It’s three weeks until the trade deadline, and quite a few teams are in the market to buy — and that’s because the playoff picture hasn’t crystallized yet. Yes, we’re talking about teams in the hunt, but even the front-runners (including our top three teams) are looking to fortify their rosters. In this week’s Power Rankings — voted, as always, by ESPN’s panel of experts — we assess where every team stands.
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 don’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 17 Ranking: No. 1
Jonathan Marchessault (who already has a career-high 52 points just 50 games in) was the first big name to sign an extension with Vegas. GM George McPhee could be a surprise buyer at the trade deadline, but we think he won’t do anything drastic.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 2
A bit of a rough patch had captain Steven Stamkos telling the media, “It’s alarming the way we’re playing.” Those words might resonate with GM Steve Yzerman, who may be inclined to find reinforcements. A defenseman wouldn’t hurt.
Greg Wyshynski and Emily Kaplan discuss the most long-suffering fan bases in the NHL on the back of the Eagles’ Super Bowl win, talk Rick Nash trade rumors as well as deadline teams to watch. Plus, former Devils director of hockey analytics Sunny Mehta stops by to cover the rise of goals across the league and more. Listen »
Week 17 Ranking: No. 3
Watch out, Andrei Vasilevskiy, it looks like Pekka Rinne is entering the Vezina conversation. In his past nine starts, the Predators netminder has gone 8-1-1.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 4
The Jets are still winning and should welcome back No. 1 center Mark Scheifele this week. Oh, and Patrik Laine has cleared the air: “Winnipeg is good,” and the wifi there works just fine.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 11
Frederik Andersen has looked sharp of late — and we would have said that even before he turned away 44 of 46 shots by the Predators on Wednesday. Auston Matthews & Co. have now won six of their past seven.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 5
Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin have reunited for some first-line magic — and the Capitals are the team to beat in the Metro. Nothing to see here, folks.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 7
Patrice Bergeron is building a case for MVP. (Detroit coach Jeff Blashill offered his endorsement this week.) Through 47 games Bergeron has 24 goals and 22 assists — and, of course, there’s a lot more to the four-time Selke winner’s game than just offensive numbers.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 6
We’re a bit concerned that St. Louis has netted only four goals in its past three games. The Blues have slowly been slinking from the top of the Central Division into wild-card territory.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 8
Here’s a team that is gaining ground in the standings yet hasn’t strung together more than a three-game winning streak since Dec. 3. (The Stars go for their fourth consecutive win on Thursday vs. the Blackhawks.)
Week 17 Ranking: No. 14
Not only are the Penguins back in the playoff race, but Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin are on a tear. They’ve combined for 49 points (24 goals, 25 assists) since Jan. 2, a stretch of 15 games. Both are in contention for the Art Ross.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 10
The Sharks have fared just OK in Joe Thornton’s absence so far. Until there’s clarity on his health, expect trade rumors to swirl (like, ahem, about Rick Nash).
Week 17 Ranking: No. 16
The Ducks are still trying to weather their flood of early-season injuries. One stat that’s not helping Anaheim out: It has spent a league-high 345 minutes and 11 seconds killing penalties this season.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 18
Things have been Minnesota nice since the holiday break, as the Wild have picked up points in 13 of 17 games since then (11-4-2). Defensemen have been a big part of the offense, led by Ryan Suter (34 points this season), Matt Dumba (29) and Jared Spurgeon (27).
Week 17 Ranking: No. 12
A three-game winning streak ended, unceremoniously, to the Senators. In the uber-tight Metro, a three-game swing is good enough to boost you from the playoff fringe to second place in the division.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 9
The Kings’ inconsistencies extend to their goaltending. Could a battle be brewing between Jonathan Quick and backup Darcy Kuemper, who has been excellent of late?
Week 17 Ranking: No. 20
This is a terrific road team. The Flames, on a six-game road swing, are 14-5-5 away from the Saddledome.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 15
The Blue Jackets have now dropped four straight since the All-Star break, including a 3-2 loss to Washington on Tuesday that coach John Tortorella called “a punch in the stomach.” Columbus may need some trade-deadline reconfiguring in order to punch back.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 13
Colorado beat the Sharks without 25 percent of its scoring (Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen were both out). One of the more remarkable stats about the Avs this season: At home, they’ve killed of 91.7 percent of penalties — a league best.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 17
If reports are true, Rick Nash isn’t the only Ranger on the trade block. Leading goal scorer Michael Grabner is vulnerable, too, and he comes with a much more reasonable contract.
Even without NHL players, the men’s hockey tournament in Pyeongchang will be worth your time. It features future stars like 17-year-old Swedish defenseman — and projected top draft pick — Rasmus Dahlin and underdogs like team USA captain Brian Gionta.
For teams in playoff spots or on the bubble, one of the big factors in deciding whether to stand pat or acquire help is the team’s makeup, in terms of overall youth and contract timing. We split the contenders into win-now and bright-future categories.
Rick Nash is on the market. Which team would be the best fit for the 33-year-old winger? Dallas would be a “comfortable” destination. He could reunite with John Tortorella in Columbus. Or is Nash just what the Predators need to nudge them closer to a Cup?
Week 17 Ranking: No. 23
It feels like every week we’re bemoaning the Islanders’ defensive struggles. They’ve allowed a league-worst 196 goals, including 126 at even strength. But man, are they fun to watch on offense.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 19
The Blackhawks recently had a stretch in which 14 consecutive goals were scored by players under the age of 23. This somewhat masks the fact that captain Jonathan Toews hasn’t found the back of the net in 11 games.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 21
The Flyers have had some standout offensive performances this season. Sean Couturier, a Selke Trophy candidate, leads the league in goals scored at home, with 19.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 22
Well, look at what we have here. Canes goalie Cam Ward’s numbers in his past four starts: 1.48 goals-against average, .947 save percentage.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 26
If it feels like the Brock Boeser show, it’s because it kind of is. The Canucks are one of the league’s lowest-scoring teams in goals per game but have been buoyed by the rookie’s 25 goals (no other player has more than 15 and only four others have double-digit totals).
Week 17 Ranking: No. 30
The Oilers are infuriating because we get terrific performances like Connor McDavid’s four-goal night against the Lightning … and yet any glimmer of hope for a playoff bid is slipping away.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 27
There are signs of improvement in Montreal, after all. The power play ranks seventh in the NHL (21.6 percent) even without the services of Shea Weber and his wicked shot.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 25
In the absence of goalies Roberto Luongo and James Reimer, it’s been the Harri Sateri show — and we’re here for it. He’s led the Panthers to four consecutive wins, allowing only six goals in those contests for a .950 save percentage.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 24
The week after the All-Star Game felt like an encapsulation of the Red Wings’ season. Two encouraging wins (versus the Sharks and Hurricanes) followed by two deflating losses (to the Panthers and Bruins).
Week 17 Ranking: No. 28
It was hard to watch Alex Burrows’ meltdown on Tuesday, as he repeatedly kneed Taylor Hall in the head. It’s also been hard to watch the Senators this season.
Week 17 Ranking: No. 31
There’s a lot to lament about the Coyotes these days. At least Brendan Perlini is coming along (he shares the team lead with 14 goals, and has earned a top-line promotion).
Week 17 Ranking: No. 29
All is quiet on the Evander Kane front. That means he’ll get traded any minute now, right? Right?