NHL Power Rankings: Trade Deadline Panic Edition

The best plays from the week that was in the NHL, including two nasty shootout goals by Blake Wheeler and Tomas Tatar.

When Dean Lombardi sees a problem, he goes hunting for solutions.

So, yes, the Los Angeles Kings’ general manager made a mistake in not buying out Mike Richards when he had a chance last summer, but he moved him down and moved on.

And so have the defending champions.

A likable, rowdy bunch of brothers, as depicted on Epix’s Road to the Stadium Series, L.A. is finding momentum and stacking wins like weird-flavoured Pringles when it matters most.

A torrid, eight-game winning streak, in which Drew Doughty skated like an ironman and Jonathan Quick remade his case for elite, propelled the Kings from out of the playoff picture to third seed in the Pacific. Blink and you missed the part where they were a wild-card team.

Lombardi locked up role players Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan for reasonable rates this week, and landed arguably the most coveted rental defenceman, Carolina’s Andrej Sekera, before the deadline madness — relieving some of the March 2 pressure.

Our weekly NHL Power Rankings: Trade Deadline Panic Edition looks at each team’s perspiration level as GMs finalize rosters for a stretch run.

Rank Team
1

Of their last 11 games, the NHL-best Predators have dropped just two in regulation, and GM David Poile beat the rental-market rush.
Deadline pressure: Nonexistent.

Previous: 1

2

Not enough people are talking about New York, which has cruised along despite a fallen King. The Rangers’ plus-42 goal differential is six goals better than any other team in the East and 15 goals better than the cross-town Isles.
Deadline pressure: High. They want to buy.

Previous: 5

3

Good week for the Pens. Evgeni Malkin threw up back-to-back three-point games, Chris Kuntiz snapped an 11-game goal drought, Sidney Crosby’s GoPro video went viral, and GM Jim Rutherford outbid the competition for a nice two-way forward in Daniel Winnik on the rental market.
Deadline pressure: Low.

Previous: 10

4

The Kings won eight straight before Thursday, thumped the Sharks at their big NorCal outdoor game, and managed to find the rental defenceman they were looking for in Andrej Sekera. You don’t want to draw these guys in Round 1.
Deadline pressure: Getting milder by the minute.

Previous: 11

5

Marc Bergevin is probably smarter than you, and that’s not an insult to you. When your team makes the semifinal one year and your goalie responds with a Hart-conversation performance the next, you go for it. Welcome to a team that thinks it can, Devante Smith-Pelly.
Deadline pressure: Medium-high. There’s another deal in this GM.

Previous: 4

6

GM Garth Snow’s re-signing of RFA-in-waiting Nick Leddy, locking the defenceman up for what should be his prime years, was smart. Let the other guys worry about trades; we have extensions to ink.
Deadline pressure: Minimal.

Previous: 3

7

The Blues have slipped to playing .500 hockey of late, but should benefit from a relatively soft schedule coming up. Just three of their next nine games are against teams in a playoff position.
Deadline pressure: Moderate, now that the Adam Cracknell blockbuster is in the rearview mirror.

Previous: 2

8

The Red Wings have as good a shot as anyone to win the East, even if they stand pat. But the health of Henrik Zetterberg is key.
Deadline pressure: Medium.

Previous: 6

9

Coach Jon Cooper said Wednesday that he has every confidence in Steve Yzerman’s ability to correctly handle the deadline. Anything that happens here will be well calculated. Even without an upgrade — Roman Polak has been suggested as a good Radko Gudas replacement — the Lightning could do damage in the post-season.
Deadline pressure: Medium-low.

Previous: 8

10

The Capitals have dropped two in a row and finally succumbed to Pittsburgh. Word is, they’re keeping Mike Green and looking for a winger to play with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. An acquisition of one of the better rentals left will signal all-in.
Deadline pressure: High.

Previous: 9

11

The Blackhawks have gone from poking around to needing someone to replace their top scorer and most gifted set of hands (Ed. note: impossible). Antoine Vermette and Cam Atkinson are reportedly targets.
Deadline pressure: Boiling.

Previous: 7

12

Canucks fans should hate that Ryan Miller is out long-term, but love that Eddie Lack — a fun guy to root for — has his first real shot to prove himself in games that matter and keep Vancouver in a playoff position.
Deadline pressure: Medium-low.

Previous: 14

13

Great pickup by by Chuck Fletcher, who has a knack this season for buying low on players who are obviously not in the opposition’s long-term plans. Sean Bergenheim joins a straightening Minnesota ship.
Deadline pressure: Lowered.

Previous: 16

14

GM Bob Murray has a comfortable lead atop the Pacific, but his Ilya Bryzgalov gamble blew up and he needs to add a little depth to a regressing team (4-5-1 in their past 10) in win-now mode.
Deadline pressure: Intense.

Previous: 12

15

Curtis Glencross snapped a 13-game goal drought Wednesday night, amidst a blizzard of trade rumours. Brad Treliving needs to give this little team that could some confidence on March 2. If a real hockey deal goes down, this could be the spot. Much depends on Mark Giordano’s health.
Deadline pressure: High… and highly entertaining.

Previous: 13

16

The Jets’ quick landing of Jiri Tlusty, a capable player but no Blake Wheeler replacement, was swift and necessary. Winnipeg is in a dogfight for a wild-card spot and can’t let the losses pile up. They play the Blues three times in a nine-game span.
Deadline pressure: Cooling.

Previous: 15

17

This Andrew Hammond kid has been in the crease for all four of the Sens’ consecutive wins. GM Bryan Murray said this as the deadline creeps closer: “We’re open-minded, we’re certainly open for business.”
Deadline pressure: Medium.

Previous: 24

18

Their special teams are underachieving, their coach and GM must have knots in their stomachs, they’ve lost seven of nine, and the Sharks are now on the outside of the playoff picture.
Deadline pressure: Very high.

Previous: 19

19

Captain Claude Giroux is a bit of a believer, so we’re sure he’s looking at the Bruins’ free-fall, the four-point gap and thinking, “There’s still a chance!”
Deadline pressure: Mild.

Previous: 20

20

The Bruins have dropped seven of eight, and the vultures are swirling. With both the GM and the coach reportedly at risk of losing their positions, the B’s are trying to improve a team already hard against the cap. Tough task, tougher times.
Deadline pressure: Four-alarm fire.

Previous: 21

21

Dale Tallon has drawn some criticism for his Bergenheim return, and responded with a Jaromir Jagr shocker on Thursday. More crucial is the Panthers’ inability to take advantage of the faltering Bruins. Florida has lost four in a row.
Deadline pressure: Medium.

Previous: 17

22

The Stars are said to be taking calls on Erik Cole and would be wise to start looking ahead to 2015-16.
Deadline pressure: Medium.

Previous: 18

23

The Avalanche have proven to be very average, but Nathan MacKinnon scoring his first NHL hat trick was something. Oh, and Patrick Roy said he wants to hang on to Ryan O’Reilly, who was said to be on the block.
Deadline pressure: Low.

Previous: 22

24

On the flip side of Jaromir Jagr’s disgruntled-ness (disgrunt?) we have Mike Cammalleri scoring five goals in four games and the Devils winning four of their past five.
Deadline pressure: High. Even with Jagr dealt, there are veterans to sell, youth to find.

Previous: 25

25

The Hurricanes dealt two pending free agents, Jiri Tlusty and Andrej Sekera, Wednesday — the same day their coach gave them the day off because they looked tired and said deadline rumours were taking a toll. The tanking begins in earnest.
Deadline pressure: Partially relieved.

Previous: 26

26

The James Wisniewski drama (he reportedly wants to stay but they want to trade him) and the David Clarkson bomb-drop have given intrigue to trade deadline in Columbus, a team thought to be a bit of a non-factor this season.
Deadline pressure: Medium-low.

Previous: 23

27

Dave Nonis has been putting in work. Three UFAs gone, the David Clarkson albatross shed, and a few more looking to go. Olli Jokinen, David Booth and Korbinian Holzer could all be shipped out with a few days. And rumours swirl around core players Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak.
Deadline pressure: Dropping from high to medium on Nonis. Still intense on players.

Previous: 29

28

The Oilers will be evaluated on how high they can raise the price for defenceman Jeff Petry, but their place in the standings (29th) is at risk of being taken over by the Coyotes.
Deadline pressure: Medium.

Previous: 27

29

All but assured of the best odds to land Connor McDavid or Jack “Buffalo, I’m comin’ for ya!” Eichel, the Sabres still need to find good homes for their contract-year veterans, first and foremost Chris Stewart. And Michal Neuvirth has to stop diving.
Deadline pressure: High.

Previous: 30

30

Arizona has lost eight in a row and has plans to weaken its roster. Could they actually fall all the way to 30th? What will Antoine Vermette sell for? Are the llamas still loose?
Deadline pressure: Very high.

Previous: 28

Stats pilfered from NHL.com, NHL Numbers and SN Stats.