After weeks and months of speculation, rumors, scout watching, and hypothetical dreamland trades the NHL trade deadline has officially come and gone.
Who ended up making themselves better? Who ended up making themselves worse? Will any of this matter come playoff time and what sort of impact can it possibly have on the race for a playoff spot and the Stanley Cup?
We take a look at all of that and more in this week’s PHT Power Rankings as we look at the league after the dust has settled on the trading season.
To the rankings!
1. Tampa Bay Lightning — They did nothing, and that is fine. They needed nothing. If it is not broken, do not break it.
2. Nashville Predators — David Poile makes more blockbusters than anybody these days, and he always tends to make his team better as a result. He did that again this season with the Mikael Granlund and Wayne Simmonds moves. Granlund in particular looks like a home run.
3. San Jose Sharks — Gustav Nyquist makes an absurdly deep team even deeper. Still can not help but wonder if they traded for the wrong Red Wing, though. Maybe if they score five goals per game the goaltending will not matter.
4. Boston Bruins — Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson add some nice depth to a team that badly needed it. Not enough is made of the fact they enter the week with the third best points percentage in the NHL.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs — They made their big trade last month to get Jake Muzzin. The best addition for them would be William Nylander returning to form.
6. Columbus Blue Jackets — I find this entire situation fascinating. Never before have I seen a fringe playoff team go all in on trying to win right now. Given the contract situations of Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, I can’t say I blame them. This is your best shot, go all in. Having said that, there is a solid chance this all backfires horribly because they are probably still not a Stanley Cup team even with Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, and the rest of their additions. They also have only two draft picks right now in 2019. They also are not a lock for the playoffs. I admire the tightrope walk without a net. This feels like a make-or-break season for Jarmo Kekalainen’s reputation as a general manager.
7. Washington Capitals — Nick Jensen wasn’t the biggest name to move but I think he is just what the Capitals needed to improve what has been, at times, a leaky defense. Carl Hagelin may not be the player he was when he was frustrating Capitals fans as an opposing player seemingly every postseason, but he is still a tremendous defensive player that will also help. They got what they needed.
8. Calgary Flames — Like the Sharks I still question the goaltending. Unlike the Sharks they didn’t make another meaningful move anywhere (sorry, Oscar Fantenberg) else while everybody around them did.
9. New York Islanders — I actually kind of like that they stood pat even as the other top teams in the East got better around them. This was never supposed to be a contending year for the Islanders, it is all a bonus at this point, and this team as it is has gotten them this far, see where it can take them.
10. St. Louis Blues — Their best addition came in the form of a goalie who could stop a few pucks. They have been a different team ever since.
11. Winnipeg Jets — They didn’t get Mark Stone but they did get something that they needed in Kevin Hayes. That center depth was looking sketchy. The other thing they need is for Patrik Laine to start filling the net again … and he just might be ready to do that.
12. Vegas Golden Knights — Mark Stone is a star, and maybe getting away from Ottawa will make the rest of the league take notice. He drives possession, he scores goals, he is a huge addition for a fringe contender in a wide open Western Conference.
13. Carolina Hurricanes — Nino Niederreiter has been a huge addition and hey, look at this, now Jordan Staal is back. He may not be a huge driver of the offense but he is still an outstanding two-way player that will make a surging team even better.
14. Pittsburgh Penguins — They are now making a run at a playoff spot with Erik Gudbranson and Jack Johnson making up one third of their defense.
15. Colorado Avalanche — After watching their season take a cliff dive for a solid two months in the middle of the season they have now earned at least a point in nine of their past 11 games to stay in the hunt. Maybe Derick Brassard will be a better trade deadline acquisition for them than he was for Pittsburgh a year. Scoring in his debut game already puts him off to a better start.
16. Dallas Stars — Adding Mats Zuccarello, watching him make a huge impact in his first game, and then watching him leave that game with an injury that is going to sideline him for at least four weeks is a perfect representation of the absurdity that has been the 2018-19 Dallas Stars.
17. Minnesota Wild — It is something of a minor miracle this team is still lurking around a playoff spot. Their captain is done for the season and they traded two of their best players in Granlund and Nino Niederreiter Victor Rask and Kevin Fiala. That is a lot to overcome to earn a playoff spot, but the Western Conference this season is dumb enough to allow it to happen.
18. Florida Panthers — They are 11-5-0 in their past 16 games and for the second year in a row are playing really well in the second half. For the second year in a row it will not matter because the first half was so bad. The positive: They have positioned themselves for a serious run at any free agent (or free agents) they want in the summer.
19. Philadelphia Flyers — Their season has definitely taken on a more optimistic look lately, but the subtraction of Simmonds and the injury to Carter Hart is definitely a bit of a downer at the moment.
20. Montreal Canadiens — Losing six out of eight games has put them on the edge of the playoffs. Do they have enough to outlast one of Pittsburgh, Columbus, or Carolina?
21. Arizona Coyotes — There really was not a reason for them to be active at the trade deadline. There really was not anything to sell, there was no need to buy, they have probably overachieved given the ridiculous injury situation.
22. Buffalo Sabres — Brandon Montour is a decent enough addition, and maybe he looks better away from the mess that is the Ducks, but he is not really someone that is going to move the needle for this team. They still have two first-round picks even after trading one for him.
23. Chicago Blackhawks — The combination of a seven-game winning streak driven by a spike in shooting percentage and a weak Western Conference created the illusion of a team that might still be able to make the playoffs. Did that stop them from shopping some veteran players that maybe it’s time to move on from?
24. Vancouver Canucks — Dumping Gudbranson for Tanner Pearson might be addition by subtraction on the blue line and saves them a little salary cap space over the next two years.
25. New York Rangers — They did what they needed to, but man, how could you not feel bad for Henrik Lundqvist when watching him talk about the trade of Zuccarello? He has given so much to that organization and now it seems like he knows he will never get to win a championship with it.
26. New Jersey Devils — Hey, good for Cory Schneider for finishing the season strong. He has had a miserable couple of years and looks to have some confidence back now.
27. Anaheim Ducks — Hopefully getting some time behind the bench will give Bob Murray the information he needs to start tearing this thing down and starting over.
28. Detroit Red Wings — Gustav Nyquist’s no-trade clause probably limited what the Red Wings could do with him, but I’m a little surprised they didn’t try to sell more. They have collected a lot of draft picks the past few years but it seems like there was a missed opportunity for more here.
29. Edmonton Oilers — The trade deadline came and went with little fanfare and the stench of the previous regime’s roster moves still lingers throughout the organization. Yuck.
30. Los Angeles Kings — As of Tuesday they are riding an eight-game losing streak and they really didn’t really do much to look ahead to the future. The offseason could be active. It should be, anyway.
31. Ottawa Senators — Remember the scene in “Pulp Fiction” when John Travolta’s character walks into the Wallace household and is looking around, all confused, trying to figure out where everything is? I imagine that is what is going on in Bobby Ryan‘s head right now.