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NHL Power Rankings: Will contenders buy or sell as trade deadline looms?


1


Panthers
Buy | It’s hard to find any flaws on this Panthers team, but that doesn’t mean they can’t load up for a playoff run. Florida has been mentioned as a possible destination for Flyers legend Claude Giroux, but I think adding a difference-maker on the blue line would also be a worthwhile addition. 2 40-13-6
2


Flames
Buy | Darryl Sutter has transformed the duo of Erik Gudbranson and Nikita Zadorov into a competent depth pairing, but I wouldn’t count on those two to hold the line for an entire playoff run. Getting another defenseman who can eat some tough minutes — perhaps a former captain — would really make this Flames roster look like a juggernaut. 1 36-16-7
3


Avalanche
Buy | The Avs have been mowing down the rest of the league all season, and they are built to win now. Draft picks and prospects will not get the team any closer to a Stanley Cup this year. Colorado needs to take a page out of Los Angeles Rams GM Les Snead’s playbook and “forget them picks,” if you’ll allow me to paraphrase. 1 42-13-5
4


Penguins
Buy | Pittsburgh has a slew of pending free agents, so this could be the last major run with the trio of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang together. Because of that, the Penguins will need to be aggressive in adding a player who can help them overcome the likes of the Panthers, Lightning, Hurricanes and others in a seven-game series. 2 36-15-9
5


Hurricanes
Buy | Carolina has had no problems generating scoring chances this season. They rank second in expected goals for at five-on-five (139.10). However, the Canes are 18th in expected goals against at five-on-five (119.81). Getting a shot-suppressing defenseman would help the Hurricanes limit some of those chances against. — 41-13-5
6


Bruins
Buy | The Bruins have broken up their top line in an attempt to get the rest of the lineup going, and the results have been good to this point. Having said that, Boston still has some room to improve down the middle. Using Charlie Coyle or Erik Haula in the No. 2 center role doesn’t inspire much confidence. 2 36-18-5
7


Lightning
Stand pat | The temptation to move that first-round pick around the trade deadline will be tempting, but the Lightning are already doing salary cap magic, so making a big move will be tough. Far be it from me to doubt Julien BriseBois, but the Bolts look like they could win their third straight Stanley Cup without giving up any more future assets. 3 38-15-6
8


Rangers
Buy | Dryden Hunt has been playing significant minutes on the wing opposite Artemi Panarin, and that doesn’t seem like the Rangers are getting the most out of Panarin’s skill with that combo. Getting someone who can take advantage of Panarin’s elite playmaking ability would do wonders for the Rangers’ offensive attack. 1 37-17-5
9


Kings
Buy | This one comes with a caveat. The Kings’ rebuild appears to be ahead of schedule, but it is still hard to see them capturing the Stanley Cup this year. Their time is coming, so if Los Angeles does add at the trade deadline, it will need to find a player with terms left on his contract who can help the team over the next couple of years. 2 33-20-8
10


Blues
Buy | St. Louis has had issues in the defensive zone this year. The Blues are 29th in the league in expected goals against at five-on-five. Marco Scandella, Robert Bortuzzo and Niko Mikkola have all really struggled. That probably explains why St. Louis has been mentioned in connection with Coyotes defenseman Jacob Chychrun. 3 34-17-8
11


Maple Leafs
Buy | Jake Muzzin is on long-term IR, so defense is an area of concern for the Maple Leafs. However, they must address their goaltending before the trade deadline passes. Jack Campbell, who is now hurt, has been dreadful of late. Petr Mrazek has also looked lost, and every shot was an adventure in the Heritage Classic loss to the Sabres. 2 37-17-5
12


Capitals
Stand pat | Washington could maybe use a bottom six forward, but the Eastern Conference has some heavyweights at the top. I’m not sure that it would be worth it for the Capitals to sacrifice draft picks and/or prospects in an attempt to keep up with the elite teams in either division. 3 32-18-10
13


Predators
Stand pat | No amount of tweaking the roster around the edges will move the needle enough to really change the Preds’ chances of beating the Avalanche or Flames in a seven-game series. Nashville would be better to roll the dice with what it has. This all assumes Filip Forsberg signs a long-term deal before the trade deadline. If he doesn’t, the Predators could get a haul for him in a blockbuster trade. 4 34-21-4
14


Wild
Buy | The Wild have shown that they are one of the best teams in the league when everything is clicking, but that is certainly not the case right now. I’d expect Minnesota to be one of the teams involved in the goaltending market, but getting another top-six forward could help take some of the pressure off Kirill Kaprizov’s shoulders. — 34-20-4
15


Stars
Stand pat | Not long ago, it looked like the Stars were going to be sellers at the deadline. Now that the team has surged back into the playoff picture — and Miro Heiskanen is dealing with mono — it looks like even John Klingberg might stick around. Dallas’ climb up the standings has taken a seller off the trade market. 5 32-22-3
16


Oilers
Buy | There is one thing the Oilers desperately need, and I have been writing about it all year. Goaltending has burned Edmonton time and time again, so the team must upgrade at that position in an effort to get Connor McDavid and Leon Draisitl into the NHL postseason. 2 32-23-4
17


Golden Knights
Stand pat | The Golden Knights look broken, and they are already up against the salary cap, and then some. Vegas is in jeopardy of falling out of a playoff spot, but I still think this team can be very dangerous if everyone gets healthy and the puck luck turns in its favor. Then again, I’ve been saying that all season. 5 32-25-4
18


Jets
Sell | The Jets need to be realistic about their playoff chances and get something for a couple of the pending free agents on their roster. Andrew Copp has already been rumored to be on the trade block, and Paul Stastny could be a an intriguing piece for a Stanley Cup contender too. 2 27-23-10
19


Canucks
Sell | Whether it winds up being Brock Boeser or J.T. Miller, the Canucks have some of the more enticing options as the trade deadline approaches. Trading either one of those players would help Vancouver stock its prospect pool and expand its collection of draft picks. 3 29-24-7
20


Blue Jackets
Sell | Even if it’s only Max Domi who gets dealt at the trade deadline, the Blue Jackets could add yet another selection in the 2022 NHL Draft. Columbus has six picks in the first four rounds of this year’s draft, and the team is poised to really kickstart its rebuild over the summer. 1 30-27-3
21


Islanders
Stand pat | The Islanders are an interesting case here. They came into the season with high expectations, and the wheels fell off before the team could get the car out of park and into drive. This is still a good roster, and it could be competitive again next year, so I wouldn’t sell off any kind of significant pieces over the next week. 3 24-24-8
22


Canadiens
Sell | Despite their recent turnaround, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the Canadiens won’t make the playoffs this season. Between Artturi Lehkonen and Ben Chiarot, Montreal will have the opportunity to get something out of what has largely been a disastrous season. — 16-35-8
23


Blackhawks
Sell | Because of the Seth Jones trade over the offseason, the Blackhawks do not have their first-round pick this year. If they want to get one back, perhaps Calvin De Haan could fetch one. One player who is worth a first-round pick and a lot more is Patrick Kane. It would be tough to move him due to his cap hit and another year left on his contract, but he would be the biggest prize of the deadline. 2 22-30-8
24


Red Wings
Detroit is an improved team this season, and its young stars are starting to take over. That’s a positive sign, and now the Red Wings need to trade some of their veterans on expiring contracts in order to help build around them. Vladislav Namestnikov and Nick Leddy would be depth options for playoff teams. 1 24-28-7
25


Coyotes
Sell | It has been clear since the second week of the season that the Coyotes need to sell. Arizona has eight picks in the first two rounds, and they’re going to get even more. The team is trying to move star defenseman Jacob Chychrun, and Phil Kessel could be on the way out with him. Those players should yield a nice return. 1 19-36-4
26


Sabres
Sell | The Sabres have already made their blockbuster move by trading Jack Eichel to the Golden Knights. That being said, they could still get a little extra before the trade deadline by finding a suitor for Vinnie Hinostroza, a capable bottom-six forward. 1 20-32-8
27


Sharks
Stand pat | This is very dependent on whether the Sharks can sign their top player to a new deal. Tomas Hertl is on an expiring contract, and he will command a massive payday in San Jose or somewhere else. If the Sharks do ink Hertl, they may not do anything else because they don’t have many players that will be easy to move in the middle of the season. 4 26-25-7
28


Senators
Sell | The Senators have a lot of players who will be restricted free agents in the offseason, so they may want to hang on to those players. Maybe Ottawa can squeeze something out of a trade involving Zach Sanford or Adam Gaudette in a trade. — 21-33-5
29


Devils
Sell | There are teams at the top of the standings in need of defensemen. While P.K. Subban may not be what he once was, he could succeed in a more sheltered role on a better team. The issue will be his $9 million cap hit, but a third-party facilitator could be used to eat some salary in any Subban deal. 1 22-32-5
30


Ducks
Sell | New Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek has some very big decisions to make early in his tenure. The team’s rebuild is coming along nicely, but there are several veterans on expiring contracts. The Hampus Lindholm situation needs to be resolved first. If he hasn’t signed a new contract by deadline day, he would get a nice package in return. Then there’s Rickard Rakell and Josh Manson. 9 27-25-10
31


Kraken
Sell | The Kraken’s debut season has gone awry, but they have five pending unrestricted free agents. A couple of those, Mark Giordano and Calle Jarnkrok, should attract some serious interest from teams trying to make a deep playoff run. 1 18-37-6
32


Flyers
Sell | There is very little mystery about what the Flyers need to do at the trade deadline. Claude Giroux might be the hottest commodity, especially for contenders looking to put themselves over the top. Philadelphia should get picks and prospects in return for Giroux, and it seems like a trade is on the horizon. It’s only a matter of when. 3 18-30-11



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