NHL 2022-23 Power Rankings: Week 21

How are we still five days away from the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline? It feels like a day hasn’t gone by without major news taking place, whether it be players who were dealt, players who may be on the move, and even the unfortunate news that Jonathan Toews would not be moved this year due to symptoms caused by long COVID-19 and chronic immune response syndrome.

The Hockey Writers NHL Power Rankings
The Hockey Writers Week 20 NHL Power Rankings. (The Hockey Writers)

That is a lot to take in for just one week, and we still have four-plus days until we reach the official deadline. So, expect the moves off the ice to be fast and furious teams as position themselves to make a run at the 2023 Stanley Cup, or sell off as many assets as possible that still hold value.

On the ice, I feel like we received a lot of clarity this week. Some teams that were on the playoff bubble decided that it was time to pull the ripcord and trade, while others are still holding on until the last minute to see if they can keep their postseason hopes alive.

32-21: Watching the 2023 Trade Deadline

32. Anaheim Ducks (Last Ranking: 32)

31. Columbus Blue Jackets (Last Ranking: 30)

30. San Jose Sharks (Last Ranking: 29)

29. Vancouver Canucks (Last Ranking: 26)

28. Philadelphia Flyers (Last Ranking: 25)

27. Arizona Coyotes (Last Ranking: 27)

26. Montreal Canadiens (Last Ranking: 28)

25. Chicago Blackhawks (Last Ranking: 31)

24. St. Louis Blues (Last Ranking: 24)

23. Ottawa Senators (Last Ranking: 23)

22: Washington Capitals (Last Ranking: 20)

21. Nashville Predators (Last Ranking: 22)

Well, the Washington Capitals officially waived the white flag on their injury-fill 2022-23 season this week, when they quickly traded Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway to the Boston Bruins for a haul of future assets. With the departure of one of their best (and healthiest) defensemen, it would make sense to see them stay active at the deadline and continue to gut their roster which is filled with unrestricted free agents (UFA’s) that will draw a lot of interest from contending teams.

Garnet Hathaway Washington Capitals
With the departure of Garnet Hathaway and Dimitry Orlov, the Washington Capitals appear to be waving the white flag on the 2022-23 NHL Season. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Outside of trade talk, this was a pretty standard week on the ice for the teams at the bottom of the standing. The Chicago Blackhawks won five-straight games against teams near the top of the rankings, which was a surprise, but outside of that, most of the teams are winning one game and losing two, which means they aren’t making much progress in these standings.

20-11: It’s Time To Make Moves at the Deadline

20. Calgary Flames (Last Ranking: 16)

19. New York Islanders (Last Ranking: 17)

18. Pittsburgh Penguins (Last Ranking: 15)

17. Florida Panthers (Last Ranking: 18)

16. Winnipeg Jets (Last Ranking: 11)

15. Buffalo Sabres (Last Ranking: 21)

14. Detroit Red Wings (Last Ranking: 19)

13. Edmonton Oilers (Last Ranking: 13)

12. Seattle Kraken (Last Ranking: 12)

11. Minnesota Wild (Last Ranking: 14)

Well, it’s time to put up or shut up for teams at this part of the list. While there is a lot of commotion about deals that could go down, there’s no guarantee that these moves will happen. In both divisions, there are places in the postseason that are readily available, but that doesn’t mean that these teams have been able to take the steps needed to claim them.

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Most importantly, watch out for the Red Wings and Sabres in the East. Both teams have games in hand on their opponents, and if they are able to win them, they could take over the Wild Card positions. This would be a big win for two teams that have been struggling in recent years, especially Buffalo. Perhaps there is a big deal on the horizon one of these teams that are known for selling at the deadline in recent years?

10. Dallas Stars

Last Ranking: 10

If the Dallas Stars had lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in any fashion on Saturday, I would have knocked them out of the Top 10. Honestly, I probably still should have. The team is a bit of a mess right now, and I don’t believe in them very much to win the Central Division, let alone prove themselves to be a contender. For now, I’ll keep them at 10th and be mildly annoyed about it.

9. Los Angeles Kings

Last Ranking: 8

I’m still not certain who the L.A. Kings are. They are either a veteran-led team with a perfect mixture of playoff experience and youth to make them a contender, or they are a flawed roster that is benefiting from a weak division. Sure, L.A. might not always play the prettiest games, but they keep finding ways to gut out wins.

Kevin Fiala Los Angeles Kings
Kevin Fiala has been a perfect fit for the Los Angeles Kings, and there’s reason to believe that he will only keep getting better as time goes on. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This week will tell a lot about their goals for the season. A big acquisition or two might be a sign that management thinks they are ready to win now, whereas if they stay quiet they may believe they just aren’t there yet.

8. New York Rangers

Last Ranking: 3

Things were looking bad for the New York Rangers this week. Before they beat the Kings on Sunday, they were on a four-game losing streak, and the only news coming out about them involved a potential trade for Patrick Kane. However, with a solid win under their belt and the deadline in front of them, the Rangers have the potential to get back on track on the ice, and add a star player to their roster to further build out their already impressive lineup.

7. Colorado Avalanche

Last Ranking: 9

Outside of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Colorado Avalanche have been near unbeatable over their last 10 games. The team is rolling once again, with their star players returning to the ice to power this surge. Sure, they may not be leading the Central Division, but it feels like only a matter of time before they will claim that title from the Stars. Time will tell, of course, but as of now, I’m not betting against the Avalanche.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning

Last Ranking: 7

It’s easy to overlook what the Tampa Bay Lightning are doing this season, because I believe the league is a little bit bored with them. Yes, we know that the franchise is still great, and we also know that they will be facing the Toronto Maple Leafs in Round 1. However, did you know that the Bolts are experiencing the second-highest TV viewership totals in their history, despite viewership being down across the league? That’s pretty impressive and shows how engaged the local market is with the Lightning.

Nikita Kucherov Tampa Bay Lightning
It’s easy to overlook Nikita Kucherov in the discussions of top players in the NHL, but he is having another incredible season for the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

On the ice, Tampa Bay is playing as expected. Nikita Kucherov is still a wizard who is keeping pace with the top forwards in the league for scoring, and Andrei Vasilevskiy recorded his second shutout of the season this week.

5. Vegas Golden Knights

Last Ranking: 6

Somehow, despite always being pressed against the cap ceiling, the Vegas Golden Knights find a way to get better. This week, they added Ivan Barbashev as their deadline acquisition, which is a big get for the often-injured franchise. Barbashev isn’t a showstopper, but he is a forward that wins you a Stanley Cup with his tough play on the ice.

Related: Grading the Golden Knights’ Trade for Ivan Barbashev

As expected, the Golden Knights are all-in again this season, and I expect them to be the team to beat in the West if they can get healthy.

4. New Jersey Devils

Last Ranking: 5

Another week, another string of New Jersey Devils games that confused me. First, they lost to Montreal 5-2, then they won in Overtime to the Kings before absolutely shellacking the Flyers 7-0 in one of their best games of the season.

Erik Haula New Jersey Devils
When the New Jersey Devils are playing well, they are a scary team that can outscore the best teams in the NHL. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

To put it simply, I want to buy in on the Devils as a Stanley Cup contender, but I just don’t think they are there yet. Every season there is a great team that gets stifled once the playoffs start, and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Devils struggle to win this postseason. It will, however, be an incredible experience for the young team no matter what, which makes them even more terrifying for the future.

3. Toronto Maple Leafs

Last Ranking: 4

I don’t think there are any real problems to report about the Toronto Maple Leafs. The acquisition of Ryan O’Reilly has been a seamless transition, and Ilya Samsonov has found his game once again after illness clearly had him off his game. Overall, this was another great week for a team that is doing their best to keep hold of second place in the Atlantic Division.

2. Carolina Hurricanes

Last Ranking: 2

The Carolina Hurricanes are an absolute force, and they refuse to slow down. This week they dismantled the Senators 4-0 while continuing to prove that they are the team to beat in the Metro. Yes, they followed that with a loss to the lowly Ducks, but that happens sometimes on a back-to-back and it was their first loss in five games.

Rod Brind'Amour Carolina Hurricanes
With Rod Brind’Amour behind the bench, the Carolina Hurricanes are one of the best-coached franchises in the NHL. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

More importantly, we are still waiting to see what moves GM Don Waddell makes to improve his team at the deadline. However, given how talented they are right now, it’s possible that they just stand pat with this roster since it looks like they could win a Stanley Cup as is.

1. Boston Bruins

Last Ranking: 1

Well, the Boston Bruins made their annual big trade, and it happened a week before the deadline this time. Once it became clear that the Capitals were going to be selling, the Bruins wasted no time to land a top veteran defenseman on the market in Orlov and a big-bodied forward who fits the Boston mold perfectly in Hathaway.

For a team that already had everything, adding two more starting players for just a handful of future assets (albeit it was a big payment) is a big win. At just 31 years old, Orlov is a deadline rental that could be re-signed by the franchise this offseason if things go really well.

Dmitry Orlov Washington Capitals
The Boston Bruins wasted no time trading for Dmitry Orlov, who will add another veteran presence to the team for the 2023 Postseason. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

So, the rich got richer this week, and Boston has the makings of an all-time great team if this continues. Plus, we got a goalie goal this week, so big props to Linus Ullmark for making history in an unexpected way.

Expect Big Change Before the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline

Given how fast these deals are happening, I would expect the week leading up to the trade deadline to be an absolute barnburner. This may make deadline day a bit boring, but hey, it will give everyone a lot to discuss in the coming days. No matter what, it will be an incredible week to be a hockey fan as we watch these teams attempt to improve their roster for this season or the future.