The Pittsburgh Penguins sit atop the power rankings until someone knocks them off the perch. (Getty Images)

A look at our first power rankings for the 2016-17 season, listing teams as they stand heading into the season and not necessarily where they might finish. The ranking in parenthesis shows where teams finished in our list last year, prior to the start of the playoffs:

1. Pittsburgh Penguins. Fair is fair. The champs get the top spot to start the season but there's been no repeat Cup winners since the '97-98 Red Wings. It will be interesting to see how good they can be for the long haul with a full year under Sullivan. Crosby looked better than ever over the past year, but his uncertain status is a major question mark. (4)

2. Tampa Bay Lightning. Two games from the Cup in '15, one game from a return to the final in '16, destined to play deep into spring of '17. (11)

3. Dallas Stars. Flying Lindys plenty deep to have lots of success from October to April. Ruff has real shot at first trip to Cup final since No Goal. (2)

4. Washington Capitals. Will the Great Eight ever get past the second round of the playoffs? A great regular season team that always gets the spring flu. (1)

5. Nashville Predators. How pumped is Smashville for its team? Sold out a preseason game for the first time in franchise history to get first look at Subban.(13)

6. San Jose Sharks. DeBoer has taken two teams to the final while getting not nearly enough credit. (12)

7. Chicago Blackhawks. A first-round ouster for first time in '11 will have them cranky and refreshed. Look out. (5)

8. St. Louis Blues. In Hitchcock's final season, the window may be closing after three straight 100-point seasons. (3)

9. Los Angeles Kings. In their 50th anniversary year, All-Star hosts look for big bounceback after first-round crushing by Sharks. (6)

10. Florida Panthers. Hard to figure because ownership went haywire making changes after unlikely division title was followed by first-round loss to the Islanders. (7)

11. Anaheim Ducks. After yet another playoff disappointment, Boudreau was shown the door and ... Carlyle was brought back? The game isn't played like 2007 anymore. (8)

12. Montreal Canadiens. Full season of Price will make a huge difference. (22)

13. New York Islanders. Year two in Brooklyn could be more of a struggle compared to year one. They will miss Okposo. They will rue Ladd's deal. (9)

14. New York Rangers. Team on the decline overly reliant on goalie who will turn 35. Still can't figure out Vesey's thinking. (10)

15. Boston Bruins. World Cup fallout: Marchand reaches stardom and a big payday, Chara woefully shows his age. (15)

16. Philadelphia Flyers. With Hakstol behind bench and Gostisbehere on the ice, college connection paid big dividends. (16)

17. Minnesota Wild. Maybe Boudreau can get something from this bunch of underachievers. (17)

18. Detroit Red Wings. A tribute-filled swan song in the Joe might also be notable for end of playoff streak. (14)

19. New Jersey Devils. Maybe trade for Hall will cut down some of the zzzzzzzzzz effect to their games. (21)

20. Buffalo Sabres. Rebuilding time is over, so the pressure to win is real. (23)

21. Edmonton Oilers. It's opening year in Rogers Place, the House Built for Connor. (29)

22. Colorado Avalanche. Roy proved to be HOFer who wasn't much of a coach. (20)

23. Arizona Coyotes. A cadre of young talent may not be under the radar much longer. (24)

24. Carolina Hurricanes. Young defense, trade for Teravainen make them interesting. (18)

25. Ottawa Senators. Boucher is an interesting new coach. Need a new core. (21)

26. Winnipeg Jets. Trouba holdout puts a huge dent in team's plans. (25)

27. Calgary Flames. Fun to watch with Gaudreau. Without him? Not so much. (26)

28. Toronto Maple Leafs. They're last year's Sabres: Much improved, still at least a year away. (30)

29. Vancouver Canucks. No way Miller ever imagined he'd be in nowhere land signing here. (28)

30. Columbus Blue Jackets. Utter irrelevance: Fifteen seasons, no playoff series wins and Torts at the helm. (27).
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