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Vendetta’s March 2022 NHL Power Rankings

NHL Power Rankings

The L.A. Kings have quietly emerged as one of the NHL’s top 5-on-5 teams, vaulting them to second place in the Pacific Division. (Will Navarro/NHLI via Getty Images)

Vendetta’s March 2022 NHL Power Rankings

Our latest set of NHL Power Rankings comes at arguably the regular season’s most pivotal point. With just a couple of weeks separating us from the trade deadline, we’re moving from evaluation period to decision time at rapid speed. While the East playoff picture is just about set in stone, the West is wide open; only one or two teams can feel fully comfortable that they’ll be playing in May. Which teams should be buyers and sellers? Who would just be lucky to be a playoff team, and who’s really a contender? Trey Daubert and I weigh in on every team once again to determine the answers to these and many other questions.

T-31. Arizona Coyotes (16-35-4, February: 32)

Trey: 31, Andrew: 32 (Average: 31.5)

Andrew: All due respect to Nick Schmaltz’s seven(!) point night, there’s not a lot to even pay attention to here. Jakob Chychrun trade talks seem to have cooled down, and Arizona’s only other notable trade chip is Phil Kessel. Credit to them for beating Vegas and Colorado within the last week or so, but *gestures at everything else that’s happened this season* keeps them in the basement.

T-31. Seattle Kraken (17-36-5, February: T-27)

Trey: 32, Andrew: 31 (Average: 31.5)

Trey: Seattle is unwatchable. Watching Jared McCann become a clutch goal scorer is the only thing the Kraken had going for them. Now he’s hurt. Philipp Grubauer is arguably the worst goalie in the league. This is what Seattle should look like. We knew this team was going to be awful.

Andrew: Fun fact: the Kraken only has five forwards under contract for next season. That should allow Ron Francis to reinvent an offense that wouldn’t be playoff-caliber even if the goaltending held up its end of the bargain. The return for Mark Giordano should help make up for the lack of futures Seattle failed to nab through side deals at the expansion draft. One of the forwards not under contract next season is pending RFA McCann. Seattle could undoubtedly extract a small ransom for him, but a team struggling to score shouldn’t trade its club-controlled 25-year old leading scorer.

30. Buffalo Sabres (18-31-8, February: T-27)

Trey: 29, Andrew: 30 (Average: 29.5)

Trey: Buffalo starts a new goalie virtually every night. The Sabres have used six different goalies this year. Obviously, not a recipe for success. Alex Tuch looks like a keeper. That’s the real positive for Buffalo.

Andrew: So far, so good for Tuch, who is nearly a point-per-game player in a Sabres uniform. Other than goaltending predictably coming back to earth, not much is different here. There’s not much to even sell here, although the Sabres already have two extra firsts this year and two extra seconds in 2023.

29. Chicago Blackhawks (20-29-8, February: 26)

Trey: 28, Andrew: 29 (Average: 28.5)

Andrew: New GM Kyle Davidson (you may remember him as the old interim GM) says the Blackhawks are committing to a rebuild, clouding Chicago’s future (and making previous GM Stan Bowman’s 2021 offseason look that much worse). The big question, of course, is what this means for franchise faces Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Both make $10.5 million with full no-move clauses through 2023. I’d be shocked if either is dealt this season but after that? All bets may be off.

28. Montréal Canadiens (15-34-7, February: 31)

Trey: 30, Andrew: 26 (Average: 28)

Trey: I would probably have Montreal at dead last but they have new life (kind of). The Martin St. Louis hire seems to be working. Cole Caufield looks alive. Even Jeff Petry looks less dead. It’s still a bad team and trading away Tyler Toffoli won’t help matters.

Andrew: The Canadiens look like a completely different team under Martin St. Louis, nearly tying their win total in 45 games under Dom Ducharme in just 11 contests with St. Louis. They’ve gone from dismal to at least decent (50.73% expected goals) since the coaching change, which has revived key players like Caufield and Petry. You wonder if the change makes the Canadiens think twice about trading someone like Petry or Christian Dvorak who are under contract for several more years; remember, they still don’t even have Carey Price back.

T-27. Philadelphia Flyers (17-28-10, February: T-27)

Trey: 27, Andrew: 27 (Average: 27)

Andrew: It’s honestly a bit harsh to have the Flyers this far down my list. As someone who watches them on a game-by-game basis, their play has dramatically improved as of late. In February, they had a perfectly respectable 50% expected goals rate. That’s solid! They won two games that month. That’s not. Granted, they are starting to get healthier, so maybe that will turn the tides. But any boost will only be temporary, as the roster is likely to be gutted at the deadline – if not through a bevy of trades, then at least almost certainly from the emotional blow of dealing the franchise’s longest-tenured captain, Claude Giroux.

T-27. Ottawa Senators (19-31-5, February: 25)

Trey: 26, Andrew: 28 (Average: 27)

Andrew: Don’t look now, but Ottawa’s goaltending is starting to stabilize. The Senators are 14th in the NHL in team save percentage, with Matt Murray’s .915% mark leading the way. His 7.6 goals saved above expected are 15th in the NHL, truly remarkable given how poorly his season started. That won’t fix the Senators alone, but their outlook looks a lot better if Murray lives up to his $6.25 million cap hit. Anton Forsberg isn’t too shabby, either.

25. New Jersey Devils (20-31-5, February: 30)

Trey: 24, Andrew: 25 (Average: 24.5)

Trey: I  know the Isles are ahead of the Devils in the standings, but I’d much rather be Jersey today. Jack Hughes is becoming a super-duper star. 11 points in his last seven games playing for a team that has a ways to go. Jesper Bratt is actually pretty good. Nico Hischier is getting there. Dougie Hamilton makes a real difference. They just don’t have goaltending. The day that changes, Jersey starts to really arrive.

Andrew: Hot take: the Devils aren’t a bad team, just a mediocre one wrapped in the skunk-smelling coating of terrible goaltending. The Devils are in the top half of the league in goals for and shots for per game with a strong 51.26% expected goals percentage to boot, plus a top-ten penalty kill. And they’ve done that without Dougie Hamilton and Jack Hughes missing 21 games each. If they had 2019-20 MacKenzie Blackwood (.915 SV%, 7.9 goals saved above expected per Moneypuck.com) instead of whatever this lite version of him is (.894 SV%, -10.3 GSAE).

24. New York Islanders (21-23-8, February: 23)

Trey: 25, Andrew: 23 (Average: 24)

Trey: I physically can’t watch the Islanders play. They’re so boring. Zdeno Chara is a negative anytime he’s on the ice. There is just no way Josh Bailey even has kids because he refuses to shoot. It’s a bad hockey team. Outside of Noah Dobson taking a step forward, what’s exciting about this team?

Andrew: With Marc-André Fleury reportedly off the market, I wonder if the Islanders look to move Semyon Varlamov. One fewer goalie available means the ones left are worth a little bit more, and Varlamov is both one of the best options and has plenty of playoff experience. Plus, he’s signed through 2023 at a reasonable $5 million cap hit. Trading that money would also free up space for the Islanders to improve the rest of their roster.

23. San Jose Sharks (24-25-7, February: 19)

Trey: 23, Andrew: 22 (Average: 20.5)

Trey: We figured the Sharks would hang around for a while, but the collapse seems inevitable. Erik Karlsson was actually playing well. Since he went down, it’s been bad for the Sharks. Since January 28th, the Sharks have 1 win… it was against the Islanders. Now Mario Ferraro is probably out for the season and a Tomáš Hertl trade is coming. Despite strong years from Brent Burns and Timo Meier, the 2021-22 Sharks are dead.

Andrew: A 7-11-5 record (29th in the NHL) since Jan. 1st plus an injury to Karlsson has all but made the Sharks’ decision for them. Hertl’s timeline just doesn’t match up with San Jose’s, and the haul they could receive for him is too significant to pass up. Maybe sell high on James Reimer while you’re at it if the goalie market is as lively as it could be.

22. Detroit Red Wings (24-26-6, February: T-21)

Trey: 20, Andrew: 24 (Average: 22)

Trey: Our Gavin Daly wrote a post recently about the bright future the Wings have. It’s hard to disagree. I would just add that Jakub Vrána should be back before the end of the season. His speed is game-changing for a young group like this. The playoffs are out of reach but the future is very bright.

Andrew: How the once competitive have fallen. Not only are the Red Wings all but out of the playoff race, they’ve fallen. Fittingly, the Red Wings are in the red in every category I track (again, that’s 21st or lower), something only Montréal and Arizona can say. This was never supposed to be a contention year for Detroit – I get that. But it would’ve been nice to have meaningful games in March.

21. Winnipeg Jets (24-22-10, February: 20)

Trey: 21, Andrew: 21 (Average: 21)

Andrew: I honestly don’t know where the Jets go from here. Almost every member of the core is signed long-term, yet their record is incredibly mediocre and their 5-on-5 play (45.67% expected goals, 30th) hasn’t improved a lick. They don’t have the cap space (less than $300K) to buy. I’m not convinced their main assets to sell (Paul Stastny, Andrew Copp, and Nathan Beaulieu) will land anything significant. This may be the incredibly rare case where it makes sense to press on as is and just see what happens. And sure enough, that may be where the Jets are heading.

20. Vancouver Canucks (28-23-6, February: T-21)

Trey: 22, Andrew: 18 (Average: 20)

Trey: A broken roster that should have never gone for it in the first place. Predictably, Conor Garland hasn’t done nearly enough for it to be worth taking on the Ekman-Larsson deal. Jaro Halak should retire and has killed the team anytime Thatcher Demko needs a day off. Elias Petterson seems to be back on track but it’s far too late for it to matter. The only thing to look forward to right now is what the Canucks can fetch in a trade for JT Miller.

Andrew: Just when it looked like Vancouver’s feel-good story was ending, the Canucks proved that they aren’t going down without a fight; if at all. As mentioned on Sportsnet’s broadcast of their impressive comeback win over Toronto Saturday, the Canucks will finish at 95 points if they play at the same pace they have so far under Bruce Boudreau. That likely leaves them tantalizingly close to a playoff spot. Could they not only keep Miller but maybe even buy? If I was Vancouver’s new-look front office, no option would be off the table.

19. Columbus Blue Jackets (28-25-3, February: 24)

Trey: 19, Andrew: 20 (Average: 19.5)

Trey: Patrik Laine is hotter than hot. I mentioned it as something to look for in the last power rankings. His shooting percentage is now up to a career-high 20.2%. He has 13 goals since January 30th. Yeah, this man wants a new contract (and probably deserves one).

Andrew: Here’s an interesting hypothetical: where are the Blue Jackets if they didn’t trade Seth Jones right now? Don’t get me wrong, it’s looking like a fleece of a trade with how high the first-round pick is going to be, not to mention Adam Boqvist has plenty of potential. But Jones would’ve definitely helped a Blue Jackets defense that is undoubtedly the worst in hockey at 5-on-5 (32nd in shots and expected goals per 60 against). Columbus is currently ten points behind Washington with a game in hand. Are we talking about them seriously chasing down the Blue Jackets if Jones is here? More importantly, can Patrik Laine’s hot streak make the Caps seriously start to sweat?

18. Anaheim Ducks (27-22-9, February: 16)

Trey: 18, Andrew: 19 (Average: 18.5)

Trey: The Ducks were a nice story but you can see the wheels starting to fall off. John Gibson has five straight starts with a save percentage of fewer than .900. He needs to be sharp for them to compete on a nightly basis. A step in the right direction but not contenders this year in the Pacific.

Andrew: Anaheim is following the arc I expected Detroit to when they started the season strong; hold up the façade long enough to provide some nice experience for their youth, but ultimately slip out of the race down the stretch. That’s where Anaheim is trending, somewhat inevitably since their 5-on-5 play has been poor all year. It’s a bit cruel since Anaheim is riding the same formula (top ten special teams plus an elite starting goaltender) that has the Blues and Rangers sitting pretty, but it looks like it’s going to run out of gas for them. Although considering what the Ducks could get back as sellers, maybe it’s for the best long term.

T-16. Washington Capitals (30-18-9, February: 14)

Trey: 17, Andrew: 15 (Average: 16)

Trey: I’m not sure the Capitals are bad. The goalie situation is just so up in the air that it’s hard to rank them higher. Vanecek and Samsonov are way too inconsistent for me to count Washington as a real contender.

Andrew: After a 14-3-5 start, the Capitals are a decidedly mediocre 16-14-3 since and just 10-12-2 in 2022. They’ve got a strong offense but a mediocre defense and are very middle of the pack at 5-on-5 (15th in expected goals%). Combine that with not stellar special teams or goaltending, and the Capitals don’t appear to be that threatening of a team. Maybe Nicklas Bäckström and T.J. Oshie’s return changes things, but the Capitals need to find a higher level to avoid another early exit.

T-16. Nashville Predators (31-20-4, February: 12)

Trey: 15, Andrew: 17 (Average: 16)

Trey: The Preds find themselves safely in a playoff spot. However, it’s hard not to be worried. Nashville is playing over their hands (which we knew could happen because Juuse Saros is absurd). I just can’t put Nashville any higher knowing that Filip Forsberg could be gone any second. He’s their best offensive threat. It’s a different team without him.

Andrew: The Predators are that one test question where you’re confident you know the answer, but read it enough times to confuse yourself and select something else, only to realize you (probably) had it right the first time. Nashville is 28th in the NHL since Feb. 1 with a 4-6-0 record, and they have a “damned if you, damned if you don’t” situation with Forsberg. He’s easily their best forward and worth the reported $8-9 million cap hit it’ll take to retain him. But can Nashville really win a Cup while Forsberg is still in his prime years? David Poile tends to stay in win-now mode whenever possible; Nashville’s play over the next two weeks may determine Forsberg’s fate.

15. Dallas Stars (32-20-3, February: 18)

Trey: 12, Andrew: 16 (Average: 14)

Trey: I do think Dallas is real. Tyler Seguin doesn’t look totally dead anymore. Jake Oettinger stole the starter job for good. The Roope Hintz, Jason Robertson, Joe Pavelski line makes a believer out of me. Of course, the deadline is going to be huge. John Klingberg could be dealt. We still don’t know if the Stars are buyers or sellers.

Andrew: Pick a lane, Dallas. The Stars have been probably the hardest team for me to figure out, in large part due to the stark contrast between their poor depth and outstanding star power. I don’t think Dallas has enough to make a deep playoff run (not to mention Oettinger’s never been in the playoffs). But if Jamie Benn and Seguin are only to get worse from here, do you owe it to them (and yourself) to take one last shot while there’s still a core around them worth betting on?

14. St. Louis Blues (32-16-7, February: 15)

Trey: 14, Andrew: 12 (Average: 13)

Trey: Ville Husso. That’s all I got.

Andrew: In theory, the deadline could be more influential for St. Louis than a lot of teams. Adding a top-four defenseman (or two) could help turn around a brutal 5-on-5 defense (29th in expected goals against per 60) and make them a serious threat in the West. Unfortunately, the Blues have next to no cap space to make those additions, and there’s not an obvious big-money forward to move out. The spicy option would be to trade Jordan Binnington’s $6 million cap hit and ride with Husso, but that’s probably not realistic.

13. New York Rangers (36-15-5, February: 13)

Trey: 16, Andrew: 9 (Average: 12.5)

Trey: The New York Rangers are the worst team in the league by Corsi For% (shot attempt percentage) according to Natural Stat Trick in 5-on-5 play. THE WORST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE. I’m not taking them seriously. If it weren’t for Igor Shesterkin playing god mode, they’re a non-playoff team. The studs the Rangers have are legit. The supporting cast? Not it.

Andrew: That may be true, but don’t look now: the Rangers’ process is slowly improving. Since the All-Star break, the Rangers are 17th in the NHL with a respectable 50.63% expected goals share; a marked improvement over their porous 45.10% rate (29th) before that. Keep that trend going (and add a left-shot defenseman at the deadline) and the Rangers could be less of a team that screams “smoke and mirrors” and more of one that’s truly on fire. Also: Shesterkin should be the front-runner for the Hart.

12. Vegas Golden Knights (32-21-4, February: T-6)

Trey: 8, Andrew: 14 (Average: 11)

Trey: The VGK are better than their record indicates. They have more guys out than you can shake a stick at. Max Pacioretty is hurt again, too. Mark Stone is likely shelved until the end of the year too. Robin Lehner has been playing hurt most of the season. The VGK injury report doesn’t stop there. Alec Martinez, Mattias Janmark, and Nolan Patrick are others currently injured. Jack Eichel and Chandler Stephenson are going to have to carry this team for a bit. Jonathan Marchessault is the only 20 goal scorer on the roster. Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore are still playing at a high level. All hope is not lost but they’re playing with several men down.

Andrew: So… are we concerned here? Eichel is back, but Stone is out, and Lehner is just returning from injury himself. Vegas is just two points up on Edmonton for the last Pacific Divison spot, and though the Oilers would jump Dallas before them for the second Wild Card spot. Ultimately, I think Vegas will be fine – but it’s not a lock.

T-10. Edmonton Oilers (30-22-4, February: 11)

Trey: 9, Andrew: 11 (Average: 10)

Trey: New head coach Jay Woodcroft has made some changes that have sparked a positive impact. The Oilers are basically playing with 7 defensemen and revamped offensive lines. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was supposed to be the star of the new third line. Of course, he provided nothing and now is injured. Instead, Derek Ryan has four goals in his last two games. I know nobody wants to hear this but Evander Kane has given them real production. The goalie play is shaky, but an internal option exists. Stuart Skinner is 10-1-6 in the AHL and has a .921 save percentage. Just saying?

Andrew: The Oilers have been playing fairly better under Jay Woodcroft than Dave Tippett, but more importantly, they’re being rewarded much more for their efforts. Edmonton’s 5-on-5 goals percentage has improved from 46.81% under Tippett to 57.78% behind Woodcroft, with their expected goals share jumping from 51.01% to 54.44% as well. That’s impressive since Mike Smith hasn’t been great since returning, and their statistically best goaltender Skinner has played just one NHL game since Jan. 29. If the Oilers can just figure out the crease, whether it’s with Skinner or someone else, their odds of making the playoffs seem good.

T-10. Los Angeles Kings (31-19-7, February: 17)

Trey: 10, Andrew: 10 (Average: 10)

Trey: Don’t look now but the L.A. Kings are the two-seed in the Pacific. I don’t even believe my top 10 ranking but it’s fair. Adrian Kempe has really provided an offensive spark punching home 25 goals. His underlying numbers have been positive too. Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty can more than still play. It’s not a perfect team and smells like a first-round exit, but they’re close to being back, back.

Andrew: While just about everyone was surprised when the #8 seed L.A. Kings went 16-4 en route to the 2012 Stanley Cup, the analytics community was perhaps the least shocked. That Kings team had outstanding underlying numbers (2nd in Corsi, 6th in Expected Goals at 5-on-5). Just about everyone would be stunned if this year’s Kings team went on any sort of deep run, but again, the Kings pass the numbers test. L.A. is a top-ten team in expected goals percentage and is tops in the league at shot prevention, plus top-three in shots per game. If goaltending holds up its end of the bargain and Rob Blake makes the right call(s) at the deadline, the Kings are a team no one will want to face in the first round.

T-7. Minnesota Wild (32-19-3, February: 9)

Trey: 6, Andrew: 13 (February: 9.5)

Trey: Kirill Kaprizov is absolutely terrifying. Somehow Mats Zuccarello keeps getting better. Not sure I trust Cam Talbot, but there is no denying how good Minnesota is at its best.

Andrew: At the start of the year, I was notably bearish on the Wild. Their roster is the epitome of the Breaking Bad “they can’t keep getting away with this!” GIF as Ryan Hartman becomes a legit top-six center and Marcus Foligno keeps scoring on over 25 percent of his shots. But regression is starting to hit. Cam Talbot has allowed at least four goals in each of his last five starts, and Kappo Kähkönen was even worse in a pivotal loss to Dallas at home on Sunday. The Wild have lost seven of ten and are in danger of falling to a wild card spot… or worse.

T-7. Toronto Maple Leafs (35-16-4, February: 8)

Trey: 11, Andrew: 8 (Average: 9.5)

Trey: Win a first-round series and get back to me. Jack Campbell has fallen off a cliff. Auston Matthews is still cooler than our Emma Brown wants to admit.

Andrew: They’re still pretty high because of their record and talent level, but there’s reason for concern here, if not outright panic. This team still feels like the same version of the ones that have come up short before it, throwing away leads like candy wrappers to competition both strong and weak. Campbell has been ice cold since January, and Petr Mrázek isn’t exactly inspiring confidence. Even worse: (especially) because of Jake Muzzin’s injury, Kyle Dubas is probably going to have trust that tandem to get the job done as he seeks to further improve the team’s backend.

T-7. Pittsburgh Penguins (34-14-9, February: T-6)

Trey: 13, Andrew: 6 (Average: 9.5)

Trey: The Penguins have been better than I expected this year. However, I’m starting to become worried that Tristan Jarry is reverting back to the guy we saw during the playoffs last year. He’s allowed 13 goals in his last four starts. The upcoming schedule is BRUTAL (TB, CAR, FLA, VGK, CAR) next five games. We’re going to see what Pittsburgh is really made of.

Andrew: What does the team who is good at everything add at the deadline? It’s a tough question Ron Hextall will have to try to answer. The former Flyers and Penguins GM has never traded more than two conditional 3rd round picks in any trade deadline move; with Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang set to hit unrestricted free agency for the first time in their careers, that may change this year.

6. Boston Bruins (34-18-4, February: 10)

Trey: 7, Andrew: 7 (Average: 7)

Trey: I actually have real hope for the Bruins for the first time in a long time. We were getting used to seeing the same old Bruins. One top line that’s awesome to watch but provides zero depth scoring. Tuukka Rask finds a way to let in a cookie during postseason play. Then we look at ourselves in the mirror wondering what went wrong? Not sure that happens this time. Jeremy Swayman (I propose a new name swagman?) is unreal. He won rookie of the month for February. Jake DeBrusk is somehow back? Yes, seriously. He’s top line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron playing out of his mind. David Pastrnak has sparked a better Taylor Hall. Charlie McAvoy is out of this world good. Oh, this is a Bruins team I’m taking seriously.

Andrew: For the first time in the stats I’ve complied this season, the Bruins are allowing more than two expected goals against per 60 minutes. Granted, their 2.05 mark is still best in the league, so it’s hard to get concerned. Trade for Tomáš Hertl (or J.T. Miller or maybe Claude Giroux?), find your goalie to ride with, and gear up to make sure you don’t waste another spectacular year from Patrice Bergeron.

5. Calgary Flames (33-14-7, February: 5)

Trey: 5, Andrew: 5 (Average: 5)

Trey: I tried to warn everybody. The Flames were MY team in the preseason. They were too talented to underperform the way they did last year. Number two in shots per game behind Florida. Number two in goals allowed behind Carolina. You can keep doubting them. I want to buy more of their stock. You add one big-time defenseman to this team and they can win the cup.

Andrew: So far, so good for Tyler Toffoli in Calgary – he’s got 5 goals and 8 points in 9 games in his second stint playing for Darryl Sutter (his coach for most of his time with the Kings). Calgary was reportedly looking to get Montréal to package Ben Chiarot with Toffoli before ultimately settling for just the latter; I’d love to see them go all-in and add Jakob Chychrun or another big-name left-handed defenseman (Mark Giordano reunion?) to solidify their status as contenders. The Flames are still one of the NHL’s most well-rounded teams.

4. Tampa Bay Lightning (37-12-6, February: 4)

Trey: 4, Andrew: 3 (Average: 3.5)

Trey: Two-time reigning defending champs… they’re going to be there when it matters. Not much to say.

Andrew: The Lightning already made their standard trade deadline moves ahead of time in the offseason with the signings of players like Corey Perry, Pierre-Éduoard Bellemare, and Zack Bogosian. That doesn’t mean they won’t look to supercharge their roster even further; you don’t win Stanley Cups by being complacent. It also helps to have a goaltender capable of doing things like this that is back at peak powers after a bit of a slow start to the season.

3. Florida Panthers (37-13-5, February: T-1)

Trey: 1, Andrew: 4 (Average: 2.5)

Trey: I’m not sure there is a team I enjoy watching more than the Florida Panthers. Bill Zito deserves so much credit for building the complementary pieces around Sasha Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. Anthony Duclair, Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart, Anton Lundell, Mason Marchment, and Carter Verhaeghe ALL deserve credit for making the Panthers this dangerous.

Andrew: What makes the Panthers such a dangerous team isn’t just that they can score; it’s that everybody can score. Welcome to over point-per-game player Mason Marchment, everybody. Like Calgary, adding another defenseman would be optimal, if not necessary as Florida is fairly middle of the pack in their own zone. It would also be nice if one of Spencer Knight or Sergei Bobrovsky can find their A-game down the stretch; goaltending may be all that stands between the Panthers and their first playoff series win since 1996.

T-1. Carolina Hurricanes (39-12-5, February: T-1)

Trey: 3, Andrew: 1 (Average: 2)

Trey: Tony DeAngelo is hurt which certainly stings and they need him. He was great for their power-play unit. The real story is this brick wall defense. Their penalty kill unit is now over 90%. Their PK unit is so good that they truly generate offense from it. It’s a Cup-contending team. No hesitation.

Andrew: It’s not that there isn’t room for improvement for the Hurricanes. Martin Necas’s goal Sunday was just his second since Dec. 12. Their team defense (25th in expected goals against per 60) could be better. Antti Raanta hasn’t been great this year, which isn’t the end of the world if Frederik Andersen, who was plagued with injuries last year, stays healthy. But despite all of that, the Hurricanes are one of just two teams with over 80 points (Colorado). All they need to do with their deadline moves is keep the good vibes rolling. Carolina looks legit once again.

Make sure to check out last month’s power rankings to see how the league’s landscape shifted throughout February.

T-1. Colorado Avalanche (40-11-5, February: T-1)

Trey: 2, Andrew: 2 (Average: 2)

Andrew: The only thing keeping the Avs out of my top spot is their special teams. Their power-play is good, but not as successful as it should be given the gobs of talent. And their penalty kill is barely above the league’s bottom-third. But in the grand scheme of things, that’s nitpicking. As a Flyers fan, I have one request: if Claude Giroux wants a trade, go get him, then make him the 2022 version of Ray Bourque.

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