NHL Power Rankings: Trade Deadline Edition

Credit: Amy Irvin/The Hockey Writers

This isn’t just an average power rankings this week. This is the Trade Deadline edition of the power rankings.

With tomorrow’s trade deadline looming large, the deals can be expected to come in fast and furious as teams make last-ditch efforts to improve their rosters for the months ahead. Trade chips have already come off the board this weekend, but some of the bigger names are still up for grabs. With some sellers suddenly gearing up towards a playoff push and COVID protocols in Canada still requiring a week-long quarantine, however, there’s no guarantee that deadline day will be as action-packed as usual.

With a month remaining in the regular season, picking up momentum is as imperative as ever. While some teams have already started packing it in and preparing for the offseason, the Cup contenders in these rankings face a crucial stretch. Think about the Blues in 2018-19, who rode a second half of the season that took them from the bottom of the standings to the Stanley Cup. While some teams can expect to be playing into the summer, they are still very much jockeying for position in the playoff seedings, and one good late-season push could be the catalyst for a Cup run.

Who’s in position to make that scenario a reality? Whose Cup ambitions are dwindling before their eyes? And where do the teams stand compared to last week? Let’s find out.

Disclaimer: These rankings are reflective of games played and statistics recorded on or prior to April 10.

1. Colorado Avalanche (Even): A dud against the Wild halted the Avalanche’s point streak at 15 games, but they are still deserving of being considered the best team in the rankings. Minor moves to acquire Patrik Nemeth and Devan Dubnyk should shore up any holes on the back end.

2. Carolina Hurricanes (Even): An upset loss to Detroit ended Petr Mrazek’s first week back on a sour note, but it’s been his only rough performance on the year. If Mrazek remains consistent and Alex Nedeljkovic continues his strong rookie campaign, the issues in net might finally be answered for the Hurricanes.

3. Toronto Maple Leafs (+4): It’s been a long odyssey for former first-round pick Jack Campbell, but he seems to have finally found a home in Toronto. A perfect 11-0 on the year, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him truly replace Frederik Andersen and start in the playoffs for the Leafs.

4. Washington Capitals (Even): Alex Ovechkin might be starting to fall into Father Time’s clutches, but he still managed to hit the 20-goal mark again. One of the league’s all-time greatest snipers, he will almost certainly pass Marcel Dionne for 5th on the all-time goal list before the season is done.

5. Tampa Bay Lightning (-2): An inconsistent few weeks and a challenge for Central Division supremacy likely prompted the Lightning’s bold acquisition of David Savard from the Blue Jackets. I know I should have learned this lesson from last year’s deadline, but…that price is an eyesore for a rental.

6. Vegas Golden Knights (Even): Friday’s game against Arizona was the Knights in a nutshell: dominant when on, ugly when off. More might be necessary, but with how the Knights have had to juggle lineups due to the salary cap, it’s more likely than not they’ll have to rely on their current roster working back into form.

7. New York Islanders (+3): Losing to the Rangers broke a 4-game winning streak for the Isles, but they’ve still performed well against playoff foes in the Capitals and Penguins. Give Lou Lamoriello credit for going in and landing both Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac from New Jersey for a decent price.

8. Minnesota Wild (-3): Sweeping Vegas and blowing out Colorado have the Wild as a sneaky bet to come out of the West. Getting blown out by St. Louis, however, is something that should keep those expectations in check.

9. Florida Panthers (-2): The Panthers have lost three in a row with a challenging series against Tampa ahead, so making moves made a lot of sense. Brandon Montour and Nikita Gusev are good buy-low propositions, while Lucas Carlsson could be an interesting piece for the future.

10. Pittsburgh Penguins (-1): Tristan Jarry was welcomed back to action by getting lit up by the Rangers for four goals before being pulled in the first period of his return. Even if they draw the offensively-inconsistent Islanders in the first round, equally inconsistent goaltending won’t get the job done in the playoffs.

11. Edmonton Oilers (Even): Clinching the season sweep over the Senators was nice, but getting dominated by Calgary is not. Here’s an idea being floated around: do the Oilers repent the sins of Peter Chiarelli and bring back Taylor Hall?

12. Winnipeg Jets (Even): Losing captain Blake Wheeler is a huge loss, despite the fact that the Jets swept the Canadiens in their first two games without him. The pressure is on alternate captains Mark Scheifele and Josh Morrissey to pick up the leadership role and keep this team on course.

13. Boston Bruins (Even): The Bruins have to be pleased with the positive development of young goaltenders Daniel Vladar and Jeremy Swayman. It comes at a great time too, as the Bruin could be on the verge of losing another franchise legend in Tuukka Rask this offseason.

14. Nashville Predators (+2): The Predators might be rolling right now, but it’s time to get concerned about the number of injuries this team has. Losing emerging young players in Eeli Tolvanen, Dante Fabbro, and Mathieu Olivier has pushed the total of injured Predators to 10.

15. Arizona Coyotes (Even): The Coyotes are still trying to make a desperation push to the playoffs, but giving up four goals in the first ten minutes of a critical game does not help matters. Here’s hoping it’s not a sign of things to come for Adin Hill, who has struggled in his last two starts.

16. New York Rangers (+1): The Rangers are still an inconsistent team, but that’s to be expected for a team trying to promote youth development. Still, it would be very tempting for the Rangers to try and reunite coach David Quinn with Jack Eichel this offseason.

17. St. Louis Blues (+1): The Blues have fired off three straight wins after losing six straight, including a 9-1 blowout over Minnesota. In more concerning news, it appears the Blues are willing to bring the Mike Hoffman experiment to an end, as the scoring winger is on pace for a career-worst season since becoming an NHL regular in 2014-15.

18. Montreal Canadiens (-4): It’s been a rough ride for the Canadiens lately, losing Brendan Gallagher for the season and winning only one of their last five games. Also concerning: since scoring the game-winner against Edmonton, Eric Staal has recorded zero points and put up a -5 in his last three games.

19. San Jose Sharks (+3): After their upcoming series against Anaheim, every game San Jose plays will be against either playoff teams or teams in the West Division playoff hunt. What I said at the beginning about a crucial stretch might not apply to any other team more than the Sharks.

20. Chicago Blackhawks (-1): With their playoff hopes at stake, the Blackhawks picked a rough time to start playing inconsistently. The trade deadline did net them Henrik Borgstrom and Riley Stillman, who should both see increased playing time for a still-rebuilding Hawks team.

21. Vancouver Canucks (-1): The end of the regular season got pushed back to accommodate the Canucks, but the fact they’ll even get to see the end of the season is a pleasant surprise. Not so pleasant: Jim Benning overpaying on Tanner Pearson with extensions to Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes coming up.

22. Dallas Stars (+4): With the Predators’ injury woes and the Blackhawks’ inconsistency, the time has to be now for the Stars to break through and steal the final playoff spot in the Central Division. Key to the Stars’ playoff hopes will be Jason Robertson, who has emerged as an offensive weapon in his rookie year.

23. Philadelphia Flyers (Even): Inconsistency in a tough division is causing the Flyers to gradually slip further from the playoff race. If they don’t like their chances, perhaps they can try to swing deals for Scott Laughton and Shayne Gostisbehere at the deadline?

24. Columbus Blue Jackets (-3): Trading their big trade chip in David Savard, losing Boone Jenner and Zach Werenski for the season, and dropping nine of their last eleven games? Those feel like season-enders for the Jackets.

25. Calgary Flames (-1): Blowing out Edmonton is great, but losing eight of the last ten makes it feel like a hollow victory. Don’t be surprised if the Flames look very different next season when the inevitable new regime guts this underachieving core.

26. Los Angeles Kings (-1): Even with the teams in front of them struggling, the Kings would still be better off selling on deadline day. Alex Iafallo should net a nice return, and Dustin Brown’s season should be viewed as a sell-high opportunity.

27. New Jersey Devils (Even): Trading away Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac, as well as releasing the disappointing Nikita Gusev, are telltale signs for a team that’s waved the white flag. They did pick up an intriguing piece in Jonas Siegenthaler, though, so it’s not all doom and gloom.

28. Anaheim Ducks (+2): The Ducks are running out of time to make something out of the deadline. Rickard Rakell and Josh Manson would both net decent packages to kickstart a much-needed rebuild, and it’s time Bob Murray admits that.

29. Detroit Red Wings (Even): Bobby Ryan is off the table due to injury, and a 7-1 loss to the Predators this week has symbolized how rough this season has been. With the intriguing coaching candidates available this offseason, it’s hard to visualize the Wings moving forward with Jeff Blashill past this season.

30. Ottawa Senators (-2): It’s not like the Senators had any playoff hopes left, but losing four straight games pretty much seals their fate. The rebuild is still very much in the early stages.

31. Buffalo Sabres (Even): Brandon Montour is out of the equation now. Now we wait to see who else becomes part of the purge.

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