Joe Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Reality bites for sellers
With Jake Muzzin, Nick Bjugstad and Brian Boyle getting traded by the Los Angeles Kings, Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils, the time has come for many of the market’s sellers to come to grips with reality. It’s clear that many of them have already as they put together deals ahead of the Feb. 25 trade deadline.
There is still more, however. The Flyers have won eight in a row and are still far away from the playoff race. They will eventually decide they have to move on from Wayne Simmonds, just as St. Louis and Carolina will likely have to do with their rental players. But it’s been a bit of a different kind of season with many teams coming to grips with their non-playoff status pretty early in the process and then making the accompanying moves to get top value for their assets.
It’s only a matter of time before the true NHL Power Rankings bottom-feeders Edmonton, Arizona, Anaheim and Ottawa do the exact same thing. On to this week's edition:
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (39-11-3)
The Lightning are still the best and show few signs of slowing down with a 6-3-1 record in their past 10.
2. Calgary Flames (34-14-5)
The Flames are 8-1-1 in the past 10 and continue to nip at the heels of the Lightning for the NHL’s best overall record. David Rittich has really stepped up for them between the pipes.
3. Winnipeg Jets (34-16-3)
The 20-6-3 record for the Jets on their raucous home ice is pretty darn good and now they’re setting the pace in the Central Division. Onward and upward for Winnipeg.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs (32-17-3)
The Leafs have won a couple of games in a row and clearly seem buoyed by the addition of Jake Muzzin. Could they catch the Lightning? Probably not, but it looks like Tampa Bay and Toronto are the class of the division.
5. San Jose Sharks (31-16-7)
The Sharks have won three in a row and continue to push in the West. Nine players in double-digit goals for the Sharks reveals a deep and strong roster ready for the postseason.
6. Nashville Predators (32-19-4)
Two of the top three scorers for the Predators are on the back end. That’s not something that you see every day.
7. New York Islanders (30-16-6)
The Isles have clearly bought into what Barry Trotz is selling and now they look like a playoff team. They also look like a big, heavy out once they get there.
8. Montreal Canadiens (30-18-6)
Maxi Domi is blossoming into a pretty strong player who's giving the Habs some offense and a little attitude. Who would have guessed a Domi would become so beloved in Montreal?
9. Boston Bruins (29-17-7)
After one of their worst stretches of the season, the Bruins flexed some muscles in back-to-back wins over big, heavy Metro teams Washington and the Islanders. Not too shabby.
10. Washington Capitals (29-18-6)
The Capitals are 2-6-2 in their past 10 and have taken a little bit of a slide in the past few weeks. They are clearly losing their touch with the B’s, too, after losing for the first time in 15 tries against them.
11. Vegas Golden Knights (30-21-4)
A great season for Alex Tuch out in Vegas as he’s the Golden Knights' leading scorer and has taken over the role of “William Karlsson Cinderella season” from the man himself.
12. Pittsburgh Penguins (28-19-6)
The Penguins are difficult to figure while losing a couple in a row and just teetering around the edge of the playoffs in the Metro. Are they just coasting or are they just burnt out from their Cup runs?
13. Columbus Blue Jackets (29-20-3)
The Blue Jackets continue to stay in a playoff spot while Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin dream of other NHL destinations. Is it sustainable? Great question.
14. Dallas Stars (28-21-4)
As of right now, the Stars are a playoff team. They’ve won five in a row and are making their move in the Western Conference despite already going through a “horse [bleep]” controversy this season.
15. Buffalo Sabres (26-20-6)
The Sabres are off the playoff pace and perhaps finally getting to their level after a great start. Still, even being in the conversation at all is a big step in the right direction.
16. Carolina Hurricanes (26-21-6)
The Hurricanes have gone 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and are making their seemingly annual push toward being included in the playoff conversation. Wouldn’t you love to see their postgame celebration make it to the postseason?
17. Minnesota Wild (26-22-5)
The Wild are falling off the playoff pace a bit out in the West, and are starting to look more and more like sellers at the trade deadline this time around. Three losses in a row for Minny.
18. Philadelphia Flyers (24-23-6)
The Flyers have won eight games in a row and still aren’t really even close to the playoff picture. Boy that has to be discouraging.
19. Vancouver Canucks (24-24-6)
The Canucks have some great young talent and they’ve always had the rabid fan base, but it sure looks like it’s going to be a long process to get back to contender status.
20. St. Louis Blues (24-22-5)
The Blues have won three in a row and are 7-2-1 in their past 10, but still feel like they will be trading players by the end of the month.
21. Colorado Avalanche (22-22-8)
The Avs have lost four in a row and eight of 10 and seem to be losing all that good mojo they had to start the season while being carried by their top line.
22. New York Rangers (22-22-8)
Chris Kreider is really upping his trade value as the leading goal-scorer for the Rangers this season. Could be coming back to Boston after starring at Boston College? Hmmm.
23. Chicago Blackhawks (22-24-9)
The Blackhawks have won five in a row and are still at the bottom of the Central Division. Does a five-game win streak even count if you’re still in last place?
24. Arizona Coyotes (23-25-5)
The bad news is that the Coyotes have lost four in a row and are sinking back in the Pacific Division. The good news is that there are teams much worse off than them in their division.
25. Edmonton Oilers (23-25-5)
Imagine having the best hockey player on the planet in Connor McDavid and being as terrible as the Edmonton Oilers. Man, that has got to sting out in Oil Country for a team that’s lost six in a row.
26. Anaheim Ducks (21-24-9)
The Ducks have lost five in a row, but they’ve finally got Corey Perry back healthy and playing. It’s the small victories in life.
27. Florida Panthers (21-22-8)
Aleksander Barkov was talked about in the same breath as Patrice Bergeron prior to the start of the season. He’s a minus-19 this season. So maybe that was a tad premature.
28. Detroit Red Wings (21-25-7)
The Wings have won three in a row and have Dylan Larkin and Gustav Nyquist playing some very good hockey for them. Too bad they can’t get Pavel Datsyuk to come back from Russia.
29. New Jersey Devils (20-25-7)
The Devils have traded away gritty center Brian Boyle in a clear sign that it’s “better luck next year” in New Jersey after such a fun season last year.
30. Los Angeles Kings (22-27-4)
The Kings have won a couple of games in a row, but it’s a lost season for an organization selling off some of their Stanley Cup-winning pieces. It’s always tough when it gets to this point for a former champ.
31. Ottawa Senators (19-28-5)
When do we start getting the trade rumors for Mark Stone and Matt Duchene? It can’t be long now for the misbegotten Senators, who are going nowhere fast.