NHL Power Rankings: Winnipeg Serious Contenders as Devils Heat Up

NHL Central Division

With the NHL trade deadline approaching, the true Stanley Cup contenders are rising to the top. While these top teams look to get better, trading for the right piece will not be easy. Then there are those that are so-called pretenders. These teams are in the mix but are a year or two ahead of schedule. Plus, the team that needs to just start looking ahead to next season.

With the Tampa Bay Lightning leading the charge, the teams at the top of the list remain the same. However, over the past week, there have been some surprise teams cracking the top 10. While there other teams are on the verge of cracking the top 10. The top teams are not slowing down which makes it difficult for some of the surprise teams to move up the rankings.

Let’s take a look where every team stands for this week.

NHL Power Rankings

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning – The most talented roster is the league is looking to add at the deadline. Though the Lightning stumbled last night, Tampa Bay is a model of consistency each night they step on the ice.
  2. Vegas Golden Knights – One of the surprise teams of the season just keeps getting stronger with each passing game. Though in the midst of down stretch of 5-3-2, the Knights are a real contender and threat in the playoffs.
  3. Boston Bruins – Tuukka Rask is having a stellar season grabbing points in 20 straight games. He is back to being an elite goalie. Boston has only lost once in regulation in the past 22 games.
  4. Winnipeg Jets – The best team in Canada is dealing with injuries, but with Mark Scheifele returning to the lineup, the explosive Jets offense will only get better. The year of the goalie continues with Connor Hellebuyck.
  5. Nashville Predators – One of the toughest buildings in the NHL is back to having the college atmosphere again. Back at full health, Nashville has the tools to accomplish their mission of last season.
  6. St. Louis Blues – Things have not been pretty for the Blues, but they are winning and on the upswing. Players are returning to the lineup and with Carter Hutton taking the reins, the Blues seem unstoppable.
  7. Washington Capitals – With the offense sputtering a bit, the Capitals still remain on top of the Metro Division. If the secondary scoring can start to pick up, Washington could really start to dominate.
  8. Pittsburgh Penguins – Look who is back. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel are starting to take over games. Once the Penguins get their lineup figured out by adding a piece or two a three-peat could be insight.
  9. Dallas Stars – Having spent a ton of money in the offseason has finally paid off. Though Dallas needs to solve their consistency issues in order to be able to compete with the elite teams in the league.
  10. Toronto Maple Leafs – Scoring is not a problem for this young Maple Leafs team. Defense is the area that needs the most tweaking. Their complete level is up there and once everything clicks at once they can rise up the rankings.
  11. New Jersey Devils – One of the biggest jumps of the week. How good is this Devils team? Nobody really knows because they have only been fully healthy for five games. Not quite a contender yet, but in a few years could be there.
  12. Los Angeles Kings – Any team that has Jonathan Quick in their lineup is tough to compete against. When Quick is hot, he is hot and the Kings will roll through their competition. Finding offense night in and night out is another story.
  13. San Jose Sharks – Losing Joe Thornton to injury could have been was the worst thing that could happen. He is the straw that stirs the drink. However, there is talent on the roster that will make them a tough team to play against.
  14. Colorado Avalanche – Scratch that. Just ask Colorado how they are doing without Nathan MacKinnon in their lineup. Everything went through MacKinnon. It will be tough for Colorado to maintain their position with MacKinnon out of the lineup.
  15. Anaheim Ducks – Facing adversity is just something a team has to go through. Despite going through all these injuries it is shocking to see the Ducks are in a playoff position.
  16. Calgary Flames – After starting so great, the Flames have struggled as of late. Still, in a position for the playoffs, the Flames need to get back playing the kind of hockey that had them at the top of the standings at the beginning of the season.
  17. Minnesota Wild – Finally healthy the Wild look to rise up the standings in the Central Division. Still there road game needs to be fixed. If they want any chance of making the playoffs their record in road games must change.
  18. Philadelphia Flyers – Through different times in the season, we have seen the best of worst of the Flyers. The Flyers can be really good or really bad. In order to be more successful, the Flyers cannot rely on their one line for scoring.
  19. Columbus Blues Jackets – Loses in six of their last eight games have the Blue Jackets on a terrible. Even with Cam Atkinson returning to the lineup, Columbus cannot find the winning formula. They will need to fast to keep their position in the playoff picture.
  20. New York Islanders – Finding the right goalie has been a problem for the Islanders. Right now Jaorslav Halak is the guy and the team has responded well. Going forward Halak must be the guy.
  21. New York Rangers – The Rangers are still in the playoff mix in the Metro Division, but it is pretty clear the team is ready to start selling off their pieces.
  22. Carolina Hurricanes – Slow starts and the inability to have consistent goaltending has hurt the Hurricanes again this season. Though Cam Ward is the guy again in Carolina, this team still cannot hold onto leads.
  23. Chicago Blackhawks – Time to give up on the Blackhawks for this season. Too many inconsistencies have plagued this team all season. Even with Corey Crawford coming back, the gap is too big to close.
  24. Edmonton Oilers – The Oilers are playing better as of late. However, this team is flawed outside Connor McDavid. The best move the Oilers made was not to fire their head coach.
  25. Montreal Canadiens – This is a young team that is playing better. Though the Canadiens may be criticized for their draft picks, those players have made an impact on a team that continues to struggle.
  26. Detroit Red Wings – Majority of this roster is young. Given the current makeup of this roster, the Red Wings will not be a factor again for quite some time.
  27. Florida Panthers – The Panthers have a good young core to build around. However, are the people in place to make that happen?
  28. Vancouver Canucks – Bo Horvat is the best player on the Canucks. If this team is in rebuild mode, how does re-signing Erik Gudbranson make any sense?
  29. Ottawa Senators – How could a team that was one goal away from going to the Stanley Cup Final be this bad?
  30. Buffalo Sabres – Jack Eichel is doing everything in his power to get better. The Sabres management has done a horrible job building around him.
  31. Arizona Coyotes – One of the youngest teams in the league is not getting better. Arizona lacks talent in key areas and the situation will not get better in anytime soon.

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Photo Credit: By Lisa Gansky from New York, NY, USA (IMG_6232) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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