NHL Power Rankings: April 2021
Updated: Jan 14, 2022
The end of the season is just over a month away and playoff races are in full swing. Even before then, the NHL has its trade deadline set for April 12 and we already see teams engaging in trades. With about five weeks left in the season, this seems like a great time to evaluate each team and separate the contenders from the pack. Here is how we rank each team:
1. Tampa Bay Lightning.
A bad week is a cause for concern in Tampa, but it’s still not enough for us to dethrone the defending Stanley Cup champions. A bigger concern may be their 10+ penalty minutes per game, the most in the league.
2. Vegas Golden Knights.
Vegas looks as good as ever lately and should only look better when top defenseman Alex Pietrangelo returns to the lineup. To their credit, the Golden Knights are one of the deepest teams in the league.
3. Colorado Avalanche.
Star center Nathan MacKinnon and the Avs have been red hot lately and are a real threat to take the west from the Knights. Their only concern is a common one in Colorado lately - they need to stay healthy.
4. Carolina Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes must continue to play without their top forward, Teuvo Teravainen, who remains sidelined with a concussion and no timetable for return. They should still be relevant come May, in large part due to Martin Necas and his recent offensive production.
5. Florida Panthers.
Florida also lost a key piece with the injury of defenseman Aaron Eklab. He will miss 12 weeks after undergoing surgery on his leg Questions surround the Panthers and whether they will find a replacement at the deadline.
6. Minnesota Wild.
The Wild are one of the surprise teams of the season. Even more surprising perhaps is how they cannot seem to find the net on the power play. They currently have the worst unit in the league.
7. Washington Capitals.
The Capitals are winning games and Ovechkin is finding the net, but goaltending has been poor lately. If they keep scoring among the top of the league, it should not become an issue.
8. Pittsburgh Penguins.
Early in the season, Pittsburgh struggled massively on defense, but that has not been the case lately. Injuries are starting to accumulate for the Penguins, but Sid Crosby looks to be in top form.
9. Toronto Maple Leafs.
Toronto’s top two goaltenders have both performed admirably this season, but are both battling injuries. The acquisition of Alex Galchenyuk from the Hurricanes has seemingly paid off, Austin Matthews is leading the league in goals, but this team needs to get healthy in net.
10. New York Islanders.
The Islanders have been one of the more exciting teams to watch all season, however, the recent loss of their captain, Anders Lee, has left the team looking noticeably flat. We expect New York to go after a scorer at the deadline.
11. Edmonton Oilers.
Edmonton also have their own goal scoring issues. The recent Connor McDavid elbow, and subsequent $5k fine, have not put the team in a positive light lately either. Like the Islanders, we expect the Oilers to look for more goal scorers at the deadline.
12. Boston Bruins.
Recently, Coach Bruce Cassidy called out some players individually for lack of energy. That’s never a good sign. Moreover, only the Sabres have scored less goals at even strength. The Bruins are another team that will look to add more scorers if they hope to even make the playoffs.
13. Winnipeg Jets.
Winnipeg have established themselves as one of the more talented offensive units in the league. They should not be looking to change things up front, but the Jets will likely have to decide whether to upgrade their defense or to stick with their youth.
14. Montreal Canadiens.
Montreal have had a trouble avoiding penalties all season and their penalty kill is ranked 21st in the league. On the bright side, they lead the league in short-handed goals. The team recently acquired forward Eric Staal from Buffalo. The question remains whether he will be enough to lead the Habs into the playoffs.
15. St. Louis Blues.
The Blues are not scoring like they were earlier in the season. This can be attributed to the early goal production they received from their defensemen. Still, this team will need to be aggressive at the deadline to find scoring if it hopes to make the playoffs.
16. Nashville Predators.
Somehow, seemingly out of nowhere, the Predators are back in the playoff picture. After beginning the season as one of the league’s biggest disappointments, this Preds team has climbed back to fourth in their division. If they can keep form, Nashville should sneak into the playoffs.
17. Arizona Coyotes.
Arizona needs more offensive weapons. The Yotes rank last in the league in shots per game and shot differential per game, but they are capitalizing against the lesser teams in the division and sit just one point shy of a playoff spot.
18. New York Rangers.
New York’s struggles begin right at face-off, where they rank last in the league. Every regular center on the team wins less than 50% of their face-offs. They currently sit just outside of the playoffs in the hardest division in the league. Expectations are low for the Rangers right now.
19. Los Angeles Kings.
Los Angeles has been considerably active near the trade deadline making multiple acquisitions, most notably Brendan Lemieux from the Rangers. Time will tell if these moves, and possibly more to come, are enough to get this team into the playoffs.
20. Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago started the season as one of the worst teams in hockey. Then, they got hot behind a surging Patrick Kane. Now, they have regressed back to a losing team. Still, the playoffs are somehow in reach for the Blackhawks.
21. Philadelphia Flyers.
Carter Hart and the Flyers defense have struggled all season. Although Hart sat in this one, Philadelphia’s weakness was most recently highlighted when the Flyers lost to the Sabres by a score of 6-1, snapping Buffalo’s historic losing streak.
22. Vancouver Canucks.
It speaks to the parity in the league to say that the Canucks can still make the playoffs at this point in the season. However, it will be hard to see this team improve at the trade deadline with limited cap space and a number of unfavorable contracts on the roster.
23. Dallas Stars.
This team really needs Tyler Seguin and Ben Bishop back, but their slow start does not allow them the luxury of waiting. Look for last year’s Western Conference champions to be active buyers at the trade deadline.
24. Columbus Blue Jackets.
Columbus has struggled on offense all season and while their defense has shown potential, the Blue Jackets give up the 9th most goals in the league. Somehow, this team is still mathematically in the playoff hunt.
25. Calgary Flames.
After a strong start, Coach Darryll Sutter is struggling to keep his team energized and has recently resorted to calling out his “dopey” players publicly. Can this really end well?
26. New Jersey Devils.
New Jersey’s season has not gone well and now the team must decide how active they want to be at the deadline. Most notably, the Devils must decide what to do with longstanding forward Kyle Palmieri, who is on the final year of his contract.
27. San Jose Sharks.
Patrick Marleau is now second all-time in games played, only behind Gordie Howe. It’s probably the only bright spot for this Sharks team that could see some longstanding players shipped out at the deadline.
28. Ottawa Senators.
Ottawa is somehow finding ways to get younger, trading Christian Wolanin to the Kings for 24 year old Michael Amadio. Amadio is expected to play mainly for the taxi squad this season, but the Senators will be a team to watch in 2022.
29. Detroit Red Wings.
The Red Wings are not a good hockey team this season, but they are terrible from behind. When trailing heading into the third period, Detroit is 0-16-1.
30. Anaheim Ducks.
Heading into the trade deadline, the Ducks are expected to be one of the bigger sellers, with Rickard Rakell a likely trade target for many teams around the league. The only question is whether Anaheim will be willing to part ways with their productive forward.
31. Buffalo Sabres.
The Sabres are the worst team in the league and could be one of the worst teams in history. Just recently, they had a losing streak which tied the NHL record for most consecutive losses. (They are tied with the 2003-04 Penguins at 18 losses.)