By Joe Haggerty
The trades are coming. The trades are coming.
Brian Burke was able to jump out in front of the curve and ship Kris Versteeg to Philadelphia for a pair of valuable draft picks in the first and third rounds, respectively. Versteeg gives the Flyers that one final skilled winger with a contract signed for the next couple of seasons, but a guy that also wasnt quite a good fit for the Leafs during the current Ron Wilson reign of terror.
While Flyers GM Paul Holmgren was able to pluck the former Bruins draft pick off the trade market, there is still plenty of wheeling and dealing to be made and plenty of draft picks and player assets ready to pushed up to the bargaining table.
The Bruins are on record that theyll make a move before the Feb. 28 trade deadline, but theyd better step up the urgency with all kinds of teams looking for the same players to fit their needs. Peter Chiarellis performance at the deadline could be the real make-or-break moment for a franchise that seems headed for bigger and better things.
Without further ado, here are this weeks power rankings:
1. Philadelphia Flyers (36-14-5, last week: 2) The rich get richer with their trade for Kris Versteeg, and look even deeper, more skilled and more ready to battle through the Eastern Conference in the playoffs.
2. Vancouver Canucks (36-12-9, last week: 1) The Canucks have now lost defensemen Dan Hamhuis, Keith Ballard and Alex Edler to injuries over the last couple of weeks. Theres only so long they can withstand those kinds of blueline issues.
3. Detroit Red Wings (34-16-6, last week: 5) The Wings had been in a mini-funk, but snapped out of it while outscoring the Bruins by a 10-3 margin over the weekend. They look like a team simply waiting for the playoffs.
4. Tampa Bay Lightning (34-17-5, last week: 4) Guess they brushed off that Buffalo disaster just fine. Dont think Ill ever be describing Dwayne Roloson as unflappable after watching that display.
5. Anaheim Ducks (32-21-4, last week: 11) The Ducks have won 14 of their last 18 games, and recovered nicely from a disastrous start to their season. Now they have Ryan Getzlaf back, which only makes things . . . well . . . duckier for Anaheim.
6. Pittsburgh Penguins (35-19-4, last week: 3) Life stinks without Crosby and Malkin, and now even lowly teams like the Isles are thinking that its open season on Pittsburgh.
7. Boston Bruins (31-18-7, last week: 6) The Bs looked like theyd really gotten comfortable with their Big, Bad identity, and then the Red Wings slapped them back into reality.
8. Phoenix Coyotes (30-19-9, last week: 12) The Coyotes have won five in a row and register as the hottest team in the NHL while notching their 500th organization win since moving to Arizona.
9. Dallas Stars (31-19-6, last week: 14) The Stars have dropped seven of their last nine games, and have looked like a beaten team since Boston beat them up in the schoolyard.
10. Montreal Canadiens (31-20-6, last week: 9) Kim Wilde would love Montreal because they just keep on hangin on. The Habs have shown a lot of resiliency, but are way too easy to push around.
11. Washington Capitals (29-18-10, last week: 7) The Caps lost a lifeless game to the Kings last weekend, held a players' only meeting and head out for a five-game road trip. Time for Alex Ovechkin to start carrying this bunch.
12. Nashville Predators (30-19-7, last week: 11) Only in Nashville would the headlines all ready Carrie Underwoods husband traded to the Predators. Good luck with the whole Mr. Underwood thing, Mike.
13. Minnesota Wild (30-20-5, last week: 13) The Wild are tied for the league lead with 13 wins since Jan. 2, and have been one of the NHLs hottest teams as of late. Still not buying the playoffs for them, though.
14. San Jose Sharks (30-21-6, last week: 8) The Sharks have managed to stay with the pack during a seven-game road trip, and thats no small feat. Looks like they're priming the pump for their big stretch run.
15. Los Angeles Kings (31-22-3, last week: 14) The Kings took down the Capitals and Flyers, and havent lost in regulation since Jan. 20. They could climb quickly in the ranks with Jonathan Quick really shouldering the load.
16. New York Rangers (30-24-4, last week: 17) The Rangers beat up on the Penguins last weekend, and have an amazing knack to simply hang around a playoff spot.
17. Calgary Flames (28-22-8, last week: 15) The Flames have cooled off, but have the years signature event in Canada with the Heritage Classic against Montreal on Sunday.
18. Chicago Blackhawks (28-22-6, last week: 18) The Blackhawks went 2-2-2 on a pivotal six-game road trip that just concluded. Not exactly a show of fiery playoff passion, but Chicago can still do some damage in the West if given the chance.
19. Carolina Hurricanes (27-22-8, last week: 19) The 'Canes need to once and for all decide if they want to be a handful in the playoffs, or simply another fringe NHL team stuck in neutral.
20. Columbus Blue Jackets (28-23-5, last week: 24) Rick Nash and Steve Mason have masterminded a furious comeback for the B.J.s in the wake of a sluggish first half.
21. Atlanta Thrashers (25-23-10, last week: 22) The Thrashers look like they might not make it, and thats too bad given the coaching job Craig Ramsay has done with Atlanta this year. Depth and youth are big issues.
22. St. Louis Blues (25-21-9, last week: 23) Jaroslav Halak didnt help the team in a pair of games against the Wild, and has slumped in his first season with St. Louis.
23. Colorado Avalanche (25-25-6, last week: 20) The Avs have lost 9 out of 10 games, and Peter Forsberg pulled the plug on a comeback two games into it. This clearly isnt the peak moment this season for Foppa or the Avalanche.
24. Buffalo Sabres (26-22-6, last week: 24) Ryan Miller has started 31 straight games for the Sabres in their desperate attempt to sneak into the playoffs, and it appears that the fatigue is getting to him.
25. New Jersey Devils (22-30-4, last week: 23) Ilya Kovalchuk is finally doing it all for New Jersey, and has nine goals while the Devils have gone 12-1-2 over the last 15 games.
26. Florida Panthers (24-24-7, last week: 27) Florida is sniffing around the playoffs, but they arent in the litter box plans for the Panthers.
27. Toronto Maple Leafs (23-27-6, last week: 26) GM Brian Burke will maintain that the Leafs are trying for the playoffs, but the mass Toronto exodus via trades would suggest otherwise. Kris Versteeg just wasnt going to ever cut it in Toronto.
28. Ottawa Senators (18-30-8, last week: 28) Jason Spezza is untouchable for the Senators. Everyone else? Very touchable.
29. New York Islanders (20-29-7, last week: 29) Leave it to the Islanders and guys like Mark Martin and Trevor Gillies to sully the leagues image.
30. Edmonton Oilers (15-29-8, last week: 30) The Oilers are young, but really arent doing much to impress anybody as they play out the string and get ready for another high lottery pick.