With Marian Gaborik and Dion Phaneuf on the move this week, the wheels are beginning to spin ahead of the Feb. 26 trade deadline. The New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators have already announced themselves as sellers, meaning there will be plenty of assets on the market. The question is: Who is buying, and at what price? For this week’s power rankings — voted, as always, by ESPN’s panel of experts — we assess where every team stands, less than two weeks out.
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.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 1
David Perron‘s career high in points is 57 (in 2013-14, with St. Louis). He’s probably going to shatter that this season. He’s at 51 points only 50 games in, including 17 points in his past 13 games.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 2
No reason to fret just yet, but the penalty kill has been a problem. The Lightning have allowed 10 power-play goals in 30 opportunities over the past 10 games.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 3
The Predators are targeting an early March debut for Mike Fisher. Why do we have the feeling that Nashville will have more additions by then? GM David Poile is very much in on the Rick Nash sweepstakes.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 7
The Bruins have been on a terrific run of late and have shaved the Lightning’s lead in the Atlantic Division to just one point. And Boston doesn’t show any signs of regression.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 4
The Jets fared just fine without Mark Scheifele in the lineup. But they are so much better when he’s there. (The center scored two goals against the Capitals, including the equalizer, but we were just as impressed with his strong move in overtime to set up the game winner.)
Week 18 Ranking: No. 5
Week 18 Ranking: No. 10
The Penguins have put their early woes behind them, and are starting to look dominant again. Pittsburgh has won nine in a row at home. Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin are still producing at eye-popping rates.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 8
The answer for the Blues might not be acquiring a high-priced winger at the trade deadline, a la Evander Kane or Rick Nash. Rather, this team simply needs to hold onto leads late in games.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 6
For as great as the Capitals have been for most of the season, surrendering three unanswered goals and blowing a late third-period lead (as they did against the Jets) is discouraging.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 22
Just when the Flyers encourage their fans with a legitimate playoff push, they lose goalie Brian Elliott for five-to-six weeks. Good thing this city loves its underdogs.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 9
John Klingberg is a legitimate Norris Trophy candidate, and his offensive production — 52 points in 57 games — is downright gaudy. Even if you took away his seven goals, he’d rank second among defensemen in points.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 17
The Blue Jackets recorded 50 shots twice in back-to-back games this week. They’ve averaged 45 shots over their past five games. Someone is lighting a fire in that locker room to get the offense going. (Our guess is it’s Torts.)
Week 18 Ranking: No. 14
Just when the Devils began to look desperate, Taylor Hall came to the rescue, propelling a huge come-from-behind overtime win against the Flyers. It’s hard to imagine where New Jersey would be without Hall this season. The winger has 59 points — 25 ahead of Nico Hischier, who is second on the team.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 13
Nobody wants to play this team at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild haven’t lost in St. Paul since Dec. 16, outscoring opponents 49-25 during that span.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 15
All the other GMs can thank the Kings for putting the trade carousel into motion. Gaborik wasn’t able to give Los Angeles much this season. We’re curious to see how Phaneuf plugs into the lineup.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 11
The Sharks are still in the playoff hunt, but losing three out of five hasn’t helped matters. What’s worse: The injuries are mounting.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 12
Anaheim has only won two of its past seven. The Ducks say their current four-game road swing could be a make-or-break trip for the playoff push. Unfortunately, it began with a loss to the Red Wings.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 20
GM Garth Snow isn’t known for making a splash at the trade deadline, and he has never shown propensity to pay big for a rental. But can this team please get at least one defenseman?
Week 18 Ranking: No. 16
Johnny Gaudreau remains red hot (three goals and five assists over his past five games) and is second in the league in scoring, with 67 points. The Flames remain a pesky playoff threat — as long as goalie Mike Smith isn’t out for long.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 23
Justin Faulk is the first NHL defenseman to score a natural hat trick in a decade. Scoring needs to come from somewhere; the ‘Canes are 23rd in the league, with 2.71 goals per game.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 18
The Avalanche have slumped a bit lately, but their penalty kill remains efficient. Entering Wednesday’s game against Montreal, Colorado had allowed three power play goals in their opponents’ past 17 opportunities.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 21
Week 18 Ranking: No. 19
This is the Rangers’ new reality: The six defenseman who dressed for Tuesday’s game against the Wild had 584 games of NHL experience — combined.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 28
The Red Wings have picked up seven points in their past 10 games. But Andreas Athanasiou has been cold (zero goals in 11 games). Will the 23-year-old winger rebound after his benching?
Week 18 Ranking: No. 24
The Canucks gave their GM, Jim Benning, a contract extension. Vancouver will likely miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five years, but it did strike gold with the Brock Boeser pick, which gives the Canucks something to build around.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 26
Week 18 Ranking: No. 27
Per Hockey Reference, Vincent Trocheck is on pace to be the second player in Panthers history to average more than 0.4 goals and 0.5 assists per game.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 29
So long, Dion Phaneuf. His $7 million-a-year salary was no longer a fit for Ottawa, which is embarking on a rebuild. We’ll see what the Senators’ plan is for Gaborik.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 25
We hate to pile on at this point, but it’s wild that a team with this much firepower is just 15 percent on the power play this season. Oh, and the Oilers also rank dead last in the league in penalty kill (79 percent). So there’s that.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 31
Hey, the Sabres scored nine goals against the Bruins and Lightning in the span of three days, beating two of the best teams in the league. Without Jack Eichel. You’re just as confused as we are.
Week 18 Ranking: No. 30
In Arizona, it’s all about the silver linings. Alex Goligoski has scored in three consecutive games. The Coyotes posted back-to-back wins against desperate Western Conference teams — the Sharks and the Blackhawks. And the Chicago game was a 6-1 drubbing.