Power Rankings: Who's closer to the Cup edition


The NHL trade deadline has passed. The contenders, pretenders and lottery fodder are clear at this point. Some teams are all-in on trying to capture glory in the short term. Some teams are rebuilding for the long haul. And some teams … well, we’re just not sure about some teams.

In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings, we look whether teams have crept closer to winning the Stanley Cup or have fallen further from it. Rankings are through Wednesday’s games.

How we rank: We use a panel of voters, and these rankings reflect which teams voters think would win head-to-head matchups. Higher-ranked teams are favored over lower-ranked teams. A run of wins doesn’t guarantee a jump, and a couple of losses doesn’t guarantee a fall.

Previous rankings: Preseason | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15 | Week 16 | Week 17 | Week 18 | Week 19 | Week 20

Record: 43-17-4
Week 20 Ranking: No. 2

CLOSER. Ryan McDonagh gives the Lightning two defensive pairings that could be a top pairing for most teams in the NHL. J.T. Miller is versatile enough to play the top line minutes abandoned by Vladislav Namestnikov or down the lineup. They’d be even closer with Erik Karlsson, but this is great, too.

Record: 39-14-9
Week 20 Ranking: No. 5

CLOSER: Ryan Hartman is already paying dividends, and could be the right wing the Predators need (even if he cost them a first-round pick). Bringing back Mike Fisher as a fourth liner (and general locker room good dude) doesn’t hurt either.

Record: 41-17-5
Week 20 Ranking: No. 1

ABOUT THE SAME: Does Tomas Tatar move the Knights any closer to the Cup than they already were? Not really. He’ll help, but it’s still the totality of the team effort that’s the difference. Would Erik Karlsson have done it? Yep.

Record: 37-17-9
Week 20 Ranking: No. 4

CLOSER: Paul Stastny gives the Jets three solid centers, plus playoff experience, plus a burning desire to do anything that would come close to justifying anyone paying him close to what he earns now.

Record: 39-20-7
Week 20 Ranking: No. 7

FURTHER: The addition of Tomas Plekanec is nice, and fills out the center group in an admirable way. But the trade deadline was the time to add something to the blueline for a playoff run, and the Leafs didn’t. (In their defense, Mike Green opting out of a trade to Toronto didn’t help matters.)

Record: 38-15-8
Week 20 Ranking: No. 3

CLOSER: There are dating apps that couldn’t make a better match than Rick Nash playing on David Krejci‘s wing. Even if, despite nine points in his past 17 postseason games, Nash has gotten a bit of a negative reputation in the playoffs.

Record: 36-21-7
Week 20 Ranking: No. 10

ABOUT THE SAME: Could the Capitals have used an addition to their blue line? Sure. But this is the team, this is their probable division regular-season finish, and this is their second-round series against the Penguins. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Record: 36-24-4
Week 20 Ranking: No. 6

CLOSER: There was as good a chance of Michel Therrien returning to coach the playoffs as there was that Riley Sheahan would start them as the Penguins’ third-line center. Getting Derick Brassard was a coup for GM Jim Rutherford, especially since George McPhee, his counterpart in Vegas, was nice enough to pick up part of the tab. But then again, Brassard isn’t the first guy to leave 40 percent of his salary in Vegas.

Record: 34-19-10
Week 20 Ranking: No. 11

ABOUT THE SAME: They pick up Petr Mrazek out of necessity, because of goalie injuries, and then add what’s left of Johnny Oduya. The Flyers are rolling with what they have, and what they have went on a 9-0-1 roll.

Record: 35-24-5
Week 20 Ranking: No. 13

CLOSER: For the purposes of these power rankings, we’ll include the Dion Phaneuf trade as part of the consideration. And since he’s skating 19:05 per game and looks as if he has found his mojo again, they’re closer to that elusive third Cup in six years, which as you know is a Salary Cap Dynasty.

Record: 36-20-7
Week 20 Ranking: No. 15

ABOUT THE SAME: GM Chuck Fletcher wanted no part of the deadline arms race after getting burned by the Martin Hanzal trade last season. And understandably so.

Record: 34-12-9
Week 20 Ranking: No. 12

CLOSER: Evander Kane is an elite goal-scoring winger who is playing for his next contract. Is his lack of playoff experience a concern? Sure. But for now, the Sharks have a key addition to their top line for a reasonable cost.

Record: 31-21-12
Week 20 Ranking: No. 17

FURTHER: The Ducks made a move up our power rankings, but not at the deadline. In the long term, that might be the best play. In the short term, a veteran team could have used a boost before the postseason, in a conference where seemingly everyone else got one.

Record: 33-22-8
Week 20 Ranking: No. 14

CLOSER: Wow, who would have had the Devils as deadline buyers back in October? Yet here we are, having seen them acquire Michael Grabner and Patrick Maroon in an attempt to firm up their playoff seed.

Record: 32-26-5
Week 20 Ranking: No. 18

CLOSER: While we withhold judgment on this whole “Thomas Vanek playing for Torts” thing, adding him, Ian Cole and Mark Letestu without giving up much is a coup. Hanging on to Jack Johnson helps, too.

Record: 32-24-9
Week 20 Ranking: No. 16

FURTHER: The Calgary Flames got a recent injury scare with goalie Mike Smith, and decided to roll with what they have between the pipes rather than get an insurance policy. So they’re a little further off, but frankly, they’re not winning anything without Smith regardless.

Record: 36-23-4
Week 20 Ranking: No. 8

FURTHER: Quite a tumble for a team that’s still in the wild card, but so it goes with the voters. GM Jim Nill felt comfortable with what the Stars added before the season. We feel they could have used a deadline boost.

Record: 34-24-5
Week 20 Ranking: No. 20

ABOUT THE SAME: Doing better than expected, and staying the course, as expected.

Record: 35-26-4
Week 20 Ranking: No. 9

FURTHER. Our voters were clearly not impressed by GM Doug Armstrong declaring, via the Paul Stastny trade, that the team wasn’t good enough to contend for a Cup.

Record: 27-25-11
Week 20 Ranking: No. 19

FURTHER: You have to be in it to win it, and the Hurricanes did nothing at the deadline to better their chances of making the Stanley Cup playoffs this season — much to their fans’ frustration.

Record: 29-25-6
Week 20 Ranking: No. 23

FURTHER: Same deal as the Hurricanes. They were in on Ryan McDonagh but didn’t get there. The Panthers are in prime position to make a little run at a playoff spot but could have used some added help.

Record: 28-30-6
Week 20 Ranking: No. 25

CLOSER: Yes, closer, despite trading away several players and going into a rebuild. Or what many think will be a rebuild. Maybe they turn those assets around more quickly. In any event, it wasn’t working, and this new approach was a necessary reset button.

Record: 27-28-8
Week 20 Ranking: No. 22

ABOUT THE SAME: Getting that first-rounder for Ryan Hartman was the first step in a rather long journey to fine tune this roster.

Record: 29-28-7
Week 20 Ranking: No. 21

FURTHER: The Islanders didn’t do much of anything to increase their playoff chances. Meanwhile, at least three teams seemed to be positioning themselves for runs at John Tavares this summer.

Record: 26-27-10
Week 20 Ranking: No. 24

CLOSER: That’s a mighty nice haul for Tomas Tatar from the Golden Knights. Let’s see what Ken Holland (or the next GM) does with it.

Record: 27-32-4
Week 20 Ranking: No. 27

FURTHER: Being unable to gin up nothing more than one offer on Pat Maroon at a deadline when so many other wingers were in a play was tough to swallow. But hey, at least he’s probably headed back to Edmonton.

Record: 24-29-10
Week 20 Ranking: No. 26

ABOUT THE SAME: Still waiting for that ultimate decision on Max Pacioretty as either a building block for a contender or being turned into parts to build one.

Record: 24-32-8
Week 20 Ranking: No. 28

FURTHER: How does one not get at least a draft pick at the deadline? (Although we do like Brendan Leipsic as an addition.)

Record: 21-31-10
Week 20 Ranking: No. 29

FURTHER: Let’s face it, if the Senators are going to become contenders again, the easiest path is probably getting a massive bounty for Erik Karlsson and getting Bobby Ryan off the books, as much as that’ll hurt fans.

Record: 20-33-11
Week 20 Ranking: No. 30

FURTHER: The inability to get an unconditional first-round pick for Evander Kane remains one of the more surprising developments of the trade deadline.

Record: 18-34-10
Week 20 Ranking: No. 31

ABOUT THE SAME: Unless you think the addition of Darcy Kuemper gives the Coyotes an unbeatable goaltending duo.

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