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NHL Elo Power Rankings - Introduction and Initial Rankings


The Elo rating system is best known in the world of chess to compare the relative skill levels of players based on their historical performance in ranked matches. Players gain points when they win a match and drop points when they lose a match - the number of points won or loss will depend on the ranking of their opponent. You will gain far less points by beating a lower ranked player than by beating the top ranked player. You can read more about Elo here.

We decided to use this Elo rating system as the backend of our NHL Power Rankings. Our goal is to provide a guide on the relative skill level of each team based on their historical performance against other NHL teams.

These rankings can be used to calculate the probability of one team beating another. A 100 point difference between two teams is equal to a 64% win probability for the higher ranked team while a 200 point difference is equal to a 75.9% win probability. 

We won't go too deep into the calculations behind the Elo rating as it uses a significant amount of code but here are some key considerations:

  • Our Power Rankings look at games going back to the 2005-06 season
  • Each team started out with a 1500 ranking at the start of the 2005-06 season
  • To account for home-ice advantage, home teams receive a 45 point boost for each home game
  • The impact of each game on the overall score depends on two factors: Elo score difference and goal differential.
  • The greater the Elo difference between the two teams the greater the impact on the Elo rating after the game.
  • The greater the goal differential in the game the greater the impact on the Elo rating after the game.
  • Elo rating is zero-sum: where one team gains another loses the exact same amount
  • After each season, Elo ratings are regressed back to the mean (1500) to account for off-season changes

In future posts, we will add some more information on our methodology but lets get to the rankings. As of December 15, 2015 here are our NHL Power Rankings:

Team

Elo Rating

Washington Capitals

1587.05

Dallas Stars

1577.27

New York Rangers

1546.64

Los Angeles Kings

1544.73

Chicago Blackhawks

1542.22

Montreal Canadiens

1536.07

Minnesota Wild

1535.29

Tampa Bay Lightning

1531.57

Boston Bruins

1526.45

Colorado Avalanche

1526.16

New York Islanders

1525.69

St. Louis Blues

1524.10

Ottawa Senators

1521.90

Calgary Flames

1508.65

Florida Panthers

1505.48

Detroit Red Wings

1492.77

Winnipeg Jets

1491.15

San Jose Sharks

1488.04

Pittsburgh Penguins

1487.47

Anaheim Ducks

1485.85

New Jersey Devils

1480.76

Nashville Predators

1478.56

Columbus Blue Jackets

1469.88

Edmonton Oilers

1461.68

Philadelphia Flyers

1461.38

Vancouver Canucks

1458.80

Carolina Hurricanes

1439.07

Arizona Coyotes

1428.94

Toronto Maple Leafs

1426.65

Buffalo Sabres

1418.96



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