NHL Power Rankings: How Buffa-low can they go?

NHL Power Rankings: How Buffa-low can they go?
October 28, 2013, 10:00 am
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So the NHL trade winds are officially blowing now with Buffalo GM Darcy Regier trying to change the conversation as criticism mounts about the disastrous mess he’s built in Buffalo. The Sabres receive 30-goal scorer Matt Moulson along with a first- and second-round pick in exchange for Buffalo franchise forward Thomas Vanek. Clearly the New York Islanders gave up a lot for a pending unrestricted free agent that wouldn’t appear to have any love for Long Island, but Moulson is also UFA this summer with Buffalo unlikely to be prominent in his plans.

It’s widely expected that Vanek will eschew all contract offers from other teams to sign with the Minnesota Wild following the season, so the Isles have their work cut out for them. But they could sell the fact the team is moving to Brooklyn in short order, and that he’ll be playing with John Tavares. Vanek didn’t have linemates like that with the Sabres, and now Moulson will become all-too familiar with that situation in Bufflalo.

Above and beyond that swap, Regier might still be wheeling and dealing with Ryan Miller as another expendable veteran with the Sabres expected to go full rebuild with their roster full of misfits. Will any other teams decide to blow it up that quickly (we’re looking at you, Flyers) and cast off a few valuable veteran players to the highest bidder?

Stay tuned on that one.

Clearly it’s still early in the power rankings season and time will tell with a lot of these teams, but here are the rankings:  

 
30. Buffalo Sabres (2-10-1, last week: 30) – How Buffalo owner Terry Pegula can’t see what an embarrassment this NHL franchise has become under his stewardship is amazing to me. Thomas Vanek must have been doing somersaults when he found out he was getting traded to the Islanders.

29. Edmonton Oilers (3-8-1, last week: 28) – Maybe Lars Eller was correct, and they really should be compared to a junior hockey team. The 48 goals allowed is an atrocious number.

28. Philadelphia Flyers (3-7-0, last week: 29) – Zero goals and a minus-5 through 10 games for Claude Giroux. Those old golf course mishaps will get you every time.

27. New Jersey Devils (2-5-4, last week: 27) – I would love to find the idiot on twitter that told me this team was going places based on the players they picked up in the offseason with good Corsi numbers.

26. New York Rangers (3-6-0, last week: 25) – Of the toxic waste dump that is the bottom of the Metro Division, I still think the Rangers have the best chance of climbing back into contention.

25. Florida Panthers (3-7-1, last week: 24) – The fate of the Panthers hinges on Tim Thomas’ groin. I don’t like their chances.

24. Dallas Stars (4-5-1, last week: 23) – The Stars are 1-4 on the road. Maybe they need a security guard outside of Tyler Seguin’s room.   

23. Washington Capitals (5-6-0, last week: 22) – Ten goals and 72 shots on net in 11 games for Alex Ovechkin. He must be really fun to watch right now.    

22. Winnipeg Jets (5-5-2, last week: 21) – Okay, so maybe that move to the Western Conference didn’t make that much of a difference after all.  

21. Columbus Blue Jackets (5-6-0, last week: 26) – Marian Gaborik is heating up with five goals and 10 points in nine games for the B.J.’s, but one wonders if it’s just a big show of skill before he leaves for another destination next season.   

20. Ottawa Senators (4-5-2, last week: 17) – Jason Spezza and Bobby Ryan have combined for 13 goals in the team’s first 11 games. Now the rest of the team just needs to catch up to them.   

19. Calgary Flames (5-4-2, last week: 18) –Glad to see common hockey sense won out over the spreadsheet heroes, and Sean Monahan will stick around in Calgary after his torrid start.  

18. New York Islanders (4-4-3, last week: 19) – The Isles must really think this is their year to go for it if they were willing to deal Matt Moulson, a first- and a second-round pick for Thomas Vanek, who is absolutely leaving via free agency once the season is over.  

17. Carolina Hurricanes (4-4-3, last week: 15) – Good to see Nathan Gerbe find a real NHL team to give him a shot after he finally escaped Buffalo, and he’s responding with some results. Now they just need to keep a goalie healthy.

16. Nashville Predators (6-5-1, last week: 16) – Seth Jones off to a great start in his rookie season. Not so much for Filip Forsberg.  

15. Montreal Canadiens (6-5-0, last week: 13) – P.K. Subban and Carey Price doing their thing with an interesting mix of veteran players and youngsters in their first and second seasons. They are better than I expected them to be.     

14. Minnesota Wild (6-3-3, last week: 20) – Thank goodness Zach Parise went on a scoring binge, and knocked Matt Cooke off the mantle as the team’s leading scorer. No NHL team wants that.

13. Detroit Red Wings (6-4-2, last week: 6) – The Wings have lost four games in a row, and don’t have much beyond Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Daniel Alfredsson at this point.

12. Los Angeles Kings (7-4-0, last week: 8) – The 2.71 goals against average and .904 save percentage for Jonathan Quick are more than a little eyebrow-raising at this point.   

11. Pittsburgh Penguins (7-4-0, last week 2) – The mighty Pens have lost three games in a row, but it’s difficult to see that kind of thing going on while Sidney Crosby is owning the rest of the NHL.    

10. Boston Bruins (7-3-0, last week: 11) – The Bruins have found their stride over the last two weeks, but now they’ve lost a valuable piece in Loui Eriksson with a dreaded concussion.  

9. Phoenix Coyotes (7-3-2, last week: 9) – Vrbata, Hanzal and Boedker sound like an Eastern European law firm.  

8. Chicago Blackhawks (6-2-3, last week: 4) – Corey Crawford off to an average start for the Stanley Cup champs, but he’s got an absolute wagon skating all around him again this season.  

7. Tampa Bay Lightning (8-3-0, last week: 14) – Hard to believe everybody else in the NHL has seen the exact team that the Bruins dismantled in their own barn a couple of weeks ago. Youngsters like Alex Killorn and Tyler Johnson providing some nice supporting work to the big boys.

6. Vancouver Canucks (8-4-1, last week: 12) – Boy, Zack Kassian really isn’t the next Milan Lucic at all. Canucks got hosed trading Cody Hodgson for him.    

5. St. Louis Blues (6-1-2, last week: 10) – Ten goals and 15 points along with a plus-7 rating for Alex Steen in nine games in what appears to really be a breakthrough year for the well-respected Blues forward.  

4. Toronto Maple Leafs (8-4-0, last week: 7) – The Leafs excelled without David Clarkson in the lineup, and now he’s back helping support a Toronto team off to a strong start.

3. Anaheim Ducks (9-3-0, last week: 5) – The injury to Jakob Silfverberg could be a costly one for the Ducks, as he was just coming into his own.

2. Colorado Avalanche (10-1-0, last week: 3) – Don Cherry called Matt Duchene the best player in the NHL during Coach’s Corner last weekend, and I wouldn’t argue after watching him dominate in Boston a few weeks ago.

1. San Jose Sharks (10-1-1, last week: 1) – The Sharks didn’t deserve to lose the game in Boston, and ran into a red-hot goaltender in Tuukka Rask along with a pretty tough serving of bad luck. San Jose still setting the tone for the rest of the league at this point.