NHL Power Rankings: Where things stand after NHL trade deadline

In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we will be taking a look at where things stand in the league after the NHL Trade Deadline on Monday.

Try to look at it as a mixture of where teams are in the standings, how they are currently playing, and what their rosters look like after the additions and subtractions they’ve made.

The Avalanche hold on to the top spot, with the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning right behind them.

Where does your team rank?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

1. Colorado Avalanche. Already had what is arguably the best roster in the league. Carl Soderberg is a decent depth addition and Devan Dubnyk addresses the backup goalie situation. He may not be the player he was, but he is an upgrade over Hunter Miska and Jonas Johansson.

2. Tampa Bay Lightning. Creative work by Julien BriseBois to get David Savard at a quarter of his salary cap rate. Another strong deadline move for the second year in a row.

3. Carolina Hurricanes. A mostly quiet deadline but the Hurricanes did not need much. An outstanding team playing at an extremely high level this season.

4. Vegas Golden Knights. They did not make the big blockbuster move they have have been accustomed to making but Mattias Janmark can bring some offense to their bottom six.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs. Playing great hockey right now and they added some nice depth pieces in Nick Foligno and David Rittich. Not many weaknesses in that forward group with Foligno in the mix.

6. Washington Capitals. They paid a steep price for Anthony Mantha but he is a perfect fit for the Capitals style of play. He is also signed long-term, meaning the trade should save them salary cap space over the next two years as Jakub Vrana was due for a significant raise this offseason.

[Related: Mantha makes Capitals even bigger]

7. Pittsburgh Penguins. Jeff Carter gives Mike Sullivan a lot of lineup flexibility and options to work with. He can play wing, he can be the third line center, and he did not cost them much of anything.

8. New York Islanders. Kyle Palmieri is a great Anders Lee replacement. Maybe not the same type of player exactly, but a really good fit for the way the Islanders play.

9. Florida Panthers. There is nothing wrong with adding Brandon Montour or Sam Bennett, but given the salary cap space and their success this season I would have liked to have seen them go for a bigger score. Still an excellent team.

10. Boston Bruins. The expectations for Taylor Hall right now are as low as they have ever been, which explains the low price to acquiring him. I am expecting a big stretch run from him in a better situation.

11. Minnesota Wild. Bill Guerin and the Wild are rolling with the roster they have. The good news is it is a pretty good roster.

12. Winnipeg Jets. I am not sure Jordie Benn is enough of an upgrade to the defense to give them a chance against a team like Toronto in the playoffs. Or Connor McDavid.

13. Nashville Predators. Their recent surge took them out of the sellers market, but it did not really put them into the buyer market, either. Erik Gudbranson keeps changing teams for a reason.

14. Edmonton Oilers. Ken Holland’s comment about not being able to go all in every year just does not work for me. When you have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl every year is an all in year.

15. Montreal Canadiens. Erik Gustafsson and Jon Merril give them a lot of bodies on defense, but it is debatable as to how much better it makes them. Eric Staal will be the player that makes or breaks the deadline for them. Besides their biggest addition to the lineup could be Cole Caufield.

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2021 NHL Trade Tracker]

16. St. Louis Blues. The Blues are banking on the idea that the roster they have can turn it around. Given their schedule that is going to be a challenge. If they do, they will have earned it.

17. New York Rangers. Other than trading Brendan Lemieux the Rangers stayed quiet. That is okay though because trading him opened the roster spot for Vitali Kravtsov.

18. Philadelphia Flyers. Scott Laughton is a nice player, but a five-year term for a third-liner is always risky.

19. Dallas Stars. Injuries and COVID have played havoc on their season. Their biggest advantage for the stretch run is the games in hand. But they have to win.

20. Chicago Blackhawks. They had a decent trade deadline in terms of collecting assets and some future picks, but it is hard to say they are better in the short-term for a playoff push.

21. Arizona Coyotes. They have the scheduling edge over St. Louis and San Jose in that playoff race. Can they take advantage of it?

22. San Jose Sharks. I don’t know that trading Devan Dubnyk hurts their playoff chances, but they also did not really do anything to improve them. Smart move to buy an extra draft pick in the Mattias Janmark trade.

23. Calgary Flames. Their trade deadline activity indicates they have thrown in the towel on this season. For good reason.

24. Vancouver Canucks. Not much to judge here lately. The most important thing is everybody being healthy. The trade deadline activity does not really impact the short-term or long-term outlook. The Tanner Pearson re-signing, though, is a curious move.

[Related: Winners And Losers Of The 2021 NHL Trade Deadline]

25. Los Angeles Kings. They could get hit pretty hard on cap recapture penalties if Jeff Carter retires after this season, but they have cap space to work with and picked up a couple of future assets. Re-signing Alex Iafallo is a nice move as he should fit in with their short-term future.

26. Columbus Blue Jackets. Getting two first-round picks for Nick Foligno and David Savard is great asset management. That is promising for the future. The remaining roster for this season is significantly weaker.

27. Detroit Red Wings. If they were going to trade Anthony Mantha, they managed to get a great return for him.

28. New Jersey Devils. They lost a lot from this current roster but Jack Hughes looks more and more like a star every game. So they have that going for them.

29. Ottawa Senators. The only thing that matters here is just continuing to see the young players develop.

30. Anaheim Ducks. They still seem to be stuck in that no-man’s land of needing to rebuild without fully committing to it.

31. Buffalo Sabres. They have played a lot better since the coaching change, but this is still a team that is way too far away from seriously contending.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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    Penguins prospect Sam Poulin taking leave of absence

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    PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins forward prospect Sam Poulin is taking a leave of absence from the club’s American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

    Penguins general manager Ron Hextall announced on Wednesday that the 21-year-old Poulin, Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in the 2019 draft, is stepping away due to “personal reasons.”

    “The Penguins support Sam’s decision to take time away from hockey to focus on himself,” Hextall said in a release. “As with all of our players, our priority is them as individuals first. We look forward to having him back with the team when he is ready.”

    Hextall said Poulin will return home to Quebec and continue to work out on his own.

    Poulin made his NHL debut in October and had one assist in three games before heading back to the AHL. Poulin had four goals in 13 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at the time of his decision.

    Nathan MacKinnon sidelined about a month with upper-body injury

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    DENVER — The injury-riddled Colorado Avalanche will be without leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon for about a month after he suffered an upper-body injury in a loss to Philadelphia.

    The team announced the news on social media.

    MacKinnon has eight goals and 26 assists for a team-best 34 points this season for the defending Stanley Cup champions. He joins a long list of banged-up players, including Valeri Nichushkin, Evan Rodrigues, Bowen Byram, Kurtis MacDermid, Josh Manson, Darren Helm and captain Gabriel Landeskog. Forward Artturi Lehkonen also missed the game in Philadelphia.

    The 27-year-old MacKinnon signed an eight-year extension in August. He was coming off a postseason in which he tied for the league lead with 13 goals, helping the Avalanche raise their third Stanley Cup in franchise history.

    Former Bruins coach Cassidy wins; Boston’s home streak ends

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    BOSTON — The Vegas Golden Knights made former Boston coach Bruce Cassidy’s return a success on Reilly Smith‘s score in the fifth round of the shootout, beating the Bruins 4-3 to end their NHL-record for home victories to open a season at 14 games.

    The 57-year-old Cassidy was fired by Boston following 5 1/2 seasons in June after the Bruins were eliminated by Carolina in the opening round of the playoffs.

    Eight days after he was let go, he was hired by Vegas.

    In a matchup of two of the league’s top three teams, Western conference-leading Vegas opened a 3-0 lead early in the second period on two goals by Paul Cotter and the other by Jonathan Marchessault before the Bruins started their comeback when Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak scored just over six minutes apart late in the period.

    They tied it on Taylor Hall‘s power-play goal 3:08 into the third when he spun in front and slipped a shot from the slot past goalie Logan Thompson.

    Smith had the only score in the shootout, slipping a forehand shot past goalie Jeremy Swayman.

    Cassidy took over as Boston’s interim coach on Feb. 7, 2016, before getting the head job that April. His teams made the playoffs all six seasons, including a trip to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final when they lost the seventh game at home against St. Louis.

    Cassidy knows what it sounds like in TD Garden with The Standells’ song “Dirty Water” blaring after Bruins’ wins.

    “Now that you brought it up, I’m used to hearing “Dirty Water” at the end of the game,” he said, smiling. “I’m glad I didn’t hear it tonight. The streak is irrelevant to me. It’s nice to come in and play well.”

    Boston lost for just the second time in 12 games.

    “This locker room sticks together, and we knew we were going to do something special tonight,” Swayman said. “It (stinks) losing, but we’re going to make sure we fix the problems.”

    The Bruins’ home-opening streak broke the record of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    Before the shootout, Thompson made 40 saves. Boston’s backup Swayman had 21.

    “This city meant a lot to him, and he was fired up ready to go,” Thompson said of Cassidy. “We went out there and tried to get him two points tonight.”

    Cotter collected William Karlsson‘s pass inside the left circle and unloaded a wrister under the crossbar 1:36 into the game.

    Marchessault stole Pastrnak’s attempted clearing pass, broke in alone and tucked in his own rebound to make it 2-0.

    Cotter’s second came 51 seconds into the second period when he slipped a wrister past Swayman’s glove.

    “We couldn’t get it done early, before the shootout. We had chances,” Pastrnak said. “It’s a tough one to swallow.”

    Vegas star forward Jack Eichel missed the game with a lower-body injury.

    TRIBUTE

    The Bruins played a video montage of Cassidy on the Jumbotron late in the opening period that ended with a picture of him and said: “Welcome back, Bruce.”

    The crowd gave him a nice ovation and he waved thanking them.

    “It’s a really nice gesture by the Bruins’ organization,” he said. “I appreciate it. I said all along that I have a tremendous amount of respect for them. I’m thankful they did it.”

    FOR THE RECORD

    Cassidy finished tied for third on the Bruins’ coaching list with Hall of Famer Milt Schmidt (1955-66) at 245 victories, behind Claude Julien’s (2008-17) 419 and Art Ross (1925-45) with 387.

    EXTRA SPECIAL TEAMS

    The Bruins entered the game ranked second in the league both with their power play (29.6%) and penalty killing (84.1%).

    UP NEXT

    Golden Knights: Host the New York Rangers.

    Bruins: At the Colorado Avalanche.

    Penguins plot a way forward as Letang recovers from stroke

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    PITTSBURGH — Kris Letang returned to the ice on Thursday, just three days after suffering the second stroke of his career.

    The “twirl” the longtime Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman took at the club’s practice facility was approved by team doctors, a spin designed to help Letang’s mental health and nothing else. While the 35-year-old remains upbeat, it remains far too early to put a timeline on when his familiar No. 58 will return to the lineup.

    Though Pittsburgh general manager Ron Hextall indicated this stroke isn’t as severe as the one Letang endured in 2014 – when a hole in the wall of his heart led to a stroke that forced him to miss two months – the six-time All-Star is continuing to undergo tests.

    There are no plans for Letang to participate in any sort of hockey-specific drills anytime soon, with coach Mike Sullivan stressing the club will “err on the side of caution” when it comes to whatever rehab Letang might need.

    While Letang – one of the most well-conditioned players in the NHL – essentially went through the motions by himself, his teammates were 30 minutes south at PPG Paints Arena getting ready for a visit from Vegas and trying to plot a way forward without one of the franchise cornerstones, at least in the short term.

    Letang made it a point to help break the news to the rest of the Penguins following a 3-2 overtime loss to Carolina on Tuesday. Pittsburgh scratched Letang from the lineup with an unspecified illness and he spent a portion of the game watching from the press box next to Hextall.

    Afterward, Letang informed a somber locker room about his condition, a revelation that came as a shock even as he did his best to reassure those around him that he was and is OK.

    “It’s very serious health stuff,” defenseman Chad Ruhwedel said. “You hear about strokes and it’s never really good so we’re just glad to see he’s doing well and everything is good with him.”

    Sullivan understands it would be practically impossible for any of the other defensemen on the roster to replicate what Letang brings to the ice, so he’s not going to ask any one player to try. There are few players at the position in the NHL who have Letang’s mix of speed, skill and almost bottomless energy.

    The highest-scoring defenseman in franchise history is averaging a team-best 23:54 of ice time and has long been a fixture on the power play and in just about every crucial late-game situation.

    “I just think Tanger is not an easy guy to replace,” Sullivan said. “I don’t think from a tactical standpoint things change drastically. It’s just personnel based. But as you know, personnel can mean a lot in those types of situations.”

    It’s more than that, however. This isn’t a routine injury. There’s an emotional component and an unknown element to Letang’s status even as the Penguins insist they don’t believe his condition is career-threatening.

    “This is a whole different circumstance than an ankle injury or a shoulder injury,” Sullivan said. “This is a very different circumstance.”

    Letang’s on-ice presence is just one aspect of his importance to a team that has never missed the playoffs since he made his debut in 2007. He’s become a mentor to younger teammates like 23-year-old defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph, who like Letang is French-Canadian and who, like Letang, plays with a graceful fluidity.

    Joseph, who declined to get into specifics about Letang’s message to the team on Tuesday night, believes the best thing the Penguins can do during Letang’s absence is attack the game with the same passion he’s shown for 17 seasons and counting.

    “The way he plays for the team every single night and the way he puts his heart and soul into the game on the ice, it’s the least we can do is have our thoughts of him whenever we get on the ice,” Joseph said.

    Sullivan shuffled the lineup on Tuesday, elevating veteran Jeff Petry and Brian Dumoulin to the top defensive pair. Petry possesses a skillset that’s not too far removed from Letang’s, but it’s also his first year in Pittsburgh. Asking him to provide the leadership that’s innate to Letang is unfair. It’s one of the reasons Sullivan is insistent that it will take a group effort to fill in for a singular presence.

    “We have some diversity on our blue line right now,” Sullivan said. “We feel like we have guys capable of stepping in and getting the job done for us and we’re going to try and do that.”