NHL Power Rankings: Re-stacking Cup contenders after trade deadline
The NHL trade deadline is officially in the rear-view mirror and now the real spring begins to the playoffs for teams across the NHL. Each of the 31 organizations know their full group going down the stretch and new faces will get acclimated quickly under pressure-packed games in the final six weeks.
We know the immediate winners and losers after the trade deadline. Carolina made some big moves to fortify a roster beset by injuries, and Tampa Bay clearly is going for it after spending first round picks to acquire gritty playoff-types in Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow.
Even the Islanders and Lou Lamoriello got aggressive by trading an array of picks for third line center Jean-Gabriel Pageau and then signing him to a five-year, $30 million contract to stay on Long Island for the long haul. Now we see if the big moves benefit those teams that decided to be bold, or if the quiet, patient approach favors playoffs-caliber teams like Dallas and Colorado that didn’t do very much ahead of the deadline.
Now on to the power rankings:
31. Detroit Red Wings
(15-46-4, rank last week: 31)
The Wings became the first team to officially be eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs last week. That’s quite an accomplishment in the middle of February.
29. Los Angeles Kings
(22-35-6, rank last week: 29)
The Kings finally embraced their role as sellers at the deadline and accumulated some assets, but it’s telling how a player like Ilya Kovalchuk responded after going from L.A. to Montreal.
28. Ottawa Senators
(21-31-12, rank last week: 28)
The Senators got a haul for Jean-Gabriel Pageau and have a boatload of draft picks for the 2020 NHL Draft. They certainly did what they could to set themselves up for future success.
27. Anaheim Ducks
(25-30-8, rank last week: 26)
The Ducks sold a bunch of their assets in a job well done by Bob Murray, but I also saw that he thinks Danton Heinen is going to bring speed to the Ducks lineup. I’m not sure what the Ducks scouts have been watching if they think Heinen has speed in his game.
26. New Jersey Devils
(25-27-10, rank last week: 30)
A good job by Tom Fitzgerald getting a first round pick for Blake Coleman, getting future assets for an injured defenseman in Sami Vatanen and going full-blown seller after dealing Taylor Hall earlier this season.
25. Chicago Blackhawks
(27-28-8, rank last week: 25)
The Blackhawks are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games and shipped off a goaltender in Robin Lehner who's been their best puck-stopper this season. There are some curious decisions being made there.
24. Minnesota Wild
(30-25-7, rank last week: 24)
The Wild could have been much bigger sellers at the deadline, and probably should have moved on dealing Zach Parise to the New York Islanders if it was a possibility.
23. Montreal Canadiens
(29-27-9, rank last week: 23)
Say what you will about Marc Bergevin, but he got good value for Ilya Kovalchuk and Marco Scandella when he moved them at the trade deadline. The Habs have a load of draft picks and future assets.
22. Buffalo Sabres
(29-25-8, rank last week: 22)
The Sabres are another team that bought at the deadline by bringing in Wayne Simmonds, a player that I like who moved to a team that really doesn’t have much of a chance at this point. What’s the deal, Buffalo?
21. Florida Panthers
(33-24-6, rank last week: 18)
The Panthers might rank higher, but after the head-scratching move to sell on Vincent Trocheck to one of their competitors for a playoff spot this spring, they have earned a few demerits.
20. Arizona Coyotes
(31-27-8, rank last week: 23)
The Coyotes have struggled, but they’re also getting Darcy Kuemper back healthy and in between the pipes. That should be a difference-maker for an Arizona team that’s missed him.
19. Winnipeg Jets
(32-27-6, rank last week: 19)
The Jets have lost three games in a row and don’t seem to want to grab hold of a playoff spot. It’s really difficult to figure this hockey team out given the talent on the roster, but maybe it’s one too many subtractions from the back end.
18. Nashville Predators
(31-23-8, rank last week: 20)
The Predators didn’t do much to augment the team at the NHL trade deadline, but then again they haven’t really played like they’d deserved it this year. They are amazingly in a wild card spot right this second.
17. Calgary Flames
(33-25-6, rank last week: 16)
The best story on NHL trade deadline day was the big news made by Johnny Gaudreau leaving the Boston University ice during a Flames afternoon practice. The reason? Johnny Hockey had to take a bathroom break.
16. Edmonton Oilers
(33-22-8, last week: 9)
The Oilers are still in a playoff spot in the Pacific Division and hauled in Andreas Athanasiou, Mike Green and Tyler Ennis at the trade deadline. Those are pretty solid moves for an Edmonton team that’s determined to get a postseason berth this year.
15. Columbus Blue Jackets
(31-20-14, rank last week: 15)
The Blue Jackets had a nice run at an important time of the year, but they now have one win in their last 10 games and their wonder goalie Elvis Merzlikins is injured. Columbus, we have a problem.
14. Toronto Maple Leafs
(33-23-8, rank last week: 13)
The Maple Leafs couldn’t beat their own 42-year-old Zamboni driver last weekend. As the late, great Stan Lee used to say, ‘Nuf Said.
13. New York Rangers
(34-24-4, rank last week: 21)
The Rangers clearly sold a bit with Brady Skjei moving out for a first round pick, but they also re-signed Chris Kreider, taking the biggest chip off the trade market. And the Blueshirts have won four games in a row while sticking around the playoff picture. Pretty impressive.
12. Carolina Hurricanes
(35-23-4, rank last week: 12)
The Hurricanes have hit some injury issues, but they also made big moves at the deadline with Sami Vatanen, Brady Skjei and Vincent Trocheck. Carolina doesn’t mess around anymore and you have to respect that with their new ownership.
11. New York Islanders
(35-20-7, rank last week: 8)
The Isles make their big move for Jean-Gabriel Pageau and he’s the perfect kind of two-way player for Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders. It’s a big add for an Isles team pointed to the playoffs.
9. Vegas Golden Knights
(34-22-8, rank last week: 10)
The Golden Knights have won six games in a row and are playing up to their full potential for the first time this season. The addition of Robin Lehner does a lot to fortifying their goaltending depth behind 35-year-old Marc-Andre Fleury.
8. Philadelphia Flyers
(36-20-7, rank last week: 11)
Four wins in a row including a home-and-home sweep of the Blue Jackets has pushed the Flyers into one of the top spots in the Metro Division. The roster adds of Derek Grant and Nate Thompson will help this young team during their playoff push.
7. Colorado Avalanche
(36-18-7, rank last week: 7)
The Avalanche have won three games in a row, but Joe Sakic really didn’t do much at all dealing for Vladislav Namestnikov and Michael Hutchinson at the trade deadline. This Avs team with legit Cup aspirations deserved better.
6. Dallas Stars
(37-20-6, rank last week: 6)
Dallas is near the top of the Central Division, locked into a playoff spot and the Stars don’t have a single player in the NHL’s top-40 in scoring this season. Who would have thought that with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin?
5. Pittsburgh Penguins
(37-18-6, rank last week: 3)
The Penguins have lost three games in a row as the injuries begin to catch up to them, but landing depth forwards Patrick Marleau, Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues should help come playoff time.
4. St. Louis Blues
(37-17-10, rank last week: 5)
The Blues have ripped off five wins in a row and expect to get Vladimir Tarasenko back ahead of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Things are looking pretty rosy for the Blues in their season defending their Cup title.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
(40-18-5, rank last week: 2)
The epic winning streak is over for the Lightning as they’ve dropped three in a row and are beginning to fall behind the Bruins once again in the Atlantic Division. Still, the trades for Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow are good playoff moves for the Bolts.
2. Washington Capitals
(39-18-6, rank last week: 4)
The Capitals have won a couple games in a row and Alex Ovechkin has reached 700 career goals while they’ve also added Ilya Kovalchuk to their talented forward group. Things are looking up in DC.
1. Boston Bruins
(39-13-12, rank last week: 1)
The Bruins have widened their lead in the Atlantic Division, but it looks like playing five sets of back-to-back games this month has taken its toll in back-to-back losses to Vancouver and Calgary.