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NHL Power Rankings 2023-24: Panthers back on top after trade deadline

NHL: Florida Panthers at New York Rangers
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL trade deadline is now over, and teams are gearing up for the stretch drive. They are either contending for a spot in the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs or shifting their focus to the NHL Draft in June.

After a wild week in which several big-name players relocated, all bets are off in the final weeks of the regular season as the contenders continue to separate themselves from the pretenders.

In this week’s NHL power rankings, we continue to monitor which teams have the best odds to land the top pick at the 2024 Entry Draft and catch up with the few clubs on the playoff bubble. Finally, we discuss how the top 16 teams have performed in their past 10 games.

Related: NHL icon Mark Messier explains how Connor McDavid ‘separated himself’ this season

NHL Power Rankings: Draft Lottery Front Runners

At the midpoint of March, two teams have been officially eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoff race: the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks. After drafting Connor Bedard first overall in 2023, the Blackhawks currently has the best odds to acquire the No. 1 pick again and a shot at selecting top prospect Macklin Celebrini.

Tankathon.com provides NHL Draft Lottery odds.

* means a team is officially eliminated from Stanley Cup playoff contention

Chicago Blackhawks* (25.5%)

San Jose Sharks* (13.5%)

Anaheim Ducks (11.5%)

Columbus Blue Jackets (9.5%)

Ottawa Senators (8.5%)

Arizona Coyotes (7.5%)

Montreal Canadiens (6.5%)

Buffalo Sabres (6.0%)

New Jersey Devils (5.0%)

Pittsburgh Penguins (3.5%)

Calgary Flames (3.0%)

READ: Notable NHL head coaches who were suspended

NHL Power Rankings: Playoff Longshots

NHL: New York Islanders at San Jose Sharks
Mar 7, 2024; San Jose, California, USA; (L to R) New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) , defenseman Noah Dobson (8) , center Jean-Gabriel Pageau (44) and center Kyle Palmieri (21) celebrate during the first period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

As most NHL teams approach the final 20 games of their seasons, the list of playoff hopefuls dwindles every night. At this stage, only a handful of them can advance to the postseason, and their percentage totals are dipping below 20%.

Moneypuck.com provides NHL playoff odds.

St. Louis Blues – 69 points (2.7%)

Seattle Kraken – 68 points (10.5%)

Minnesota Wild – 71 points (17.6%)

Washington Capitals – 69 points (18.4%)

New York Islanders – 72 points (57.6%)

NHL Power Rankings: Top 16

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Vegas Golden Knights
Mar 9, 2024; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Noah Hanifin (15) is named Third Star of the Game after the Golden Knights defeated the Detroit Red Wings 5-3 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the flurry of NHL transactions at the trade deadline, the top teams remain the same and continue to play musical chairs with one another. Overall, there are no clear-cut divisional winners yet, and the race for the Presidents’ Trophy couldn’t be more engaging. Which teams remain in the top 16, and how have they performed in the past 10 games?

The statistics for the last ten games were obtained from NHL.com.

Detroit Red Wings (4-6-0)

Everything was going according to plan for the Detroit Red Wings, who looked poised to end a lengthy playoff drought. However, the Original Six team has lost six straight and is in a contested battle with the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning to secure a wild card berth. On the verge of becoming a contender, they remained relatively quiet at the deadline, acquiring only Radim Simek.

Vegas Golden Knights (3-6-1)

Late Tuesday night, the Vegas Golden Knights secured two much-needed points with an overtime win against the Seattle Kraken. After losing captain Mark Stone, they have dropped into the second wild card in the Western Conference and are desperate for every point to have a chance to defend their title in the spring. Unsurprisingly, Vegas was one of the busiest teams at the deadline, acquiring stars Anthony Mantha, Noah Hanifin, and Tomas Hertl.

Boston Bruins (4-2-4)

The Boston Bruins are still in the hunt for the top spot in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference thanks to a league-leading 15 overtime games. They added two depth players at the trade deadline, Pat Marron and Andrew Peeke, but their Achilles heel remains losing games in overtime or the shootout.

Tampa Bay Lightning (4-5-1)

The Lightning added Anthony Duclair and Matt Dumba ahead of the deadline, and they continue to battle for the top wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Even though it’s been an up-and-down season, this veteran lineup could be a surprise team that advances deep into the postseason, especially if Andrei Vasilveskiy regains the form that helped him win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2021.

Philadelphia Flyers (5-4-1)

The Philadelphia Flyers dominated the recent NHL news cycle because of their alternating win-loss pattern and because coach John Tortorella was suspended two games. After spending the bulk of the regular season in a comfortable spot in the Metropolitan Division, the Flyers are clinging to this place with slanders breathing down their neck. The Flyers run the risk of dropping out of the playoffs entirely in the season’s final weeks.

Los Angeles Kings (5-4-1)

On Monday night, the Los Angeles Kings shut out the League’s hottest team, the Islanders. Despite not making any moves ahead of the trade deadline, general manager Rob Blake opted to roll the dice with his current lineup, which has only had three four-game win streaks this year and loves to alternate wins and losses. Considering they are in line to face the Edmonton Oilers for the second consecutive season in the opening round, the Kings must hope for a better fate than in 2022-23.

Vancouver Canucks (5-4-1)

Surprisingly, the Vancouver Canucks stayed relatively quiet at the trade deadline, having already acquired Elias Lindholm in January and extended the contract for Elias Pettersson. However, for the first time this season, they will face adversity with goalie Thatcher Demko out two to three weeks with a knee injury. Although it’s a long shot, an extended slump could cost them the top spot in the Western Conference.

Carolina Hurricanes (6-3-1)

The Carolina Hurricanes have consistently been one of the top teams in the NHL, but they can’t get past the Eastern Conference Final. After a significant retooling over the summer, general manager Don Waddell upped the arms race by acquiring proven playoff performer Jake Guentzel (58 points in 58 postseason games) and Stanley Cup champion Evgeny Kuznetsov before the deadline. Although a shot at repeating as Metropolitan Division champions is fading, they remain a team that could be in the final four again.

Dallas Stars (6-3-1)

The Dallas Stars remain the top team in the Central Division despite blowing a third-period lead and losing to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. Despite their success, the Stars remain one of the least talked about teams with all the pieces to hoist the Stanley Cup in June, especially after acquiring defenseman Chris Tanev. The move gave Dallas an abundance of talent on the back end because, as the old saying goes, defense wins championships.

Edmonton Oilers (6-3-1)

Since the last power rankings, Oilers captain Connor McDavid reached 100 points for the seventh time in his career. Meanwhile, Adam Henrique, Sam Carrick, and Troy Stecher relocated to Edmonton. Outside a couple of lackluster efforts against the Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets, the Oilers are solidifying their spot as the second-best team in the Pacific Division, looking to secure home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.

Winnipeg Jets (7-3-0)

The Winnipeg Jets may be facing uncertainty in a community that begged for another chance to have an NHL team while remaining one of the League’s most competitive teams. Once the Jets locked up Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Schiefele in the summer, they added Sean Monahan, Colin Miller and Tyler Toffoli in the past two months to enhance their chances of a Central Division title and deep playoff run.

Toronto Maple Leafs (7-3-0)

Last week, the Toronto Maple Leafs lost consecutive 4-1 contests to the Bruins, who could end up being their first-round opponents in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Even though they are 7-3-0, Auston Matthews only has two goals in the past eight games. General manager Brad Treliving didn’t do enough at the deadline to improve the team with championship aspirations, acquiring depth players Ilya Lyubushkin, Joel Edmundson, and Connor Dewar.

New York Rangers (7-2-1)

The New York Rangers are having one of the best seasons in franchise history, thanks to Igor Shesterkin reemerging as the world’s best goaltender. With two shutouts in the past three starts, he’s allowed the Rangers to separate themselves from divisional rivals and be in the thick of the Presidents’ Trophy raceforever. Instead of making blockbuster deals, the Rangers opted to slightly alter the lineup, bringing in Alex Wennberg, Jack Roslovic, and Chad Ruhwedel.

Colorado Avalanche (7-2-1)

Nathan MacKinnon (113 points) has finally broken through in the season-long battle with Nikita Kucherov for the scoring title, helping a resurgent Colorado Avalanche team that is 7-2-1 in its past 10 games. After a lackluster 5-5-2 record in February, they traded for Casey Mittelstadt and Sean Walker, intending to capture their second Stanley Cup title in three years.

Nashville Predators (8-0-2)

The Nashville Predators are 10-0-2 in their past 12 games, and remain the top wild card in the Western Conference by one point. Although they have a seven-point cushion over other teams trying to get in, management didn’t alter the lineup at the trade deadline, only adding Jason Zucker. Despite the endless rumors, Nashville did not deal away Juuse Saros, now 7-0-2 in his past nine starts with a .932 save percentage.

Florida Panthers (8-2-0)

The Florida Panthers are the team to beat right now. As the top team in the NHL standings, they didn’t sit on their accomplishments, acquiring Vladimir Tarasenko and Kyle Okposo to boost a lineup that features 40-goal scorer Sam Reinhart and Vezina Trophy front-runner Sergei Bobrovsky. With a spoil of riches, the Panthers are all-in to win the Stanley Cup in June.

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