Rich 10 NHL Rankings (Apr. 12-18, 2021)

T-minus three hours. 

This is no typo, and this is definitely not a drill. 

The 2021 Trade Deadline is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. EST on Monday. A flurry of moves have already been made, varying from complex multi-team swaps to standard depth transactions. 

Activity is likely to pick up, but until then, another Rich 10 NHL Power Ranking installment must be tackled. What teams moved up? What teams dropped? On deadline day, this is how the upper echelon of the NHL stacks out. 

At the edge of the crease: Edmonton Oilers (25-15-2, 52 points) 

Previous ranking: N/A 

Record over past week: 2-1-1

At times, Edmonton is a solely a two-trick pony. However, when those two tricks are named Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, you can still be successful. Edmonton has utilized their deadly party trick to claw their way back into this ranking. Should the team hope to mitigate the goaltending and defensive weaknesses, the likes of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (upper-body injury) will need to get healthy. Luckily for Edmonton, they might have caught the injury at just the right time – over the next 13 days, Edmonton is slated to play four total games (one against Vancouver and Winnipeg and two against Montreal). COVID-19 permitting, of course. 

10. Winnipeg Jets (25-13-3, 53 points)

Previous ranking: N/A

Record over past week: 3-0-0

A spotless record over the past week propels Winnipeg into this power ranking installment. Arguably, one of the team’s more complete wins came on Apr. 10 when they blanked the Montreal Canadiens, 5-0. One cannot talk about shutting down a sneaky offense without bringing up the reigning Vezina Trophy winner in Connor Hellebuyck, who maintains a sturdy 2.45 Goals Against Average (GAA) and .921 Save Percentage (Sv%). His shutout against Montreal was the 22nd in his career. With the performance, Hellebuyck continues to make his mark on the team. Hellebuyck is the only goaltender in franchise history (including the Atlanta Thrashers) to tally more than 20 shutouts before turning 28. 

9. Florida Panthers (26-12-4, 56 points) 

Previous ranking: 3

Record over past week: 0-3-0

Going winless this past week drops the Panthers to ninth in this ranking installment. The team allowed 12 goals over the stretch, which was tied for 16th. The Panthers also conceded 26.0 shots per game, which ranked fourth in the entire NHL. So, what actually did the Panthers in this past week? Ironically enough, it was their offense (or lack thereof), as their three goals scored ranked last in the entire league. However, Florida is making many a trade left and right – the team acquired defenseman Brandon Montour from Buffalo on Apr. 10 and signed Nikita Gusev to a one-year contract on Apr. 11. Both moves come after the Panthers traded with the Chicago Blackhawks for forward Lucas Wallmark and defenseman Lucas Carlsson on Apr. 8. None of these moves are blockbusters, but they all revolve back to the same theme — depth, depth and more depth with a hint of upside sprinkled on top. Joel Quenneville will take whatever he can get his hands on. 

8. Pittsburgh Penguins (27-13-2, 56 points) 

Previous ranking: 10

Record over past week: 3-1-0

Pittsburgh conceding eight goals against the New York Rangers on Apr. 6 was not the way the former wished to start the week off. The Penguins, however, were able to rebound and rattle off three-straight wins. One of Pittsburgh’s leaders in points this past week was defenseman Kris Letang, who compiled six total points (one goal, five assists). Pittsburgh’s formula for winning is quite simple – get production from your stars and hold up on the defensive side. The Steel City’s outlook only improves when their blue liners are offensively producing. 

7. Washington Capitals (27-11-4, 58 points) 

Previous ranking: 6

Record over past week: 2-2-0

Routing the Boston Bruins, 8-1 on Apr. 11 is definitely an impressive margin of victory, considering the fact the last time Washington scored more goals against them was Mar. 3, 2008 (they won, 10-2). Here was the blow-your-socks-off fact from the Sunday game, though – Alex Ovechkin did not tally a single goal during the contest. Instead, Lars Eller, Conor Sheary and T.J. Oshie all collected two goals in the victory. Oshie’s three-point performance puts him in unique company, as the 34-year-old skater is now one of only 20 Washington forwards to tally 290 points or more with the franchise. Once it is all said and done, Oshie will find himself in even more select company, I reckon.

6. New York Islanders (27-11-4, 58 points) 

Previous ranking: 4

Record over past week: 3-1-0

The Islanders sought out to reinforce their depth and stock up for the stretch, and that they most certainly did on Apr. 7, as they acquired Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils. Palmieri has already shown his worth on offense, as the 30-year-old forward back-handed in a power-play goal against the Rangers on Apr. 11. Both players will look to solidify all forward line combinations as the postseason creeps closer. This will only benefit a team still attempting to offset the loss of Anders Lee (knee). 

5. Vegas Golden Knights (27-11-2, 56 points)

Previous ranking: 8

Record over past week: 3-1-0

Another power ranking installment means there is yet another time to update hockey fans on where goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stands. With his 1-0 shutout win against the Arizona Coyotes on Apr. 11, the 36-year-old is now tied with Colorado’s Philipp Grubauer in shutouts this season (five). This does not even begin to explain the stretch this veteran netminder is on. With the win, Fleury is now tied with Ed Belfour for most career victories (fourth with 484). In regard to shutouts, Fleury is now tied with Patrick Roy for 15th (66). All is well for the “Flower,” wouldn’t you say? Father time? Fat chance. 

4. Tampa Bay Lightning (28-11-2, 58 points) 

Previous ranking: 2

Record over past week: 2-1-0

For a second, Tampa Bay looked mortal. Losing back-to-back games against Detroit and Columbus would definitely give off the vibe, but not to worry, Tampa Bay. After all, coming out victorious in a 6-4 slugfest against the Blue Jackets on Apr. 8, followed by a 3-0 shutout victory against Nashville on Apr. 10, definitely puts the Lightning back on the winning path. A win-now trade to bring in right-handed defenseman David Savard from the Blue Jackets only adds to this fact. Tampa Bay is stockpiling, and should they continue to find their stride, well, we all know what can happen. 

3. Carolina Hurricanes (27-9-4, 58 points) 

Previous ranking: 7

Record over past week: 2-0-1

Sweeping a pair against Florida was just what the doctor ordered for a Carolina squad looking to create separation between them and another surging playoff contender. Although three games played certainly will not show mythical point totals, Carolina had seven skaters tally more than one point over the stretch, while five skaters tallied more than one goal. The depth of this team from top to bottom is almost at an unmatched level. Almost, at least. Carolina will conclude their eight-game homestand with a match against Detroit on Apr. 12 and Nashville on Apr. 15 and 17. Then comes the big stretch: two road games apiece against Tampa Bay and Florida. One week at a time. 

2. Colorado Avalanche (28-9-4, 60 points) 

Previous ranking: 1

Record over past week: 3-1-0

You could probably flip a coin and put the Maple Leafs here should it land on the side you betted on. However, I am not sure if Colorado is 100% there yet. This might be bold, but this is also why they are still in the top two of this ranking installment. They are still winning. Successfully changing the line combinations and shuffling up the defensive pairings illustrates the diversity this team can go through and still win. Add in their goaltending acquisitions in Jonas Johansson (who tallied his first career shutout on Apr. 9 in only his fourth appearance with the team) and Devan Dubnyk (who was acquired from San Jose on Apr. 10), and their one potential weakness could very well transform into a strength. They might have barely missed out on retaining the top spot in this ranking, but make no mistake – Colorado is loaded

1. Toronto Maple Leafs (28-10-3, 59 points) 

Previous ranking: 5

Record over past week: 3-0-0

A six-game winning streak dating back to Mar. 31, coupled with a 10-game point streak dating back to Mar. 20, vaults Toronto back into the top spot in this power ranking installment. Where to start? Among all NHL goaltenders to start a minimum of 10 games, Jack Campbell is the only one to not lose a game. His 1.88 GAA and .934 Sv% also leads all goaltenders under the same criteria. Additionally, the team doubled down on a strength and reeled in David Rittich from the Calgary Flames on Sunday evening. On the offensive side of the puck, Auston Matthews scored six goals over the past week, tops among all NHL skaters. The 23-year-old’s grasp on the Rocket Richard Trophy is becoming tighter and tighter, as his 31 total goals lead the NHL. Oh, and they also traded for Nick Foligno on Apr. 11. I could go on and on about this team, but just walk away with this – this team is feeling dangerous, and the scariest part? They know it.

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