. Having too many injuries, and too many underwhelming performances, is dragging down an all-timer of a season from Eichel.
Coach: A- Ralph Krueger arrived in Buffalo under a cloud of mystery, having last coached in the NHL in 2013. He quickly earned the players' trust and respect, and the Sabres' 8-1-1 start inspired confidence. Alas, they repeated last season's tease by hitting a 2-8-2 skid in November and then a 1-5-1 one in December. He has juggled the lineup through injuries and inconsistency. They're better offensively and defensively than last season and are four points out of a wild-card spot. Krueger deserves a ton of credit for this.
GM: C Botterill's inactivity this season caused mounting pressure internally for him to do something. The trade that shipped out Marco Scandella and brought in Michael Frolik felt like one of those "do something!" deals made after the team's injuries mounted. Some of his smaller moves (acquiring Jimmy Vesey and Henri Jokiharju) have worked. But what do we make of the environment he has created in which trade requests from Evan Rodrigues and Zach Bogosian both go public?
Class president: Jack Eichel. We can't say enough about the season he has had, so we'll add that he's got 12.6 goals above average this season -- a number higher than Connor McDavid's and Auston Matthews' -- and five game winners for Buffalo.
In danger of failing: Jeff Skinner. We hate to kick sand at a guy when he's down and out with an injury, but going from 0.716 goals scored above average per 60 minutes to 0.276 is a perilous tumble for a player in the first year of an eight-year, $72 million contract extension.
Overall team grade: C Eichel can't do it alone, and the fact that he has had to do so puts enormous scrutiny on how the general manager has built this club.
Preseason over/under: 77
Current points pace: 44
Players: D- Hope you took the under on that preseason point total. The Red Wings are the worst team in the NHL by a country mile, scoring the fewest goals per game (2.14) and giving up the most (3.81). The Red Wings have one player with more than 20 games played who has a plus rating -- Darren Helm, with an impressive plus-1. Their All-Star, Tyler Bertuzzi, was the only player with more than 30 points after 43 games.
So many players are helping drag down this sinking ship with career-worst seasons, including forward Andreas Athanasiou (five goals and a minus-35), defenseman Mike Green (seven points and a minus-22) and goalie Jimmy Howard (minus-5.7 goals saved above average). If the plan was to be as bad as possible to hasten the rebuild, everything is going according to plan.
Coach: C Jeff Blashill was given a two-year contract extension in April 2019 by former Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, and he would be the caretaker of this lost season for Detroit. He deserves credit for his work with players such as Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin and Filip Hronek. But this is a very bad hockey team that has played significantly worse than even the most onerous projections indicated.
GM: B When Steve Yzerman returned to Detroit this past offseason, he walked into an ongoing rebuild and talked openly about continuing to build through the draft. To that end, there wasn't much done to improve the roster in the offseason. It's hard to grade him with that being the case, but we'll use this space to applaud the flip of Jacob De La Rose for Robby Fabbri.
Class president: Dylan Larkin. While Bertuzzi has the team lead in goals and points, Larkin is right there with 10 goals and 17 assists in 43 games. He leads the Red Wings with 6.5 goals scored above average. Larkin has spent more time in his NHL career posting points in a rebuild than he has playing for a contender. Here's hoping that changes for him and the Red Wings in short order.
In danger of failing: Frans Nielsen. What on earth happened here? Once a dependable two-way forward, the 35-year-old Dane has one goal and three assists in 37 games, skating to a minus-6. That's a minus-5.1 goals scored above average. On a roster with plenty of bad this season, Nielsen has been a special kind of terrible.
Overall team grade: F A tank that's perfect in its imperfection, with a potential franchise player in Alexis Lafreniere at the end of the plummet.
Preseason over/under: 97
Current points pace: 96
Players: B The Panthers are led by their two standout forwards. Jonathan Huberdeau is having a career campaign, with 17 goals and 40 assists for a 1.36 points per game average, good for sixth in the NHL. Aleksander Barkov is a tick away from his pace from last season, but 1.07 points per game in 42 games is still outstanding. Forwards Evgenii Dadonov and Vincent Trocheck and defenseman Keith Yandle are right where they were last season production-wise, and defenseman Aaron Ekblad is ahead of his 2018-19 pace. Noel Acciari, signed last summer, has been a stunner with 14 goals.
But it's another summer acquisition that's dragging this grade down like a $10 million anchor: Sergei Bobrovsky. The goalie is 15-12-4, but with an .897 even-strength save percentage, a .452 quality starts percentage and a minus-3.5 goals saved above average. He has shown flashes of the old Bob. Just not enough of them.
Coach: B+ Joel Quenneville was one of the biggest free-agent signings in franchise history. He has made a positive impact, if not a transformative one, with this roster. The Panthers are a much better offensive team (3.52 goals per game), are around the same defensively, but are ahead of last season's point pace despite continued problems in goal.
GM: B- Dale Tallon might not deserve scorn for Bobrovsky. Sure, hate on the extended term of it, but who among us was convinced he'd be this inconsistent in the short term? As for other pieces, Anton Stralman has been below his previous levels and Brian Boyle has been what you'd expect, but he struck gold with Acciari. Of course, back-to-back hat tricks help.
Class president: Jonathan Huberdeau. The team's MVP thus far, with an outstanding 13.6 goals scored above replacement and 2.3 wins above replacement.
In danger of failing: Mike Hoffman. Bobrovsky is the obvious choice, but Hoffman is off his marks from last season. He's on pace for 26 goals after scoring a career-high 36 last season. His expected goals per 60 at 5-on-5 (1.84) is the lowest among all Panthers.
Overall team grade: B The Cats are a sneaky dangerous team if Bobrovsky can regain at least 75% of his form from his Blue Jackets days.
Preseason over/under: 90.5
Current points pace: 82
Players: B Once in a while, you have to take attendance into account on report cards. So with Jonathan Drouin (19 games), Paul Byron (19 games) and others missing time to injuries, the Canadiens have been up and down. Among the players who have thrived for Montreal this season are defenseman Shea Weber (31 points in 42 games), forward Tomas Tatar (a team-high 35 points), forward Brendan Gallagher (a team-high 15 goals, although currently injured), forward Max Domi (with a team-best 11 goals scored above average), forward Artturi Lehkonen (20 points) and rookie center Nick Suzuki (24 points).
Franchise goaltender Carey Price has a quality starts percentage of .618, but he has been underwhelming with a .902 save percentage and a 3.00 goals-against average.
Coach: B- Claude Julien has struggled this season to keep the Habs effectively playing the defensive system he prefers, especially during an eight-game winless streak in November. While that's symptomatic of having a young roster, it's also on the coach to get everyone humming the same tune.
GM: B- Much respect to GM Marc Bergevin for not mortgaging the future and allowing the kids to play, but there's a happy medium between that approach and improving a team that just missed the playoffs last season. Bringing in defenseman Ben Chiarot helped, and he obviously hopes his recent trade for Marco Scandella will do the same. Hey, who knows? Maybe Ilya Kovalchuk will end up being something more than a defensive black hole with some special-teams upside? But probably not.
Class president: Shea Weber. Playing Norris Trophy-caliber defense while having his best offensive season with Montreal, at 0.74 points per game.
In danger of failing: Carey Price. The Canadiens need their star goalie to be a steadying presence when things aren't going well. With just 4.5 goals saved above average and a .907 even-strength save percentage, Price hasn't been that goalie for Montreal this season.
Overall team grade: C+ It'll be interesting to see what this team looks like at full strength, assuming that actually happens for more than a span of a few games.
Preseason over/under: 70
Current points pace: 72
Players: C- The Senators have a few standouts at forward this season. After looking like a journeyman for most of his career, Anthony Duclair found a home in Ottawa and posted 21 goals in 41 games to earn an All-Star berth. Jean-Gabriel Pageau posted 30 points in 42 games, including three short-handed goals. Tyler Ennis (24 points) is having his best offensive season since 2015. Brady Tkachuk is just a little off his offensive pace as a rookie but has played well. Defenseman Thomas Chabot is also a bit off of last season's breakout season, but defenseman Dylan DeMelo is second on the team with six goals scored above average. Craig Anderson and Anders Nilsson have helped the Sens to a .898 team save percentage, tied for 22nd in the NHL.
But overall, it's a roster with a few high spots and a whole lot of placeholders.
Coach: C+ Freshman coach DJ Smith has improved the Senators' team defense from last season with a 3.36 goals-against average, and he helped make Ottawa a tougher opponent than many anticipated for most of the season. He did this while facing injuries to the roster as well as some unfortunate developments, like Bobby Ryan entering the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program.
GM: B It's easy to forget that GM Pierre Dorian acquired Duclair as a throw-in when he traded Ryan Dzingel to the Blue Jackets. He made good little moves for players such as Vladislav Namestnikov, Ennis and Ron Hainsey, and one bad one for Nikita Zaitsev. Once again, his season will be judged by who stays, who goes and what comes back at this trade deadline, after doing well for himself last season.
Class president: Jean-Gabriel Pageau. He leads the Senators with 9.4 goals scored above replacement, is shooting 19% and plays in all situations. As an unrestricted free agent, he's going to make a lot of money. As a coveted trade asset, his return will make Ottawa a better team -- assuming it even wants to move him.
In danger of failing: Nikita Zaitsev. The Senators were maligned for acquiring him from the Leafs, and he did nothing in 32 games to change the narrative. Just working back from an injury that had him out since Dec. 14, he has eight assists, a minus-11.78 expected goals average and a minus-12.01 scoring chances percentage.
Overall team grade: D At some point, the Senators will stop being the local car dealership of the NHL with their annual spring sell-a-thon, but not this year.
Preseason over/under: 109.5
Current points pace: 104
Players: B+ Everywhere you look in this lineup, you're reminded of what the Lightning have looked like this season in comparison to last season's regular-season juggernaut: great, just not dominant. Example: Nikita Kucherov has 45 points in 40 games and Steven Stamkos has 39 in 38, yet both of those points-per-game averages are down from last season. But those two, Brayden Point (0.92 points per game), Alex Killorn (0.90), Anthony Cirelli (0.68) and Ondrej Palat (0.61) are all strong at the forward spot for Tampa Bay.
Even better are the defensemen: Victor Hedman is playing at a point-per-game pace, Kevin Shattenkirk is having a career resurrection and Mikhail Sergachev might be the Bolts' most improved player. Netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy's numbers are down from last season, but he's 19-9-2 with a .919 even-strength save percentage.
Coach: A- After getting swept by the Blue Jackets in the first round last postseason, Jon Cooper vowed that the Lightning would play the kind of hockey that wins in the playoffs, no matter the cost to their style. Although their goal scoring is down from last season's 3.89 goals per game, they've succeeded in reducing the number of scoring chances for opponents and have found their swagger after a slow start. What that means for the playoffs, assuming they earn a berth, is anyone's guess. But Cooper is going to continue to boldly challenge his team, like when he benched Kucherov a few weeks ago.
GM: A- GM Julien BriseBois could have blown up this team a bit after last postseason's disaster -- especially when you consider the Bolts' cap constraints -- but he smartly stayed the course. His addition of Shattenkirk was fantastic. Adding Patrick Maroon was good, too, even if it's a move made for the postseason. His biggest win came before the season: getting Point signed for a $6.75 million annual cap hit.
Class president: Victor Hedman. An absolute rock for the Lightning defensively as usual, the Norris Trophy finalist is scoring at a career-best pace and 13.2 goals scored above average, second best on the Lightning. He's skating 23:08 per game on average.
In danger of failing: Yanni Gourde. The winger cracked 20 goals and 40 points in both of the past two seasons. This season, he's on pace for 12 goals and 36 points.
Overall team grade: A- The Lightning closed out the first half with a seven-game winning streak, using copies of the obituaries written about them in November to wipe their brows.
Preseason over/under: 101.5
Current points pace: 99
Players: B+ Auston Matthews (1.19 points per game in 43 games), Mitch Marner (1.25 in 32 games) and William Nylander (0.88 in 43 games) are all ahead of last season's scoring pace. John Tavares isn't, but he's still rolling around a point-per-game pace. The supporting cast at forward has featured some pleasant surprises (rookie Ilya Mikheyev, who will miss three months after a skate cut injury), some expected performances (Kasperi Kapanen, 0.56 points per game) and some players just now finding their stride (Alexander Kerfoot, for example).
On defense, the performances have been all over the place, with Morgan Rielly failing to match last season's pace and Tyson Barrie having his struggles at both ends of the ice as a Leaf, at least for the first 20 games of the season. As usual, the backbone has been Frederik Andersen in goal, with a quality starts percentage of .636.
Coach: B This is an average of the C earned by Mike Babcock before he was fired, having gone 9-10-4, and the A earned by Sheldon Keefe after taking over, going 15-4-1 and giving the Leafs their offensive swagger back ... even if their defense can still be an adventure.
GM: B+ GM Kyle Dubas made the bold move to fire Babcock -- with the blessing of upper management -- when it was clear the team was no longer buying what the veteran coach was selling. Keefe was always seen as the next in line due to his long-standing professional relationship with Dubas. So far, so good. As for the Leafs roster, his additions of Barrie and Kerfoot took a while to find their footing, but they're coming along.
Class president: Auston Matthews. The center has 28 goals and 23 assists in 43 games, good for a team-best 10.7 goals scored above average. A Rocket Richard Trophy isn't out of the question if he stays healthy. (Of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the class president had a run-in with police last summer and had a disorderly conduct misdemeanor charge dismissed in November after settling with a security guard who accused him of harassment.)
In danger of failing: Penalty kill. The Leafs' power play ranks sixth in the NHL, but their penalty kill is a disappointing 26th in the league (75.6%). That's systemic from their overall defensive struggles, and it has to improve.
Overall team grade: A- The bully is gone, and the players' coach has unlocked something special about this team, provided the Leafs can figure out how to defend on a playoff level.
Preseason over/under: 90
Current points pace: 84
Players: C+ The Blackhawks have some bright spots. Patrick Kane is still producing like a superstar, and Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith can be elite for stretches. Kirby Dach, a 2019 first-round pick, is getting important reps and doesn't look overwhelmed at the NHL level. Other youngsters (Adam Boqvist, Matthew Highmore and Dennis Gilbert) are getting time, too. No. 2 goaltender Robin Lehner has been everything the team hoped and more.
The biggest issues on this team are availability and depth -- as well as continued leaky play on the blue line. Top free agent Calvin de Haan is out for the season and barely was able to find a stride. Andrew Shaw and Drake Caggiula have been out long term. Brandon Saad was playing great, but now is sidelined and might be used as trade bait. Brent Seabrook's NHL future is in question. The Blackhawks have the ability to play as a dynamic team but haven't done it consistently, and Chicago looks more like a franchise in transition.
Coach: C A little more than one year in, the jury is still out on Jeremy Colliton. His team can often look disjointed. Then again, the coach hasn't been dealt the easiest hand. A big storyline going forward will be Colliton's relationship with -- and ability to inspire -- the veteran players on the team.
GM: C Fans might groan at this grade, thinking it should be lower considering the Blackhawks' place in the standings. Signing Lehner was genius, as he has stolen a few games himself. Stan Bowman's other big free-agent addition (de Haan) hasn't been healthy enough for evaluation. In the big picture, Bowman is transitioning on the fly and getting plenty of looks at his young depth with so many AHL call-ups.
Class president: Robin Lehner. Any question on whether Lehner was just a product of the Islanders' stingy system should be quashed by now. The 28-year-old -- on a one-year, $5 million deal -- has been fantastic, keeping the Blackhawks alive in several games. He's beginning to get more starts than Corey Crawford, too, setting up an interesting quandary for next season.
In danger of failing: Brent Seabrook. Failing as in, there's a possibility this could be it for the veteran defenseman. Seabrook is tough and probably played through a lot of injuries over the years. Now he's getting three major surgeries: to his right hip, his left hip and his right shoulder. Knowing Seabrook, he'll probably try to come back from it, but it's a tough road ahead.
Overall team grade: C- The expectations weren't very high for the Blackhawks this season, and they're about where we thought they'd be: hanging around in a tough Central Division but not having enough in them to go far this season.
Preseason over/under: 97.5
Current points pace: 103
Players: A- The Avalanche are a complete team. Their goaltending, with Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz, has been steady all season. The offense has the star power it always had -- and Nathan MacKinnon, in particular, has been sensational this season -- but finally those stars are supplemented with depth. Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky and Joonas Donskoi are key additions to make the top nine more complete. Colorado is leading the league in goals per game; seven players have double-digit goal totals, and that includes some surprises like 30-year-old Matt Calvert, who should smash his previous career high of 13 goals.
The defense is improved from even a year ago, and the addition of Calder Trophy front-runner Cale Makar is a big reason why. The team does miss Tyson Barrie, but young players such as Nikita Zadorov are coming along nicely.
Coach: A- Jared Bednar is the right guy for this job, and he has guided his team through key injuries early on, including top players such as Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, Erik Johnson and Makar. He's not afraid to shuffle lines to get the team going, and it's helpful that he has better players with whom to work than in past seasons.
GM: A Joe Sakic built a contender the right way, and now he's enjoying the spoils of it. He did excellent work over the offseason adding much-needed forward depth and even has plenty of cap space to play with should the team want to add anyone at the deadline (though he prudently stepped away from Taylor Hall talks).
Class president: Nathan MacKinnon. Once again on a career-best pace (and looking likely to get over the 100-point plateau), MacKinnon is the heartbeat of this offense. Whenever the Avs are in trouble, MacKinnon reverts back to MVP mode. In 14 games with Rantanen and Landeskog missing from the lineup, MacKinnon had 10 goals and 14 assists for 24 points.
In danger of failing: Vladislav Kamenev. The 23-year-old forward came to the Avalanche as part of the Matt Duchene trade in 2017. He has some upside, and Colorado signed the restricted free agent to a one-year extension last summer, but the team hasn't been able to find a regular role for him in the lineup.
Overall team grade: A The Avs are on pace to have their best season in six years, and they have a legitimate chance to win it all. "This is my seventh season, and I've never been on a team that might win the Cup or believes they can win the Cup," MacKinnon told ESPN last month. "In my previous six years, you say it, but you don't really mean it. You know deep down you're not going to win it. This year, it really feels like we have a chance."
Preseason over/under: 97.5
Current points pace: 102
Players: B Once again, it has been a strange season for Dallas. One year after the team's CEO called out the team's two star players in a profanity-laced rant, the Stars had to deal with drama yet again when they abruptly dismissed Jim Montgomery for "unprofessional conduct" in December. It's almost unfair how many coaching changes this group has had to endure.
Nonetheless, the Stars find themselves in a playoff spot in the ultra competitive Central Division. Dallas dug itself out of an early hole -- an embarrassing 1-7-1 start -- just as Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin, a typically dominant goaltending duo, found their stride. (Through 41 games, they tied Boston for the league's best save percentage). Dallas has endured streakiness from its offensive stars, including Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov, and offseason acquisition Joe Pavelski hasn't provided the impact Dallas hoped for yet, though it sometimes takes veterans time to adjust to a new team. Young players such as Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov continue to impress, but the strength in Dallas once again has been its deep blue line, led by Miro Heiskanen, John Klingberg and Esa Lindell.
Coach: Incomplete. It's unfair to grade Rick Bowness less than a month into the job. It's clear he is bringing a more defense-minded structure to the Stars -- similar to Ken Hitchcock's -- but we'll give it more time to see how the team responds.
GM: C The big question in Dallas: Will Jim Nill get the opportunity to hire yet another coach? That's a decision for ownership, and it probably will depend on how the Stars fare in the postseason. Although Nill was lauded for signing Pavelski this summer, the signing hasn't panned out quite yet. Corey Perry was a low-risk signing, but his most memorable moment so far was a Winter Classic ejection.
Class president: The goaltenders. Bishop has 28 starts to Khudobin's 13, so he is shouldering a bigger load. But the Stars barely have a drop-off when they call on their No. 2. Both netminders have been fantastic this season, and they are a big reason the Stars have the second-fewest goals allowed per game in the league.
In danger of failing: Jamie Benn. The offensive decline for the captain continues. After finishing with just 53 points in 2018-19 -- his fewest in a full season since he was a rookie -- the 30-year-old is on pace for only 40 this season. Benn is under contract through 2025.
Overall team grade: B Once again the off-ice drama is overshadowing the on-ice product. The Stars have powered through a tumultuous first half and are well positioned for another playoff run.
Preseason over/under: 87.5
Current points pace: 88
Players: C+ It was a dreadful start to 2019-20. With only seven wins in the Wild's first 20 games, no team had fewer points (16). Then Minnesota began righting the ship. It helped when, individually, certain players leveled up. Kevin Fiala (acquired last season from the Predators) is starting to look like the player we once believed him to be. Ryan Donato (acquired from Boston last season) also picked things up. Veterans Zach Parise and Eric Staal got hot -- especially important after Minnesota lost Jason Zucker for four to six weeks after he underwent surgery for a fractured fibula.
But there have been issues on the back end. The goaltending combination of Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock, quite frankly, hasn't been very good. They are bottom six in the league in team save percentage. Although the team was looking forward to the return of Matt Dumba -- returning after pectoral surgery curtailed last season's breakout -- the 25-year-old hasn't looked quite right. Dumba has been a liability defensively and is nowhere nearly as dominant offensively.
Coach: B- Earlier this season, there were questions about Bruce Boudreau's job security -- from everyone, except his own GM. (Bill Guerin told ESPN last month that he never came close to making a coaching change). Boudreau is pushing a lot of the right buttons as his team survived an awful start and a road-heavy first-half slate. However, the Wild have a propensity to lose after blowing leads, and they need to improve on special teams (they are bottom third in power play and in penalty kill).
GM: A- Usually a GM who has been on the job for just a few months would earn an incomplete, but it's appropriate to give Guerin praise where it's due. It would have been easy for Guerin -- who inherited a bit of a mess from his predecessor -- to panic when the team struggled out of the gate. But he resisted the temptation to make seismic changes, and his team rewarded him for it by climbing back into the playoff picture.
Class president: Eric Staal. The team's lone All-Star leads the Wild in goals. In his age-35 season, Staal has been quite good; especially during a recent streak in which he had seven goals and four assists in 10 games.
In danger of failing: Nick Seeler. The defenseman played in 71 games last season but lost his regular role this season. He has appeared in only six games -- averaging a shade over 10 minutes per game -- and has been sent down to the minors for conditioning help. Rookie Carson Soucy has been a delight, which helped pushed Seeler out of the rotation.
Overall team grade: C+ Success wasn't going to come easy for the Wild, who had a late GM change this summer and are figuring out how to squeeze the most out of an aging roster with bloated contracts. They've showed impressive resilience, though, and still harbor an outside chance of making the playoffs.
Preseason over/under: 98.5
Current points pace: 90
Players: C It has been an inconsistent season so far for the Predators, who struggled mightily in November and haven't quite been able to find their stride since. Finally, on Jan. 6, GM David Poile fired coach Peter Laviolette, hoping a change might salvage Stanley Cup aspirations, similar to the Blues last season. Because in hockey, it's all about peaking at the right time.
Defense has been good enough, bolstered by Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis taking their games to new levels this season in the absence of P.K. Subban. The goaltending, however, has been a letdown as Pekka Rinne has had too many off nights, and even backup Juuse Saros doesn't look as strong as he can be. The Preds finished last season fourth best in goals allowed, and are now seventh worst in the same metric. As for the forwards, Matt Duchene has been a nice addition, filling in the long-coveted second-line center role. Overall, the team is scoring enough goals (it is a top-10 team in that category) but the Preds are also giving up too many, which has led to too many early-season losses.
Coach: Incomplete Laviolette was going to get a failing grade for his early-season performance. It was a big deal that the Preds made an in-season change; Poile is typically known as fiercely loyal to his coaches. Laviolette, however, ran out of leash, which included back-to-back playoff flameouts.
GM: B- Poile looks like a smart man unloading Subban, who has declined in his skating as well as production. And the cap space spent on Duchene was money well spent. But that hasn't equated into a better product on the ice -- not yet, at least. Poile's grade can be improved if the interim (or new) coach rights the ship.
Class president: Roman Josi. The captain has been sensational this season defensively and happens to be the team's leading scorer, too. The 29-year-old defenseman should get his first career Norris Trophy nomination this season.
In danger of failing: Kyle Turris. This has been a lingering problem for the Preds. Turris was benched for a stretch in November, and stylistically, just hasn't been a fit for the Predators since they acquired him in 2017. At this point, Nashville might be best off unloading his contract, even if it can't get what it wants in return.
Overall team grade: C- It has been a disappointing, and at times frustrating, first half for the Predators, who have all the tools to be a contender but just can't figure out a way to put it all together. Will Laviolette's firing be a spark, or are they completely sunk?
Preseason over/under: 96.5
Current points pace: 113
Players: A What Stanley Cup hangover? This Blues team has showed very few signs of fatigue; 41 games in, St. Louis was on pace for 116 points, which would be a franchise best. And the Blues have done this all without their star winger, Vladimir Tarasenko, since Oct. 24 (he's probably out for the regular season after shoulder surgery but should track for a postseason return).
Depth has propelled this team. Several players, led by David Perron, are on pace to up their goal totals from 2018-19. Jordan Binnington has handled No. 1 goaltending duties seamlessly, but the true gem is Jake Allen thriving in a backup role. Allen's .930 save percentage is second among all goalies with at least 10 starts. The defense is interesting because of its depth. Justin Faulk, acquired on the eve of the season, hasn't looked quite comfortable, but he's adjusting to a new role and could revert back to his All-Star form in the second half.
Coach: A No complaints for Craig Berube, getting his first full season as the Blues' head coach. He pushed the right buttons as the interim coach to whip this team into a Stanley Cup winner and seems to be pushing them yet again, keeping this group hungry for more.
GM: A- Doug Armstrong's move to acquire Faulk before the season sent a message to the team: We're not being complacent here. Even though Faulk hasn't totally looked like a stud (yet) in his time in St. Louis, Armstrong has to be happy with where his team is. Don't be surprised, though, if he makes a move near the deadline, especially since the Blues have some Tarasenko cap space to spend.
Class president: David Perron. It's a shame Perron wasn't named to the All-Star team. The 30-year-old leads the team offensively. He is on pace for career bests in goals and points (through 41 games, he was tracking for 32 goals and 80 points).
In danger of failing: The 5-on-3 power play. The Blues have had nearly seven minutes of two-man advantage time this season but have yet to score a goal.
Overall team grade: A There's not more you could ask of these Blues this season. They have consistently been leaders in the Western Conference, and they somehow got even better after their usual leading scorer went down.
Preseason over/under: 93
Current points pace: 95
Players: B+ There has been a lot of turnover on the Jets in just a year, and the team didn't get decent replacements for a lot of those losses. However, Winnipeg has found ways to win.
Mark Scheifele once again leads the way offensively, and Kyle Connor and Blake Wheeler have been very good as well. Even Jack Roslovic showed some decent flashes in an expanded role, especially when he plays alongside Wheeler. The biggest surprise might be Patrik Laine, who evolved his game this season into being more of a complete player and passing threat; Laine is just behind Scheifele for the team lead in assists.
The blue line, on paper, is seriously diminished from last season. And yet, the defense has been competent. The Jets are still surrendering too many shots per game (third most in the league) as well as high-danger chances (second most in the league, at 5-on-5) but have been bailed out by excellent goaltending from Connor Hellebuyck.
Coach: A- Paul Maurice had to deal with a lot of unexpected drama leading up to the season, especially with the late surprise of Dustin Byfuglien not reporting to camp. The fact that this team is even sniffing the playoffs is an ode to the coach.
GM: A- It was a challenging offseason for Kevin Cheveldayoff even before the Byfuglien news. He watched some key players leave, and new contracts for Connor and Laine felt daunting. But he got both deals done before the season (huge win), and the Jets have surpassed expectations thanks to their depth.
Class president: Connor Hellebuyck. The 26-year-old American is very deserving of his All-Star nomination after shouldering a huge workload (starting 31 of the team's first 40 games) and shining throughout, posting a .922 save percentage. That includes three shutouts, tied for most in the league.
In danger of failing: Sami Niku. The 23-year-old defenseman still has a bright future ahead, but Niku is in danger of having 2019-20 be a lost season. Considering how pressed the Jets have been on defense, the Jets could really use Niku. But he hasn't been able to crack the lineup, playing only one NHL game and 16 in the AHL, due in large part to a string of injuries. Niku should get some NHL reps in January to prove himself.
Overall team grade: B+ After an early playoff exit and a summer of drama, nothing has come easy for the Jets. And yet, they're hanging around in the playoff race anyway. It's welcome news for a team we were touting as a wagon just one year ago.
Preseason over/under: 83
Current points pace: 76
Players: C- Stop me if you've heard this one before: a few outstanding performances being smothered by layers of middling seasons and injury-plagued campaigns like hockey's worst version of a Scotch egg. The Ducks have been in this position before, only this time goalie John Gibson (.906 save percentage) hasn't been his superhuman self to elevate them.
On the good side, Jakob Silfverberg and Ryan Getzlaf both have 28 points to lead the team after the first half of the season. Adam Henrique could hit 30 goals with a little luck. Cam Fowler is having a good, healthy season. But Ondrej Kase has a 3.2 shooting percentage in an injury-riddled season. Josh Manson (23 games) was also injured and has returned with a dud of a season. Anaheim's penalty kill is bad; its power play is worse. The Ducks laid an egg this season, and a cracked one at that.
Coach: C Coach Dallas Eakins learned from his first brief stint in Edmonton that you don't reshape a team in your image as soon as you walk into the rink on Day 1. It takes a lot of time and a lot of earned trust. That's an ongoing process, but you can see some positive differences between the Ducks under Randy Carlyle and these current Ducks. It's a team going through a youth transition, and Eakins, the franchise's former AHL coach, is the right guy for this gig in the long run.
GM: C- The Ducks' .464 points percentage would be their worst since 2003-04. GM Bob Murray made one significant in-season trade, acquiring an underwhelming Erik Gudbranson from Pittsburgh when the defense was in disarray. If there's a knock on him, it's that he held on to some veteran assets longer than he should have when the writing on the wall was clearly spelling youth movement. But with Trevor Zegras joining Troy Terry, Sam Steel and whomever the Ducks draft this summer, that movement seems on track.
Class president: Jakob Silfverberg. The winger's 0.68 points per game would be the highest of his eight-season NHL career, and he has done it without playing with Getzlaf at 5-on-5.
In danger of failing: Korbinian Holzer. No one is really looking for much from the defenseman, but a minus-6.3 goals scored above average and being a puck possession black hole has led to a handful of healthy scratches.
Overall team grade: D+ A season so mediocre that apparently even the goaltenders decided it wasn't worth saving.
Preseason over/under: 90
Current points pace: 97
Players: A- Buoyed by incredible goaltending by Darcy Kuemper (.929 save percentage) and Antti Raanta (.921), the Coyotes had playoff-caliber defense in the first half of the season. But their offense wasn't quite at the same level, despite strong performances from Nick Schmaltz (0.80 points per game) and Clayton Keller (0.73). Enter Taylor Hall in a December blockbuster trade with the Devils, giving the Coyotes an offensive engine with a Hart Trophy to his credit. He had six points in his first nine games with Arizona.
Other notable performances included center Christian Dvorak (leading the team at 8.9 goals scored above average) and defensemen Alex Goligoski (0.55 points per game) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (17 points). The goal scoring still isn't where they want it to be, but this cast has Arizona in a playoff seed at the midway point.
Coach: B+ Rick Tocchet has been trying to forge an identity for the Coyotes over the past three seasons, and in the past one and a half, that identity has been awesome defense and sparse goal scoring. Perhaps that will change with some of the new offensive weaponry on the roster. But where Tocchet has been good this season is in managing expectations. As he told The Arizona Republic, "As much as it's hard to come out of it when you're losing, it can be tough when you're winning because some people have a tough time handling prosperity. You can let your foot off the gas pedal, but you've got to be on guard. All of a sudden ... you can get really comfortable and you have to be careful."
GM: A- Backed by an aggressive billionaire owner in Alex Meruelo, GM John Chayka has bolstered this roster with players such as Hall, Phil Kessel, Carl Soderberg and others. Even if things go sideways, the first-rounder shipped out for Hall is top-three protected. The Coyotes are close to the cap, which might make it difficult for him to do more. But he has done plenty to give Tocchet a playoff-caliber roster.
Class president: Darcy Kuemper's 13.9 goals saved above average is second most in the NHL this season, and his .934 even-strength save percentage is best among goalies with at least 25 appearances. His quality starts average (.840) is by far best in the league, too.
In danger of failing: Phil Kessel. We love Phil. You love Phil. The summer acquisition is heating up with 10 points in his past 16 games, but his 0.20 goals per game average (9 goals in 44 games) would be his lowest since he was a 19-year-old with the Boston Bruins in 2007.
Overall team grade: A On paper, the Hall trade juices the offense and secures a playoff spot in a down year for the Pacific Division. But Arizona fans know the games aren't won on paper.
Preseason over/under: 97
Current points pace: 91
Players: C Last season, the Flames were among the NHL's most potent offensive attacks, at 3.52 goals per game. We'd suggest that Flames fans cue up some highlights from that season if they want to see a barrage of goals, because hoo-boy: Calgary is averaging 2.70 goals per game, 24th in the NHL after being third last season. Johnny Gaudreau's drop from 1.21 points per game down to 0.80 has been inexplicable and disappointing. Sean Monahan (0.77 points per game), Matthew Tkachuk (0.84) and Elias Lindholm (0.73) are all producing, but down. Reigning Norris Trophy winner Mark Giordano's production has fallen off a cliff at 0.45 points per game, down from 0.95(!).
On the positive tip, the departure of Mike Smith has helped the team go from 21st to 14th in team save percentage, with David Rittich (.918 in 33 games) and to a lesser extent Cam Talbot (.927 in 13).
Coach: B+ Flames coach Bill Peters "resigned" at the end of November after independently confirmed incidents of racist language and physical abuse of players in previous coaching stops. The Flames were only 12-12-4 with Peters at the helm before his "resignation." Interim coach Geoff Ward, a highly regarded assistant, has gone 10-5-1 since taking over, even if he's still figuring out that whole coach's challenge thing.
GM: C- Brad Treliving was put in an untenable situation by Bill Peters, and drove without a road map as best he could. Some aspects of the Flames' slide this season (.557 points percentage, down from .652) couldn't have been predicted, but offseason trade acquisition Milan Lucic having four goals in 42 games was entirely predictable.
Class president: David Rittich. Only Carey Price has started more games than Big Save Dave's 33 games this season, and his 9.8 goals saved above average is tied for seventh best in the NHL this season.
In danger of failing: First periods. The Flames have gotten off to some awful starts this season, skating to a minus-9 goal differential. They've had a first-period lead in only 12 of 44 games this season.
Overall team grade: B- Despite being down nearly a goal per game off of last season's production and dealing with the unexpected adversity of a coaching change, the Flames were in a wild-card spot 44 games into the season. Imagine where they'll be if they locate their offensive pop again.
Preseason over/under: 86.5
Current points pace: 93
Players: C Through 44 games, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl both have 65 points, or 37 more than the team's next highest scorer Zack Kassian, who has 28 points because he plays with either McDavid or Draisaitl. In all situations with McDavid and Draisaitl on the ice, the Oilers have scored 94 goals and have given up 69. Without either of them, they've scored 37 goals and given up 70. Calling this a two-man team would be an insult to teams.
OK, in fairness, James Neal has 19 goals playing with McDavid and Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (0.66 points per game) is down from his previous two seasons because he's not playing enough with McDavid and Draisaitl. They're around the middle of the pack in offense and defense, which is miraculous given their lack of quality depth.
Coach: A- Coach Dave Tippett arrived with a reputation for strong defensive teams. He protested that, no, he can also coach offense. Both were right: Tippett has sealed up some defensive holes with a 3.11 team goals-against average, down from 3.30, and has the Oilers scoring at a 2.93 goals-per-game average, up from 2.79. Plus, he has coached this roster into a playoff spot at the midway point, proving that two star players can make a coach look as good as a hot goaltender can.
GM: B Ken Holland arrived in Edmonton standing in a mile-deep ditch armed only with a garden spade to dig the team out. He hired Tippett, and found someone to take Milan Lucic off his hands for what turned out to be a 19-goal scorer. Again, the hand he was dealt has made reshaping this roster on the fly a challenge, but we'd still like to see a little more help for the dynamic duo.
Class president: The power play. We're mixing high school metaphors here, but McDavid and Draisaitl should break the prom crown in two and share it. So absent one clear president, we'll go with the fruits of their labor: a power play that ranked tops in the league after 44 games at a 29.6% conversion rate. Here's a fun stat: The Oilers have scored 38 power-play goals with either player on the ice. Without McDavid and Draisaitl? They've scored ... one.
In danger of failing: Mike Smith. While both goalies are under .500 in quality starts percentage, Mikko Koskinen has clearly been the better netminder in the Oilers' tandem. He has a 14-8-2 and a .915 even-strength save percentage, while Smith is 8-9-3, at .898. Tippett wanted his old netminder from Arizona between the pipes, and Smith certainly has played like an old netminder this season.
Overall team grade: B- It's been a roller-coaster season for the Oilers, but as long as McDavid and Draisaitl are healthy, they've shown they'll drag this carcass to at least the playoff bubble in the West.
Preseason over/under: 75.5
Current points pace: 71
Players: D+ The best thing that can be said about the L.A. Kings is that they're slightly better than last season's version, a team that had the second-worst record in the NHL but at one point was actually trying to be respectable. Anze Kopitar followed his professional nadir with a rebound to 0.86 points per game. Drew Doughty is scoring at 0.60 points per game, up a little from last season. Same with Tyler Toffoli (0.57), as he awaits what we all assume will be a trade, and Jeff Carter, who is one goal from matching his 13-goal total from last season.
Again, all of the above is in comparison to last season's Kings. Against the rest of the NHL this season, they're 28th in offense (2.56 goal per game). The same principle applies in goal, where Jonathan Quick (.907 even-strength save percentage) has been better than he was last season but still never exactly good by NHL standards, as he's 44th in goals saved above average.
Coach: B+ Todd McLellan brought some veteran stability behind the bench, and the Kings are back to their puck-possessing ways, currently sitting third in the NHL at 5-on-5 shot attempts percentage (53.66). But he knew what he was getting into with the Kings, and it was not turning them into a playoff team in a transitional season.
GM: B- GM Rob Blake didn't have a summer fire sale in part because there was no point in shipping out veteran players just to find more veteran players as placeholders until the franchise's impressive prospect pool is ready. But we do have to ding him for the utter disaster that was Ilya Kovalchuk with the Kings, in which the veteran had three goals in 17 games and was a defensive turnstile until the two parties opted to end the relationship. (He's now in Montreal.)
Class president: Anze Kopitar. The biggest bummer for the Kings last season was seeing Kopitar follow up his 1.12 points per game season -- and second career Selke Trophy win -- with the worst production of his NHL career. With 37 points in 43 games and an even rating after a minus-20 last season, things are looking a bit more Kopi-esque.
In danger of failing: Comebacks. L.A. is the only team in the NHL this season that has not won a game in which it trailed after the first period (0-16-1). The Kings have also won once when trailing after two periods (1-20-1), although the bigger story here is that they've trailed entering the third in 22 of 43 games this season. Yikes.
Overall team grade: D The Kings aren't a total embarrassment, and they have gotten a little bit of their identity back this season. But the present is still as much a bummer as the future appears bright in L.A.
Preseason over/under: 94
Current points pace: 78
Players: C- Among the Sharks posting a lower points-per-game average this season than last season: Tomas Hertl (0.82), Logan Couture (0.82), Erik Karlsson (0.70), and, more vitally, Timo Meier (0.64, down from 0.85), Brent Burns (0.66, down from 1.01) and Kevin Labanc (0.48, down from 0.68). It all adds up to an offense that has dropped from 3.52 goals per game down to 2.66. That's bad. Worse yet is that the Sharks are giving up 3.34 goals per game, thanks to lax defense and a .889 team save percentage.
Coach: C+ Peter DeBoer coached the Sharks to the conference final last season and then was fired 33 games into this season because of a reduced roster and his goaltenders' inability to get a key save. He was replaced on an interim basis by Bob Boughner, who vowed to get the Sharks back to being a team that comes at you in waves. At 4-5-2, the tide remains out.
GM: D+ Doug Wilson watched Joe Pavelski, Joonas Donskoi and Gustav Nyquist leave as free agents and traded Justin Braun due to cap constraints that were partially created by the $11.5 million paid annually to Karlsson. The Sharks gambled that younger players could fill some of those holes. It didn't work, to the point that 40-year-old Patrick Marleau was signed to steady to the ship.
Meanwhile, last season's subpar goaltending is this season's subpar goaltending. Wilson has been one of the best general managers in the NHL for far too long to count him out. But this mix of ingredients hasn't come together at the moment.
Class president: Logan Couture. While Evander Kane's goal scoring deserves a shoutout -- he's on pace for a career-best 35 goals -- Couture's team-leading 36 points while being one of the few Sharks not in the negative on goal differential earns him the presidency.
In danger of failing: Martin Jones. The much maligned netminder is 13-15-2 this season with an .883 even-strength save percentage and a minus-1.1 goals saved above average. The Sharks' defense isn't without fault. But Jones has been terrible on most nights, with a .345 quality starts percentage.
Overall team grade: D+ The Sharks are among the season's biggest disappointments. Even though they're only eight points out of a playoff spot, Money Puck gives them a 10.9% chance of making the postseason, ahead of just four other teams.
Preseason over/under: 89.5
Current points pace: 98
Players: B+ The answer is 42. The question, in this case, is how many games the Canucks had played through Monday and how many of those games Elias Pettersson (1.05 points per game), Brock Boeser (0.93), Bo Horvat (0.83) and J.T. Miller (0.95) have appeared in. Although the supporting cast has been solid in some places -- Tanner Pearson (12 goals) and Jake Virtanen (12 goals) among them -- the health of the team's core of forwards was paramount to the Canucks contending this season.
Of course, having a rookie defenseman like Quinn Hughes (30 points in 41 games) play like a seasoned pro and a goalie like Jacob Markstrom post a .925 even-strength save percentage and a .621 quality starts percentage helps make for a contending team too.
Coach: B+ It hasn't been the smoothest ride for the Canucks -- their seven-game winning streak entering the new year followed a 1-4-0 valley -- but coach Travis Green has kept the team on track and changed up the lineup when necessary.
GM: B+ Jim Benning has earned some of the scorn he has received as Canucks general manager -- we're still not sure what that Jay Beagle contract was about -- but he had a good 2019. The Tanner Pearson trade paid off. That conditional first-rounder for J.T. Miller might still not be justifiable, but his performance has made it a closer argument. And Tyler Myers hasn't been the disaster some imagined.
Class president: Elias Pettersson. The Calder Trophy winner laughs in the face of the sophomore slump, as he has 44 points in 42 games, including 19 goals. His shot attempts percentage is 10.8% better than that of his teammates at even strength.
In danger of failing: Depth health. Although the big names on the roster have remained healthy, the Canucks have felt the injury sting down the lineup with players such as free-agent acquisition Micheal Ferland (14 games), Tyler Motte (15), Brandon Sutter (22) and Antoine Roussel (14) all missing chunks of time.
Overall team grade: B+ The Canucks haven't made the playoffs since 2015. If their key players stay healthy, and Markstrom and Thatcher Demko continue to give Vancouver the eighth-best team save percentage in the league, that will change.
Preseason over/under: 101.5
Current points pace: 98
Players: A- On Nov. 25, the Golden Knights were 11-11-4 and one of the more underwhelming teams in the West. Now, they're 24-15-6 and in first place in the Pacific Division, and many of the Knights are outpacing their performances from last season. That includes their dynamic duo of Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone, who are a plus-9 in goal differential and get 63.21% of the scoring chances at 5-on-5. Reilly Smith (16 goals) is on pace for new career highs; William Karlsson (0.73) and Jonathan Marchessault (0.72) put up points. Shea Theodore (25 points) is poised to blow away his previous career highs. Marc-Andre Fleury continues to be Marc-Andre Fleury with a .912 even-strength save percentage and 8.5 goals saved above average.
Coach: A- Gerard Gallant has this thing down to a science now, and he understands this roster implicitly after three seasons. He's fiery when he needs to be, moves pieces around when there needs to be a refresh. But this season, Gallant also changed tactics in the defensive zone when the team wasn't winning, which sparked a turnaround. "It's tough to change things 20 games into the season. You want to make sure your players believe in it. It's worked out pretty well," Gallant told the Las Vegas Journal-Review.
GM: B+ Kelly McCrimmon got the bump up to the big job on May 2, 2019, so there's not a whole lot on which to judge him, outside of shipping out Nikita Gusev, Colin Miller and Erik Haula for picks. The Knights have a roster that can challenge for a Stanley Cup. If there's a knock on them, it's that they have little cap room through which to improve it even more.
Class president: Max Pacioretty. His 0.96 points-per-game average is a career high, and he leads the Golden Knights with 10.1 goals scored above average.
In danger of failing: Paul Stastny. The veteran center has 19 points in 45 games for what would be a career-low 0.42 points per game. His 16:27 per contest is a career low in average ice time as well.
Overall team grade: A- The Golden Knights figured a few things out in the first half of the season and are now among the league's better possession teams and leading their division. At 85.7% to make the playoffs, bet on Vegas to be in the mix.