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NHL Power Rankings – 1-31 poll, plus the biggest trade-deadline sticking point for every team

The NHL trade deadline is Monday, and because this season is so unusual, each team is operating under its own unique circumstance. For this week’s NHL Power Rankings, we identified a sticking point for every team heading into the deadline.

How we rank: The ESPN hockey editorial staff submits selections ranking teams 1 to 31 — taking into account game results, injuries and upcoming schedule — and those results are tabulated in the list featured here.

Note: Previous ranking for each team refers to our Week 11 edition, published on March 31. Points percentages are through the games of April 6.

Previous ranking: 4
Points percentage: .737
Next seven days: @ MIN (Apr. 7); @ ANA (Apr. 9, 11); vs. ARI (Apr. 12)

Getting a reinforcement in goal needs to be a sticking point for Colorado. The Avalanche were derailed by goalie injuries in last year’s playoffs. For as good as this team is, it is one Philipp Grubauer injury away from disaster.

Previous ranking: 7
Points percentage: .700
Next seven days: @ CAR (Apr. 8); @ DAL (Apr. 10, 13)

The Panthers could be a player on or before Monday; they’re contending ahead of expectations, have plenty of cap space and an owner hungry to win. Florida could involve goalie Chris Driedger as part of a trade, but if the return isn’t great, he is worth keeping for the stretch run and playoffs.

Previous ranking: 5
Points percentage: .692
Next seven days: vs. BOS (Apr. 8); @ BUF (Apr. 9); @ BOS (Apr. 11); vs. PHI (Apr. 13)

The Capitals landing a defenseman at the deadline has become a recent annual tradition. But this season, it’s probably not in the plans. They’re not as weak at the position, and to engineer that trade, Washington would have to move salary out.

Previous ranking: 2
Points percentage: .724
Next seven days: vs. FLA (Apr. 8); vs. DET (Apr. 10, 12)

The Canes have the cap space to go after anyone — and they just might, especially if it’s a right-shot defenseman. Carolina could part with a first-round pick or any recent draftees, but 2020 first-rounder Seth Jarvis would be a sticking point.

Previous ranking: 3
Points percentage: .692
Next seven days: @ CBJ (Apr. 8); @ NSH (Apr. 10, 13)

General manager Julien BriseBois has been harping for weeks (months?) that the Lightning don’t have cap space, so a trade is unlikely. We’ll see if they stick to this, or if the Panthers and Canes push BriseBois to do something creative and unexpected.

Previous ranking: 1
Points percentage: .703
Next seven days: @ STL (Apr. 7); vs. ARI (Apr. 9, 11); @ LA (Apr. 12)

For the Golden Knights, it’s all about the salary cap — and Vegas doesn’t have any wiggle room right now. The Golden Knights played one game last week in which they were forced to dress only 17 players because of cap constraints, and another game with 16.

Previous ranking: 9
Points percentage: .705
Next seven days: vs. MTL (Apr. 7); vs. OTT (Apr. 10); @ MTL (Apr. 12); vs. CGY (Apr. 13)

The Maple Leafs could be looking to add a player (like a goalie or a forward), but cost certainty is going to be a big deal. For the cap-strapped team, getting a player with term remaining on his contract is of no small concern.

Previous ranking: 8
Points percentage: .641
Next seven days: @ NYR (Apr. 8); @ NJ (Apr. 9, 11)

The challenge for GM Ron Hextall and president Brian Burke: Reward a team that has worked hard all season and could have a shot at the Stanley Cup — without mortgaging too much of the future. Unfortunately, former GM Jim Rutherford did too much of the latter in service of the former.

Previous ranking: 10
Points percentage: .692
Next seven days: vs. PHI (Apr. 8); vs. NYR (Apr. 9, 11)

We all believe the Islanders are looking for an Anders Lee replacement. A Kyle Palmieri trade feels like an inevitability, but getting into a bidding war would give New York pause. There are plenty of other stealth moves GM Lou Lamoriello could make.

Previous ranking: 6
Points percentage: .649
Next seven days: vs. COL (Apr. 7); @ STL (Apr. 9, 10); vs. STL (Apr. 12)

GM Bill Guerin has said he’s not afraid to ruffle feathers; after all, he nearly traded Zach Parise to the Isles at last year’s deadline. Minnesota knows it will likely lose a good player in the Seattle expansion draft, but positioning itself for that process is still a consideration.

Previous ranking: 13
Points percentage: .639
Next seven days: @ WSH (Apr. 8); @ PHI (Apr. 10); vs. WSH (Apr. 11); vs. BUF (Apr. 13)

For the Bruins, this deadline is all about whether they feel they can give up yet another first-rounder. Boston gave up a first-round draft pick in 2020 (for Ondrej Kase) and in 2018 (for Rick Nash). Can they afford to go that route again?

Previous ranking: 11
Points percentage: .628
Next seven days: @ MTL (Apr. 8, 10); @ OTT (Apr. 12)

The Jets are looking good, and they are probably looking to add a player (likely a veteran defensive-minded defenseman) at the trade deadline. But if any team asks about Cole Perfetti or Ville Heinola in return, the Jets are far less likely to listen.

Previous ranking: 12
Points percentage: .615
Next seven days: @ OTT (Apr. 7, 8); @ CGY (Apr. 10); vs. VAN (Apr. 12)

The Oilers will likely be quiet, maybe trading for a depth center at most. But whatever Edmonton does, the team is not wanting to give up more draft picks — especially since it is already without a second- and third-rounder in 2021.

Previous ranking: 14
Points percentage: .614
Next seven days: @ TOR (Apr. 7); vs. WPG (Apr. 8, 10); vs. TOR (Apr. 12)

GM Marc Bergevin stealthily added Eric Staal on March 26, and it doesn’t feel like he’s done. The team was believed to be in on adding a defenseman, but Brendan Gallagher’s fractured thumb could force a change in plans.

Previous ranking: 17
Points percentage: .551
Next seven days: @ LA (Apr. 7); @ VGS (Apr. 9, 11); @ COL (Apr. 12)

The Coyotes were poised to be a big player at the deadline — and hopefully begin to restock their draft-pick stash and prospect pipeline — but the fact they’re still in the playoff mix could halt that. Upcoming results against the Kings and Golden Knights could dictate what the Yotes do.

Previous ranking: 18
Points percentage: .539
Next seven days: vs. PIT (Apr. 8); @ NYI (Apr. 9, 11); @ NJ (Apr. 13)

New York isn’t likely to make a big splash at the deadline. The Rangers have hoped someone would trade for Tony DeAngelo, but the defenseman’s dismissal from the roster is a non-starter for a lot of teams.

Previous ranking: 19
Points percentage: .539
Next seven days: @ NYI (Apr. 8); vs. BOS (Apr. 10); vs. BUF (Apr. 11); @ WSH (Apr. 13)

Playoff-bound teams would love to trade for Scott Laughton, the do-everything grinder. Even though he’s a pending free agent, he could be a non-starter for the Flyers. Laughton is simply too valuable to give up.

Previous ranking: 16
Points percentage: .538
Next seven days: @ DET (Apr. 8); vs. TB (Apr. 10); vs. DAL (Apr. 11); vs. TB (Apr. 13)

Now that the team has turned things around, thanks to a recent six-game winning streak, it seems that making the playoffs might be a sticking point for GM David Poile; he won’t want to diminish the team’s chances. So all the talk about a Mattias Ekholm trade might be moot.

Previous ranking: 26
Points percentage: .500
Next seven days: vs. LA (Apr. 9, 10); vs. ANA (Apr. 12)

The Sharks keep winning, which has brought them into the playoff race. Look out for San Jose as a destination for players with big contracts — if the trade comes with young players, prospects or draft picks. Young talent is what the Sharks need most right now.

Previous ranking: 20
Points percentage: .513
Next seven days: vs. DAL (Apr. 8); @ CBJ (Apr. 10, 12)

Everything for the Blackhawks is in context of the long view. The rebuild isn’t over in the eyes of management. If a deal doesn’t help the team for next season and beyond, that’s going to be a sticking point.

Previous ranking: 22
Points percentage: .486
Next seven days: @ CHI (Apr. 8); vs. FLA (Apr. 10); @ NSH (Apr. 11); vs. FLA (Apr. 13)

The Stars traded Jamie Oleksiak to the Penguins in 2017 and then reacquired him in 2019. If the defenseman is traded again, does Dallas jeopardize the chance to sign him as a free agent this summer?

Previous ranking: 15
Points percentage: .500
Next seven days: vs. VGS (Apr. 7); vs. MIN (Apr. 9, 10); @ MIN (Apr. 12)

GM Doug Armstrong is known for bold moves, and this team feels like it could use an injection of energy. However, the Blues’ recent poor play — they are on a seven-game losing streak — could be a reason to stand pat.

Previous ranking: 23
Points percentage: .473
Next seven days: @ EDM (Apr. 12)

A COVID outbreak has befallen the Canucks, and Vancouver is out of action for the foreseeable future. Health of players and their families is of the greatest concern, but it could also alter GM Jim Benning’s deadline plans.

Previous ranking: 21
Points percentage: .459
Next seven days: vs. ARI (Apr. 7); @ SJ (Apr. 9, 10); vs. VGS (Apr. 12)

The Kings are still lurking in the playoff race, but that doesn’t really complicate the big-picture rebuild — it just shows L.A. is a little ahead of schedule. The moves GM Rob Blake makes at the deadline could hinge on whether L.A. believes it will sign Alex Iafallo to an extension.

Previous ranking: 25
Points percentage: .463
Next seven days: vs. TB (Apr. 8); vs. CHI (Apr. 10, 12)

If the Blue Jackets want to trade away players, David Savard is a good bet to be one of them. But what will they do with captain Nick Foligno? He’s too important to the team in the event of a potential playoff run, but the pending free agent is also of interest to many other teams.

Previous ranking: 27
Points percentage: .432
Next seven days: @ BUF (Apr. 8); vs. PIT (Apr. 9, 11); vs. NYR (Apr. 13)

It appears that Kyle Palmieri is on his way out of town. The Devils ideally would like to recoup the second-round pick they dealt to Vegas in the Nikita Gusev trade, though New Jersey does possess the Isles’ 2021 second-rounder (from the Andy Greene deal last season).

Previous ranking: 24
Points percentage: .438
Next seven days: vs. EDM (Apr. 10; @ TOR (Apr. 13)

The sputtering Flames are going to do something, and they’ll probably trade away some pending UFAs. That said, a Johnny Gaudreau trade is much more likely over the summer, when the Flames can involve more teams and get a better return.

Previous ranking: 28
Points percentage: .390
Next seven days: vs. NSH (Apr. 8); @ CAR (Apr. 10, 12)

It’s a good bet the Red Wings will, once again, be trading away a handful of players next week, and there is plenty of interest on Detroit’s roster. GM Steve Yzerman’s sticking point might be players with term; those trades are better done in the summer.

Previous ranking: 29
Points percentage: .385
Next seven days: vs. EDM (Apr. 7, 8); @ TOR (Apr. 10); vs. WPG (Apr. 12)

Once again, the Senators are likely looking to be trading players away at the deadline, especially those on expiring contracts. Ottawa is without fourth- and fifth-round picks in the upcoming draft, so it’s going to be important to remedy that shortcoming.

Previous ranking: 30
Points percentage: .388
Next seven days: vs. COL (Apr. 9, 11); @ SJ (Apr. 12)

The Ducks continue to retool; there are a lot of veterans of interest to contenders (especially if the Ducks are willing to retain some salary), but how many will GM Bob Murray actually trade? The biggest sticking point is Rickard Rakell.

Previous ranking: 31
Points percentage: .316
Next seven days: vs. NJ (Apr. 8); vs. WSH (Apr. 9); @ PHI (Apr. 11); @ BOS (Apr. 13)

The Sabres were a mess in March, which should lead to them trading many players away at the deadline. While pending free agents such as Taylor Hall and Brandon Montour seem likely to go, parting with foundational pieces could be a sticking point; those are moves for summertime.

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