NHL Power Rankings: Carolina takes the top spot, plus first impressions of the new guy

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It’s been two weeks since the NHL trade deadline. Is that enough time to say whether a move was season-altering, irrelevant, smart or disastrous?

Probably not. If your team acquired a player on March 7, odds are he’s played six or seven games. That isn’t enough of a sample size to draw any grand conclusions.

It is enough, however, to warrant a progress report. Most teams, whether they arrived via trade or AHL call-up, have a new player (or two, or three) to work into the mix. And while two weeks isn’t a ton of time, there also isn’t a ton of time left in the regular season, either. It’s time to check-in with the new guys.

And if your team’s lineup hasn’t changed in any real way since the holidays, or whatever — maybe next year.

Last week: 2
Sean’s ranking: 1
Dom’s ranking: 1

Jake Guentzel

Sometimes the biggest fish turns out to be a dud. Sometimes he takes a little bit of time to acclimate to his surroundings. Not Power Rankings HQ’s favorite son Jake Guentzel, though, who has immediately stormed onto the scene to show that he’s much more than just Sidney Crosby’s sidekick. He’s got eight points in six games, 75 percent of the expected goals and has outscored opponents 6-0. Sheesh.

Guentzel has fit like a glove with the Hurricanes, which is no surprise given his style and savvy. He’s meshed particularly well with Seth Jarvis with some slick passing plays that make it look like the duo have played together for years, not weeks.

Last week: 3
Sean’s ranking: 2
Dom’s ranking: 2

Sean Walker

The early returns on Walker, added to give the Avs an offensive element on their second or third pair, have been solid. Colorado has outscored opponents 5-3 with him on the ice and adequately controlled the run of play, and his knack for joining the rush (or leading it, in this case) has paid off a few times.

He scored another one against Edmonton on March 16, posting a Game Score of 5.08. Not a bad precursor, given how the Western Conference playoff bracket could shake out.

Last week: 4
Sean’s ranking: 4
Dom’s ranking: 4

Chris Tanev

The reason the Stars acquired Tanev was clear — they needed a right-shot defenseman to play behind Miro Heiskanen and help shoulder at least some of the load, especially with the playoffs looming. Seven games in, that’s exactly what Dallas has gotten; Tanev, along with Jani Hakanpää, has started tons of his shifts in the defensive zone and still succeeded, posting positive goal-share numbers and the lowest expected goals/against per 60 on the team.

4. Edmonton Oilers, 42-21-3

Last week: 5
Sean’s ranking: 5
Dom’s ranking: 3

Adam Henrique

The Oilers put up a seven-spot on Thursday night against the Sabres — surely you’d find Henrique’s name somewhere on the scoresheet, right? Nope. Edmonton’s new third-line center has just two points in seven games as an Oilers, but that’s fine if he’s doing his part territorially. Unfortunately, he’s not doing that either with just 31 percent of the expected goals coming into Thursday’s game. He did improve in that regard against Buffalo, but it’s still difficult to say he’s made a tangible impact. Considering the cost to acquire him and the stakes this season carries, he’s going to have to figure things out sooner rather than later.

Last week: 1
Sean’s ranking: 3
Dom’s ranking: 6

Vladimir Tarasenko

Tarasenko put on a show in his second game as a Panther with two goals and an assist on the top line. Aside from that, though, he’s been mostly invisible, with zero points in the other five games and only five shots on net. His underlying numbers are also way below average and that’s while predominantly playing with Aleksander Barkov and Sam Reinhart. It’s hard to imagine he can stick in a top-line role, given the way he’s played.

Last week: 7
Sean’s ranking: 6
Dom’s ranking: 5

Alex Wennberg 

Few forwards faced tougher competition than Wennberg did in Seattle — he was the Kraken’s go-to matchup guy. Wennberg hasn’t been tasked to do the same thing with the Rangers and yet his numbers got worse to the tune of a 38 percent expected goals rate.

That’s not good, but it’s possible Wennberg just needs some time to adjust. He was brilliant against the Bruins. More of that and the Rangers will have a capable checking-line center that can help take them a long way this postseason.

7. Boston Bruins, 41-15-15

Last week: 6
Sean’s ranking: 7
Dom’s ranking: 7

Andrew Peeke

By far one of the oddest deadline moves was Boston’s acquisition of Peeke, a player who struggled so much that he couldn’t crack Columbus’ starting six. Columbus! It’s not like Boston was short on NHL-calibre defenders either.

Peeke has suited up for four games and while his numbers look solid in a sheltered role, it’s important to mind Boston’s quality of opponents in those games. The Bruins faced Montreal, Philadelphia, and Ottawa in Peeke’s first three games — hardly worldbeaters by any means. Peeke’s first real test against a contender came on Thursday against the Rangers and he didn’t have a particularly promising effort with just 14 percent of the expected goals. That’s not ideal.

Last week: 8
Sean’s ranking: 8
Dom’s ranking: 9

Elias Lindholm

The Canucks went out and got their guy early and that means Elias Lindholm has 21 games worth of first impressions. That’s a decent-sized sample to work with, one that can only reasonably point in one direction: yikes.

On paper, Lindholm made a lot of sense on this team and his actual first impression — a two-goal game in his debut — seemed to confirm that. Since then, Lindholm has just six points in 20 games and two points in his last 13. That might be fine if Lindholm was driving play, but he’s not doing that either. He has a paltry 47 percent expected goals rate with the Canucks, a mark that’s significantly below team average. When he jumps on the ice it’s noticeable in a bad way. Lindholm’s average Game Score since the deal is just 0.27, which ranks 17th on the Canucks.

Remember when this guy wanted $9 million per year? He might not get half of that at this rate.

Last week: 12
Sean’s ranking: 10
Dom’s ranking: 8

Jason Zucker

It was nice to see the Preds link up with Zucker. They needed some middle-six pop, especially after their surprising midseason uptick put them in a wild-card spot, and he deserved better than playing out the string in Arizona. The fit thus far has been good; he’s driving play and has scored twice in six games. He wasn’t at his best Thursday night against the Panthers, but that’s fine. Nashville got a low-risk, low-cost, low-maintenance winger with a diverse skill set.

Last week: 10
Sean’s ranking: 9
Dom’s ranking: 10

Tyler Toffoli

The Jets are great at defending and have one of the best goalies in the world. That’s why they are where they are in the standings. Offense is a different story though, as the team ranks 17th in goals-per-game — third-worst among likely playoff teams. That’s exactly why Winnipeg needed Tyler Toffoli and so far he has delivered. In six games he has four goals and six points with the Jets outscoring teams 7-1 at five-on-five with him on the ice. Not bad.

Last week: 11
Sean’s ranking: 11
Dom’s ranking: 11

Joel Edmundson

Every time Edmundson steps on this ice he’s still 6’5” and 220 pounds. He’s also probably getting outshot in the process, but he’s still a massive guy while that happens! Edmundson has come completely as advertised.

All of Edmundson’s five-on-five marks are well below team average and under 50 percent so far which isn’t great. On the penalty kill his 16.4 goals against per 60 is the highest of Toronto’s regular penalty-killing defenseman. Also not great.

But again — huge guy.

Last week: 9
Sean’s ranking: 12
Dom’s ranking: 12

Noah Hanifin

If Thursday’s game against the Kraken was any indication, Noah Hanifin can be an absolute monster for Vegas. The Golden Knights absolutely dominated in his minutes posting 91 percent of the expected goals. They gave Seattle nothing all night and practically lived in the Kraken zone for long stretches.

That’s what Hanifin is capable of and he can do all that in a tough minute, top pairing role. That’s not easy to find and it’s no shock that Vegas pounced all over the best defenseman available at the deadline. So far, Hanifin has shown exactly why he was worth the high cost of acquisition. He’s been worth the hype.

Last week: 14
Sean’s ranking: 13
Dom’s ranking: 13

Anthony Duclair

After the slow bleed that comes with multiple championships, Tampa Bay’s depth was in a rough spot. After the top guys, the Lightning depth chart looked really grim, which partly explains why they’re a wild card team this season. Duclair was exactly what this team needed and the move back to a contender is exactly what he needed. It’s been a perfect fit for both sides, as Duclair has looked a lot closer to the guy he was in his prime with the Panthers. In five games he’s scored four goals and six points while holding his own at five-on-five. Not bad for a third-round pick. At this rate, he’d be worth the Tanner Jeannot haul.

Last week: 13
Sean’s ranking: 14
Dom’s ranking: 14

Alex Turcotte

Turcotte, the fifth pick in 2019, had played in just 12 NHL games before the Kings recalled him on Jan. 27. In the 20 games since, he’s been a useful fourth-liner in some respects (1.97 expected goals against per 60, second-best on the team) while producing barely any points (two in his second game, two since). It’s worth noting that he’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

15. Philadelphia Flyers, 35-26-9

Last week: 16
Sean’s ranking: 15
Dom’s ranking: 15

Erik Johnson

Adding Johnson was a nice enough thought by GM Daniel Briere; he’d just sent out Walker, a major part of the Flyers’ success this season, and created a hole in the lineup of a team competing for a playoff spot. The locker room deserved something. Johnson’s actual performance has been rough; the Flyers have been outscored 5-0 with him on the ice at five-on-five and controlled an abysmal 34 percent of the expected goals. In a 4-3 win OT over Toronto on Tuesday, though, we saw a silver lining.

Last week: 19
Sean’s ranking: 17
Dom’s ranking: 17

Ivan Miroshnichenko

In eight games since his call-up, the 2022 first-rounder has four points in eight games, including his first two NHL goals, and posted six positive Game Scores. He’s now played 12 NHL games total in 2022-23, meaning that the Caps have burned the first year of his entry-level deal. It’s tough to imagine that being the case if they weren’t pleased.

Last week: 17
Sean’s ranking: 16
Dom’s ranking: 18

Marat Khusnutdinov

Khusnutdinov, a 21-year-old center who’d played well in the KHL, hasn’t looked out of place in his first four NHL games. He’s winning faceoffs at a 57-percent clip, too, which has been a borderline impossible task for the Wild. And look, he might be funny!

Last week: 20
Sean’s ranking: 19
Dom’s ranking: 16

Simon Edvinsson

It’s probably still too early to say just what kind of defenseman Edvinsson will be, but the No. 6 pick in 2021 has shown some promising signs. Detroit called him up on March 19 for his second NHL stint of the season — he’d been great for AHL Grand Rapids — and within a couple days, he was doing stuff like this.

Last week: 22
Sean’s ranking: 20
Dom’s ranking: 19

Zack Bolduc

Bolduc, the 17th pick in 2021, scored his first NHL goal in his second game. In the 13 since, there hasn’t been much to speak of; his five-on-five numbers are below the Blues’ averages, and he’s got just three points overall. He moved up to the first power-play unit earlier this week; maybe that’ll help him finish strong.

Last week: 15
Sean’s ranking: 18
Dom’s ranking: 21

Patrick Roy

Shayna’s got the goods on Roy covered here, so we don’t have to go too much deeper into the job he’s done. Twelve days ago, after the team won their sixth straight game to storm back into the playoffs, that job seemed to be a great one. After losing six straight since — five by three or more goals — it may be time for revisions. The Islanders are who we thought they were; no coach was going to save that.

Last week: 23
Sean’s ranking: 22
Dom’s ranking: 20

Jake Allen

Through four games with the Devils, Allen has a .945 save percentage and has saved 5.3 goals above expected. Just imagine if the Devils got exactly one competent goalie before their playoff odds dropped below five percent. What a concept that would’ve been.

It’s probably too little, too late for the Devils. But with the way things are unfolding in the Metro division, their path to a playoff spot isn’t impossible. Allen gives them a shot.

Last week: 24
Sean’s ranking: 23
Dom’s ranking: 22

Daniil Miromanov

In six games since the Flames acquired him as part of the Noah Hanifin trade, Miromanov has scored twice (on 17 shots!) and averaged more than 20 minutes a game on Calgary’s second pair, playing mainly with Mackenzie Weegar. With him on the ice, the Flames have controlled about 55 percent of actual and expected goals. Not bad at all, thus far.

23. Buffalo Sabres, 34-32-5

Last week: 18
Sean’s ranking: 21
Dom’s ranking: 24

Bowen Byram

In eight games with the Sabres, Byram has three goals and six points. That’s good!

He also has just 41 percent of the expected goals. That’s bad!

Byram feels like he was born to be a Sabre, given his chaotic stat line. He gets points, but it comes at a cost, creating a lot of goals at both ends of the ice. He was on for five against the Oilers, two for, three against. He would’ve fit right in with last year’s team.

The shaky defensive game is probably a product of playing top pair minutes with Rasmus Dahlin, a role that may take some getting used to for a guy who was always behind Cale Makar on the depth chart. The offensive skill is clearly there, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some clean-up needed in Byram’s game.

Last week: 25
Sean’s ranking: 25
Dom’s ranking: 23

Michael Bunting

He’s not going to help the Penguins in a meaningful way this season, but Bunting has, to some degree, been as advertised; he’s a legit top-nine player who can mesh well with elite talents, and he’s got a knack for scoring greasy goals. That’s been in short supply for Pittsburgh and will help with whatever comes next for them. A few days ago, he also got what might be the highest compliment Mike Sullivan is capable of paying.

25. Seattle Kraken, 28-26-12

Last week: 21
Sean’s ranking: 24
Dom’s ranking: 25


That pick package they got from the Rangers for Wennberg isn’t helping anytime soon. The Kraken’s wheels have fallen off a bit since the deadline, by the way; heading into Thursday night’s game against Vegas, they’d lost five straight, been outscored 20-8 and put up an expected goals share of about 40 percent.

26. Montreal Canadiens, 25-32-12

Last week: 27
Sean’s ranking: 27
Dom’s ranking: 26

Jacob Perreault

The 21-year-old winger, acquired from Anaheim for Jan Mysak in a minor-league deal, has no goals in four games for the Laval Rocket. His sister Liliane, though, signed with PWHL Montreal earlier this week. A brother-sister combo playing pro hockey in the same city — pretty cool.

27. Ottawa Senators, 27-32-4

Last week: 26
Sean’s ranking: 26
Dom’s ranking: 28

Zack Ostapchuk

Ottawa’s 39th pick in 2021 made his debut on March 12 though it’s hard to say Zack Ostapchuk’s first taste of NHL action has been all that notable. He’s only getting 10 minutes a night and hasn’t made much of a mark on the scoresheet with zero points and five shots in six games. He’s also getting caved in at even strength on a nightly basis. He just doesn’t quite look NHL-ready yet.

Last week: 28
Sean’s ranking: 28
Dom’s ranking: 27


Rentals out, draft picks in. Nothing to see here. We do, however, know what the Coyotes hope their next arena looks like — all they have to do is win a June public auction for the parcel, which has been appraised at $68.5 million. Easy peasy.

29. Columbus Blue Jackets, 23-34-12

Last week: 29
Sean’s ranking: 29
Dom’s ranking: 29

Alex Nylander

It’s not often that a rebuilding team gets one of the most impactful players at the deadline, but the Blue Jackets found a way. They struck gold with Nylander, who has legitimately been one of the team’s best players over the last month. His 1.18 Game Score leads the Blue Jackets (and the Penguins!) during the time frame thanks to eight goals and 11 points in 13 games, plus some unreal five-on-five impacts.

Nylander’s talent has always been there, he just hasn’t clicked anywhere or with anyone. That’s changed with the Blue Jackets and the 26-year-old who was picked eighth in 2016 is finally looking like the guy he was drafted to be. Maybe it’s just a flash-in-the-pan hot streak. For Nylander’s and Columbus’ sake, let’s hope it’s more than that — they both need this.

Last week: 30
Sean’s ranking: 30
Dom’s ranking: 30

Owen Zellweger

We mentioned Zellweger last week and noted that the point production we’d seen from the young defenseman in the AHL (37 points in 44 games) hadn’t translated to his first handful of NHL games. Nothing has changed on that front, but he’s fun to watch. The Ducks will need him to put it together at some point.

Last week: 31
Sean’s ranking: 31
Dom’s ranking: 31

Lukas Reichel

Chicago got a fifth-rounder for Anthony Beauvillier. Other than that, the players they were dangling didn’t interest the rest of the league. Shocking! It’s worth noting, though, that Reichel is back with the Blackhawks after seven points in nine games with AHL Rockford. Before his demotion, he had 10 points in 50 games, an expected goals share of 35, and an actual goals share of about 24, so … things could probably be going better.

Last week: 32
Sean’s ranking: 32
Dom’s ranking: 32

David Edstrom

The main piece of the Tomas Hertl trade, in his two ensuing games with Frölunda of the Swedish Hockey League, has put up a goal and an assist. He’s big (6-foot-3) and only turned 19 years old in February. There might not be first-line upside with him, but he projects to be a solid NHL player — and maybe more importantly, he’s unlikely to hamper San Jose’s tanking efforts over the next couple of years.

(Top photo of Jake Guentzel: Josh Lavallee / NHLI via Getty Images)

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