Updated NHL power rankings as the trade deadline approaches.
The NHL trade deadline is almost here but some teams aren’t waiting for Tuesday to make a deal.
Thus far the biggest deal involved two teams we cover here at ESNY: the Devils sent veterans Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac to the Islanders this week. The Chicago Blackhawks also made a couple interesting deals with the Florida Panthers.
Perhaps the most significant headline that could impact the North Division is the COVID situation in Vancouver. The Canucks haven’t played since March 24th and have 25 players and personnel in quarantine after testing positive. The NHL says the Canucks are expected to get back on the ice next week but that situation could make the next month a rocky road for all seven teams in Canada.
Future Hall of Fame goaltender Henrik Lundqvist hopes to be cleared to play this season. We’re all rooting for Hank to get healthy and back on the ice!
Here are this week’s power rankings as the trade deadline approaches:
31. Buffalo Sabres
Previous Ranking: 31
The Sabres had a week to celebrate: they went 2-1 and star defenseman Rasmus Dahlin recorded his 100th career NHL point. This Sabres team might look very different, however, in a week’s time when they’ll likely bid farewell to several of their players.
30. Detroit Red Wings
Previous Ranking: 30
There isn’t much to say about the Red Wings that hasn’t been said already. Expect them to be another team with a fire sale at the deadline.
29. Ottawa Senators
Previous Ranking: 29
Ottawa has been home to some of the worst goaltending in the league this season. It got so bad that goalie coach Pierre Groulx was assigned to another role within the organization and Zac Bierk took over for him.
The Senators will likely be busy sellers at the deadline, but at least they have promising youngsters to be excited about.
28. Anaheim Ducks
Previous Ranking: 28
We’ve been talking about Rickard Rakell potentially being moved at the deadline and that time of year has (almost) arrived. The Ducks will likely be busy next week and might even trade captain Ryan Getzlaf.
In other news, the Ducks sent top prospect Trevor Zegras to the AHL to further his development.
27. Calgary Flames
Previous Ranking: 24
It looks like a coaching change wasn’t enough to right this ship, after all. The Flames are mathematically still in it, but everyone knows it’s over for this core group. This roster is going to look very different heading into next season.
26. Columbus Blue Jackets
Previous Ranking: 21
The Blue Jackets might be the Flames of the Central Division. They’re still fighting to make the playoffs, but it’s not looking too great for them right now.
Center Boone Jenner, one of the team’s best players, is out for the season, Patrik Laine is still struggling mightily, and defenseman David Savard was benched on Friday, meaning a trade is likely looming.
25. Los Angeles Kings
Previous Ranking: 22
Even after cooling down, the Kings still have a chance at making the playoffs. However, that chance is very small and getting even smaller by the day. It’s in the organization’s best interest to sell at the deadline.
24. New Jersey Devils
Previous Ranking: 27
It’s been a wild week for the Devils, who welcomed prospect Tyce Thompson to the NHL shortly before sending Palmieri and Zajac to the Islanders.
It was sad for fans to watch these beloved Devils go, but this is great for the rebuild. The kids now have a great chance to develop in a season that’s all but lost.
23. Vancouver Canucks
Previous Ranking: 23
Vancouver saw the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the NHL this season, but the good news is that Thursday marked the first time that the Canucks had no positive results.
They’re expected to return to play next week, but this outbreak came at an unfortunate time. After a dreadful start to the season, the Canucks were beginning to get hot before COVID-19 came knocking. Now they’re in a dilemma: do they buy or sell?
They did sign forward Tanner Pearson to a three-year deal with an AAV of $3.25 million, but that might be an overpay for a guy who doesn’t produce much, something the Canucks have become famous for doing.
22. Chicago Blackhawks
Previous Ranking: 20
The Blackhawks still aren’t doing enough to get back into a playoff spot, but they’ve had a very busy week. They acquired 27-year old left winger Vinnie Hinostroza from the Florida Panthers in exchange for 24-year-old center Brad Morrison.
An Illinois native, Hinostroza spent time with the Blackhawks and has returned to help provide momentum after a disappointing few months in Florida. Morrison has yet to make his NHL debut.
The Blackhawks followed this up with another trade with Florida, this one much more significant.
They acquired 28-year-old right winger Brett Connolly, 23-year-old center Henrik Borgström, 23-year-old left-handed defenseman Riley Stillman, and a seventh-round pick in the 2021 draft in exchange for 23-year-old left-handed defenseman Lucas Carlsson and 25-year-old center Lucas Wallmark.
Connolly and Stillman are on the taxi squad, but are really nice pick-ups for a team looking to make a late push for the playoffs.
21. San Jose Sharks
Previous Ranking: 26
The Sharks have improved as the season has progressed and actually have a chance at the playoffs, but that would be quite the story. After all, their schedule isn’t going to get any easier.
The Sharks likely won’t be buyers at the deadline, but now that they’re fighting for their lives, they might not sell much, either. They owe a lot to their goaltender, Martin Jones, who was named the NHL’s second star of the week.
20. Dallas Stars
Previous Ranking: 25
It’s difficult to determine how the Stars will approach the deadline. Goalie Ben Bishop and forward Tyler Seguin are expected back in May, but the Stars will likely need to be buyers at the deadline if they hope to make it to the playoffs.
Is that something they’re willing to do?
19. St. Louis Blues
Previous Ranking: 16
The Blues could use some help at the deadline, but their chances of sneaking into the playoffs are disappearing and they don’t exactly have the cap space to take on new contracts.
A healthy scratch on Wednesday, Mike Hoffman might be on his way out and the Blues could end up dealing some more guys at the deadline. What a disappointing season it’s been for St. Louis.
18. Montreal Canadiens
Previous Ranking: 13
The Canadiens added center Eric Staal and probably aren’t done, especially now that Brendan Gallagher is out for the season. They’re serious about making it to the playoffs and will need to be buyers at the deadline if they hope to make that dream a reality.
Goalie Carey Price is also out until next week with a lower-body injury.
17. New York Rangers
Previous Ranking: 15
The inconsistent play of the New York Rangers is hurting them in the standings. Making the playoffs is unlikely, especially in such a tough division, so developing their youngsters must become their main priority.
Vitaly Kravtsov made his NHL debut this week, and he’s expected to be a core member of a team that’s window is only beginning to open.
16. Philadelphia Flyers
Previous Ranking: 18
Alain Vigneault’s clock keeps on ticking as it becomes increasingly likely that the Flyers miss the playoffs. This is a team to watch at the deadline.
Trading for some impactful players would be a surprise, but something they need to do if they want to get to the postseason. However, look for them to potentially sell a couple of guys, as well.
15. Arizona Coyotes
Previous Ranking: 19
The Coyotes just keep on rolling. After going 3-1 this week, the Coyotes are now in a playoff spot and have a favorable schedule moving forward.
They were expected to be sellers at the deadline, which they might be, but only to an extent. If they want to remain in a playoff position, they can’t get rid of too many of their players.
14. Nashville Predators
Previous Ranking: 17
The Predators are another team that are just rolling. They’ve turned things around and are currently in a playoff spot.
The Central Division hasn’t been particularly competitive, and playoff hockey is realistic for this team. Will they look to strengthen their squad at the deadline?
13. Pittsburgh Penguins
Previous Ranking: 1
The Penguins cooled down this week, but are still in good shape in the standings. The defense has been shaky, but the team has looked good in spite of too many injuries. This is a far deeper team than anyone thought.
12. Boston Bruins
Previous Ranking: 14
The Bruins had a much-needed week in which they went 3-0-1. Rookie goalies Dan Vladar and Jeremy Swayman have made up for bad defense and Brad Marchand is carrying an offensive load, even being named the NHL’s third star of the week.
11. Winnipeg Jets
Previous Ranking: 9
The Jets still look great, but will need to add a defenseman at the deadline. Connor Hellebuyck can only do so much, especially once the playoffs roll around.
It looks like they might be without their captain, Blake Wheeler, for some time, after he was ruled out indefinitely with concussion-like symptoms.
10. Washington Capitals
Previous Ranking: 8
The Capitals are one of the best teams in the league, but have fallen victim to some of the most inconsistent goaltending. The return of the King (Henrik Lundqvist) could come as a saving grace.
9. Tampa Bay Lightning
Previous Ranking: 6
The Lightning’s offense has been night and day this season. Nikita Kucherov’s absence is becoming glaring, but his return in the playoffs will get his team back on track. Even so, will Tampa be active buyers at the deadline?
8. Florida Panthers
Previous Ranking: 2
The Panthers have already been active (see: Blackhawks) and will likely remain so. They’re clearing up cap space and might make one or two big splashes at the deadline.
Defenseman Lucas Carlsson, whom they received from the Blackhawks, shouldn’t be overlooked. He’s shown promise and can end up being a solid contributor to this team.
7. Minnesota Wild
Previous Ranking: 11
The Wild have been one of the most surprising teams in the league.
As we’ve mentioned, the power play remains quite poor and the front office might look to add some special teams help at the deadline. That would make an already-impressive team even more dangerous.
6. Edmonton Oilers
Previous Ranking: 12
The Oilers are poised to make a reappearance in the playoffs, but depth has always been an issue for them and must be addressed at the deadline. They do have an issue regarding cap space, however, so monitoring their activity should be interesting.
5. Vegas Golden Knights
Previous Ranking: 5
The Golden Knights, and Marc-Andre Fleury, have looked better, but this likely isn’t anything more than a slump. Even so, adding some pieces at the deadline couldn’t hurt, but we all know Vegas doesn’t have any wiggle room in terms of cap space.
4. Carolina Hurricanes
Previous Ranking: 4
The Hurricanes are first in their division, one of the best teams in the league, and have the cap room to make moves at the deadline. They might be forced to deal one or two goaltenders, but the return of Petr Mrazek makes this almost a nonissue.
3. New York Islanders
Previous Ranking: 10
Mathew Barzal, the league’s first star of the week, has helped the Islanders get on another winning streak.
The Islanders’ big trade should make a titan of a team even stronger. The Islanders are rolling and have a serious chance to remain at the top of the East Division for the rest of the season. Will they make more moves to further bolster this solid squad?
2. Colorado Avalanche
Previous Ranking: 3
The Avalanche are still one of the most dominant and hottest teams in the league. They do need a backup goaltender, however, and that might be priority number one for them as the deadline approaches.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs
Previous Ranking: 7
The Maple Leafs are on a league-leading five-game winning streak and continue to prove that they’re a powerhouse to be reckoned with. Goaltender Jack Campbell has been out of this world good for Toronto.
They don’t have much money to spend, but it’s become clear that they’ll be buyers at the trade deadline. We just don’t know which positions they’ll be looking to address.