NHL Power Rankings: B/R Experts' Post-Trade Deadline Edition
It has only been three days since the last edition of Bleacher Report's NHL Power Rankings, but they have been three extremely active days.
The trade deadline has seen significant changes in the balance of power in the NHL. From traded stars like Martin St. Louis, Thomas Vanek, Ryan Miller and Marian Gaborik to the kind of depth moves that teams like Pittsburgh and Chicago indulged in, each of those deals in some way impacted the expected standings of the NHL.
Because of that, our panel is back again to rank the entire league from No.1 to No. 30. Dave Lozo, Allan Mitchell, Carol Schram, Rob Vollman and I all voted this week. The criteria are a little different, with the vote still focusing heavily on recent performance, but it's been adjusted for the moves made at the deadline.
Read on to see where every NHL team ranks, and please note the rankings are the result of the panel's voting, not one person's decision.
Unless otherwise noted, news and statistics are courtesy of NHL.com and are current through the start of action on March 5.
30-26: Buffalo Sabres-Calgary Flames
30. Buffalo Sabres (Last Week: 28). Sabres general manager Tim Murray did a good job of getting value at the trade deadline, but the Sabres are still shy Ryan Miller and Matt Moulson and Steve Ott. They were the worst team in the league before those subtractions.
29. Edmonton Oilers (Last Week: 30). The Oilers lost Ales Hemsky and Nick Schultz at the deadline. The former had largely been miscast in a third-line role, while the latter wasn't doing much to help a struggling blue line. Because of those factors, neither loss is a massive blow.
28. New York Islanders (Last Week: 27). A team with a single regulation win in its last 12 games traded away a big-minutes defender and a scoring winger at the trade deadline; those moves come on the heels of an injury to franchise centre John Tavares.
27. Florida Panthers (Last Week: 29). Roberto Luongo is a massive add for the Panthers, a much bigger gain than any of the team's subtractions. Still, Florida is 2-8-0 in its last 10 games.
26. Calgary Flames (Last Week: 26). The Flames didn't really move anything essential at the trade deadline; Lee Stempniak was a useful forward, but most of the team is still intact. The team, however, only has one regulation win in its last seven contests.
25-21: Vancouver Canucks-Ottawa Senators
25. Vancouver Canucks (Last Week: 25). The Canucks have three regulation wins in their last 24 games, with all of those coming by a single goal. Vancouver hasn't beat a team by two goals since topping Calgary 2-0 back in December, and moving forward with a goaltending tandem of Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom isn't likely to help.
24. Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 24). The Hurricanes have gone six games without a regulation win, and while losing Tuomo Ruutu isn't a major blow, it isn't going to help them collect wins in the here and now.
23. Nashville Predators (Last Week: 23). The Predators have a single win in their last half-dozen games, have struggled to score for years and are now minus a centre who was playing 17-plus minutes per game in David Legwand.
22. Phoenix Coyotes (Last Week: 22). The Coyotes have been muddling through over the last little while, but they made a sneaky acquisition in Martin Erat, adding a player happy to be in Phoenix and who fits organizational style and organizational need to a tee.
21. Ottawa Senators (Last Week: 21). Ottawa's playoff hopes took a blow with a loss to the Oilers on Tuesday, but the Sens have taken steps to make certain that sort of thing doesn't happen again, acquiring winger Ales Hemsky (who scored two goals against the Senators in that game).
20-16: New Jersey Devils-Toronto Maple Leafs
20. New Jersey Devils (Last Week: 20). New Jersey has won three of four games since the Olympic break, and it made a modest move to bolster its forward core by acquiring forward Tuomo Ruutu from Carolina.
19. Philadelphia Flyers (Last Week: 19). Philadelphia certainly feels it has upgraded its defence, adding Andrew McDonald from the Islanders and subtracting Andrej Meszaros. Whether that's a real upgrade or not is debatable, but the team has won back-to-back contests since being smoked 7-3 by San Jose.
18. Winnipeg Jets (Last Week: 18). The Jets have picked up five of a possible six points since the Olympic break, but they have had a relatively soft schedule and got some very bad news on Wednesday. The Winnipeg Free Press reports that centre Mark Scheifele will miss several weeks with a knee injury. Scheifele had been playing key minutes for the team, and the Jets failed to bring in any kind of replacement via trade.
17. Washington Capitals (Last Week: 17). Washington has won four of its last five games and managed to make improvements at two positions this week. Disgruntled winger Martin Erat has been replaced by the heavily underrated Dustin Penner, while unhappy goalie Michal Nuevirth found his way to Buffalo in exchange for Jaroslav Halak. Both moves should help.
16. Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Week: 16). The Maple Leafs currently sit in a playoff spot, but they have lost all three games they have played since the Olympic break and curiously made no moves at the trade deadline while other teams added weapons.
15-11: Columbus Blue Jackets-Colorado Avalanche
15. Columbus Blue Jackets (Last Week: 13). The additions of Matt Frattin and Nick Schultz don't come close to making up for even a disappointing Marian Gaborik, but the Blue Jackets have won three consecutive games as of this writing.
14. Montreal Canadiens (Last Week: 15). Montreal has been playing .500 hockey since the Olympic break, but it made some big improvements at the trade deadline. Defenceman Mike Weaver will help, but the big acquisition was that of Thomas Vanek, a player who cost nothing off the team's current roster.
13. Minnesota Wild (Last Week: 14). The Wild have won five straight games and added scoring winger Matt Moulson at the deadline.
12. Dallas Stars (Last Week: 11). The Stars, fighting for their playoff lives, have swapped wins and losses since the Olympic break. The team upgraded its backup goalie from Dan Ellis to Tim Thomas but didn't do much else to improve its playoff chances.
11. Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 8). The Avs have been playing reasonably well as of late but made no deadline moves to solidify their standing. Instead, the team inexplicably used a second-round draft pick on fringe NHLer Reto Berra.
10. Detroit Red Wings
Last Week: 12
Recent Trend: The Red Wings have won two of three contests since the Olympic break.
Big Picture: In a desperate fight for a playoff spot and with key centres out with injury, the Red Wings made a big move on Wednesday, adding David Legwand from Nashville. He can't replace Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk, but he can help stem the bleeding for a short time.
By the Numbers: As per Hockey-Reference.com, Legwand leaves the Predators as the team's all-time leader in games played (956), goals (210), assists (356) and points (566).
9. Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Week: 9
Recent Trend: Tampa Bay has lost three of four games since the Olympic break.
Big Picture: The Lightning have a decent shot at coming out of the East in the postseason, but Wednesday was a mix of good and bad news for fans of the club. The good news was that Steven Stamkos, the team's single-most important player, is returning from injury. The bad news was the departure of all-time franchise leading scorer Martin St. Louis via trade.
By the Numbers: Stamkos is now the team's active scoring leader, with 409 points as a member of the Lightning. Hockey-Reference.com shows that he needs 544 more to overtake St. Louis for the franchise's all-time record.
8. Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Week: 7
Recent Trend: The Penguins have won just one of three games since the Olympic break.
Big Picture: While Pittsburgh is generally acknowledged as a Cup contender, the team failed to add a needed scoring right wing. Instead, general manager Ray Shero concentrated on depth additions like Marcel Goc and Lee Stempniak.
By the Numbers: Brian Gibbons, who has been the most-used fill-in at right wing on Sidney Crosby's line, has 10 points this season. The undrafted 26-year-old had not played in the NHL prior to this year.
7. New York Rangers
Last Week: 10
Recent Trend: The Rangers have dropped two games in a row, falling to Boston and Philadelphia over the weekend.
Big Picture: New York geared up in a major way for the postseason. The biggest move was the swap of team captain Ryan Callahan and draft picks to Tampa Bay in exchange for Martin St. Louis, who led the NHL in scoring last season. The Rangers also acquired defensive help, acquiring Raphael Diaz from Vancouver.
By the Numbers: St. Louis' 61 points instantly make him the Rangers' leading scorer, putting him 17 points ahead of old (and new) teammate Brad Richards.
6. Anaheim Ducks
Last Week: 3
Recent Trend: The Ducks have won three consecutive games and both contests they have played since the Olympic break.
Big Picture: Rather oddly, Anaheim spent more time selling than buying at the deadline. While injured defenceman Stephane Robidas was added, winger Dustin Penner and goalie Viktor Fasth were sent away in a pair of curious moves from a contending team.
By the Numbers: Penner has 32 points and a plus-22 rating in 49 games played.
5. Los Angeles Kings
Last Week: 6
Recent Trend: The Kings have won all four games they've played since the Olympic break.
Big Picture: General manager Dean Lombardi moved to make a good team better, adding scorer Marian Gaborik to a defensively strong team that has at times struggled to generate offence. Gaborik gives the Kings an offensive weapon they simply haven't had of late.
By the Numbers: Gaborik has had some tough seasons lately, but as recently as 2011-12, he has scored 40 or more goals in three of five NHL campaigns.
4. Boston Bruins
Last Week: 4
Recent Trend: The Bruins have a modest two-game winning streak.
Big Picture: Already arguably the most fearsome team in the East, Boston made moves to augment its group of players. Defenceman Andrej Meszaros was added from Philadelphia in exchange for a draft pick, while depth rearguard Corey Potter was claimed off waivers from Edmonton.
By the Numbers: The Bruins are the picture of balanced scoring, with seven forwards having already eclipsed the 30-point mark.
3. St. Louis Blues
Last Week: 5
Recent Trend: St. Louis has won two consecutive games after being shut out in its first two post-Olympic contests, with new goalie Ryan Miller in net for both victories.
Big Picture: The Blues paid a hefty price to add Miller from the Sabres, but he provides goaltending the team will doubtless feel extremely confident in. A legitimate Cup contender, the Blues had determined that Miller gave them a much better chance at winning it all than previous starter Jaroslav Halak did.
By the Numbers: Miller's March 4 win over Tampa Bay was significant because he posted a .882 save percentage in the victory. It was the first time this season he won a game in which he posted a save percentage below .917.
2. San Jose Sharks
Last Week: 2
Recent Trend: San Jose has points in three of four games coming out of the Olympic break.
Big Picture: General manager Doug Wilson stood pat at the deadline, despite a buyer's market on the rental front. In his defence, at this point the Sharks are established as a contending team.
By the Numbers: Patrick Marleau leads the Sharks with 37 points on the road; somewhat oddly, he has just 18 at home.
1. Chicago Blackhawks
Last Week: 1
Recent Trend: The Blackhawks have a single win and two losses since the Olympic break and did very little at the trade deadline, sending away Brandon Pirri and adding David Rundblad.
Big Picture: The defending champions are strong across the board, but with prices low on rental players, it is a bit of a surprise that a team that could well win the Stanley Cup didn't attempt to improve.
By the Numbers: Rundblad, a former first-round draft pick and a still highly regarded defence prospect, has only played in 12 NHL games this season.