Joe Haggerty's NHL power rankings: Can teams find sellers at trade deadline?

Joe Haggerty's NHL power rankings: Can teams find sellers at trade deadline?

The trade deadline is less than two weeks away, and things are starting to get a little tense in the 30 situation rooms around the NHL. 

Most of the team’s scouting departments are either meeting this week, or have already met as each of the 30 teams try to figure out what to do with a severe lack of sellers on the trade market. It’s the Colorado Avalanche that are asking for a boatload of assets (young NHL player, prospect and first round pick) for players like Gabriel Landeskog or Matt Duchene, or the Arizona Coyotes that it seems haven’t even really reached that level of pre-trade activity yet with the players they will be selling.

So now the NHL buyers on the trade market are waiting for a few other teams like perhaps a Detroit or a Dallas to also decide they’re going to sell rather than buy, and start freeing up some valued assets to switch teams ahead of the March 1 trade deadline.  

It’s not happening yet, and one wonders how many trades there really will be at the end of the day with the NHL expansion draft coming this summer. But that’s a story for another week of power rankings. 

Without further ado here are this week’s power rankings:

1.       Washington Capitals (39-11-6, previous ranking: 1) – The red-hot Capitals have won six games in a row and have outscored their opponents 30-12 over that span. They haven’t lost a game in February, so we should probably start the “peaking too soon” speculation in short order. 

2.    Minnesota Wild (37-13-6, previous ranking: 2) – The Wild are putting together a solid body of work, but they lost a playoff-style grinding 1-0 game to the Anaheim Ducks in their last contest. They’d better hope that’s not a preview of what awaits in the playoffs with a coach, Bruce Boudreau, that’s had some pretty early exits. 

3.    Pittsburgh Penguins (35-13-7, previous ranking: 4) – The Penguins more than survived their time without Evgeni Malkin, and now they’re off and running once again. The Metro Division bracket is going to be brutal in the postseason. 

4.    New York Rangers (37-18-1, previous ranking: 7) – King Henrik is riding a five-game winning-streak and the Blueshirts have won six in a row as they seem to be saying, "Hey, don’t forget about us” in the Metro either. 

5.   Chicago Blackhawks (35-17-5, previous ranking: 5) – I did not have Artem Anisimov and Marian Hossa tied for the team-lead in goals midway through February, but the Blackhawks have made things work this season. They’re making their move with a five-game winning-streak to move up the Central standings.            

6.   Columbus Blue Jackets (36-15-5, previous rank: 3) – The Blue Jackets have lost four of six games in the month of February, and their high-powered power play hasn’t been able to score in nine games. Boy, that epic winning-streak feels like a long time ago. 

7.     San Jose Sharks (34-18-5, previous ranking: 6) – The Sharks finally snapped a four-game losing-streak on a long East Coast road swing with a win in New Jersey, and now they’re happy to be back home once again. 

8. Montreal Canadiens (31-19-8, previous ranking: 8) – The Habs are clearly hoping that the re-run of “The Claude Seasons” is much better the second time around. It’s a nice, cushy spot for a coach to be taking over a first place team, and Carey Price and Shea Weber give him some great pieces to install his system. 

9.   Anaheim Ducks (30-18-10, previous ranking: 10) – The Ducks had a nice win over the Wild, but they will lose Antoine Vermette after that wild slashing play with the linesman. What was Vermette thinking there?

10. Edmonton Oilers (30-18-8, previous ranking: 9) – The Oilers took their customary post-bye week loss to the Blackhawks, but then got back on the winning track with a slump-buster special against the Coyotes. Now the Oil should be ready to roll as Peter Chiarelli looks for some players to complement them on the trade market. 

11. Toronto Maple Leafs (26-19-11, previous ranking: 12) – The Leafs looked a little shaky in back-to-back losses to the Blues and Sabres, but they completely stomped an Islanders team that had been playing much better under Doug Weight. That was impressive. The last loss to the Blue Jackets was not. 

12. Ottawa Senators (29-19-6, previous ranking: 11) – It’s great to see Craig Anderson back for the Senators, and even better watching him get a shutout win over the Islanders in his first game back for Ottawa. Good things absolutely happen to good people. 

13. St. Louis Blues (30-22-5, previous ranking: 15) – The Blues have won five games in a row, and really appear to be streaking after the coaching change. You know it’s noteworthy when even the goaltending has taken a complete 180 degree turn for the better. 

14. Nashville Predators (27-21-8, previous ranking: 13) – Here’s something you don’t see every day: A team like Nashville getting a hat trick from Victor Arvidsson and still losing a game to the Florida Panthers last weekend. 

15. Boston Bruins (29-23-6, previous ranking: 20) – The Bruce Cassidy Era has brought optimism back to Bruins country, and a three-game winning streak just ahead of their bye week has them pushing up the standings.

16. Los Angeles Kings (28-23-4, previous ranking: 19) – The Kings have won six of the last eight games, and the two losses were back-to-back 5-0 losses to the Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Boy, those East Coast swing road trips really bite for the West Coast teams. 

17. Philadelphia Flyers (27-23-7, previous ranking: 14) – Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds are a combined minus-48 for the Flyers this season. It is amazing that they’re even close to a playoff spot, never mind hovering around a wild card spot. 

18. New York Islanders (25-20-10, previous ranking: 18) – The Isles are 8-3-2 since moving from Jack Capuano to Doug Weight, and they’ve endured all of the questions about where John Tavares is going when he becomes a free agent. That’s not even counting the whispers swirling around their future mystery home when they finally leave the Barclays Center. But they keep hanging in there, and it’s a credit to them. 

19.  Florida Panthers (24-20-10, previous ranking: 17) – The Panthers have taken points in five of their last six games, and are finally making some semblance of a push with Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov. Is it too little, too late for them? 

20. New Jersey Devils (24-22-10, previous ranking: 21) – Cory Schneider has started six games in a row for New Jersey, and has taken points in five of their last six games while truly stepping up between the pipes. The Devils are making as big of a move as they’re capable of, which isn’t all that much right now. 

21. Tampa Bay Lightning (25-24-7, previous ranking: 26) – The Lightning went into their bye week on a high note with a 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets, but there is some serious issues with the Tampa Bay organization these days. 

22. Carolina Hurricanes (24-22-7, previous ranking: 22) – The Hurricanes have lost two in a row and are dead last in the Metro Division, but they’ve also got a ton of games to play as compared to most of the Eastern Conference. Thanks compacted schedule! 

23. Buffalo Sabres (24-23-10, previous ranking: 23) – A couple of nice divisional wins over the Leafs and the Senators, but the Sunday home loss to the Canucks stings a bit. Time is slipping away from the Sabres at this point. 

24. Calgary Flames (29-26-3, previous ranking: 28) – We could talk about all kinds of observations about the Calgary Flames, and the season they’ve put together to this point. But they lost 5-0 on Monday night to the Arizona Coyotes. The. Arizona. Coyotes. 

25. Vancouver Canucks (25-26-6, previous ranking: 27) – Alex Burrows said he’s watching ESPN for his sports highlights because he doesn’t want to watch anything where they might talk about hockey trade rumors. Solid logic by the biting bandit. 

26. Winnipeg Jets (26-29-4, previous ranking: 25) – One has to wonder what kind of changes are in store for a Winnipeg Jets team that should be much better than they are at this point. It probably starts with Paul Maurice and then will go from there. 

27. Detroit Red Wings (22-25-10, previous ranking: 24) – The Red Wings have lost five in a row, but the real unfortunate development for the Wings was the passing of beloved, longtime owner Mike Ilitch over the weekend. Sincere condolences to the entire Detroit Red Wings family for their big loss. 

28. Dallas Stars (22-26-10, previous ranking: 28) – The Stars have lost two in a row and Lindy Ruff says he won’t be using Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn as distinct and separate centers up front. This is not surprising given the real lack of quality, all-around center play from Seguin over the course of his career. 

29. Arizona Coyotes (19-29-7, previous ranking: 29) – Larry Fitzgerald tried his hand at hockey while fooling around at a Coyotes practice recently. That’s good news for the Coyotes franchise as they could use all the help they can get. 

30. Colorado Avalanche (15-37-2, previous ranking: 30) – The 7-19-1 record at home? The minus-75 goal differential? The current four game losing streak for an Avs team that waved the white flag a long, long time ago? This team just stinks out loud.

Stafford on return to Bruins: 'I would definitely be into it'

Stafford on return to Bruins: 'I would definitely be into it'

BRIGHTON, Mass – It was a pretty eventful time in Boston for Drew Stafford even if it only amounted to less than two months when it was all said and done.

The 31-year-old Stafford was traded to the Bruins from the Winnipeg Jets at the end of February for a conditional draft pick, and became an affordable, useful trade deadline acquisition for Bruins GM Don Sweeney with four goals and eight points in 19 games for the B’s. Stafford played up and down the lines in the forward group and played both on the left and the right side during his time in Boston, and also popped in a couple of goals during the six-game playoff series against the Ottawa Senators as well.

“The goal when I got here was to try to help the team get into the playoffs any way that I could, and I really didn’t know what to expect,” said Stafford. “But everybody was really welcoming and I felt like I was put in a position right away where I could find my way a little bit. Overall this was an extremely positive experience and there are a lot of great people here throughout the organization.

Off the ice, Stafford and his wife Hali also had twins born during his B’s stint as well, and the veteran forward had been away from his wife and newborn baby when they stayed behind in his home state of Minnesota given the situation.

So it was clearly a situation that worked out for both the team and the player with Stafford providing a veteran winger that could score a little bit, and Boston giving up next-to-nothing for the rental player. Now that it’s over, however, Stafford said he loved his time in Boston and would welcome any chance to return before hitting the open free agent market on July 1.

“Absolutely. If there’s any kind of a chance [to return to Boston], I would definitely be into it. I know my wife wasn’t able to make it out here, but we had talked about it a little bit as a possibility,” said Stafford. “If they feel like it could be a good fit then we’ll cross that bridge moving forward. The business side of it kind of works itself out, but personally I loved my experience here and it would be great. We’ll see what happens.”

Stafford is coming off a two-year, $8.7 million contract he signed with the Winnipeg Jets a couple of years ago, but clearly will be getting less this time around coming off a combined eight goals and 21 points in 58 games this season for the B’s and Jets. The Bruins will obviously be setting their sights a little higher than Stafford looking for a natural left wing to pair with David Krejci next season, but perhaps he becomes an affordable free agent veteran option down the line once Sweeney implements his offseason plan. 

McAvoy added to Team USA roster, wants to make ‘big impact’ with Bruins next season

McAvoy added to Team USA roster, wants to make ‘big impact’ with Bruins next season

Since he wasn’t eligible to return to the AHL and join the playoff run for the Providence Bruins, 19-year-old Charlie McAvoy will instead don the Red, White and Blue and play for Team USA in next month’s World Championships in Germany and France.

It will be the fourth time that the Bruins defenseman has represented his country in a world championship event, but the first time that McAvoy will be skating for the men’s national team after crossing over into the pro ranks this spring. 

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The B’s 2016 first-round pick just finished a six-game stint in the playoffs with the Black and Gold where he totaled three assists and a minus-2 rating in while averaging a whopping 26:12 of ice time. McAvoy made all of those comparisons to Drew Doughty seem appropriate, rather than far-fetched, in his playoff performance while logging huge minutes, moving the puck, defending well enough and flashing the physical skills to be a do-it-all No. 1 NHL defenseman in the near future.

It’s fair to say he was just scratching the surface of what he can do while getting dropped into a trial-by-fire debut in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but some experience at the world championships will be another nice step toward getting him ready for full-time NHL duty next season.

“I’ve played in a couple of different jerseys this year, and I just feel so very fortunate to have been able to put on every single one of them. Each experience had its own lesson to help me grow and improve as a hockey player,” said McAvoy, who has played for Boston University, Team USA in the World Juniors, the Providence Bruins, the Boston Bruins and now Team USA in the world championships within this calendar year. “I have a quiet confidence about myself, but before you experience something like the [Stanley Cup playoffs] you don’t know how you’re going to fare. It was a credit to my teammates and a guy like Zdeno Chara that me in a position to succeed every time I was out on the ice.

“I still think there’s a lot I can learn, and I lot I can grow into. I’ve had just a small sample size of experience, but I feel like I can have a big impact on this [Bruins] team. It’s something I’ll have to work on all offseason to put myself in the best position to come in and have immediate success, but it’s something I’m committed to.”

McAvoy said at Tuesday’s break-up day that he was ineligible to return to Providence in the AHL playoffs once Boston was eliminated last weekend, and it looks like Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari will be the only Bruins players hopping on board for the P-Bruins playoff run.

In an added bonus, McAvoy might even be able to convince fellow Bruins prospect and Notre Dame forward Anders Bjork to sign with the Black and Gold as he’ll also be on the Team USA roster looking to medal in the world championships.