Ranking Most/Least Aggressive Teams in the NHL

Ranking Most/Least Aggressive Teams in the NHL
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

With NHL hitting and fighting on the decline for years, very few teams keep a dedicated enforcer on the roster.

Instead, teams want players who can get the puck and keep possession of it.

Out is dumping the puck and using intimidation to get it back. In is entering the zone with possession.

EmpireStakes.com - your source for New York sports betting – did an analysis to see if that old-school, tougher style of hockey was still successful in today's NHL.

Utilizing MoneyPuck.com to compile the amount of hits by each NHL team and HockeyFights.com to compile fights in the 2022-23 regular season, our rankings show the league’s most aggressive teams.

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Most Aggressive Teams in 2022-23 Season

There is no shortage of numbers and odds on NY betting appsbut you won’t find this list.

Rank NHL Team Hits Rank Fights Rank
1Ottawa Senators2nd (2,290)T-2nd (36)
2Philadelphia Flyers4th (2,223)T-2nd (36)
3Tampa Bay Lightning7th (2,026)1st (37)
4Nashville Predators 3rd (2,242)T-7th (29)
5Arizona Coyotes 6th (2,095)6th (30)
6Vancouver Canucks8th (2,024)5th (34)
T7 New York Rangers11th (1,978)10th (26)
T7Washington Capitals9th (2,015)12th (24)
9Boston Bruins14th (1,925)9th (28)
10 New York Islanders5th (2,139)T-19th (17)


Finding Rangers, Islanders in Our Rankings

Clearly, aggressiveness away from the puck does not translate to wins as six of the 10 teams on top of the chart missed the playoffs this past season.

Two teams that did make the playoffs from the list both reside in the state of New York. The  Islanders ranked 10th and the Rangers seventh. However, both teams were beaten in the first round by much faster teams that play more of a possession game and focus on team speed.

The Islanders didn’t fight a lot but ranked high on the hits front, thanks to their fourth line with Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin, who are ranked first and second, respectively, in career hits in the NHL.

The top two lines on the teams aren’t as physical with the Islanders having a definitive separation between their top and bottom six in terms of style of play.

The Rangers ranked 11th in hits and 10th in fights, led by captain Jacob Trouba. Trouba is one of the rare players in the league who still specializes in the open-ice hits. He delivered several devastating blows this season, including a massive hit on the Devils’ Timo Meier in the first round of the playoffs.

Despite his hits usually being clean, Trouba was often asked to fight after these hits, resulting in the Rangers’ team fight totals also rising.

Looking ahead to next season, the Rangers (+800) are the sixth pick to win the Eastern Conference by BetRivers NY. The Islanders are at +2300, below even the Buffalo Sabres (+2000).

Speaking of the Sabres . . .  

Sabres Among Least Aggressive Teams in 2022-23 Season

Ranking much further down the list were the Buffalo Sabres, who finished as the second least aggressive team, according to the same ranking

Rank NHL Team Hits Rank Fights Rank
1Carolina Hurricanes30th (1,351)32nd (5)
2Buffalo Sabres32nd (1,084)T-29th (7)
T3Los Angeles Kings25th (1,742)28th (11)
T3Dallas Stars 26th (1,648) 27th (13)
5New Jersey Devils 29th (1,366)T-23rd (14)
6Detroit Red Wings19th (1,812)T-29th (7)
T7 Toronto Maple Leafs23rd (1,775)T-23rd (14)
T7Colorado Avalanche 27th (1,613)19th (17)
9Anaheim Ducks31st (1,284)11th (25)
T10 Edmonton Oilers16th (1,874)T-23rd (14)
T10St. Louis Blues18th (1,814)T-21st (16)
T10Florida Panthers 24th (1,755)15th (21)


The Sabres trailed just the Hurricanes for the least aggressive team, and the Hurricanes were the team that eliminated the Islanders in the first round en route to the Eastern Conference final.

The Sabres also missed the playoffs last year in a strong Atlantic Division, but are just coming out of a rebuild and are expected to challenge for a playoff spot this year.

As with BetRivers, the Sabres have jumped ahead of the Islanders in odds at DraftKings NY. Buffalo is +1700 to win the conference, right on the edge of the playoffs, and the Islanders are +2500. DK has the Rangers as the fourth pick to win the East at +750, tied with Boston.

Look for a BetRivers or DraftKings NY promo code if those odds entice you. 

With skilled, fast players like Rasmus Dahlin, Tage Thompson and Alex Tuch on the roster,  the Sabres will rely more on team skill and speed to improve this year. The hope is to have the same type of success that the Hurricanes, Kings, Stars and Devils all had this year as some of the other least aggressive teams in the league.

With their commitment to team speed over the Rangers and Islanders commitment to aggressiveness away from the puck, no fan base in New York should be more optimistic than Buffalo.



Cecil Peters

Cecil Peters is a Senior Betting Analyst for EmpireStakes.com. A professional sports bettor in Canada, Cecil specializes in analyzing the latest odds impacting professional sports teams, with a focus on a league's favorite players and teams. In New York, that includes his specialty, the NHL, and the Rangers, Islanders and Sabres.

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