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NHL Power Rankings: Contenders and pretenders after NHL trade deadline

Pro Hockey Talk's Sean Leahy discusses the winners and losers from the NHL trade deadline and reviews some of the most high-profile moves involving Claude Giroux, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Rickard Rickell.

In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we take a look at where each NHL team sits on the tier of Stanley Cup contenders and pretenders after the NHL trade deadline.

Every team made some sort of a move over the past month or so to complete their roster (or sell off pieces of their roster) for the rest of the regular season and playoffs. With all of that completed, let’s take a look at how the league looks from the heavy favorites, to the contenders, to the pretenders, to the lottery teams.

As has been the case for most of the 2021-22 NHL season, Eastern Conference teams dominate the top of the contenders list.

Where does your team currently sit?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

The heavy favorites

1. Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 1). The rich get richer. Already an insanely deep team, they added Artturi Lehkonen, Josh Manson, and Andrew Cogliano to round out their roster and will still be getting Gabriel Landeskog and Samuel Girard back for the playoffs. Loaded roster.

2. Carolina Hurricanes (LW: 2). Max Domi adds just a bit more offense to an already stacked roster at forward. As long as they keep getting the goaltending they are getting they should be a heavy favorite in the East.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 4). Not sure Brandon Hagel is the next Blake Coleman like so many think, but he is a good addition. The additions of him and Nick Paul add to their bottom-six and help their chances for another championship.

4. Florida Panthers (LW: 3). Claude Giroux is a big addition at forward where they have one of the most powerful lineups in the league. But I am not sure about that defense after the additions of Ben Chiarot and Robert Hägg . They did not seem necessary. Or a good fit for the Panthers’ current style of play.

The contenders

5. Calgary Flames (LW: 5). Their big addition came a few weeks ago when they got Tyler Toffoli from Montreal, but then they went and added Calle Järnkrok and Ryan Carpenter to round out the forward lineup even more. Improved depth, great defense, great goaltending. They are the second best team in the West right now.

6. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 6). Rickard Rakell is exactly what they needed for their second line, and Ron Hextall still got to keep his first-round pick.

[Related: Penguins get Rakell, add some scoring depth]

7. Boston Bruins (LW: 7). You can argue about whether or not it was smart to give Hampus Lindholm an eight-year contract extension, but he is a definite upgrade right now and they still have Jake DeBrusk (even if that is temporary). They did not get much in the way of forward depth, but this is going to be a nightmare first round matchup for somebody.

8. New York Rangers (LW: 8). They did not hit an obvious home run at the deadline, but they did get some much needed depth and round out their roster and add some badly needed depth. Andrew Copp is the big addition here.

[Related: Copp, Braun make Rangers more balanced]

9. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 9). Mark Giordano is a great add for the defense, but this goaltending situation makes the whole thing seems like a house of cards.

10. Washington Capitals (LW: 10). Oh yeah, these guys. They are still hanging around. They might be the last playoff team in the East but they are very capable of making a lot of noise. Some solid depth additions at the deadline as well. The key will be Vitek Vanecek being the guy in goal.

The solid playoff teams

11. Minnesota Wild (LW: 14). Marc-Andre Fleury is probably looking forward to playing behind a team that will not leave him on an island every night.

[Related: With Fleury trade Wild boldly aim to fix biggest weakness]

12. St. Louis Blues (LW: 11). Not sure if Nick Leddy moves the needle much for them as a defensive upgrade, but he could bounce back on a better team. The Blues have a great offense and Ville Husso has really solidified the goaltending spot.

13. Nashville Predators (LW: 13). The big story here is who they did not trade (Filip Forsberg). There is still that pesky matter of getting him re-signed before he leaves for nothing in free agency, but I am of the belief that if you are a playoff team you do not sell. They did not sell.

The bubble teams and pretenders

14. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 12). Ultimately I think they get in, but the injuries are a little bit of a concern right now. Especially Drew Doughty’s injury.

15. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 16). They are in a better spot than they were a few weeks ago, but the lack of urgency and aggressiveness from the front office remains baffling here.

[NHL Trade Deadline winners, losers: East loads up, GM beefs]

16. Dallas Stars (LW: 15). They started the season with four capable NHL goalies and ultimately had to trade for more goalie depth. What a twist.

17. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 18). They are in a lot of trouble here. If they do not have the salary cap space to bring Mark Stone back their playoff chances might be cooked this season. They might be even with Stone.

Better luck next season

18. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 20). This is not a bad team, and it has a better long-term outlook than a lot of people might realize. Cole Sillinger looks legit, and they have another likely top-10 pick coming this offseason from Chicago. Get Patrik Laine re-signed and they have something here.

19. New York Islanders (LW: 23). By re-signing Cal Clutterbuck and Zach Parise the Islanders are very clearly saying that they think this season is a fluke and they will be a playoff contender again next season. They might not be wrong.

20. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 19). This team still needs some game-changers on defense.

21. Vancouver Canucks (LW: 17). They did not trade any of their big names at the trade deadline, but it is a good bet that not all of Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller, and Conor Garland are on the roster at the start of next season.

22. San Jose Sharks (LW: 21). Re-signing Tomas Hertl indicates they believe they can return to the playoffs quickly. That seems like a challenge given the contracts on the roster. We shall see.

[Related: What exactly is Sharks’ plan after re-signing Tomas Hertl]

23. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 23). It was smart to trade off all of their pending unrestricted free agents, and there is still more short-term hope here than there has been the past couple of years.

24. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 26). The foundation pieces are in place. Now the pressure is on Steve Yzerman to add the right pieces and players around them.

25. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 23). The most encouraging thing to happen this season is the realization that Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki might actually be as good as they hoped once they started to play for a coach that knew how to utilize them.

Still some long seasons ahead

26. Buffalo Sabres (LW: 30). They have played better recently, but this is still a roster full of holes and core players and playing in absolute monster of a division.

27. New Jersey Devils (LW: 25). There are some intriguing players here but this franchise just seems stuck in its current spot with no way out.

28. Chicago Blackhawks (LW: 28). They were right to trade Brandon Hagel for that return. There is no way this roster on opening night next season even somewhat resembles its current form. This is going to be a major, major rebuild. As it should be.

29. Philadelphia Flyers (LW: 29). Probably the most confusing team in the league right now. You get the sense they think they are closer to the playoffs than they actually are. That usually does not work out well.

30. Ottawa Senators (LW: 27). This team trading for Travis Hamonic is without question the biggest head scratcher of the trade deadline.

31. Arizona Coyotes (LW: 31). Not trading Jakob Chychrun was the right move. This is not the right time for that.

32. Seattle Kraken (LW: 32). They did the smart thing by trading as many players they could for as many draft picks as they could.