By: Rossy Pasternak
Here on SportsNak, we will be doing weekly updated power rankings, with features about three teams each week. The season is now in full swing, and things are starting to heat up in the NHL. These rankings are not only based on the standings, but also the level of team play. All stats are taken from NHL.com. (GD stands for goal differential, the difference between goals scored and goals against)
The Bottom Feeders (30-21):
30. Buffalo Sabres (15-22-4, 34 pts, -20 GD)
29. Columbus Blue Jackets (15-24-4, 34 pts, -30 GD)
28. Edmonton Oilers (17-22-3, 37 pts, -21 GD)
27. Toronto Maple Leafs (16-17-7, 39 pts, -8 GD)
26. Calgary Flames (19-19-2, 40 pts, -19 GD)
25. Anaheim Ducks (17-16-7, 41 pts, -20 GD)
24. Winnipeg Jets (19-19-3, 41 pts, -8 GD)
23. San Jose Sharks (19-18-2, 40 pts, +1 GD)
22. Vancouver Canucks (16-16-10, 42 pts, -16 GD)
21. Carolina Hurricanes (18-18-7, 43 pts, -16 GD)
Vancouver aquired Emerson Etem in exchange for Nicklas Jensen and a 6th round pick in the 2o17 NHL Entry Draft. Jensen has 6 points in 24 NHL games, and also put up 28 points in 59 AHL games last season. Etem, aquired this offseason from Anaheim for Carl Hagelin, has put up only 3 points in 19 games with the Rangers so far this season. Vancouver must think that the speedster can do better with their crop of forwards, as Jensen is a former 1st round pick, albeit 29th overall. This marks a very minor return for the Rangers in exchange for Hagelin, as they end up with just a prospect who can’t seem to stick in the NHL, and a 6th round pick.
The Middle of the Pack (20-11):
20. Philadelphia Flyers (18-15-7, 43 pts, -17 GD)
19. New Jersey Devils (20-17-5, 45 pts, -6 GD)
18. Nashville Predators (19-16-7, 45 pts, -8 GD)
17. Ottawa Senators (20-16-6, 46 pts, -6 GD)
16. Colorado Avalanche (21-18-3, 45 pts, +5 GD)
15. Pittsburgh Penguins (20-16-5, 45 pts, -3 GD)
14. Arizona Coyotes (21-16-4, 46 pts, -9 GD)
13. Tampa Bay Lighting (21-17-4, 46 pts, +5 GD)
12. Montreal Canadiens (23-17-3, 49 pts, +15 GD)
11. Boston Bruins (21-14-5, 47 pts, +15 GD)
In a move that was overshadowed by the next trade I will talk about, the Philadelphia Flyers unloaded two bad contracts, Vinny Lecavalier and Luke Schenn, in exchange for a 3rd round pick and prospect Jordan Weal. Weal is a point-getter at the lower levels, putting up 69 points in 73 games in the AHL last season, but couldn’t crack LA’s formidable forward crop. He is a smaller player, but nifty in tight spots, which enables him to put up the point totals he has. All-in-all however, he will most likely not amount to much as an NHL player. For LA, this deal makes a lot of sense. Lecavalier and Schenn both have expensive contracts, and both have not played well in recent seasons. The reason this makes sense for the Kings is because Philly is retaining half of both the players salaries, meaning that the Kings get these two big, physical players for only around $4 Million, which is important because of their tight situation with the cap. Also, Lecavalier has agreed to retire at the end of the season, which means he will have no cap hit next season, also important because of impending free-agents Anze Kopitar and Milan Lucic needing extensions. Adding the size and physicality to a team that plays a black and blue style seems like a great idea, and thats just what the Kings have done with this trade.
The Best of the Best (10-1):
10. New York Islanders (22-15-5, 49 pts, +7 GD)
9. New York Rangers (22-14-5, 49 pts, +12 GD)
8. Detroit Red Wings (21-13-7, 49 pts, -4 GD)
7. St. Louis Blues (24-14-7, 55 pts, -1 GD)
6. Minnesota Wild (22-11-8, 52 pts, +13 GD)
5. Los Angeles Kings (26-12-3, 55 pts, +18 GD)
4. Chicago Blackhawks (26-13-4, 56 pts, +19 GD)
3. Dallas Stars (29-11-4, 62 pts, +33 GD)
2. Florida Panthers (25-12-4, 54 pts, +26 GD)
1. Washington Capitals (31-7-3, 65 pts, +43 GD)
The Mike Richards singing makes sense on almost every level for the Capitals. The 1-year, $1 Million deal is almost risk free, and a far cry from the deal Richards was bought out of this summer. Coming off of that massive buyout, and the controversy of his arrest at a Canadian border where he was charged with possession of a controlled substance. Richards can still be an effective third or fourth line centre for the Caps, which will further deepen their already stellar depth up front. If Richards does not work out for the Caps, it will be easy to either stash him in the minors, or deal him away to another team that is willing to take a chance on him.
Overtime – Jones for Johansen
Now, on to the biggest move so far this season in the NHL. Seth Jones to Columbus for Ryan Johansen. Contracts aside, this is a hockey trade that makes sense for both teams. Columbus has needed a defensman to play big minutes against top lines since they earned an expansion franchise, and Nashville has needed a top centre since they earned one. Johansen also was rumoured to be unhappy under coach John Tortorella in Columbus, and had reportedly even stopped giving his full effort to the team. Johansen has 28 points in 40 games this season, with 2 coming in his first 2 games with Nashville. He has fit in well in between James Neal and Fillip Forsberg, and it looks like it will be a dynamic trio for years to come. Jones has 11 points in his 42 games played so far this season, only putting up one point since November 17th. His effect is felt more defensively than anything, and he will provide Columbus with a shutdown defensman to pair with fellow young defensman Ryan Murray. The Blue Jackets are now pretty week down the middle – Brandon Dubinsky is their top centre – and will miss Johansen, but to get rid of a reportedly unhappy player, and to obtain a great young defensman in return is worth it. The two players actually saw each other in the airport, and sat and talked for almost a half hour about their old franchises and cities. Jones even offered up his apartment to Johansen, who said yes and wanted to do the same for Jones, but wasn’t able to do so because of a situation with his roommate.
All of this movement this early in the season is unprecedented in the NHL, and has not happened in many seasons. I love the fact that teams are looking to be aggressive and make moves before the deadline. All this frenzy of moves can do is make watching and following the NHL even more exciting.
That concludes this week’s rankings. Check back next Saturday for the updated rankings and stories.
Do you agree, or disagree with our picks? Comment below!