It’s “get off the pot” time for many of the NHL teams around the league. The April 3 trade deadline stands just a little more than two weeks away, and many general managers have been hoping to give their teams as much as possible to show whether they’re contenders or pretenders for the playoffs.
It’s a difficult field to read in the Western Conference where the worst team, the Colorado Avalanche, stands only six points out of a potential No. 8 seed playoff spot. Teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers would normally be sellers at this point in the season, and were at this point last season.
In the East last year there were five teams that didn’t have a shot by the time the NHL trade deadline was approaching, and this season only the Panthers and Sabres are completely out of the picture. When Ryan Miller started making “death pool” jokes about the Sabres, that probably should have signified their white flag of surrender going up if it hadn’t already.
But few selling teams mean the same old players are being mentioned in swaps: Robyn Regehr, Brenden Morrow, Ryan Clowe, Ruslan Fedotenko and more UFA-to-be players just like them. That also means the prices are sky high as multiple suitors call about players that probably aren’t perfect fits to begin with.
The Corey Perry contract extension took the biggest potential fish out of the NHL trade pool for this season, and now Jarome Iginla becomes the biggest target for teams looking for that upgrade among their top-9 forwards. But Calgary isn’t ready to flip their captain at this moment just a two-game winning streak away from a playoff spot, and there is the rub in this shortened season.
Here are this week’s power rankings:
30. Florida Panthers (7-16-6, ranked last week: 30) – A hockey team has to be pretty bad to be truly out of the playoff picture right now. The Panthers are truly bad, riding a six game losing streak.
29. Buffalo Sabres (10-15-4, ranked last week: 29) – When is Ryan Miller going to blast the GM and the owner? This has to happen.
28. Colorado Avalanche (10-14-4, ranked last week: 20) – Three regulation wins in their last 12 games and three straight losses mean the Avs are fading off into the sunset as well.
27. Washington Capitals (12-15-1, ranked last week: 28) – A monument to underachievement going on in the Nation’s Capital. Can we all just agree that Alex Ovechkin is somehow on the decline despite being just 27 years old?
26. Nashville Predators (11-12-6, ranked last week: 21) – The Predators aren’t faring too well on their current five-game road trip, and have lost three in a row despite the magic of Barry Trotz.
25. Philadelphia Flyers (13-16-1, ranked last week: 24) – It just isn’t going to happen for Philly this season: Too many injuries, too many games where they didn’t seem in the mood to play and too much Bryz.
24. Columbus Blue Jackets (11-12-6, ranked last week: 23) – Ten games without a regulation loss is nothing to sneeze at, but does anybody truly believe that the B.J.’s will qualify for the playoffs. More like the light burning brightest before it goes out.
23. Tampa Bay Lightning (13-15-1, ranked last week: 26) – Tampa is still hanging in there, but losing Vinny Lecavalier is a big blow. They might be selling off some parts pretty soon.
22. Edmonton Oilers (11-11-6, ranked last week: 25) – The Oilers are hanging around, but you would think they’d be higher than 24th in the league in offense with all that young talent. Still less than the sum of their parts.
21. Dallas Stars (13-12-3, ranked last week: 18) – The Stars are 4-4-2 in their last 10 and making it difficult for Joe Nieuwendyk to get a read on whether his team is playoff worthy.
20. Phoenix Coyotes (13-12-4, ranked last week: 17) – The Desert Dogs have lost three in a row. You’ve got to wonder if Keith Yandle might become available after the Coyotes rolled out the bank vault for Oliver Ekman-Larsson last week.
19. New York Islanders (13-12-3, ranked last week: 22) –The Isles have taken points in seven of the last 10 games, and they sit just three points outside of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
18. San Jose Sharks (12-10-6, ranked last week: 13) – I wrote last week that the Sharks are “ready to be detonated” and they lost three more games this week, including two in a row. Guys like Martin Havlat and Ryan Clowe should be on the discount shelf.
17. New York Rangers (14-12-2, ranked last week: 12) – The Rags snapped a three-game losing streak on Monday with a shootout win, but they’re still white knuckling their way to the postseason.
16. Toronto Maple Leafs (15-12-2, ranked last week: 9) – The Leafs have lost five games in a row, and Randy Carlyle is pulling out all the stops to curb the freefall. Toronto couldn’t blow it again, could they?
15. New Jersey Devils (13-10-6, ranked last week: 16) – The Devils have won four of their last 15 games and Martin Brodeur is finally turning into an old man with neck and back problems. It could be the end of an era coming for Jersey.
14. Winnipeg Jets (15-12-2, ranked last week: 19) – Winnipeg is in the playoff hunt and other teams are furiously scrambling to make sure they don’t have to deal with that travel in the first round of the playoffs.
13. Vancouver Canucks (13-9-6, ranked last week: 14) – The Canucks are dangling at the bottom of the Western Conference playoff picture, but I don’t doubt for a second they’ll be there when it counts.
12. Carolina Hurricanes (15-11-2, ranked last week: 11) – The Canes are still sitting atop the Southleast Division, but have lost three games in a row. Winnipeg is starting to push the Canes in a big way.
11. Detroit Red Wings (14-10-5, ranked last week: 10) – The Winged Wheels are right in playoff position and dropped five on the Canucks last weekend. So much for their demise.
10. Los Angeles Kings (16-10-2, ranked last week: 6) – Apparently the Kings are in the Jarome Iginla derby as well. Now the Flames just have to decide that they want to deal him.
9. Minnesota Wild (16-10-2, ranked last week: 8) – Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are the two leading scorers on the Wild and are leading the way. As it should be. Thanks NHL free agency!
8. St. Louis Blues (16-10-2, ranked last week: 15) – The Blues have won five of six with rookie Jake Allen in net and vaulted back into the top 10 after some midseason struggles.
7. Ottawa Senators (15-8-6, ranked last week: 7) – The Sens aren’t going anywhere, and it’s pretty much a wrap that Paul MacLean is going to get the Jack Adams at this point. His mustache is extremely deserving.
6. Calgary Flames (11-12-4, ranked last week: 27) – They don't belong here, but this is where they'll stay until they come to grips with the fact they're not a playoff team...and trade Iginla. In Calgary's minds they're apparently this good. So we'll play along.
4. Boston Bruins (19-5-3, ranked last week: 3) – The Bruins are still securely among the NHL elite, but they’re behind the Penguins after losing twice to them in regulation last week. Injuries are starting to chip away at the Black and Gold.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (22-8-0, ranked last week: 3) – The Penguins made a big statement by dusting the Bruins twice in the last week. The fact they did it without Evgeni Malkin makes it all the more impressive.
2. Anaheim Ducks (21-3-4, ranked last week: 2) – The Ducks are romping through their season, and both Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are locked up for the next eight years. Seems like a charmed season for the Mighty Ones.
1. Chicago Blackhawks (24-2-3, ranked last week: 1) – It isn’t exactly winning their first 20-something games in a row, but the Blackhawks are riding a three-game winning streak that’s keeping them atop the NHL’s best.