After the trade deadline fallout, here’s what we know: the Islanders and Hurricanes added to a loaded Metropolitan Division by making Monday’s biggest moves, the Golden Knights did the same out in the Pacific and bathroom breaks are enough to stir trade rumors and speculation. As teams ready for the final six weeks of the regular season, here’s how we see the league stacking up this week:
31. Detroit Red Wings | 15-46-4 | Previous Ranking: 31
The Red Wings are 4–0 against the Canadiens. Against everyone else? 11-46-4. Maybe Detroit pursuing contraction to the Original Six teams would help more than the No. 1 overall pick.
30. Los Angeles Kings | 22-35-6 | Previous Ranking: 30
With the departures of Jack Campbell, Tyler Toffoli and Alec Martinez, the Kings now have some draft picks, in addition to two Stanley Cups, to show for its contending years and, now, the rebuild. The season is long gone, but L.A.’s final 17 games should allow prospects like 2017 lottery pick Gabe Vilardi, who scored in his debut, to get a run in before season’s end.
29. Ottawa Senators | 21-31-12 | Previous Ranking: 29
One day, the Senators will hold onto its best players and steadily add NHL talent. That day isn’t today. J.G. Pageau joined Matt Duchene, Mark Stone and Erik Karlsson in Ottawa’s two-and-a-half-year exodus of talent, leaving their former team with 11 picks in the first two rounds of the next two drafts. Monday’s moves seem to indicate Ottawa is confident it can re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Duclair, Chris Tierney and Connor Brown, which is a start.
28. Anaheim Ducks | 25-30-8 | Previous Ranking: 26
The Ducks aren’t brimming with offensive talent—only the Red Wings have scored fewer goals over the last three seasons—which makes its move to include Ondrej Kase in a salary dump trade a bit suspect. Meanwhile, Anaheim is on pace to finish with its lowest point total since the 2003–04 season and has lost four of its last six games, getting shut out twice along the way.
27. New Jersey Devils | 25-27-10 | Previous Ranking: 28
GM Tom Fitzgerald launched a fire sale, traded three of the team’s four impending free agents and spared no one aside from winger Kyle Palmieri. Maybe the Devils became too eager to improve quickly last summer, but the team’s future revolves around No. 1 overall picks Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes. That hasn’t changed and the leadership onus will fall on them, and the team’s other “veterans,” after captain Andy Greene’s move across the Hudson.
26. San Jose Sharks | 26-33-4 | Previous Ranking: 27
The Sharks outshot their opponents by more than eight shots per game, but still found a way to lose four straight while being outscored 14–7. San Jose ended its final East Coast trip with a loss against the Flyers—extending its losing streak to five games for the third time this season—and it’ll be a slow crawl to the end of the offseason without Brenden Dillon, Patrick Marleau and Barclay Goodrow. Joe Thornton is the last 40-year-old left standing in San Jose.
25. Chicago Blackhawks | 27-28-8 | Previous Ranking: 23
Oof. February started with last-gasp playoff hopes, ill-founded at that, but the Blackhawks have lost nine of their last 11 games, including a five-game losing streak. Coach Jeremy Colliton said he “didn’t have enough guys ready to play” after a loss to the Rangers, but more mystifying and concerning is Alex DeBrincat’s disappearance. After scoring 41 in his sophomore season, DeBrincat is on pace to finish with half that this year.
24. Montreal Canadiens | 29-27-9 | Previous Ranking: 21
The Canadiens managed to flip both defenseman Marco Scandella and Ilya Kovalchuk for higher draft picks than it spent to originally acquire them. Montreal didn’t add, hasn’t sustained a large enough winning streak to re-enter the playoff race and is trending toward a five-year stretch of mediocrity with zero playoff series victories. At some point, GM Marc Bergevin has to make a move other than improving around the edges.
23. Buffalo Sabres | 29-25-8 | Previous Ranking: 25
Too little, too late? The Sabres have a 6-2-0 record in their last eight games but aren’t any closer to joining the wild-card race, even after adding Wayne Simmonds. On the positive side, Jeff Skinner scored his first goal since Dec. 2 in a 5–2 win against the Penguins and goaltender Carter Hutton has continued to play well since allowing five goals in less than two periods to the Avalanche on Feb. 4.
22. Minnesota Wild | 30-25-7 | Previous Ranking: 22
The Wild nearly shook the trade deadline with a potential deal to send Zach Parise to the Islanders but, alas, nothing materialized. Minnesota has one of the softer schedules the rest of the way as it tries to mount a late-season surge under interim coach Dean Evason.
21. New York Rangers | 34-24-4 | Previous Ranking: 24
Since Jan. 7, the Rangers have scored the fourth-most goals per game and allowed the fifth-least, but still rank bottom-five in the NHL in terms of how many goals they should be giving up. Look no further than rookie goalie Igor Shesterkin, who has won seven straight but will be out for the foreseeable future after suffering a broken rib in a car accident. New York might come back down to Earth at some point, but it’s been a largely successful season and the rebuild might be slightly ahead of schedule.
20. Winnipeg Jets | 32-27-6 | Previous Ranking: 20
After losing seven of eight, the Jets have a 7-4-2 record in February and are back within a point of a wild-card spot. Connor Hellebuyck has put a mid-season funk behind him, and the team’s quartet of stars—Patrik Laine, Blake Wheeler, Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele—has 53 combined points in its last 11 games.
19. Arizona Coyotes | 31-27-8 | Previous Ranking: 19
Signs of life! After back-to-back losses to the Stars and Blues, five different players scored in a 7–3 trouncing of the Lightning. Still, the Predators and Flames, who have at least a game in hand, have a better chance to make the playoffs than Arizona, according to MoneyPuck, but more offensive explosions would go a long way in helping the Coyotes end their seven-year playoff drought.
18. Nashville Predators | 31-23-8 | Previous Ranking: 17
While the teams ahead of the Predators took steps to improve, Nashville let the trade deadline come and go despite being within striking distance of the West’s final wild-card spot. There’s a case to be made that the league hasn’t seen the best version of this Nashville team and that in itself would be a major improvement, but neither ex-coach Peter Laviolette or current bench boss John Hynes has drawn that out for extended periods of time.
17. Calgary Flames | 33-25-6 | Previous Ranking: 18
The Flames did something, but it’s something wasn’t stellar. Calgary brought in Erik Gustafsson and Derek Forbort to help boost an ailing blue line but sacrificed a pair of mid-round picks to do so. The Flames have been average after owning one of the league’s top offenses last season, and their only aspect that ranks top-10 in traditional metrics is the team’s penalty kill (82.3%).
16. Columbus Blue Jackets | 31-20-14 | Previous Ranking: 16
The Blue Jackets reached 30 wins on Feb. 7, but then lost eight in a row while averaging two goals per game. Only the Red Wings have scored less in February but Columbus snapped its losing skid against the Senators and the team’s torrid 19-2-5 stretch still has it in the playoff hunt.
15. Florida Panthers | 33-24-6 | Previous Ranking: 12
Five teams surrender more than 3.3 goals per game. Four of them are lottery-bound. The other team is the Panthers. This isn’t a new issue for Florida, but GM Dave Tallon didn’t improve his blue line to better the team’s chances at reaching the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. Looking ahead, Florida got out of Vincent Trocheck’s contract and has the flexibility to bring back both Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov next season.
14. Edmonton Oilers | 33-22-8 | Previous Ranking: 14
Leon Draisaitl did his best Evgeni Malkin impression with Connor McDavid out, notching 12 points in Edmonton’s six games without its superstar. Goaltender Mike Smith has helped the depleted Oilers stay afloat and has lost only once in regulation in 2020, while GM Ken Holland brought in a pair of familiar faces in Mike Green and Andreas Athanasiou to help keep pace in the Pacific.
13. Toronto Maple Leafs | 33-23-8 | Previous Ranking: 9
One night after Mitch Marner called out the team’s work ethic, the Leafs returned home and shut out the Penguins, 4–0. Problems solved, right? Not so quick. Toronto lost to Carolina in a game that featured the Hurricanes’ emergency goalie, and AHL zamboni driver, David Ayres, and Sheldon Keefe returned to criticizing his team for an “embarrassing night.” There are no reinforcements coming to turn things around for the Leafs, either.
12. Vancouver Canucks | 34-22-6 | Previous Ranking: 11
Toffoli comes in as Brock Boeser’s replacement, who could be out throughout the rest of the season and into the playoffs with a rib injury, but Vancouver’s penalty kill and defense have collapsed of late. Now, the Canucks’ playoff hopes rest in 24-year-old goalie Thatcher Demko after the team announced Jacob Markstrom would be sidelined with an injury. Vancouver ranks 28th in shots against per game and Demko will have his opportunity to take the mantle as the team’s netminder of the future.
11. Philadelphia Flyers | 36-20-7 | Previous Ranking: 13
After consecutive wins in a home-and-home against the Blue Jackets, the Flyers have created breathing room. A two-point lead on the Metropolitan’s final playoff spot with 19 games left isn’t much, but it’s better than nothing in the team’s quest to make the postseason for the first time since 2018.
10. Dallas Stars | 37-20-6 | Previous Ranking: 10
In a game that could’ve been a referendum on Dallas’s contender status, the Blues dominated the Stars and limited them to just 19 shots. Dallas’s power play has helped lift the team to a 8-2-2 record in its last 12 games, but the team ranks 29th in five-on-five goals per 60 minutes and hasn’t shown any signs of change on that front.
9. New York Islanders | 35-20-7 | Previous Ranking: 8
The Islanders concluded its Western Conference road trip with two total goals across four consecutive losses and the luster from the team’s November surge has turned to dullness. That dullness ended when GM Lou Lamiorella acquired both Greene and Pageau before the end of the trade deadline, bolstering the team’s lineup in a crowded Metropolitan Division.
8. Vegas Golden Knights | 34-22-8 | Previous Ranking: 15
A turning point, maybe? The Golden Knights reeled off four straight wins against the Blues, Isles, Caps and Lightning and have a 10-3-2 record since Pete DeBoer took over. Vegas is back atop the Pacific Division and heads into the final stretch of the season with the best goaltending tandem in the league in Marc-André Fleury and Robin Lehner.
7. Carolina Hurricanes | 35-23-4 | Previous Ranking: 7
The Hurricanes came away from the deadline with Trocheck, Sami Vatanen and Brady Skjei, and that’s as good of a haul as any team could hope for while dealing with injuries to Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce. GM Don Wadell set his team up to contend for the Cup this year and next. After that? It won’t matter if Carolina reaches the finals for the third time in franchise history.
6. Colorado Avalanche | 36-18-7 | Previous Ranking: 6
With Nazem Kadri out indefinitely, the Avs did nothing to add depth down the middle and will rely on Tyson Jost as its second-line center until Kadri returns. Colorado has won eight of its last 11—despite dropping three in a row—and is challenging for the Central’s top spot, but entering the postseason fully healthy would be nice, too.
5. St. Louis Blues | 37-17-10 | Previous Ranking: 4
For the Blues, returning Vladimir Tarasenko to the ice for the first time since late October is bigger than any potential deadline move. GM Doug Armstrong announced the team expects to get Vladimir Tarasenko back in a few weeks after missing the last four months due to shoulder surgery, and that’s bigger than any potential deadline move. Meanwhile, St. Louis’s blue line has solidified in front of Jordan Binnington, who has won four straight while surrendering only six goals.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins | 37-18-6 | Previous Ranking: 5
The Penguins momentarily had a claim to first place in the Metropolitan Division, but they’ve dropped three straight and face the final three games of the team’s last West Coast trip of the season. Pittsburgh added depth at the deadline and now just needs to pray the injury bug is finally gone.
3. Washington Capitals | 39-18-6 | Previous Ranking: 3
The Capitals defense has been marked by inconsistency—the team has allowed the ninth-most high danger attempts against per 60 minutes since Jan. 8, coinciding with a 8-9-1 record—but it’s not beyond repair. Dillon’s arrival should help fix Washington’s defensive woes with six weeks left in the season.
2. Boston Bruins | 39-13-12 | Previous Ranking: 2
Struggle no more. The Bruins have won 11 of their last 14 games, dominating and outscoring their opponents by a 44–31 margin. Boston’s path hasn’t been littered with stalwart opponents, but they made sure to improve in the meantime by trading for Kase and adding flexibility long term by dumping David Backes’s contract.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning | 40-18-5 | Previous Ranking: 1
All good things have to come to an end: the Lightning’s franchise record 11-game winning streak concluded with a 5–3 loss to the Golden Knights, but not before becoming the league’s first team to hit 40 wins this season. Awaiting the Lightning is the third-easiest schedule the rest of the way.