- After months of speculation, Matt Duchene is no longer on the Avalanche. The deal that finally took him out of Colorado changed the fortunes for a couple of teams.
The three-team mega-deal that took place on Sunday will undoubtedly shake things up across the league. For one, Kyle Turris gives the Predators nearly unmatched depth down the middle and should relieve some of the pressure on Nashville's top centerman Ryan Johansen. In Turris's old home Ottawa, Matt Duchene will provide a spark to an underrated forward corps on a Senators team that came within a game of the Stanley Cup Final in 2017. For the Avalanche, the rebuild can officially start—which unfortunately means their unexpectedly good start to the season is about to come to an end.
A few weeks into the season, we're getting a good sense of who's contending and who... probably isn't. Here's how we see teams stacking up in the NHL, from 31-1 (stats and records through Monday's games):
31. Arizona Coyotes
Oy. Gotta wonder how bad they would be without Clayton Keller's hot start (11 goals in 16 games). It could be a very long season.
30. Buffalo Sabres
There's enough offense here to be enthused, but they need upgrades on defense. Rasmus Ristolainen is averaging 27 minutes a game, tops in the league. The Sabres need someone to take the load off.
29. Montreal Canadiens
No one on this team has been good, and we're starting to wonder if the Habs won't make some moves—but everyone is at their lowest value.
28. Florida Panthers
Who had Evgeni Dadonov among their leading scorers? If they can get any consistency in net, they could be okay.
27. Detroit Red Wings
Andreas Athanasiou has been good so far despite the delayed start, and we'll see if he provides the team a boost. Forward Dylan Larkin and blueliner Mike Green, two of their two leading scorers, have three combined goals.
26. Carolina Hurricanes
Scott Darling was brought in to stabilize the goaltending position. He’s been only O.K. If he gets things figured out and Jeff Skinner finds some help in the goal-scoring department, the Canes could make a run.
25. Edmonton Oilers
They'll straighten out… right? Last in goals per game, it's been Connor McDavid and that's about it. The Ryan Strome deal doesn't seem to be working for anybody.
24. Boston Bruins
Health and ineffectiveness has plagued the B's. They need their vets to step up. In the meantime, they have to be pleasantly surprised with rookie Anders Bjork (seven points).
23. New York Rangers
Four straight wins, including a come-from-behind victory over Vegas last week. Too soon to tell if things are turning up—Henrik Lundqvist gave up at least three goals in three of those four wins.
2. Washington Capitals
The Caps have been below-average despite Alex Ovechkin (12 goals) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (18 points) having top-notch starts. Will that production translate to wins when everyone is healthy?
21. Colorado Avalanche
Their start is probably unsustainable and losing Duchene doesn't help now, no matter what it does for the future. A 7-0 loss to Vegas followed by a 6-3 win over Chicago is pretty emblematic.
20. Nashville Predators
They'll be fine, but it can't just be Filip Forsberg and P.K. Subban on offense. Can Kyle Turris make an immediate impact? At the least, he takes some pressure off of Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson.
19. Calgary Flames
Calgary is 30th in offense at 2.36 goals per game, and that's despite Johnny Gaudreau's 18 points. The Flames need more of their depth players. The additions of Mike Smith and Travis Hamonic are paying off.
18. Minnesota Wild
Injuries might be too much to handle, and we wonder if both Eric Staal and Chris Stewart will cool off. Goalie Devan Dubnyk has mixed clunkers with brilliance.
17. San Jose Sharks
They could use more offensive production out of everybody not named Logan Couture, but Martin Jones has been holding down the fort in net. The Sharks need a bit more from ageless wonder Joe Thornton and All-Star defenseman Brent Burns.
16. Dallas Stars
Ben Bishop has been good, coaching spats and all. Perhaps the bigger surprise is Alexander Radulov, who's playing well, even with the security of a five-year deal.
15. Chicago Blackhawks
They've rebounded by winning two straight after losing five of six. The week’s No. 1 star Corey Crawford has been really good, as has Ryan Hartman. Brandon Saad seems to be enjoying his return back to Chicago.
14. Anaheim Ducks
Slow starts for Ryan Getzlaf and CoreyPerry, but when they rebound, they'll have a nice defense behind them. Brandon Montour and Josh Manson are two of the best in the league that have yet to get their due.
13. Philadelphia Flyers
You have to wonder when the Flyers will turn to Michal Neuvirth in net as Brian Elliott has struggled. On the plus side, defenseman Ivan Provorov is averaging 24 minutes as a 20-year-old.
12. Ottawa Senators
Lost in Erik Karlsson's magic is how good forwards Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone are. And now they add Matt Duchene, who will bolster an offense ranked seventh in the league. He should be rejuvenated playing on a playoff team.
11. Vancouver Canucks
Our guess is that this is unsustainable, especially since Derek Dorsett leads the team in goals. But Jacob Markstrom might be the real deal. He was a big-time prospect forever ago and in his first season as a true starter, he's responded with a 1.89 goals-against average.
10. New York Islanders
Man, the Islanders are going to miss John Tavares. (Too soon? Perhaps.) He's a one-man wrecking crew. This team would love to see Jordan Eberle scoring more.
9. Winnipeg Jets
Hot goalie? Check. Offensive firepower? Check. So why aren't we talking more about Winnipeg? Maybe the Jets need Patrik Laine to heat up.
8. Pittsburgh Penguins
This is more of a past-performance-indicating-future-results thing. Matt Murray hasn't been great, but the Pens’ power play success (28.8%, tied for second-best in the NHL) shows they can still get it done. It will be interesting to see if new surroundings get Riley Sheahan going.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs
Goaltending is a worry with Frederik Anderson off to a sub-standard start. But Toronto is scoring while waiting for Leo Komarov and Mitch Marner to heat up. There's not too much to worry about here.
6. Vegas Golden Knights
They'll be the feel good story of the year no matter what happens, but they really need Marc-Andre Fleury back. Every one of their goalies seems to get hurt, and they gave up six goals in back-to-back games against the Islanders and Rangers to close out October. They don't get back home until Friday.
5. New Jersey Devils
The Baby Devils can score, and they survived their western trip. Will Butcher is a power-play savant and Taylor Hall is reminding folks why he was a No. 1 pick. Don't forget Nico Hischier: This year's top draft selection has 10 points in 13 games
4. Columbus Blue Jackets
Artemi Panarin is tied for the team lead in points despite having just two goals on the season. The Jackets are still waiting on their stars to star scoring, but Sergei Bobrovsky (2.27 GAA) is in Vezina form.
3. St. Louis Blues
Jaden Schwartz has been fantastic, but don't overlook Jake Allen in net and a defense that doesn't seem to miss Kevin Shattenkirk. Joel Edmundson has been a pleasant surprise on the blue line.
2. Los Angeles Kings
Jonathan Quick is back in elite form—and the Kings lead the NHL in goals against per game. Is the resurgence of Dustin Brown real? He already scored a third of his total point output from last season.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are the best duo, Nos. 1 and 2 in scoring in the league. If they stay healthy, the Bolts’ offense will be this good all season long.