With the NHL trade deadline approaching, it is coming up on the point of the NHL season where teams begin to designate whether they are in the race or out of it.
General managers around the league will determine if their teams are buyers or sellers by the April 12th deadline, and as of right now there are plenty of intriguing trade chips amongst the league’s 31 teams that could be of value for contenders and teams on the bubble.
In the north division, the Leafs and Oilers split a pair of overtime decisions in Edmonton during the week, as Toronto goalie Jack Campbell has continued to dominate the crease, we slowly begin to wonder about the job security of Frederik Andersen in TO.
Sticking to the north, the Montreal Canadiens made their return off an eight-day COVID stoppage in their schedule, taking down the Oilers and Sens by a combined score of 8-1, before dropping the second of a back-to-back with Ottawa.
North Division clubs experiencing increase in health and safety protocol issues https://t.co/BMqfqbYp1Y
— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) April 3, 2021
As for the hometown Vancouver Canucks, there is nothing we can do besides wait and be supportive of the team at this moment as they have fallen upon difficult times. Over half the players and staff of the Canucks have tested positive for COViD-19 over the past 5 days, and there is no true timetable for when the team will be able to return.
Looking at the current risers around the NHL, the Nashville Predators have seemed to find a second life in their short campaign, as they are sitting in the fourth and final playoff spot in the central division as of today.
People were quick to write off the Preds in March, but powered by the scoring of rookie Eeli Tolvanen and Roman Josi, and the outstanding goaltending of Jusse Saros, Nashville looks like a team that is not ready to rebuild in any way.
Eeli Tolvanen brought the heat and then some! pic.twitter.com/Nsyn3MOjqI
— NHL (@NHL) April 3, 2021
Also, keep an eye out for the San Jose Sharks. They are currently only one point behind Arizona for the final playoff spot in the West, and as another team that many wrote off as a rebuilder, there is nothing more they want than to reach the postseason with the roster of players they assembled to b a Stanley cup caliber team.
NHL Top 10 Rankings – Week 11:
1. Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 1)
Colorado proved this week that they can not only outscore teams with quick goals and lots of them, but they can also grind you out and make your life hard defensively.
The Avs kicked off their week by throttling the Coyotes 9-3, then faced off against the Blues in a back-to-back set and won two, low-scoring hockey games, one of which had their third-string goaltender between the pipes.
Expect this team to really hit their stride in the coming weeks as they prepare for the playoffs and hopefully, get healthier. The only real competition to them in this division is the Golden Knights, and they are currently not in great form.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (Last Week: 2)
I am just going to completely ignore what happened on Sunday to write this up, because after Tampa got lit up by the lowly Red Wings on home-ice, 5-1, I think it’s safe to say they have a backup goaltending problem.
Other than that, the Bolts have looked steady. A team that has played a whole lot of hockey over the last 9 months is really just going through a ‘bored-phase’ and that would most likely be why they aren’t completely dominating every night.
They will want to ramp up the intensity son though, with Florida and Carolina really threatening to take home-ice away from them in the postseason.
3. Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 4)
One of the more entertaining teams to watch is the Hurricanes and their run and gun style of play that is really built for the regular season. Players like Sebastian Aho and youngster Martin Nécas have made this Carolina team one that can score with the best in the league.
We found the alternate audio feed on last night's NASCAR NECAS video 🔊 pic.twitter.com/eo1hYW84ma
— Bally Sports: Canes (@CanesOnBally) March 28, 2021
For them, success will be determined in the playoffs where the games get tighter and there isn’t much of a need for fast-paced, high-risk scoring.
4. Vegas Golden Knights (Last Week: 3)
The Knights are in a slump right now due to their inability to capitalize on scoring chances. Similar to what we saw in the bubble with Thatcher Demko shutting them out in back-to-back games, the VGK seems to be cursed when it comes to finishing opportunities.
Once they get back to scoring at the rate they’re used to, the Knights will be pressing Colorado for the top spot in the west and I completely expect them to perhaps make a splash in the trade market.
5. New York Islanders (Last Week: 6)
The Isles are living life without their captain Anders Lee and this week they began to adjust to what works without that massive piece of their lineup.
This might be the most beautiful @Enterprise hat trick you'll ever see.
— NHL (@NHL) April 2, 2021
British Columbia product Mat Barzal lit it up scoring a hattrick against fellow divisional powerhouse Washington and followed it up by scoring the shootout winner the following night in a win over Philly.
6. Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Week: 7)
The Leafs make a two-spot jump with the high-quality goaltending they have found in the dirt with Jack Campbell. Campbell was acquired at last year’s trade deadline for some stability in the backup spot but has since found himself overtaking the starter’s job for the best hockey team in Canada.
7. Florida Panthers (Last Week: Unranked)
Florida is back where they belong, in the rankings. Although it may be hard to believe that this team can make any noise come playoff time, you can’t deny how well they have been playing to this point.
Sitting at number one in the NHL overall standings, the Panthers are playing like those classic Joe Quenneville Blackhawks teams that found so much success in the playoffs. Without their captain Aaron Ekblad, Mackenzie Weegar has taken a huge step in his new expanded role.
8. Washington Capitals (Last Week: 5)
Dropping three spots in my week 11 rankings, the Caps are still on cruise control to the postseason and remain steady in how they play. Despite a blowout loss at the hands of NYI, the Caps bounced back. by taking two straight against the Devils on the road and remaining perfect against New Jersey all year.
An Easter treat pic.twitter.com/mEOueKpXjz
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 4, 2021
9. Pittsburgh Penguins (Last Week: 8)
The Pens are still chugging along without Geno Malkin, and not only are they staying above water but they are discovering the potential this experienced roster still has.
Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby are playing great on the top line and powerplay, as well as depth players like Zach Aston-Reese and Jared McCann also stepping up.
10. Boston Bruins (Last Week: 10)
Boston is the one team in the league where they don’t usually lose to the same team twice unless it’s the Islanders.
The Bruins splits two-game sets with the Devils and Pens this week, showing their resiliency and coming back from deficits in both matches.
Evan Power, Evolution 107.9