Welcome to this new edition of the NHL power rankings!
First of all, allow me to apologize for neglecting a new set of rankings last week. Real-life obligations took top priority, and I did not feel as if I could make a proper assessment of where the teams stand by the time I had the opportunity to do so. With that in mind, these rankings will have moves that are larger than usual, as there is more of a sample size to judge each team off of.
As for what should be discussed, we are fast approaching one of the most exciting times of the NHL season: the trade deadline. On April 12, 3 p.m. EST, trades will no longer be allowed until the new league year, which gives teams a window to improve or send assets out to help their future. While it seems a little foolish to talk about the trade deadline over a month in advance, this is not an average season. With players having to go through protocol when moving to a new team, and the season ending shortly after the deadline, teams might be looking to make deals closer to the end of March, so as to help new players gel into their lineups and prepare for a postseason push.
With that in mind, which asset could rebuilding teams be looking to move on from? Which players might become expendable if a big fish comes along? And how have teams been faring since the last rankings came out? Let’s take a look.
Disclaimer: These rankings are reflective of games played and statistics recorded on or prior to February 28.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (Even): It might require a sweetener or two, but teams could do a lot worse for a middle-six scoring option than the versatile Tyler Johnson. In all likelihood, though, expect the Lightning to stand pat and build a package that sends Johnson to his home-state Seattle Kraken in a few months.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs (+2): The Maple Leafs are in the driver’s seat for the North Division crown and the President’s Trophy, but they could be in for a rude awakening when they face a team with a superior defense. Could the Leafs move a young player like Travis Dermott or Pierre Engvall to bolster their own back end?
3. Vegas Golden Knights (Even): The emergences of young defensemen in Vegas has likely rendered Brayden McNabb expendable. With the Knights pushing up against the salary cap and having to make room for extensions soon, as well as plenty of teams needing a defenseman of McNabb’s skill set, moving on should make sense for both parties.
4. Boston Bruins (-2): With injuries becoming a real problem on the Bruins’ defensive corps, they could get aggressive looking for reinforcements. A player like Anders Bjork, who isn’t receiving much ice time and is on a team-friendly deal, could easily be sent the other way.
5. Florida Panthers (+4): Ever since being threatened as a healthy scratch to start the season, reliable defenseman Keith Yandle has been on the trade rumor mill. The talk has died down since then, and the Panthers are surging this season, but is there still a possibility they dangle Yandle and see if the right package comes along?
6. Colorado Avalanche (Even): Still struggling with consistency at this point of the season, GM Joe Sakic finds himself in a position where he could easily justify making a big move. A promising young player like Conor Timmins might be just one part of a massive package to bring a star-caliber player to bolster the lineup.
7. Carolina Hurricanes (Even): Similar to the Avalanche above them, the Hurricanes look like a team that still need one big piece to push them over the top. A younger player like Warren Foegele or Haydn Fleury might be worth looking into sending off.
8. Winnipeg Jets (+4): The Jets already knocked out their two major trade chips in Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic, so not much else can be done at this point. They could look at getting something out of an expiring contract like Mathieu Perreault, but his skill set could be vital if Winnipeg wants to make a long run in the postseason.
9. Edmonton Oilers (+8): Trouble seems to be brewing in Edmonton, as contract negotiations with pending UFA Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have stalled. If a deal can’t be reached in the next few weeks, could the Oilers be forced to move him so they don’t risk losing the former number 1 overall pick for nothing?
10. Washington Capitals (+1): The issue with Vitek Vanecek solidifying the goaltending situation in Ilya Samsonov’s absence is that it couldn’t have come at arguably a worse time. With Vanecek suddenly turning himself into a candidate for Seattle to take in the expansion draft, what moves could be made to keep Vanecek and retain a strong roster?
11. Philadelphia Flyers (-1): It’s become clear over the last couple of seasons that Shayne Gostisbehere is in desperate need of a change in scenery. A team looking for help generating offense from the back end and quarterbacking a power-play unit (we’re all looking at you, Nashville) could see if his services are worth it.
12. New York Islanders (+2): The Islanders stand out as a team no one wants to face in the postseason due to their defense and coaching, but they need a consistently powerful offense to push them into elite status. Last season’s trade for Jean-Gabriel Pageau has paid dividends so far, so why shouldn’t a top prospect like Kieffer Bellows be flipped to bring another quality forward to Long Island?
13. St. Louis Blues (-5): While the Blues might prefer keeping Vince Dunn around now that he’s found his way into the lineup consistently, the expansion draft, the team’s need for meaningful depth, and the pending arrival of top prospect Scott Perunovich could force their hand. It would be costly for a team to acquire Dunn’s services, and the Blues should not be afraid to take full advantage of that knowledge.
14. Minnesota Wild (+4): Matt Dumba stands out as another defenseman where his team would prefer to keep him, but the expansion draft threatens to alter those plans dramatically. A team searching for a capable top-four defenseman with some term left might be willing to match Minnesota’s asking price, which would be huge in bolstering an emerging young core.
15. Chicago Blackhawks (+6): The Blackhawks have very much become a young man’s team, which could lead to expiring contracts like Mattias Janmark getting pushed out in short order. A solid middle-six option, Janmark could make for a decent rental on a team needing forward depth to allow Chicago to keep their rebuild going strong.
16. Montreal Canadiens (-11): The fall from grace in Montreal has already cost former coach Claude Julien his job, and more pieces could be shown the door if things don’t turn around quickly. Most notably among these pieces is Phillip Danault, a center on an expiring contract and being pushed for playing time by Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
17. Pittsburgh Penguins (-1): With a new front office in charge and a playoff berth not a sure thing, the Penguins could once again look to get aggressive. Expiring contracts like Colton Sceviour and young players like Pierre-Olivier Joseph could have their futures hinge on what direction new GM Ron Hextall wants the team to go in.
18. Los Angeles Kings (+8): The Kings are by no means ready to tap into their prospect pool to acquire star players, but they should look at their roster and see what options benefit them. Moving on from an expiring contract like Olli Maatta could be a solid piece of business to give the Kings more picks to fuel their farm system.
19. Dallas Stars (-4): It would be a surprise to see last year’s runner-up miss the playoffs altogether, but inconsistency and injuries have put the Stars in that exact position. Sending a strong bottom-six center in Radek Faksa would hurt, but it’s better than losing him to Seattle for nothing.
20. Arizona Coyotes (Even): It might be too soon to talk about a Darcy Kuemper trade, but Antti Raanta should certainly be looked at during the deadline. For teams like St. Louis or Colorado who could use stability in net, Raanta could be a prime target for them.
21. Columbus Blue Jackets (-8): Joonas Korpisalo‘s struggles this season have likely pushed him behind Elvis Merzlikins, and the crop of young goaltenders in Columbus’s system right now could be the difference in pushing him out altogether. Korpisalo could be a nice buy for a team willing to make a “hockey trade.”
22. New Jersey Devils (Even): With the Devils struggling to gain traction in a difficult division once again, expiring contracts should be expected to be shipped out. Veteran defensemen like Sami Vatanen or Dmitry Kulikov are examples of players whose times in New Jersey might be running out.
23. Calgary Flames (-4): Sam Bennett might not have panned out the way Calgary thought he would, but his leadership qualities and playoff success could make him a key target for teams needing depth forwards. Admitting defeat on this season, however, could be what forces the Flames to consider blowing up their roster this offseason.
24. New York Rangers (Even): The drama surrounding Tony DeAngelo and the Rangers have created an irreparable rift between the two. A trade appears inevitable, but what would the Rangers have to add for a team to even consider taking the talented, but troubled, defenseman.
25, Nashville Predators (-2): The Predators have reached a point where they are openly considering a fire sale, with forwards like Mikael Granlund, Calle Jarnkrok, and Erik Haula all available for the right price. This might just be a prelude for bigger moves, however, with Ryan Johansen likely being groomed for Seattle and Filip Forsberg approaching free agency in 2022.
26. San Jose Sharks (+3): Doug Wilson might not want to blow up the core of his team, but he might have to in order to save his job. Expect a smaller move like Radim Simek being shipped out while the Sharks consider what path might be best for them to take.
27. Buffalo Sabres (-2): Jack Eichel‘s trade value is honestly worth it’s own post, and it appears Taylor Hall will not be spending the entire season in Buffalo after all. Other key pieces like Eric Staal, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Brandon Montour should be looked at for trades in order for Buffalo to kickstart a total rebuild.
28. Vancouver Canucks (Even): The Canucks have kicked the tires on the trade values of Jake Virtanen and Adam Gaudette, indicating both young forwards may be on borrowed time in British Columbia. Sending out other pieces like Tanner Pearson and Brandon Sutter might be beneficial to Jim Benning, or whomever his successor may be.
29. Anaheim Ducks (-2): I’ll say this as often as it needs to be said: the Ducks need to go full rebuild and start by trading captain Ryan Getzlaf. Josh Manson is another option for a trade at this point, but the Ducks need to get something out of Getzlaf so they don’t risk losing him in free agency to a contender.
30. Ottawa Senators (+1): Derek Stepan has struggled to find his footing in Ottawa, both on and off the ice. The middle-six center is still a solid player, but leaving and finding his place on a contender would be beneficial for his career going forward.
31. Detroit Red Wings (-1): The Red Wings don’t have any key pieces that should be moved out, unless the trade rumors regarding Anthony Mantha are more truth than fiction. Bobby Ryan, Luke Glendening, and Marc Staal are all solid players, but none will give Detroit a needle-moving return.