Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: New year, new deals?
Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: New year, new deals?
The NHL holiday roster freeze is now over and teams are again free to trade, waive or make promotions from their minor league affiliates as they see fit.
It comes after a stretch headed into the holidays where trade chatter was quiet as it’s ever been and some teams are holding out hope that an extended winning streak, something that’s happened quite a bit this season, will those that are struggling back into the playoff picture. But now reality may be settling in for teams like the Colorado Avalanche, who made a coaching change in the offseason after Patrick Roy bolted from a team that isn’t really going anywhere.
Instead, they have been just as bad with a new coach, and that means Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and others may become available as the Avalanche look to alter the DNA to their player roster. Joe Sakic is under heavier scrutiny now after changing the coach and not getting better results. Other teams like the Arizona Coyotes should also start selling off at this point, but they have a young GM that doesn’t seem to be playing ball with the rest of the managers while overvaluing his own players.
That should change as other teams drop into the 2016-17 loser category along with the Avs and Coyotes, but for not perhaps things will loosen up for a trade or two as teams with legit playoff aspirations look to fortify their own clubs. We shall see what happens in the coming days and weeks.
Without further ado, here are this week’s power rankings:
1. Columbus Blue Jackets (24-5-4, previous ranking: 4)
It took nearly half the season, but we’re fully buying in on the Blue Jackets now. What a great redemption story for both John Tortorella and a talented team of players that underachieved and had some bad luck, over the past few seasons. They are big, play a heavy game, have great goaltending and can crucify teams with their special teams play. That’s a pretty solid hockey club.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (24-8-5, PR: 2)
The Penguins have consistently been at the top of the league for the past calendar year and so much of that is due to Mike Sullivan. He was rewarded with a well-deserved three-year contract extension over the holiday break and the Penguins have won three in a row.
3. Montreal Canadiens (21-9-5, PR: 1)
Three losses in a row around the holiday break signal a bit of a dip for the Habs and the last OT loss to the Lightning has started opening the door for other Atlantic Division teams to catch and overtake them.
4. New York Rangers (24-12-1, PR: 5)
Giving up a combined 14 goals in two losses to the Penguins and Minnesota Wild headed into the holiday break was a little bit of a warning sign, but they righted the ship with a post-Christmas win over Ottawa.
5. Chicago Blackhawks (22-10-5, PR: 3)
In the good news department, the Blackhawks have inked Artemi Panarin to a two-year extension and taken care of perhaps their biggest contractual worry. In the bad news department, they’ve hit a three-game skid that included losses to the Avalanche and Jets.
6. Minnesota Wild (22-8-4, PR: 8)
The Wild have won 11 in a row and lead all Western Conference teams with a plus-37 goal differential. Once again, Bruce Boudreau is working his magic in the regular season with another team.
7. San Jose Sharks (22-12-1, PR: 9)
The Sharks have won seven of their past eight and the only loss was to the Chicago Blackhawks. San Jose’s best players are performing, with Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski leading the way offensively, and Martin Jones has been stellar once again between the pipes.
8. Washington Capitals (20-9-4, PR: 7)
The Capitals are in an easy portion of their schedule right now, but fumbled away the first chance out of the break with a loss to the lowly New York Islanders.
9. Ottawa Senators (20-12-3, PR: 12)
Guy Boucher is getting the most out of this unit with a minus-2 goal differential, but one still wonders how much smoke and mirrors are involved with Ottawa’s second place standing in the Atlantic Division.
10. St. Louis Blues (19-12-5, PR: 10)
Robby Fabbri is hitting a hot streak for the Blues, and they are just going to enjoy it for as long as it lasts. The three goals against the Flyers was a big-time performance.
11. Philadelphia Flyers (20-13-4, PR: 6)
After losing four of their past five and getting outscored 10-3 in losses to the Blues and Devils, the winning streak is definitely over for the Broad Street Bullies. They’re a talented, but flawed, team.
12. Edmonton Oilers (19-11-3, PR: 11)
The Oilers aren’t winning every night, but a 6-2-4 record in December shows that they’re grinding their way to a playoff berth like they haven’t in the past.
13. Anaheim Ducks (17-12-7, PR: 13)
A three-game losing streak with just four goals to show for their offensive efforts looks like a dry spell to me. This Ducks team hasn’t really looked and felt right all season at the offensive end of the ice.
14. Calgary Flames (19-16-2, PR: 16)
Dougie Hamilton has been a difference-maker since his name popped up in trade rumors at the start of the season. There’s a whole lot of talent out there in Calgary if they can all keep on the same page.
15. Los Angeles Kings (17-14-4, PR: 17)
Another Kings player, Tyler Toffoli, goes down, but they just seem to keep on surviving and waiting for the banged-up bodies to return. The plus-2 goal differential portends things turning around a bit for them.
16. Toronto Maple Leafs (15-12-7, PR: 26)
The Leafs are making their move and have won three in a row while still looking to round out their roster with a top-four defenseman. They outscored Colorado, Arizona and Florida 12-3 on the road and have a big test coming up against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
17. Boston Bruins (18-15-4, PR: 15)
The Bruins have lost eight of their past 11 and haven’t enjoyed a lot of easy regulation wins as of late. There are danger signs all around with a team that looks like it's about to drop out of the playoff picture.
18. Tampa Bay Lightning (18-15-3, PR: 19)
Has anybody doubted this team was going to finally get it into gear and make their move in the Atlantic Division with or without Steve Stamkos. Improving their effort level and results on the road would be a big help.
19. Carolina Hurricanes (15-12-7, PR: 21)
Good goaltending from Cam Ward and home-ice dominance is a good formula for a Canes team trying to scrape their way back into the playoff picture. Now, they simply have to make sure they continue to make good ice for the games, right?
20. Dallas Stars (15-14-7, PR: 20)
Seven out of eight points against Philly, St. Louis, Arizona and Los Angeles portend a hot stretch for the Stars and a lot of has to do with improved defense and goaltending. That is the perpetual area that needs to be tightened up for Dallas.
21. Winnipeg Jets (17-17-3, PR: 22)
Wins in four of their past five have Winnipeg beginning to elevate their play, but the Jets got a major test on Thursday night in the form of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Connor Hellebuyck has settled into having a very good season between the pipes.
22. Nashville Predators (15-13-6, PR: 14)
The Preds are in an okay position, but have hit a potentially bad situation with whatever ails P.K. Subban. If it’s a serious injury then a Nashville team just kind of floating along could be in a spot of trouble.
23. Florida Panthers (15-14-7, PR: 18)
The divisional loss to the Maple Leafs stings a bit. They’ve stabilized over the past couple of weeks, but the Panthers need to show more if they’re going to climb back into the race.
24. Detroit Red Wings (15-16-4, PR: 24)
A 7-10-3 record in their final season at the historic Joe Louis Arena is kind of pathetic. The Wings are an example of a team that probably would have been better completely bottoming out as a plan to rebuild, but instead it’s happening now without a grand design behind it.
25. New Jersey Devils (13-15-7, PR: 25)
The Devils snapped their long losing streak, but they’ve still got some work to do to get off the mat. A home-and-home sweep loss at the hands of the Penguins around the Christmas holiday certainly doesn’t help believe they’re out of their funk just yet.
26. Buffalo Sabres (13-13-8, PR: 23)
The Ryan O’Reilly appendicitis over the Christmas holiday certainly isn’t helping the Sabres, who need to start putting some wins together and show some progress under Tim Murray and Dan Bylsma.
27. Vancouver Canucks (15-18-3, PR: 27)
The offense has gone into hibernation for the Canucks since dropping eight goals on the Carolina Hurricanes a couple of weeks ago. At least Bo Horvat seems to be making some progress.
28. New York Islanders (14-14-6, PR: 28)
Should we start giving the Islanders the benefit of the doubt after winning three in a row and showing signs of life? Nah. Maybe next week. But at least pride has kicked in for a team that looked lost and adrift at sea.
29. Arizona Coyotes (11-19-5, PR: 29)
The Coyotes have lost five games in a row and have wasted another season after it looked like they were going to make a move with their offseason moves. The minus-34 goal differential is second-worst in the league and Mike Smith is the only thing between the team and out-and-out disaster.
30. Colorado Avalanche (12-21-1, PR: 30)
The fact that the Avs have only scored an NHL-low 70 goals with a team that’s got some pretty good offensive talent is astounding. The fact that they’ve also given up 112 goals means that they are a terrible hockey club.