There were various winners and losers at last week’s NHL trade deadline, and now everybody gets to see how those players adjust to their new surroundings. Who would have guessed that Jaromir Jagr (1 goal, 2 assists) would outscore Jarome Iginla in their first few games with new teams, or that Ryane Clowe would finally break his goal-scoring drought this season in dramatic fashion with the Blueshirts on Broadway?
Many of the best moves came well in advance of the trade deadline: Montreal winger Michael Ryder had 10 goals in his first 12 games after getting dealt back to the Habs from the Dallas Stars. The Columbus Blue Jackets also showed just how serious they are about competing by dealing for Rangers sniper Marian Gaborik after rolling in a long winning streak into the deadline.
Most years the trade deadline’s big winner isn’t the hockey club holding the Stanley Cup at the end of the season, but just the opposite was true. The Kings dealt for Jeff Carter prior to the deadline and then ended up riding Carter and former Flyers linemate Michael Richards to Cup heights in June.
Perhaps that trend will repeat again this season, and make it even more vital that a team gets a big win at the deadline before embarking on the long, slow, painful, glorious Stanley Cup playoff experience.
Here are this week’s power rankings:
30. Colorado Avalanche (12-22-5, ranked last week: 28) – The Avs are in a five-game losing streak that has J.S. Giguere lashing out about his team’s work habits. Can you say "disaster"?
29. Florida Panthers (13-20-6, ranked last week: 30) – At least the Panthers were able to develop Jonathan Huberdeau this season. That’s one silver lining in a pretty crappy year.
28. Carolina Hurricanes (16-21-2, ranked last week: 20) – The Canes have lost four games in a row and been outscored by a 20-6 margin while missing goaltender Cam Ward in a major way. It’s too bad because it appeared Carolina might have been the Southeast Division champ before players started getting hurt.
27. Calgary Flames (14-20-4, ranked last week: 25) – If franchises reap what they sow then the Flames are in the perfect spot after pulling some shenanigans with the Bruins in the Jarome Iginla sweepstakes.
26. Tampa Bay Lightning (17-20-2, ranked last week: 29) – Amazing. Firing Guy Boucher didn’t seem to make the defense any better. Trading for Ben Bishop did make the goaltending better, however.
25. Nashville Predators (15-18-8, ranked last week: 18) – The Preds have lost three in a row and completely faded out of the playoff picture despite the magic of Barry Trotz. Technically they’re only five points out, but it’s all over.
24. Philadelphia Flyers (17-19-3, ranked last week: 22) – Is Steve Mason the answer in net? Does anybody know how to evaluate goalies in Philly?
23. Buffalo Sabres (16-18-6, ranked last week: 23) – The Sabres have won three in a row. It hasn’t made a bit of difference in the world, though. They deserve the boos in Buff that Steve Ott is complaining about.
22. Edmonton Oilers (16-16-7, ranked last week: 24) – First the Oilers win five in a row to get back in the playoff picture, and then they lose three in a row to take themselves right back. I still think they squeak in as the eighth seed.
21. Columbus Blue Jackets (17-16-7, ranked last week: 22) – I loved the idea of Columbus going for it by dealing for Marian Gaborik, but they need to keep winning games if they want to make it pay off with the playoffs.
20. New Jersey Devils (15-14-10, ranked last week: 14) – The Devils have hit a severe bump in the road, or as the rest of the NHL has deduced: “Reality has set in.” Ilya Kovalchuk coming back will help, but it might just be too late.
19. Phoenix Coyotes (17-16-6, ranked last week: 26) –The Coyotes are back in the thick of the playoffs and are refusing to sell off their major assets. That decision could pay off in some postseason games in Glendale.
18. Winnipeg Jets (20-19-2, ranked last week: 17) – A current six-game home stand for the Jets will determine whether they’re playoff-bound or not, but Winnipeg hasn’t been quite as good at home as they were last season.
17. New York Rangers (19-16-4, ranked last week: 16) – Impressive showing by all of the new pieces brought in at the trade deadline, but it will be interesting to see if guys like Ryane Clowe can keep it going.
16. New York Islanders (20-16-4, ranked last week: 21) – Holding into Lubomir Visnovsky and Mark Streit was a giant statement that the Isles are “all in” for this year’s playoff run. They look like they’re worthy of it.
15. Ottawa Senators (19-14-6, ranked last week: 9) – It finally appears the injuries are tearing at the Senators, who have fought valiantly all year. The swap of Ben Bishop-for-Corey Conacher was an excellent hockey trade for the Sens.
14. Detroit Red Wings (19-15-5, ranked last week: 11) – This could be a low seed that scares the crap out of teams in the playoffs. Watch out for the Wings.
13. Minnesota Wild (22-15-2, ranked last week: 5) – What a perfect pickup for the Wild in Jason Pominville, who has played his entire career like he was a member of the Minnesota organization.
12. Dallas Stars (19-17-3, ranked last week: 9) – They were sellers at this deadline, but Dallas has stocked up as a Western Conference organization on the rise.
11. St. Louis Blues (22-14-2, ranked last week: 10) – Brian Elliott has stepped up for the Blues at just the right time. They just look like a team built for the playoffs after winning their fourth game in a row.
10. Washington Capitals (21-17-2, ranked last week: 19) – The Capitals have won four games in a row and Alex Ovechkin is back in the Hart Trophy conversation. Where are all the haters now?
9. San Jose Sharks (20-12-7, ranked last week: 15) – A seven-game winning streak at exactly the right time has put the Sharks right back where they need to be while they re-tooled by dealing away Douglas Murray and Ryane Clowe.
8. Los Angeles Kings (22-14-4, ranked last week: 12) – What in the world is going on with Jon Quick this year? Very, very average numbers.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs (22-13-4, ranked last week: 13) – Credit the Leafs for continuing to win while Joffrey Lupul is missing time with a mysterious injury. Their beleaguered fan base can start making the playoff plans.
6. Vancouver Canucks (22-11-6, ranked last week: 6) – It’s a good thing Roberto Luongo said “my contract sucks” instead of “my goaltending partner sucks.” That would have really been a problem.
5. Boston Bruins (25-9-4, ranked last week: 4) – Will the inevitable arrival of the mythic Carl Soderberg be just what the Bruins need to go over the top? Doubtful, but it will be interesting to watch all the same.
4. Montreal Canadiens (25-9-5, ranked last week: 7) – The Habs have won three of four from the Bruins and done it in impressive fashion. They are the better team headed into the postseason, and PK Subban is turning into a truly special player.
3. Anaheim Ducks (27-8-5, ranked last week: 3) – The Ducks took down the Kings in a shootout last weekend and will have great placement in the Western Conference when it all goes down in a few weeks. Interesting mix of young players and holdovers from their last Cup team.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (30-10-0, ranked last week: 1) – Life without Sidney Crosby is going to be pretty challenging, but the Penguins have always circled the wagons very effectively. Ray Shero kicked butt at the trade deadline.
1. Chicago Blackhawks (30-5-4, ranked last week: 2) – The Blackhawks swept the Predators in a weekend series and have clinched a playoff spot. They are still the team to beat after their epic start to the season.