• Andrew McGuinness

March 2019 Power Rankings

As we move past the trade deadline into the final full month of the regular season, things look tighter than ever. In the East, about 10 teams still have a realistic shot at the playoffs. The same holds true in the West, which means quite a few teams saw their hopes drop throughout February. Let's see who's where, and how they performed at the deadline.

31. Ottawa Senators (22-37-5, Last Month: 31)

Deadline Grade: A-

Faced with the difficult position of being a rebuilder in dead last without their 1st round pick, the Senators took two steps forward and one minor step back. Erik Bränström is a great defensive prospect that should pair nicely with Thomas Chabot, but I'm not sure how Pierre Dorion didn't get a 1st for Mark Stone. That being said, he sold high on Duchene and Dzingel, getting two 2nds for the latter and (if Duchene resigns) two 1sts for the former, and some good young talent as well. Oh, and they fired head coach Guy Boucher less than 24 hours after Dorion said he'd wait 'til spring to make a decision. Fun times!

30. Detroit Red Wings (23-32-9, Last Month: 30)

Deadline Grade: B

Ken Holland finally proved the word "rebuild" is in his dictionary, although he probably shouldn't be the guy to do it for Detroit. The good on his deadline day was selling high on Nick Jensen, getting a 2nd and a project d-man in Madison Bowey for a guy viewed as a 6 until this year. The bad was getting about the same value for Gustav Nyquist, an established speedy winger with a history of scoring. The ugly was holding on to Jimmy Howard, a pending 35-year old UFA goalie on a resurgent year, rather than getting a 2nd from a team looking to stabilize their goaltending like San Jose.

29. Anaheim Ducks (24-32-9, Last Month: 23)

Deadline Grade: B

Now that John Gibson's back has broken (figuratively) from carrying the Ducks to relevancy, Anaheim has been exposed as the bottom feeder that they are. Randy Carlyle has been axed for the second time as a Duck, with GM Bob Murray naming... Bob Murray the interim coach. As a result of his findings, Jakub Silfverberg became the latest Duck to receive a questionable long-term extension, while smoothing skating defenseman Brandon Montour was shipped off to the Sabres. Montour seems like the player Anaheim should be rebuilding around, but it's hard to argue with the haul the Ducks got.

28. Edmonton Oilers (27-30-7, Last Month: 17)

Deadline Grade: C-

Not a lot of action this time around for the Oilers. That's a problem when you're one of the worst teams in the NHL. Alex Chiasson, a pending UFA on a career-year, should've been moved for a 2nd or 3rd round pick. But alas, the Oilers continue to let themselves waste away. Leon Draisaitl hit the 40-goal mark Saturday, but of course, star power is far from the biggest issue from the Oilers. It will be interesting to see how active they are at the draft floor.

27. Los Angeles Kings (23-33-8, Last Month: 28)

Deadline Grade: A-

Despite a surge earlier, the Kings were smart and realized the only thing they've got a shot at winning this year is the draft lottery. They got a load of assets (two solid prospects and a 1st) for Jake Muzzin, and received several mid-round picks for depth players like Carl Hagelin, Oscar Fantenberg, and Nate Thompson. The only problem is they can't really rebuild with all the massive contracts they've handed out over the last 5 years.

26. New Jersey Devils (25-32-8, Last Month: 29)

Deadline Grade: A

It seems like the young, fast Devils team that surprised everyone to earn a playoff berth last season was just a mirage. After selling high on Brian Boyle and getting a solid package of picks for Marcus Johansson, the Devils can barely ice a full roster of NHL caliber players thanks to a boatload of injuries. While regression to the mean could've been predicted, the sudden falloff of Cory Schneider hurts both short and long term, thanks to a $6 million cap hit for the next 3 years.

25. New York Rangers (27-27-10, Last Month: 25)

Deadline Grade: A

The Rangers had one of the better deadlines of any seller. They got the 1st round pick they desired for Kevin Hayes, a 2nd a 3rd from Dallas that could each upgrade to a 1st for Mats Zuccarello, and two more picks for Adam McQuaid. The Rangers continue to go about this rebuild the right way, which is the best way to get it over with as quick as possible. Even if it does sting to see father time finally start to take its toll on Henrik Lundqvist.

24. Vancouver Canucks (27-29-9, Last Month: 17)

Deadline Grade: B+

Someone was bound to fall out of the crowded Western Conference playoff race, and unfortunately, the Canucks were suspect number 1. Despite the strong young core, led by Calder favorite (at least for now) Elias Pettersson, the Canucks lack the depth at all three positions to be viewed as serious playoff contenders. If Jim Benning can have an offseason as good as the Tanner Pearson-Erik Gudbranson swap, the Canucks will be alright.

23. Chicago Blackhawks (27-28-9, Last Month: 27)

Deadline Grade: B

I was concerned about the Hawks for a second. An 11 wins in 12 games streak had me concerned that Stan Bowman was going to mortgage futures for the right to be, in the best case scenario, trounced in the first round by Nashville or Calgary. But the Hawks held pat, which made sense since they didn't really have much to sell. They've got 2 of the top 5 goal scorers in Kane and DeBrincat, but they're probably going to need to find a new goaltender to rely on for their next playoff push. Corey Crawford's health is just too inconsistent.

22. Colorado Avalanche (28-25-12, Last Month: 21)

Deadline Grade: B+

This is what we all feared the Avalanche would become. Behind the vaunted Landeskog-MacKinnon-Rantanen trio, the Avs have been lacking talent. Derick Brassard could be a nice stealth pickup at the deadline, as he only cost Joe Sakic a 3rd round pick. But will it move the needle enough for the Avs to creep back into the playoff picture? That remains to be seen.

21. Florida Panthers (28-25-10, Last Month: 24)

Deadline Grade: B-

Despite rumors of Panarin and Bobrovsky (that could still be fulfilled in the offseason), Florida mostly laid low at the deadline, completing the Bjugstad trade tree by sending the aforementioned Brassard to Colorado. The Panthers made an incredible push last year to almost make the playoffs, but lightning seems unlikely to strike twice. This offseason will be a big one for Florida.

20. Buffalo Sabres (30-26-8, Last Month: 18)

Deadline Grade: A-

Wow, the Sabres really wanted to move back to Buffalol, huh? It may not be last place like in years past, but it feels like the Sabres have hit rock bottom. They are looking likely to be the 2nd team in NHL history to win 10 straight games and miss the playoffs in the same season (joining the 2016-17 Flyers). As for the deadline, Montour is a nice addition to stabilize their top-4 going forward, so it's hard to argue even if they gave up a 1st and a good prospect. Extending Jeff Skinner is now their number 1 priority.

19. Dallas Stars (32-27-5, Last Month: 14)

Deadline Grade: B+

It may same weird to see a team in a playoff spot like the Stars this low, but here me out. The Stars appeared to have addressed their depth issues with the acquistion of Mats Zuccarello for a 2nd and 3rd that could each become a 1st. A bit steep, but whatever, that's what you have to give up to the get talent at the deadline. The problem is Zuc was injured 2 periods into his Dallas career and is now out 4 weeks. So the Stars are going to be the same top-heavy team that is one Ben Bishop cold stretch away from falling fast as before. Got it.

18. Arizona Coyotes (31-28-5, Last Month: 22)

Deadline Grade: B-

Don't count the Yotes out just yet. An 8-2-0 stretch has the Coyotes as one of the hotter teams in the NHL, and they are still alive in the Western Conference playoff race. Unfortunately, their injury decimated roster and lack of action at the trade deadline prevent me from ranking them any higher. But keep chipping away, Coyotes. You might just make it.

17. Minnesota Wild (31-27-6, Last Month: 12)

Deadline Grade: C+

Give the Wild credit for still being in the race. They lost captain Mikko Koivu to injury for the rest of the season, and have made a couple questionable one for one swaps in recent memory, ridding themselves of Nino Niederriter and Mikael Granlund and only getting Victor Rask and Kevin Fiala, respectively, in return, though Ryan Donato has looked good since coming over from Boston. Thanks to the resurgent Zach Parise and a turnaround from Devin Dubnyk after a slow start, Minny is right in the thick of things.

16. Pittsburgh Penguins (33-22-9, Last Month: 8)

Deadline Grade: D+

For the first time in recent memory, there is a legitimate chance the Penguins miss the playoffs. The whole team kinda seems in turmoil, which was showcased in their Stadium Series collapse to the Flyers. The honeymoon phase has worn off for Jim Rutherford, who made one of the worst trades of the deadline in sending Pearson to the Canucks for objective pylon Erik Gudbranson. They need Matt Murray to right the ship fast, otherwise the Pens might be entering Blackhawks territory faster than we all thought.

15. Philadelphia Flyers (31-26-8, Last Month: 19)

Deadline Grade: B

It may be too little, too late, but you have to give the Flyers credit for trying. Philadelphia has been one of the hottest teams in the NHL over the last month and a half, even with Carter Hart recently going on the shelf. Perhaps Chuck Fletcher could've gotten more for Wayne Simmonds at the deadline, but if Ryan Hartman finds a role in Philly, they'll be fine. It's going to take another 10-win month (at least), but the Flyers aren't totally dead. Yet.

14. Vegas Golden Knights (35-26-5, Last Month: 7)

Deadline Grade: A

After putting together the most dominant inaugural season in pro sports history, it seems like Vegas' main problem has been consistency. Good news is the remedy for that is apparently Mark Stone. George McPhee definitely won that trade, and got probably the best two-way winger in the NHL on an extension as well. His addition could easily turn the Golden Knights offense from good (17th in goals scored) to great.

13. Carolina Hurricanes (35-23-6, Last Month: 15)

Deadline Grade: B-

This lovable bunch of jerks may just storm surge their way into the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Curtis McElhinney may be the best story in the NHL this year. At 35, he's become a full-time starter for the first time in his career, posting an impressive .923% save percentage. Their defense is one of the best in the NHL. The team is analytical darlings. For the love of Gary Bettman, don't let us down, Canes.

12. Montreal Canadiens (35-23-7, Last Month: 10)

Deadline Grade: B-

Nothing much has changed with the Habs. They're the same fast, skilled team with noted good guy Carey Price starting to turns things around. Marc Bergevin wisely chose not to overpay for any veteran grit at the deadline (Nate Thompson for a 5th is fine). Montreal is one of a few teams on the bubble in the East. We'll have a better idea on their fate in a month.

11. St. Louis Blues (34-24-6, Last Month: 19)

Deadline Grade: B

Now there's the St. Louis Blues we were all expecting to see back in October. Thanks to the traffic jam that was the Western Conference, the Blues are comfortably back in a playoff spot thanks to an 11-game winning streak. Jordan Binnington is out Carter Harting Carter Hart (even before his injury), and everyone behind Ryan O'Reilly has started to pick up the slack. They sat out the trade deadline (other than Michael del Zotto), but their on the right side of things down the stretch.

10. Columbus Blue Jackets (36-24-3, Last Month: 16)

Deadline Grade: A++

Regardless of what happens, give Jarmo Kekalainen all the credit in the world for going all-in. Rather than saving face and dealing pending UFA stars Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, Jarmo added two more in Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel from Ottawa. This sends a message to the only team in the NHL to never win a playoff series - their time is now. Let's see if they can go out there and take it.

9. Winnipeg Jets (38-22-4, Last Month: 13)

Deadline Grade: A-

It's been a weird season in the true north. The Jets have had to deal with the great disappearing (and reappearing) act of Patrik Laine, as well as a bevy of injuries to some of their key contributers. But they're getting healthy, just acquired Kevin Hayes for a 1st and Brendan Lemieux, and Connor Hellebuyck turning back the clock to... last year. They could easily be higher, but things start to get crowded as this point in the rankings.

8. Toronto Maple Leafs (39-21-4, Last Month: 5)

Deadline Grade: B+

Toronto is another team facing their greatest deal of adversity right now. They've lost defenseman Jake Gardiner and Travis Dermott to injury. To make matters worse, John Tavares was just laughed out of his old building in his return against the Islanders, who are right behind the Leafs in the standings. Toronto has fallen to 3rd in the Atlantic, meaning that because of the NHL's convoluted playoff system they'd face Boston in the 1st round. The Leafs need to right the ship before things count for real.

7. New York Islanders (37-20-7, Last Month: 9)

Deadline Grade: B

First place New York Islanders. Didn't see that one coming. In fairness, regardless of how good they were, I'd have to put them above Toronto just because of that drubbing in Tavares' return. Even if their fanbase was a little, ok, a lotta bit extra. They may not look good on paper, and they stood pat at the trade deadline, but maybe their is something magical about this years Isles squad. Or maybe they flame out in the first round. I wouldn't be surprised either way.

6. Washington Capitals (37-21-7, Last Month: 13)

Deadline Grade: A-

Despite a 7-game losing streak to close out January, it never felt like the Capitals were in serious trouble. Sure enough, they turned things around in February, and rewarded themselves with some nice moves at the deadline. Nick Jensen was brought in and extended to be this year's Michael Kempny, as well as adding some speed up front in the playoff proven Carl Hagelin, mainly so he wouldn't jump out of nowhere and score a game-winning goal in the playoffs against them.

5. Nashville Predators (37-25-5, Last Month: 6)

Deadline Grade: A+

There aren't a lot of flaws on Smashville's roster, but if there's one stat that stands out, it's their league worst power play. So the Preds went all out to address it. They pretty clearly won a 1-for-1 swap, getting Mikael Granlund for Kevin Fiala, and then added Wayne Simmonds, who despite his 5-on-5 struggles is still one of the best net-front players in the league. We'll see if it's enough to put some catfish in the Cup come June.

4. San Jose Sharks (38-19-8, Last Month: 4)

Deadline Grade: A-

Most of the Sharks big moves had been made a while ago, but that didn't stop them from making one final push at the deadline. Doug Wilson fished Gustav Nyquist out of Detroit for a reasonable package of picks as a last gasp move. But the Sharks are set to go as far as Martin Jones (.896 SV%) will take them.

3. Boston Bruins (38-17-9, Last Month: 11)

Deadline Grade: B+

Boston had themselves a productive deadline, getting Marcus Johansson in a good deal but taking a gamble in sending Ryan Donato to Minnesota for Charlie Coyle. But the Bruins have jumped 8 spots because of their work before these trades. Boston did not lost a game in regulation all February, which tells you all you need to know about the Bs going forward.

2. Calgary Flames (41-16-7, Last Month: 2)

Deadline Grade: B

The only reason Boston didn't move even higher is because of an equally hot Flames team, the winners of 7 straight games. Despite being linked to some big names such as Mark Stone, Calgary elected to watch the deadline unfold rather than make some headlines themselves. They'll let their play on the ice do that instead.

1. Tampa Bay Lightning (49-12-4, Last Month: 1)

Deadline Grade: A-

Everyone at this year's deadline was making moves to try to catch these guys. You know you're pretty good when the only thing wrong with the team is their alternate jerseys (seriously, those things are ugly). Even with some hot streaks from teams like Boston and Calgary, the Lightning are still far and away the best team in the league, led by the league's leading scorer Nikita Kucherov.