NHL Power Rankings: Getting back to business after All-Star break
The time is nigh for the sellers and the buyers to get selling and buying ahead of next month’s NHL trade deadline.
Teams like the Capitals, Blues, Bruins, Penguins, Avs, Islanders, Stars and Canucks will be buying as they get ready for the Stanley Cup Playoffs after building a strong seasonal body of work through the NHL All-Star break. And other teams like the Devils, Kings, Senators, Red Wings and Ducks will be selling off assets and they could very soon be joined by other teams like the Rangers and Sharks that are on the fence with some heavy duty assets like Chris Kreider, Joe Thornton and Brenden Dillon who will create a stir when they become available.
It will be what happens over the next couple of weeks that will create that landscape ahead of the late February trade deadline as teams either solidify their playoff hopes, or get their dreams dashed once and for all this season.
Now on to the power rankings:
31. Detroit Red Wings
(12-35-4, rank last week: 31)
The Red Wings have lost six games in a row and have a minus-90 goal differential. There really isn’t much to like or watch in Hockeytown these days, which is pretty sad.
30. New Jersey Devils
(18-24-7, rank last week: 30)
The Devils are beginning to get some traction with some of their young players, but Jack Hughes is going through a tough time in his first year playing a man’s game in the NHL. It’s all to be expected in a long development arc.
29. Los Angeles Kings
(18-27-5, rank last week: 29)
Good news: The Kings haven’t lost any games this week. The bad news: The Kings haven’t played any games this week because they’re on their bye week.
28. Ottawa Senators
(18-23-9, rank last week: 28)
The Senators are 2-4-4 in their last 10 games and their attendance is dropping to friends and family levels. It sure feels like the Sens are bottoming out once again.
27. Anaheim Ducks
(19-25-5, rank last week: 26)
The Ducks are 3-7-0 in their last 10 games and dropping down toward the bottom of the Pacific Division. Pretty soon they will be in seller mode just like the rest of the pretender class of teams around the NHL.
26. San Jose Sharks
(22-25-4, rank last week: 27)
The Sharks are making their last stand for a playoff spot, but there’s a very real possibility that Jumbo Joe could be on the trade block over the next couple of weeks.
25. Buffalo Sabres
(22-21-7, rank last week: 22)
Two losses in a row and 10 points out of a playoff spot? They call this the patented Sabres Fade out there in Buffalo where it will be golfing season again soon enough.
24. Minnesota Wild
(23-21-6, rank last week: 24)
Zach Parise is hitting a dominant stride that hasn’t been seen for a while with five goals and eight points in nine games this month, and for a Wild team that’s on life support right now for playoff consideration.
23. Montreal Canadiens
(22-22-7, rank last week: 23)
Ilya Kovalchuk has four goals and eight points in nine games since coming to Montreal, and he's showing exactly what other playoff-level teams missed the boat on when he could have been signed for a pittance just a month ago.
22. New York Rangers
(23-21-4, rank last week: 24)
While it’s great that Chris Kreider got to show off his skills at All-Star weekend, it’s too bad that Artemi Panarin couldn’t have done the same after tearing it up for the Blueshirts thus far this year.
21. Nashville Predators
(22-19-7, rank last week: 21)
The Predators have a .904 save percentage in January, so it seems like they are at least starting to get their goaltending in order. Still, Pekka Rinne needs to be better than simply average if the Predators are going to make a move.
20. Winnipeg Jets
(25-22-4, rank last week: 20)
The Jets have lost four in a row and have a 3-6-1 record over their last 10 games, and are dropping out of a playoff spot. Is it time for a shakeup with this talented hockey team?
19. Chicago Blackhawks
(24-21-6, rank last week: 20)
Everybody was celebrating Patrick Kane during NHL All-Star weekend. Now we get to see if that remaining greatness gets them a return ticket back into the playoffs.
18. Toronto Maple Leafs
(26-17-7, rank last week: 15)
Is it at all possible that the Maple Leafs could be a seller at the trade deadline? It’s hard to believe given the team they have and the market that they’re in, but if they fall further behind the playoff pack, they might need to start asking the tough questions.
17. Philadelphia Flyers
(27-17-6, rank last week: 18)
Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny are keeping the Flyers in the playoff hunt, but they need to be better from a defense and goaltending perspective. Carter Hart needs to pick it up if they don’t want to be left behind.
16. Vegas Golden Knights
(25-20-7, rank last week: 16)
The Golden Knights lost a couple of games headed into the break, but at least players like Paul Stastny and Shea Theodore were beginning to gather their games back together.
15. Arizona Coyotes
(26-20-5, rank last week: 14)
The Coyotes have lost a couple in a row and are very much bunched up in the Pacific Division playoff structure. It’s going to be an interesting few months for a team that’s clearly going for it Columbus-style this year.
14. Calgary Flames
(26-19-6, rank last week: 8)
The Tkachuk brothers got their nice little family moment in St. Louis last weekend during NHL All-Star weekend, but a showdown with Zack Kassian and the Oilers is a back-to-reality moment.
13. Edmonton Oilers
(26-18-5, rank last week: 12)
Mike Smith is getting hot for the Oilers with a 5-0-1 record and a .924 save percentage this month, and keeping them high up in the Pacific Division standings. It sure likes like the Oil will be playoff-bound this season.
12. Carolina Hurricanes
(29-18-3, rank last week: 9)
Life without Dougie Hamilton begins. Given that he was a possible Norris Trophy finalist after the first half, it’s going to be a lot tougher than it once might have been for the Hurricanes.
11. Dallas Stars
(28-17-4, rank last week: 10)
Credit the Stars for winning hockey games and changing the way that they play, but you’ve got to wonder if it’s sustainable when Tyler Seguin has zero goals and a minus-3 in the month of January.
10. Vancouver Canucks
(28-18-4, rank last week: 11)
J.T. Miller is heating up for the Canucks this month and he has to be considered one of the best, most underrated acquisitions that an NHL team has made over the last couple of seasons.
9. Florida Panthers
(28-16-5, rank last week: 8)
Seven goals and 12 points this month for Frank Vatrano, who is among a number of Panthers players who have stepped up their game offensively this month. Now Florida is in a playoff spot, but the question is whether the Panthers can hold it.
8. Columbus Blue Jackets
(28-16-5, rank last week: 17)
The Blue Jackets are up to 62 points amidst a six-game winning streak and are in the middle of a playoff hunt now. Who would have thought that possible when so many players deserted them last summer?
7. New York Islanders
(29-15-5, rank last week: 7)
Mat Barzal comes away with the fastest skater title after NHL All-Star weekend and brings a little star power and pizzazz back to the Isles in the second half.
6. Colorado Avalanche
(28-15-6, rank last week: 6)
The Avs rode a three-game winning streak into the All-Star break and now gather some rest around the break and accompanying bye, which should make them even better when they return.
5. Tampa Bay Lightning
(29-15-5, rank last week: 5)
The Bolts are seven points behind the Bruins in the Atlantic Division and in position to make a strong push over the final few months. It’s going to be interesting to see if Tampa can pull a reverse of last season.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins
(31-14-5, rank last week: 2)
Three goals and eight points in five games for Sid the Kid since returning from injury and he’s been a shot in the arm for a Penguins team keeping pace in the Metro Division.
3. Boston Bruins
(29-10-12, rank last week: 3)
The Bruins hold a seven-point lead in the division while in the middle of their bye week, and are set up to control their own destiny as long as they pick it up a bit in the second half. It’s pretty clear they need help at the trade deadline, however.
2. St. Louis Blues
(31-12-8, rank last week: 4)
After hosting All-Star weekend and doing a good job of showing off their city, the Blues are now in the market to improve a team where Vladimir Tarasenko’s return seems a little murky.
1. Washington Capitals
(34-11-5, rank last week: 1)
Ten goals in the month of January for the ageless Alex Ovechkin, who was able to take his one-game suspension after skipping the All-Star weekend without any big ramifications for the Caps.