NHL Power Rankings: Trade Deadline Questions Edition

Toronto Maple Leafs' James van Riemsdyk, centre, and his teammates react after losing to the Columbus Blue Jackets. (Chris Young/CP)

We’re only a month away, and the possibilities are as expansive as the rumours.

Yes, the much-hyped, often-underwhelming NHL trade deadline of Feb. 26 is fast approaching. So with the hot stove stoking and press boxes crowding with scouts, we present our NHL Power Rankings: Trade Deadline Questions Edition.

As per our weekly custom, all 31 teams are ranked in order of their current awesomeness. The write-ups ask a single pertinent question hanging over the head of each club’s general manager as decision-making time creeps ever closer.

1. Boston Bruins

Wonderfully ahead of schedule, do the scorching-hot Bruins — points in 17 straight! — seek out a depth defenceman as a safeguard against Charlie McAvoy’s recent health concerns?

2. Vegas Golden Knights

Considering this summer marks James Neal’s last, best chance to cash in with a big payday, and the Golden Knights won’t go long-term with a 30-year-old, should Vegas trade a 20-goal man for futures or keep the sniper as an “own rental”?

3. Tampa Bay Lightning

With Victor Hedman returning in February, does Steve Yzerman seriously contemplate moving defenceman Slater Koekkoek, an intriguing 23-year-old, for a more proven asset that can help this club to a championship?

4. Winnipeg Jets

Considering the Jets are actually good, does Kevin “Picture of Patience” Cheveldayoff throw his support to the core by adding instead of standing pat?

5. Colorado Avalanche

With the Avalanche going on an out-of-nowhere 10-game winning streak — a feat accomplished, we must note, with Tyson Barrie and Semyon Varlamov injured — should Joe Sakic simply stay the course or pounce with $8.2 million in cap space and extra first- and second-round draft picks to spend?

6. Nashville Predators

Does David Poile sleep in until 2 p.m. or 3 p.m., knowing full well he took care of all his trade deadline shopping (centre Kyle Turris) three months in advance?

7. Washington Capitals

Should top defenceman John Carlson and head coach Barry Trotz push management to negotiate extensions now, while the the going’s good in D.C., or try to raise their price with a strong finish?

8. Calgary Flames

In light of crapping out on the Jaromir Jagr gamble, how aggressively does Brad Treliving seek out a scoring winger — and there are a few out there — to give his incredible top line some production support?

9. Philadelphia Flyers

Quietly inching their way back into the playoff conversation, does Ron Hextall spend one of his 10(!) draft picks in 2018 in a wild-card bid or smartly sit tight and make a more serious run in 2019?

10. San Jose Sharks

With no second- or third-round pick in the upcoming draft, will Doug Wilson be at all tempted to dangle a pending UFA — Joe Thornton, Joel Ward, Jannik Hansen, Aaron Dell — to help restock the cupboard?

11. Dallas Stars

Does a 34-year-old Jason Spezza, a centre with a history of scoring, intrigue anyone out there as a change-of-scenery project if the Stars are willing to retain a little of that $7.5-million cap hit?

12. St. Louis Blues

With no first-round pick and no cap space to spend on rentals, how creative can St. Louis get as it attempts to bolster an 18th-ranked offence and 27th-ranked power play?

13. Minnesota Wild

Is Chuck Fletcher too snake-bitten from the 2017 Martin Hanzal deal to bother investing in improvements to his middling offensive attack?

14. Anaheim Ducks

Adam Henrique and chill? Or nah?

15. New York Rangers

Rick Nash and Michael Grabner we can see, but is New York really considering moving captain Ryan McDonagh? How would dealing the club’s best defensive defenceman make franchise face Henrik Lundqvist feel amidst a Vezina-conversation year?

16. Pittsburgh Penguins

We know he likes to buy early and Pittsburgh is starving for an upgrade or two, so… what’s taking Jim Rutherford so long?

17. Los Angeles Kings

The cooled-off Kings have been linked in rumours to Dion Phaneuf, Evander Kane and others. Do they take the plunge now, when aging stars Dustin Brown, Jonathan Quick and Anze Kopitar are all having nice bounce-back seasons?

18. Toronto Maple Leafs

If you’re not playing like a true contender by the end of February and extension talks aren’t progressing, you must seriously consider trading the highly valued James van Riemsdyk if he can help fix the blue line, right?

19. Chicago Blackhawks

Corey Crawford is injured, Brent Seabrook is underachieving, Patrick Sharp is underwhelming, cap space is nonexistent, and the Blackhawks have slipped to the Central basement. So, does Stan Bowman have anymore Richard Panik–type moves up his sleeve?

20. Columbus Blue Jackets

How much is Jack Johnson worth?

21. Detroit Red Wings

Selling right-shot Mike Green, the Wings’ all-star game rep, should be a no-brainer, and a Detroit goalie is always available, but does Ken Holland have anything bigger in mind?

22. New York Islanders

A goalie? A defenceman? Both? Something is needed to salvage John Tavares’s contract year, so what can Garth Snow whip up with his back against the wall and extra draft picks in both rounds 1 and 2?

23. New Jersey Devils

Are the young Devils simply content to take a nice step this season, or could Ray Shero get aggressive and try to find another scorer with his $8 million in cap room?

24. Carolina Hurricanes

Now that ownership has seen an injection of fresh blood, will the Hurricanes finally get aggressive and use some of their $15.4 million in cap space to build a better roster?

25. Florida Panthers

Hmmm… is there any market whatsoever for a 36-year-old Radim Vrbata?

26. Montreal Canadiens

Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk, Tomas Plekanec, Marc Bergevin: Who lasts longest?

27. Edmonton Oilers

Trying to salvage a return for UFAs Mark Letestu and Patrick Maroon appears imminent, but will Peter Chiarelli attempt something more drastic to change the complexion of the NHL’s most disappointing franchise?

28. Vancouver Canucks

How tense do things get in Vancouver if the Sedins want reasonable one-year extensions but Travis Green secretly wants to close the book and give the kids more playing time?

29. Ottawa Senators

If the Senators trade Mike Hoffman in an effort to get faster and score more, isn’t that kinda like trading top-six centre Kyle Turris in an effort to land top-six centre Matt Duchene?

30. Buffalo Sabres

Four pieces for Evander Kane, huh? It’s OK to shoot for the stars, kids. But what will rookie GM Jason Botterill’s real settling price be on a player destined to walk?

31. Arizona Coyotes

No one has made more trades since John Chayka became a GM than John Chayka. In Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson, he holds the keys to another biggie — will he do it?

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