NHL Power Rankings: Contenders and pretenders after NHL trade deadline

In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we take a look at where each NHL team sits on the tier of Stanley Cup contenders and pretenders after the NHL trade deadline.

Every team made some sort of a move over the past month or so to complete their roster (or sell off pieces of their roster) for the rest of the regular season and playoffs. With all of that completed, let’s take a look at how the league looks from the heavy favorites, to the contenders, to the pretenders, to the lottery teams.

As has been the case for most of the 2021-22 NHL season, Eastern Conference teams dominate the top of the contenders list.

Where does your team currently sit?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

The heavy favorites

1. Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 1). The rich get richer. Already an insanely deep team, they added Artturi Lehkonen, Josh Manson, and Andrew Cogliano to round out their roster and will still be getting Gabriel Landeskog and Samuel Girard back for the playoffs. Loaded roster.

2. Carolina Hurricanes (LW: 2). Max Domi adds just a bit more offense to an already stacked roster at forward. As long as they keep getting the goaltending they are getting they should be a heavy favorite in the East.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 4). Not sure Brandon Hagel is the next Blake Coleman like so many think, but he is a good addition. The additions of him and Nick Paul add to their bottom-six and help their chances for another championship.

4. Florida Panthers (LW: 3). Claude Giroux is a big addition at forward where they have one of the most powerful lineups in the league. But I am not sure about that defense after the additions of Ben Chiarot and Robert Hägg . They did not seem necessary. Or a good fit for the Panthers’ current style of play.

The contenders

5. Calgary Flames (LW: 5). Their big addition came a few weeks ago when they got Tyler Toffoli from Montreal, but then they went and added Calle Järnkrok and Ryan Carpenter to round out the forward lineup even more. Improved depth, great defense, great goaltending. They are the second best team in the West right now.

6. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 6). Rickard Rakell is exactly what they needed for their second line, and Ron Hextall still got to keep his first-round pick.

[Related: Penguins get Rakell, add some scoring depth]

7. Boston Bruins (LW: 7). You can argue about whether or not it was smart to give Hampus Lindholm an eight-year contract extension, but he is a definite upgrade right now and they still have Jake DeBrusk (even if that is temporary). They did not get much in the way of forward depth, but this is going to be a nightmare first round matchup for somebody.

8. New York Rangers (LW: 8). They did not hit an obvious home run at the deadline, but they did get some much needed depth and round out their roster and add some badly needed depth. Andrew Copp is the big addition here.

[Related: Copp, Braun make Rangers more balanced]

9. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 9). Mark Giordano is a great add for the defense, but this goaltending situation makes the whole thing seems like a house of cards.

10. Washington Capitals (LW: 10). Oh yeah, these guys. They are still hanging around. They might be the last playoff team in the East but they are very capable of making a lot of noise. Some solid depth additions at the deadline as well. The key will be Vitek Vanecek being the guy in goal.

The solid playoff teams

11. Minnesota Wild (LW: 14). Marc-Andre Fleury is probably looking forward to playing behind a team that will not leave him on an island every night.

[Related: With Fleury trade Wild boldly aim to fix biggest weakness]

12. St. Louis Blues (LW: 11). Not sure if Nick Leddy moves the needle much for them as a defensive upgrade, but he could bounce back on a better team. The Blues have a great offense and Ville Husso has really solidified the goaltending spot.

13. Nashville Predators (LW: 13). The big story here is who they did not trade (Filip Forsberg). There is still that pesky matter of getting him re-signed before he leaves for nothing in free agency, but I am of the belief that if you are a playoff team you do not sell. They did not sell.

The bubble teams and pretenders

14. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 12). Ultimately I think they get in, but the injuries are a little bit of a concern right now. Especially Drew Doughty‘s injury.

15. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 16). They are in a better spot than they were a few weeks ago, but the lack of urgency and aggressiveness from the front office remains baffling here.

 [NHL Trade Deadline winners, losers: East loads up, GM beefs]

16. Dallas Stars (LW: 15). They started the season with four capable NHL goalies and ultimately had to trade for more goalie depth. What a twist.

17. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 18). They are in a lot of trouble here. If they do not have the salary cap space to bring Mark Stone back their playoff chances might be cooked this season. They might be even with Stone.

Better luck next season

18. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 20). This is not a bad team, and it has a better long-term outlook than a lot of people might realize. Cole Sillinger looks legit, and they have another likely top-10 pick coming this offseason from Chicago. Get Patrik Laine re-signed and they have something here.

19. New York Islanders (LW: 23). By re-signing Cal Clutterbuck and Zach Parise the Islanders are very clearly saying that they think this season is a fluke and they will be a playoff contender again next season. They might not be wrong.

20. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 19). This team still needs some game-changers on defense.

21. Vancouver Canucks (LW: 17). They did not trade any of their big names at the trade deadline, but it is a good bet that not all of Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller, and Conor Garland are on the roster at the start of next season.

22. San Jose Sharks (LW: 21). Re-signing Tomas Hertl indicates they believe they can return to the playoffs quickly. That seems like a challenge given the contracts on the roster. We shall see.

[Related: What exactly is Sharks’ plan after re-signing Tomas Hertl]

23. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 23). It was smart to trade off all of their pending unrestricted free agents, and there is still more short-term hope here than there has been the past couple of years.

24. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 26). The foundation pieces are in place. Now the pressure is on Steve Yzerman to add the right pieces and players around them.

25. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 23). The most encouraging thing to happen this season is the realization that Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki might actually be as good as they hoped once they started to play for a coach that knew how to utilize them.

Still some long seasons ahead

26. Buffalo Sabres (LW: 30). They have played better recently, but this is still a roster full of holes and core players and playing in absolute monster of a division.

27. New Jersey Devils (LW: 25). There are some intriguing players here but this franchise just seems stuck in its current spot with no way out.

28. Chicago Blackhawks (LW: 28). They were right to trade Brandon Hagel for that return. There is no way this roster on opening night next season even somewhat resembles its current form. This is going to be a major, major rebuild. As it should be.

29. Philadelphia Flyers (LW: 29). Probably the most confusing team in the league right now. You get the sense they think they are closer to the playoffs than they actually are. That usually does not work out well.

30. Ottawa Senators (LW: 27). This team trading for Travis Hamonic is without question the biggest head scratcher of the trade deadline.

31. Arizona Coyotes (LW: 31). Not trading Jakob Chychrun was the right move. This is not the right time for that.

32. Seattle Kraken (LW: 32). They did the smart thing by trading as many players they could for as many draft picks as they could.

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    Capitals sign Dylan Strome to five-year, $25 million extension

    Chase Agnello-Dean/Getty Images

    FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Washington Capitals signed forward Dylan Strome to a five-year extension worth $25 million.

    The team announced the contract during NHL All-Star Weekend, which is taking place in South Florida – the place Strome was drafted third in 2015.

    Strome will count $5 million against the salary cap through the 2027-28 season. He was set to be a restricted free agent this summer.

    “Dylan is an intelligent and skilled center and has been a great addition to our organization,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “We are pleased to sign him to a long-term contract. We feel his skill set is a great fit for our team as he enters the prime years of his career at an important position.”

    Strome is getting a raise from the $3.5 million deal he signed with the Capitals after the Chicago Blackhawks opted not to tender him a qualifying offer and made him a free agent. Strome has 11 goals and 25 assists in 36 games this season and ranks third on Washington’s roster with 14 power-play points.

    The Mississauga, Ontario, native who played his junior hockey alongside Connor McDavid with the Erie Otters has 206 points in 325 regular-season NHL games with the Arizona Coyotes, Blackhawks and Capitals.

    Golden Knights captain Mark Stone undergoes back surgery

    mark stone surgery
    Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports

    LAS VEGAS — Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone is out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery in Denver, the club announced.

    The Knights termed the procedure as successful and that Stone “is expected to make a full recovery.”

    This is the second time in less than a year that Stone has had back surgery. He also had a procedure May 19, 2022, and Stone said in December this was the best he had felt in some time.

    But he was injured Jan. 12 against the Florida Panthers, and his absence has had a noticeable effect on the Knights. They have gone 1-5-2 without Stone, dropping out of first place in the Pacific Division into third.

    Stone is second on the team in goals with 17 and in points with 38.

    Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette charged with DUI

    brunette dui
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
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    DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — New Jersey Devils associate coach and former Florida Panthers head coach Andrew Brunette was arrested in South Florida while driving home from a bar in his golf cart, authorities said.

    Brunette, 49, was pulled over just blocks from the ocean in the Deerfield Beach area, north of Fort Lauderdale, according to a Broward Sheriff’s Office arrest report. He was charged with one count of driving under the influence and two counts of disobeying a stop or yield sign. Brunette was released on $500 bond.

    The Devils said in a statement that the team was aware of Brunette’s arrest and gathering additional information.

    According to the arrest report, a deputy was in the process of giving Brunette’s illegally parked golf cart a ticket around midnight when Brunette walked out of a nearby bar and told the deputy he was about to leave. The deputy said Brunette seemed unsteady on his feet and slurred his speech, and when he was joined by his wife, the deputy said he overheard the wife tell Brunette not to drive while the deputy was there.

    The deputy remained in the area and reported watching the couple drive away about 17 minutes later, according to the report. The deputy said he watched the golf cart run two stop signs before pulling Brunette over on a residential street about a mile away from his home. According to the report, Brunette had difficulty following instructions during a field sobriety test before eventually quitting and asking for an attorney. He also declined to take a breathe test to measure his blood-alcohol level, officials said.

    Online jail and court records didn’t list an attorney for Brunette.

    Brunette is in his first season as associate coach of the Devils. He was interim coach of the Florida Panthers last season after taking over when Joel Quenneville resigned for his connection to a 2010 Chicago Blackhawks sexual abuse scandal.

    The Panthers fired Brunette after they lost in the second round of the playoffs last spring despite him leading them to the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top team during the regular season.

    The Sudbury, Ontario, native played 1,159 NHL games for Washington, Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota, Colorado and Chicago from 1995-2012. He was a Wild assistant in 2015-16 and worked on Florida’s staff from 2019-2022.

    Stars aligned with new coach DeBoer, Nill-constructed roster

    Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
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    DALLAS — General manager Jim Nill sensed things were coming together for the Dallas Stars even before the season started with new coach Pete DeBoer and a roster mixed with proven veterans, up-and-coming young players, and even a teenaged center.

    At the NHL’s All-Star break, after 51 games together, these Stars are leading the Western Conference.

    “Every year you start, you put a team together, and there’s always going to be question marks,” said Nill, in his 10th season as the Stars GM. “You have ideas how you think you’re going to come together, but there’s always the unknown. . This year has been one of those years where right from the start, you could just see everything was kind of jelling.”

    The Stars (28-13-10, 66 points) have their trio of 2017 draft picks that just keep getting better: All-Star winger Jason Robertson, goaltender Jake Oettinger and defenseman Miro Heiskanen. The seemingly ageless Joe Pavelski, at 38 and already re-signed for next season, is on the high-scoring top line with Robertson and point-a-game winger Roope Hintz. Wyatt Johnston, their first-round pick in 2021 and half Pavelski’s age, has 13 goals.

    There is also the resurgence of six-time All-Star forward Tyler Seguin two years after hip surgery and 33-year-old captain Jamie Benn, who already has more goals (19) than he did playing all 82 games last season.

    The Stars have a plus-40 goal differential, which is second-best in the NHL. They are averaging 3.37 goals per game, more than a half-goal better than last season when they were the only team to make the playoffs after being outscored in the regular season. They are also allowing fewer goals, and have improved on power plays and penalty kills.

    “Where we sit at this break, I think guys are happy with that,” Seguin said, before being asked the keys to the Stars leading the West and on pace for a 100-point season with their new coach.

    “Our style, our team speed, our puck speed, being predictable. All the clichés, knowing where the puck’s going. Really how we play the five-man unit,” he said. “Our pace this year, it’s been a lot quicker. There’s been some solid depth scoring this year while we’ve got one of the best lines in hockey.”

    The Stars went into the break on their only three-game losing streak of the season, all 3-2 overtime losses at home.

    “Those aren’t real losses,” said DeBoer, who twice has gone to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season with a new team. “I’m happy where we’re at. I like how we’re playing.”

    Plus, Dallas won’t have to worry in the playoffs about 3-on-3 hockey, which has been the only real stain on their season so far. Only one team has more than its 10 losses after regulation.

    “We’ve played a lot of good hockey. We’ve made a lot of good strides in our game,” DeBoer said. “We still have another level we have to get to when we get back, but there are a lot of good things that have happened. They’ve worked to have us where we are right now in the standings. Good spot to be in.”

    The Stars have 31 games left in the regular season. The first four after the break at home, like the last four before their week-long hiatus.

    Robertson’s 33 goals rank sixth in the NHL, and the 23-year-old has the same number of assists while averaging 1.29 points a game even after he missed most of training camp before signing a four-year, $31 million contract. Pavelski has 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists) while playing every game, and Hintz 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in only 43 games.

    Oettinger, who is 21-7 in regulation, has a .923 save percentage and 2.26 goals against average since signing his three-year, $12 million contract. That deal came after 223 saves in a seven-game playoff series against Calgary last May, capped by 64 in the series finale that went to overtime.

    Nill said Robertson’s production has improved even with the league adjusting to the high-scoring forward, and that Oettinger is proving to be one of the league’s best goalies. But they are just part of what has been a tremendous team effort.

    “They kind of had that mojo right from the start, and it was kind of this team’s got the right mix,” Nill said. “It’s come together well, and it’s shown in the standings. It’s been good to watch.”