Power Rankings: Recasting each NHL team as a Star Wars character

ESPN Illustration

Geeking out over this week's release of "The Last Jedi"? You're not alone. For this week's Power Rankings -- voted on, as always, by ESPN's panel of experts -- we channeled our love for a galaxy far, far away as well as our passion about the 2017-18 NHL season and identified a Star Wars character who best embodies each team. You can't stop change any more than you can stop the suns from setting -- although the Tampa Bay Lightning begin another week ruling the hockey universe.

How we rank: We use a panel of voters, and these rankings reflect which teams voters think would win head-to-head matchups. Higher-ranked teams are favored over lower-ranked teams. A run of wins doesn't guarantee a jump, and a couple of losses doesn't guarantee a fall.

Previous rankings: Preseason | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9

1. Tampa Bay Lightning

Record: 22-6-2
Week 9 Ranking: No. 1

Rey. The scrappy scavenger grew up alone on a desert planet (kind of like the Atlantic Division) yet finds herself drawn into a galaxy-spanning conflict. Plus, her performance is universally acclaimed.

2. St. Louis Blues

Record: 21-9-2
Week 9 Ranking: No. 5

R2-D2. The feisty droid is the brave hero who always comes through -- hey, someone needs to knock the Blackhawks out of the playoffs every once in a while. R2-D2 helps a friend no matter what trouble (or, in the Blues' case, injuries) he or she runs into.

3. Nashville Predators

Record: 19-7-4
Week 9 Ranking: No. 2

Han Solo. Like Solo, the Preds are charming, rough-around-the-edges rogues. Outsiders who have proved themselves to be indispensable. Now, if they can only master the (Phil) Kessel run that they failed in the Stanley Cup Final ...

4. Winnipeg Jets

Record: 18-8-5
Week 9 Ranking: No. 3

Boba Fett. In the rise of the Galactic Empire, Boba Fett emerged as a lethal bounty hunter -- just like Winnipeg. In what was supposed to be a golden renaissance for Canadian hockey teams, the Jets have broken out as the silent assassin.

5. Columbus Blue Jackets

Record: 19-11-1
Week 9 Ranking: No. 9

Finn. Despite being legit championship contenders, the Blue Jackets still have their doubters. But once people get over their preconceptions -- and over themselves -- perhaps they can see how totally awesome this could be. As Finn showed, it doesn't always take a Jedi to wield a lightsaber.

6. Los Angeles Kings

Record: 20-9-3
Week 9 Ranking: No. 6

Leia. She accomplished a lot when she was young. And even as she aged, Leia stayed adventurous -- as did the Kings, who have adapted to a faster style under new coach John Stevens -- but remained the same badass we all know and admire.

7. Toronto Maple Leafs

Record: 20-11-1
Week 9 Ranking: No. 4

Yoda. Sometimes things out of Yoda's mouth seem backward (name Auston Matthews captain already, why won't you, Lou Lamoriello?), but he speaks with wisdom and stays true to a greater plan.

8. Washington Capitals

Record: 19-12-1
Week 9 Ranking: No. 10

Jyn Erso. Jyn is a fearless member of the Alliance who seemingly does everything right. But she eventually dies at the end and meets her untimely demise. What could have been. Sigh.

9. New Jersey Devils

Record: 17-9-4
Week 9 Ranking: No. 7

Ewoks. The Devils are cute and cuddly and yet so skilled when they're out in the forest. That's how we feel watching youngsters like Nico Hischier, Will Butcher and Jesper Bratt overachieve ...

10. New York Islanders

Record: 17-11-3
Week 9 Ranking: No. 12

The Force. An ancient power, long forgotten and now returned to prominence. As mysterious and incomprehensible as Josh Bailey having more than double the points of Joe Pavelski this season.

11. Vegas Golden Knights

Record: 19-9-2
Week 9 Ranking: No. 11

BB-8. The new plaything that people weren't sure was going to be successful and then totally was. And just when you think apathy is setting in, it does that adorable "thumbs-up" with its torch and you're back in droid love.

12. Minnesota Wild

Record: 16-11-3
Week 9 ranking: No. 19

Han Solo, Frozen in Carbonite. A hero trapped in stasis, as the Wild were during their early-season injuries, but finally thawing out. Sure, he's going to stumble around until he gets his vision back, but at least he's no longer a wall treatment in Jabba's Palace.

13. New York Rangers

Record: 16-12-3
Week 9 Ranking: No. 13

The Millennium Falcon. Henrik Lundqvist will still make point five past lightspeed. His games might not always look like much, but he's got it where it counts, kid. (We of course mean his immaculate beard.)

14. San Jose Sharks

Record: 16-10-3
Week 9 Ranking: No. 20

Chewbacca. Look, sometimes they write themselves, OK?.

15. Dallas Stars

Record: 18-13-1
Week 9 Ranking: No. 14

The Jawas. They scoured the deserts (aka NHL free agency) for scraps to make into refurbished equipment. Unfortunately, they inevitably sell said equipment -- and hopefully that's not the case for Dallas at this year's trade deadline.

16. Boston Bruins

Record: 15-9-4
Week 9 Ranking: No. 22

Admiral Ackbar. He is known for only one good line: "It's a trap!" The Bruins are also known for only one good line: Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.

17. Chicago Blackhawks

Record: 15-11-5
Week 9 Ranking: No. 16

The Skywalker Family. Incredibly popular and a foundational team in the NHL's saga. But do they have to, like, be in everything? Maybe they tell some different stories once in a while?

18. Pittsburgh Penguins

Record: 16-13-3
Week 9 Ranking: No. 8

Death Star. They're an unstoppable killing machine -- back-to-back Stanley Cup champs, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin still in their prime -- but let's face it, they have significant flaws. This year, that's slow starts, depth production, 5-on-5 scoring ... need we go on?

19. Anaheim Ducks

Record: 13-11-7
Week 9 Ranking: No. 18

Bacta Tank. This is an aspirational assignment. After enduring a ridiculous number of injuries, the Ducks need to make like Luke Skywalker, put on a breathing mask and submerge themselves in this vessel of water until they are healthy.

20. Calgary Flames

Record: 16-12-3
Week 9 Ranking: No. 15

The Emperor's Royal Guard. They're red, like the Flames. Also, they attack with a spear, like Matthew Tkachuk.

21. Philadelphia Flyers

Record: 12-11-7
Week 9 Ranking: No. 24

K-2SO. That droid from "Rogue One" that looked evil, like the Flyers do, but was also charming in its own blunt manner. Also didn't make it to the end, like the Flyers won't.

22. Vancouver Canucks

Record: 14-14-4
Week 9 Ranking: No. 17

Baby Luke and Leia. A combination of youth with unlimited potential and two magical twins.

23. Carolina Hurricanes

Record: 12-11-7
Week 9 Ranking: No. 23

Sebulba. We thought they had the pod race finally figured out and would cross the finish line as a playoff team. Instead, they've spent the first two months playing like "poodoo."

24. Montreal Canadiens

Record: 13-14-4
Week 9 Ranking: No. 21

Darth Vader. We know there's still good in Vader -- just as there's still a glimmer of hope in this Canadiens team -- but on the surface, we see a masked villain corrupted by last season's moderate success.

25. Colorado Avalanche

Record: 14-14-2
Week 9 Ranking: No. 25

Lando Calrissian. Rules over a city in the clouds. Let's just hope that when Joe Sakic looks back at the Matt Duchene trade he isn't muttering "This deal is getting worse all the time ..."

26. Edmonton Oilers

Record: 13-16-2
Week 9 Ranking: No. 26

Anakin Skywalker. Ah, the Chosen One. He was supposed to bring balance to the force, just as Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were supposed to be an unstoppable one-two punch. The fear of losing it all has crippled this preseason Stanley Cup contender.

27. Florida Panthers

Record: 12-14-5
Week 9 Ranking: No. 28

Old Obi-Wan Kenobi. Stubbornly believes in his own philosophy. Has been dormant for many, many years, waiting for A New Hope.

28. Detroit Red Wings

Record: 11-13-7
Week 9 Ranking: No. 29

Padme. She was once prestigious royalty. But after a forbidden marriage (committing to too many long-term contracts to aging players) she now finds herself on the dark side of the salary cap.

29. Ottawa Senators

Record: 10-13-7
Week 9 Ranking: No. 27

Clumsy Stormtrooper. It feels like the Senators this season are a big lumbering giant who's just ramming into walls. Somewhere between the potential Erik Karlsson drama and fallout from the Kyle Turris/Matt Duchene trade, this team is a clumsy mess on the ice.

30. Buffalo Sabres

Record: 8-17-6
Week 9 Ranking: No. 31

Bolvan. Now, who is Bolvan? According to Wookieepedia, Bolvan was the Imperial officer who told his gunner not to fire on the escape pod that was jettisoned from the Tantive IV because there were no lifeforms on board. Had he done the opposite, then R2-D2, C-3PO and the plans for the Death Star are basically vaporized, and the entire film series ends there. So in honor of the single most inept moment in a Star Wars movie, we bestow him upon the Buffalo Sabres' season.

31. Arizona Coyotes

Record: 7-21-5
Week 9 Ranking: No. 30

The Great Pit of Carkoon. It's a big, swallowing hole in the middle of the desert, without much of an identity. You could just fall into it, and disappear ...