It's officially arms race season in the NHL. With less than a week left until the trade deadline, teams are getting a head start on their buying and selling and things might get a little crazy over the coming days -- especially with how the market has been set with some of the initial moves.
It's clearly a seller's market this year, as several teams have been able to command high prices thanks to a wealth of buyers who still feel confident about their playoff chances. Between the ultra competitive Metro and the pack of flawed-but-still-competitive teams in the Pacific, there are no shortage of teams looking to improve and give themselves a boost in the final stretch of the regular season.
One team that hasn't particularly needed a boost of late is the Tampa Bay Lightning. After a mediocre start to the year, the Bolts have basically spent the past few months ripping through the rest of the league as they close in on the Bruins at the top of the Atlantic. And although they don't seem to need the help, Tampa still went out and made a big splash this week by acquiring Blake Coleman from the New Jersey Devils.
It's a strong add considering Coleman, 28, is a talented and versatile forward who led the Devils with 21 goals through 57 games. On an explosive Tampa Bay offense that already ranks second in the league, he should be able to do some damage. He also comes with a great contract, as his cap hit sits at $1.8 million AAV through next season. As an added bonus, acquiring Coleman takes him away from the Bruins, who were also interested in his services.
But, again, it's a seller's market and the price wasn't cheap for the Lightning. They had to give up a top-tier prospect in Nolan Foote, as well as a first-round pick. Was it worth it? That's a question that can only be answered once the playoffs come around. We all know the Lightning are for real by now, but all the questions they still have to answer come once the regular season is in the rear view.
Let's get to the final Power Rankings before next Monday's trade deadline.
|I mean, what did you expect? They refuse to lose. They're now up to 11 wins in a row (a franchise record) and have won 23 of their last 26 games. If you're waiting for this team to lose, you might just have to wait until the first round of the playoffs.||--||14-4-0|
|Boston's comfortable lead over the Lightning in the Atlantic is basically gone (it is down to a single point) but it's really not any fault of their own -- the Lightning have just been unstoppable. The Bruins have won three in a row and nine of their last 10. They have the third-most points in the NHL since the start of the new year, and the Lightning have still picked up 11 points on them in the standings in that time.||--||12-5-0|
|Jason Zucker scored his first two goals in a Penguins uniform and Pittsburgh continues to look good. The only team they've lost to since the All-Star break is the Lightning (twice) and there's no shame in that.||--||11-8-0|
|This feels a bit high for the Stars but they've remained solid while a couple of other teams have moved back. Tyler Seguin finally broke a 17-goalless drought with a tally against Toronto last week, then quickly added two more a couple days later. That's a good sign for Dallas, who will need all the scoring it can get from its top stars.||5||6-6-0|
|The Caps have looked a little rickety of late, especially on the back end, and they've lost two in a row and six of their last 10. Alex Ovechkin has gone five straight games without a point as he's stuck on 698 career goals. One would imagine that both of those funks will be snapped soon.||--||12-5-0|
|The Avs have been a streaky team all year and they've quickly transitioned from red-hot to a recent cold streak. They've lost three in a row, though it should be noted two of those came against very good teams (Tampa and Washington) and another came in a sloppy outdoor game vs. the Kings. The loss of Mikko Rantanen stings quite a bit, but at least his injury came before the trade deadline.||2||11-6-0|
|They've got to get better at starting games and not falling behind early but this is a team that has largely been playing better than their record shows over the past couple of weeks, which is promising considering their record isn't terrible (5-3-0). They're fifth in a tough Metro right now but that could change rather quickly, especially with the recent slides of the Islanders and Blue Jackets.||1||11-4-0|
|Their defensive play has been a little shaky all year but they're really allowing Jacob Markstrom to get shelled (he's faced 35+ shots in seven of his last eight starts) lately. Luckily, he's done his best to limit the damage, posting a .932 save percentage in five wins over that span. They're making a bet on themselves with the Tyler Toffoli trade but they're going to have to fix the issues in their own end too.||1||8-14-0|
|Arguably no team has had more of a roller coaster season than the Oilers, who have battled their way back to the top of the Pacific division even without Connor McDavid in the lineup. They've won three of four games without No. 97 (the one loss coming to Tampa) so maybe they should consider shopping him at the deadline. (I'm kidding.) But, in all seriousness, Leon Draisaitl is making a pretty strong MVP case for himself in McDavid's absence.||3||14-9-0|
|The Canes are locked into that four-team Metro race and they've been solid of late but this next week should be kind of huge for them. They're probably going to be desperate to continue their forward momentum as an organization and that means they're going to want to improve at the deadline. Look for them to make a big splash as they try to separate from the pack.||1||13-6-0|
|We've been waiting for the Golden Knights to start getting consistent results all season long and perhaps we're starting to see that take shape. Vegas has won three in a row against good (but struggling) teams in the Blues, Islanders and Capitals. They've shown an ability to close out games in a variety of ways -- a high-scoring shootout vs. STL, a 1-0 defensive battle vs. NYI and a denial of a late surge vs. WSH. They've been forechecking and blocking shots under Pete DeBoer so as long as they get the offensive results there's reason to believe in this team.||5||12-4-0|
|Don't look now but here comes Nashville. The Preds have won three in a row and seven of their last 10 while jumping into a positive goal differential on the season. They've still got some work to do to climb out of the hole they dug themselves (they're three points out of the final Wild Card spot in the West) but they've got the talent to make it happen.||7||10-11-0|
|I never truly believed in the Blue Jackets and that certainly hasn't changed now that they've lost five straight and are without their most important player (Seth Jones) for 8-10 weeks. That could be a death blow to this team's chances in a Metro dogfight.||7||8-10-0|
|They've lost three in a row but the good news is that they're no longer shorthanded defensively thanks to the acquisition of Andy Greene from the Devils. The bad news is Andy Greene isn't going to help their inability to score. They've got one total goal over the past three games. That's bad!||--||11-6-0|
|Toronto has a two-point lead over Florida for the third spot in the Atlantic right now but they've lost three of their last five and 10 of their last 17. It seems that neither the Leafs nor the Panthers are particularly interested in holding onto that spot and, honestly, it's hard to blame them considering the threat of having to go through Boston AND Tampa in the playoffs.||--||16-4-0|
|Three more losses for the Blues this week (though they at least got a point versus Vegas) and that makes it five straight Ls for St. LLLLLouis. They've won just twice over their past 12 (only one in regulation) and are in real danger of losing their lead atop the Central.||6||11-8-0|
|The Coyotes are a bit back on track with consecutive wins over the Capitals and Islanders and they hold a playoff spot in the West, but that doesn't mean a whole lot considering how tight that race is currently. They've still got issues in terms of production up front so it'll be interesting to see how they approach the deadline, especially after having already bought big on Taylor Hall earlier in the season.||4||9-9-0|
|It's pretty easy to overlook how decent the Rangers have been this year because the Metro is stacked and New York has been towards the bottom of the division all season. But they've won seven of their last 10 and right now they're fifth in the Atlantic (six points out of the top three) and four points off a playoff spot in the West. There's not a lot of hope now but you have to feel pretty good about the state of the rebuild -- especially with the high prices at this year's deadline. A Chris Kreider haul could be huge.||2||7-9-0|
|I hope you've bet the over on Flames games recently. The goal totals in their last six games? Eight. Eight. Eight. Six. TWELVE. Ten. Calgary has won four of those games, though three wins have come against the Ducks (twice) and the Sharks, so it's not THAT impressive. (They also lost to the Kings and then gave up eight goals to the Blackhawks. Yuck.) But, hey, scoring is fun.||2||10-10-0|
|Things were looking good for Florida heading into the All-Star break. They had a six-game winning streak and were comfortably in a playoff spot but that's disappeared. They've since lost seven of 10 and have largely looked like a complete mess. They kicked off a huge road swing with a win against the Sharks but they're going to need to tighten up in all facets of the game (but especially in their own end) if they want to hang in the race.||7||13-4-0|
|The Jets are treading Water and still in the hunt out West but they're probably going to need to improve that defense if they want any real shot at a playoff push. Could be an interesting deadline for them.||2||13-6-0|
|I really don't get the firing of Bruce Boudreau, especially given the timing and the state of the Wild's roster. Minnesota had points in eight of 11 before Boudreau got the axe. It really seems like Bill Guerin was looking for an opportunity to inject some fire into the team to spark a playoff run before then bringing in his own guy, but Boudreau might be the biggest reason they're even in the playoff hunt to begin with. He deserved better, but at least he gets a head start on securing his next gig.||2||12-6-0|
|The Sabres have won three in a row so perhaps everything is no longer on fire in Buffalo. For now.||4||6-10-0|
|Another bad stretch (seven losses in nine games) has sent the Blackhawks back down to the cellar of the Central and it looks like that's probably going to raise the white flag on their season. It seems fair to expect some significant changes in Chicago at some point soon, whether it's the roster or possibly beyond.||6||12-7-0|
|Four straight losses for Montreal but, on the bright side, Shea Weber went from reportedly having a career-threatening foot/ankle injury to skating with the team in like the course of a week. That's pretty nice news for the Habs, and -- considering the recapture penalties -- also the Predators.||3||9-6-0|
|The Ducks have been better than expected lately but this recent positive stretch shouldn't distract from the fact that they're still a bad team that should be selling and taking advantage of the high prices set for this year's deadline.||--||6-10-0|
|The Devils got a head start on their deadline work and did a great job of bringing back futures for Andy Greene and Blake Coleman. Securing a first-round pick and Nolan Foote for Coleman was particularly strong for interim GM Tom Fitzgerald. He's likely not done, either, as New Jersey can still potentially move guys like Kyle Palmieri, Sami Vatanen, Miles Wood and Wayne Simmonds. May as well move the older guys and commit to building around guys like Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier.||2||7-8-0|
|Evander Kane is blasting the league after getting suspended again and Erik Karlsson is done for the year after thumb surgery. Things are great!||--||7-9-0|
|Tyler Toffoli scored three times in the Kings' outdoor win over the Avalanche and then promptly got Los Angeles a nice return in a trade. The Kings did well in that deal to secure a second-round pick in addition to a good prospect (Tyler Madden) in exchange for a half-season of Toffoli. Need more wins like that for a LA team going no where fast.||1||9-7-0|
|Expect them to be active at the deadline as they commit to the tank. They can't let the Kings out-suck them.||1||7-15-0|
|Four straight losses and a goal differential of minus-106. Nobody is out-sucking the Wings this year.||--||7-14-0|