NHL Power Rankings: Trade deadline buyers, sellers and in-between edition

Philadelphia Flyers' Claude Giroux, left, and Vancouver Canucks' Jason Dickinson battle for the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, in Philadelphia. (Matt Slocum/AP)

One of the biggest days on the hockey calendar is almost upon us, and the deals are rolling in ahead of Monday’s trade deadline.

Contenders such as Colorado, Florida and Calgary have already started to stock up, while plenty more big names remain on the block.

So, who else is buying? Who’s selling? And who’s stuck in the in between? That’s our focus of this week’s NHL Power Rankings: Buyers, sellers and in-between edition.

1. Colorado Avalanche (43-13-5)

Buyers: Colorado is tougher to play against today than they were at the beginning of the week before trading for tough defenceman Josh Manson from Anaheim on Monday and depth forward Nico Sturm out of Minnesota Tuesday. And that’s saying something, considering they’ve been one of the best teams in the league all season – just ask Flames coach Darryl Sutter. How they approach more deadline deals depends on the status of captain Gabriel Landeskog, and whether he’ll stay on LTIR long enough to open up cap space.

2. Florida Panthers (41-13-6)

Buyers: Name a known deadline trade chip, and the Panthers have been rumoured to be interested. Fresh off landing Montreal defenceman Ben Chiarot, the Claude Giroux watch continues.

3. Carolina Hurricanes (41-13-5)

Buyers: The Hurricanes are all in to win, and while they’re sellers in theory it’s unclear if this cap-strapped club will be able to maneuver much ahead of deadline day. Any big deals will have to be money-in, money-out transactions, and without their 2022 first-round pick to sweeten any deals, that seems unlikely. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if they get creative with a smaller swing at a depth defenceman.

4. Tampa Bay Lightning (39-15-6)

Buyers: Considering how tight Tampa Bay is to the cap, it’s tough to see them making a big swing in their quest for a three-peat. Of course, that hasn’t stopped them in years past. A little depth on defence, as they’ve been known to seek, seems like the most likely outcome if a deal does get done.

5. Calgary Flames (37-16-7)

Buyers: The Flames already made their big move up front with the acquisition of Tyler Toffoli from the Canadiens, and brought in depth with the addition of Seattle’s Calle Jarnkrok Wednesday night. But are they done?

6. Toronto Maple Leafs (38-17-5)

Buyers: What started as a casual question – “Should the Maple Leafs target a goalie?” – is now a statement, tinged with panic: “The Maple Leafs should target a goalie!” GM Kyle Dubas made it clear just a few weeks ago he was prioritizing a defender ... will he stick to his word and hope that shoring up the blue line will also shore up the confidence in the blue paint?

7. New York Rangers (38-17-5)

Buyers: With a strong young core, a red-hot goalie and that all-too-rare gift of salary cap space, New York is primed to make a splash at the deadline.

8. Pittsburgh Penguins (36-16-9)

Buyers: GM Ron Hextall is low on prospects and keen to keep the club’s 2022 first-rounder – a change of pace for the Penguins – but every year with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang is a contending year. Can Hextall strike a balance?

9. Boston Bruins (37-19-5)

Buyers: If this is, in fact, Patrice Bergeron’s final season, the Bruins want to surround him with the missing pieces to succeed ... but also need to conduct their business with the future in mind. As a result, big-name rentals may not make a tonne of sense. Players with a little term – like, say, Coyotes defenceman Jakob Chychrun – will be extremely enticing at the right price.

10. St. Louis Blues (34-17-8)

Buyers: After standing pat at last year’s deadline, the Blues have reportedly shown interest in several rentals this season – particularly on defence, where they could use an upgrade. Elliotte Friedman has also suggested they shouldn’t be counted out of the Claude Giroux sweepstakes.

11. Minnesota Wild (35-20-4)

Buyers: A string of losses of late shows us a team in need of a jolt ... and a depth forward or two. With a cap crunch coming, a rental makes the most sense.

12. Washington Capitals (33-18-10)

Buyers: Getting help in net is priority No. 1 if the club is to capitalize on its winning core, but the fact that Washington’s perfect fit – former Penguin Marc-Andre Fleury – is also its long-time playoff foe probably doesn’t do them any favours when it comes to the star netminder giving his blessing should trade talks progress with Chicago.  

13. Los Angeles Kings (33-21-8)

In between: After sprinting out of their rebuild, the Kings are unexpected contenders – and while that makes them buyers, this doesn’t look like a team ready to pay a hefty price for rentals at this point. It’s worth wondering if they make a depth move now and save the big swings for the off-season.

14. Nashville Predators (35-21-4)

In between: The biggest story in Nashville remains centred around Filip Forsberg. If the club can re-sign him, does GM David Poile also bring in a rental for a run? Or does Forsberg end up being the rental?

15. Vegas Golden Knights (32-26-4)

Buyers: A bout of bad injury luck and a string of struggles in the wake of Jack Eichel’s arrival into the lineup has the powerful Golden Knights looking at risk of falling out of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. This isn’t a team known for making minor moves, though, so despite an extremely tight and uncertain cap situation, would anyone really be surprised by a blockbuster?

16. Dallas Stars (32-23-3)

In between: The Stars have been one of the toughest teams to figure out because of how quickly things keep changing. For the first half of the season, it looked like defenceman John Klingberg could be a major trade chip, but Dallas’ position in the standings and Miro Heiskanen’s recent mononucleosis diagnosis means they can’t afford to lose another pillar of their blue line. Klingberg would be best utilized as an in-house rental. A similar situation is unfolding in the crease, too – with Anton Khudobin now sidelined for the rest of the year after hip surgery, the Stars can’t trade him or fellow netminder Braden Holtby away if they have any hopes of sneaking into the playoffs.

17. Edmonton Oilers (33-23-4)

Buyers: Defence and goaltending are the only way forward here. Considering the cap situation, though, it’s probably defence or goaltending. So, which one does GM Ken Holland focus on?

18. Vancouver Canucks (30-24-7)

Sellers: We’re about to learn a lot about the direction of this club as its new management team begins to make its mark. With contract questions around Brock Boeser and reports about an enticing return for a possible J.T. Miller deal, how much is Vancouver willing to sell?

19. Winnipeg Jets (28-23-10)

In between: Stuck in the messy middle of the standings, the Jets are in unfamiliar territory. Rest might be their best bet in favour of coming back stronger next season.

20. Anaheim Ducks (27-25-11)

Sellers: Since coming back down to earth after flying (together) out of the gates to start the season, the Ducks’ deadline moves are in motion, with the departure of defenceman Josh Manson to Colorado on Monday. Just how big a seller Anaheim is, however, remains up in the air. With Hampus Lindholm, Rickard Rakell and even Max Comtois potentially available, the Ducks are easily one of the most fascinating teams right now. If new GM Pat Verbeek decides those three aren’t in Anaheim’s future, we’re in for some blockbusters.

21. Columbus Blue Jackets (31-27-3)

Sellers: With a number of teams staring down uncertain situations in net, does Columbus entertain a bidding war for Joonas Korpisalo?

22. San Jose Sharks (26-25-8)

In between: The focus in San Jose has been on re-signing pending UFA Tomas Hertl, and they officially got their guy on Wednesday (much to the chagrin of all the contenders wanting to scoop him up).

23. Detroit Red Wings (24-29-7)

Sellers: No longer a fire sale as Detroit looks to emerge from its rebuild, the Red Wings could have a relatively quiet deadline. (Wait, has Steve Yzerman ever had a quiet deadline?) Yzerman was part of last season’s most out-of-the-blue deadline deal involving Anthony Mantha heading to Washington, so ... who knows what he’s up to this year.  

24. New York Islanders (24-24-9)

Sellers: After a few seasons of surprising everyone who underestimated them, the Islanders have once again been one of the most surprising teams this year – just not in a good way. But this feels less like a team ready to sell off for a fresh start and more like a squad prepared to limit its losses and retool for 2022. Surely Zdeno Chara will be on the move, but the wild card here is goaltender Semyon Varlamov. He’s got one more year on his deal and would be a popular target if made available, but what does that mean for the Islanders’ near future?

25. Buffalo Sabres (20-32-8)

Sellers: Although this is clearly not the warehouse sale of last spring, the Sabres are still firmly in the seller category – perhaps for the final time, if this momentum keeps up. Goalie Craig Anderson should control his fate, but considering how many teams could use a little insurance in the crease, might he be on the move?

26. Arizona Coyotes (20-36-4)

Sellers: At a time when pending UFAs are under the rental spotlight, all eyes are on defenceman Jakob Chychrun, one of the most intriguing players potentially on the move. His $4.6-million AAV for the next three seasons ups Arizona’s asking price, and might have teams waiting until the off-season for this one. Currently day-to-day with an injury, has the 23-year-old blue-liner already played his final game in the desert?

27. New Jersey Devils (22-34-5)

In between: Bad injury luck has slowed the Devils in what was supposed to be a bit of a breakout season. Any moves made should be minor.

28. Philadelphia Flyers (18-30-11)

Sellers: Game No. 1,000 for captain Claude Giroux is Thursday night, which means all eyes are on the captain starting Friday.

29. Chicago Blackhawks (22-30-9)

Sellers: As if contenders needed any more reason to call the Blackhawks to ask about Marc-Andre Fleury, Tuesday's incredible, acrobatic, 46-save performance against Boston was as stellar an audition as you could ask for from the league’s most sought-after rental. Was that his final game at home in Chicago? Ultimately, that's for Fleury to decide.

30. Ottawa Senators (21-34-5)

Sellers: “I hate to be Debbie Downer, but don’t get too excited,” Dorion told reporters last week. “In all my years as GM, this has been the quietest.” What does that mean for pending UFAs Nick Paul and Anton Forsberg?

31. Montreal Canadiens (16-36-8)

Sellers: Montreal isn’t messing around, dealing Tyler Toffoli to Calgary last month for a haul of picks and Ben Chiarot to Florida Wednesday night for more. All said, Montreal might wind up being the deadline’s biggest winners considering the return.

32. Seattle Kraken (18-38-6)

Sellers: The first trade deadline in Kraken franchise history promises to be a busy one – and it’s already underway, with the departure of Calle Jarnkrok to Calgary. What about all that cap space? Seattle’s in a unique position to stock up on assets in exchange for helping clubs out of their cap constraints, and that space could be the club’s best trade chip of all.

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