Posted: Tuesday February 28, 2012 2:33PM ; Updated: Tuesday February 28, 2012 5:10PM
Adrian Dater
Adrian Dater>INSIDE THE NHL

Power Rankings deadline shuffle

Story Highlights

The defending Western Conference champs got better on a slow deadline day

Phoenix rises into the top 10 on the wings of Radim Vrbata's career season

You have to love Leafs GM Brian Burke for his consistently confusing comments

Now that we've all had a chance to catch our breath after that whirlwind trade deadline day...Wow, was that exciting or what? Who knew we'd learn so much about Keith Aulie or Brian Lee? All those hours to fill on TV were ably filled by the talking heads, but unfortunately not much talk centered around, you know, trades. Just too many teams thought they were buyers. Too much demand and not enough supply, and you've got one big case of inflation, and so it was on Monday.

My favorite part of the day, by far: the B-roll on TSN of Brian Burke and Dave Nonis getting into an SUV and heading to the Maple Leafs' offices, with Nonis' shirt untucked. If only the cameras could have caught them going into the drive-through for a double-double and Timbits at Tim Hortons -- now that would have been great TV.

Anyway, we're back to focusing on the games and the standings again, so here are our post-trade-deadline Power Rankings. Say hello to your new No. 1 team.

A DISCLAIMER (of sorts): These rankings are based not just on each team's record, but an empirically tested formula that includes a) realistic near-term future expectations; b) consensus talent level and payroll considerations and; c) whatever the Magic 8-Ball I've had since I was seven years old tells me will happen. One more thing: Rest assured that I don't have it in for your team. OK, so I once hated the Philadelphia Flyers with a passion bordering on the psychotic, but that was 30-something years ago and Dave Schultz has long since retired. I welcome your emails to the link attached to my name above, and I always respond -- even to the ones that start with "Dear Idiot."

All stats and records through games of Monday, Feb. 27

NHL Power Rankings
1Vancouver Canucks
Last Week: 2
At first, I was shocked like everyone else when they dealt Cody Hodgson to Buffalo on Monday. Then the more I looked at Zack Kassian, the easier it was to be swayed into thinking it was the right kind of deal for GM Mike Gillis. Fact is, the Canucks still lacked some size and toughness up front. Kassian gives them plenty, plus some skill. It sure is risky giving away a player of Hodgson's potential, but Kassian is the kind of guy who could put this already fine team over the top. Picking up Sami Pahlsson was a good little move, too. The defending Western Conference champs are a better team than they were last Sunday. Last week: 2-1-1
 
2Detroit Red Wings
Last Week: 1
Is the addition of only Kyle Quincey near the deadline (for a first-round pick) going to be enough for the playoff run? Good question. The Quincey era didn't get off to a great start, with some ill-advised comments about his former Avalanche team, then an 0-1-1 start in the Wings' lineup. It was somewhat surprising that GM Ken Holland didn't do more at the deadline. Their under-.500 road record is a bit of a concern, but not all that much. Last week: 0-2-1
 
3St. Louis Blues
Last Week: 4
St. Louis Blues (39-17-7)
GM Doug Armstrong stood pat at the deadline, which was quite a statement of faith in his team. Or he couldn't pull off a deal he really wanted. Either way, the Blues are well on their way to the playoffs with a big, tough, fast, young team. They got a nice win in Calgary Monday night against an outfit that was supposed to be the more desperate team. Last week: 3-1-0
 
4Nashville Predators
Last Week: 5
At the very least, they have cornered the market on players named Kostitsyn who have played in Montreal. On Monday, GM David Poile added Sergei's brother, Andrei, a very skilled forward who gives Nashville what it probably needed more of for the playoff push. Paul Gaustad was also added from Buffalo. This team is really going for it. A word of caution though: the Preds also really went for it in 2007 when they added Peter Forsberg at the deadline -- and they got bounced in the first round. This team is better than that one, though. Last week: 3-0-1
 
5New York Rangers
Last Week: 3
The Blueshirts didn't do much of anything at the deadline, despite reports of them making a big offer for Rick Nash. Too bad, because this team doesn't look like it will have enough offense for a true Cup run. Some cracks are beginning to show because of the goal-scoring problem. Yet, they'll probably still win the East. History shows conference titles don't often matter much when it comes to Cups, though. One more thing: the fact that the Rangers thought they needed a guy like Nash and made an offer sends a message to the team: you guys aren't enough. Last week: 3-1-1
 
6Boston Bruins
Last Week: 6
Boston Bruins (37-20-3)
The defending Cup champs seem like they're getting interested again. It's so tough for a championship team to care about every one of its 82 regular-season games the following year, and the Bs have proved they are susceptible to lapses. But it's not going to be easy beating these guys from here on in. Brian Rolston may be a better pickup than people think if he has a little left in his tank for a playoff run. Last week: 2-0-1
 
7Phoenix Coyotes
Last Week: 11
Phoenix Coyotes (32-21-9)
They are better survivors than Richard Hatch (look it up). They've had nothing but chaos off the ice for about 10 years now, but entering the week they were not only looking good to get a new ownership group approved, they were the winners of five straight and leading the Pacific Division. Radim Vrbata has 30 goals -- a great story, which will be detailed later this week on this very site. Last week: 3-0-0
 
8Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Week: 9
Evgeni Malkin had another tremendous week, and appears to be the favorite at this point to win the Hart Trophy. Some of his goals are just jaw-dropping, and he has definitely proved that he doesn't need other great players around him (e.g. Sidney Crosby, who is practicing again with the team) to put up great numbers. Geno's a winner, and the Penguins are going to be tough to play down the stretch. Last week: 3-0-0
 
9Philadelphia Flyers
Last Week: 10
A miracle finish got them a big two points on Saturday night in Calgary. But they have been taking one step forward, one step back for quite a while. In their previous game, they were shut out by Edmonton, which is practically impossible. And the Flyers added nothing at the deadline -- no thanks to being so cap-strung after giving underachieving goalie Ilya Bryzgalov that huge deal over the summer. Last week: 2-1-0
 
10New Jersey Devils
Last Week: 7
They didn't do much at the deadline, but don't overlook their growing financial problems. Reports of the NHL loaning the Devils money to keep operations afloat are not great news about a team with Jersey's record of success in the market it plays in. Good thing Martin Brodeur, 39, is playing fine hockey for a man of any age, and the Devils are dangerous up front. Are they nearly as good as the league's top four teams, though? No. But in a few more weeks, the Devils will only need to be good enough in four out of every seven games. Last week: 1-3-0
 
11Chicago Blackhawks
Last Week: 8
Just when you were ready to buy back in, the Hawks go and lose three straight. But an asterisk in the form of Jonathan Toews' absence must be added. He's suspected of having a concussion, though the Hawks are calling it only the dreaded "upper-body" injury. Defense and goaltending remain potential problems, though adding Johnny Oduya on Monday wasn't a bad move by GM Stan Bowman. Last week: 1-3-0
 
12San Jose Sharks
Last Week: 12
San Jose Sharks (32-22-7)
They need to get going again to firmly establish themselves firmly in the West's top eight. After a long and mostly dismal road trip, they return home where they usually play very well. And they got two new forwards from Colorado in Daniel Winnik and TJ Galiardi. The Sharks were said to be interested in Rick Nash, but GM Doug Wilson had to settle for lower-tier additions. Last week: 1-3-0
 
13Colorado Avalanche
Last Week: 20
They're starting to look really good, with Gabriel Landeskog now the favorite among many hockey people to be the Calder Trophy-winner. He plays 200 feet of the ice, as his coach Joe Sacco is fond of saying. And how about the addition of Steve Downie? He's got seven points in his first five games with Colorado, and the Avs got a bit grittier with the addition of Jamie McGinn on Monday. Last week: 4-0-0
 
14Dallas Stars
Last Week: 22
Dallas Stars (33-26-4)
It was a tad hilarious that Steve Ott was a focal point of "TRADECENTRE" for a good portion of Monday. But it was still a good non-trade by the Stars keeping this hugely annoying forward for the playoff run. It's up to Kari Lehtonen whether these guys make the playoffs, though. Right now, he's playing about as well as any netminder in the league. Last week: 4-0-0
 
15Ottawa Senators
Last Week: 15
Ottawa Senators (33-23-8)
It's no laughing matter what happened to goalie Craig Anderson. He severely cut his right hand with a kitchen knife and could miss another 7-8 weeks, according to the Ottawa Sun. But the Sens look to have just enough of a cushion in the standings to survive the final six weeks and make the playoffs. Jason Spezza will get Hart Trophy consideration. Last week: 2-1-0
 
16Florida Panthers
Last Week: 17
Florida Panthers (29-20-12)
Aside from the head-scratching decision to take on Wojtek Wolski's bloated $3.8 million cap-hit contract, it was a good week for the Panthers on the ice. But still, they don't really inspire confidence that they'll be around for long this spring. Last week: 2-0-1
 
17Winnipeg Jets
Last Week: 16
Winnipeg Jets (30-27-8)
They had a hiccup at home against the Oilers on Monday, and it could prove costly down the road in their chase for the SouthLEAST crown. OK, cheap shot. Really, the Jets have been playing very well lately and their fans are just loving it. But you can't lose at home to Edmonton at this time of year. Last week: 1-1-2
 
18Anaheim Ducks
Last Week: 13
Anaheim Ducks (27-26-10)
Monday's third-period meltdown at Colorado won't help their playoff chances, but they've still come a long way in a short time. Ryan Getzlaf needs to start scoring some goals, though. He's got only eight this season. Last week: 2-2-0
 
19Washington Capitals
Last Week: 21
You know what? They're still a mess, but in this division it might not matter. I think they're still going to win the Southeast. They have Ovechkin, and the Panthers and Jets just don't look like teams that know how to close a deal yet. That doesn't mean the Caps are going any further than one round if they do get in. Last week: 2-1-0
 
20Los Angeles Kings
Last Week: 18
Well, Dustin Brown certainly addressed those trade rumors with a sensational game and hat trick against Chicago on Saturday. Then the Kings went into Nashville and lost a tough one. Jeff Carter is now part of the mix, but he put up nothing but zeroes offensively in his first two games. Something just hasn't been right with this team all season, but the Kings still have a chance down the stretch where, if they play reasonably well, they can get into the playoffs. Last week: 1-2-1
 
21Calgary Flames
Last Week: 14
Calgary Flames (28-24-11)
Flames GM Jay Feaster is caught in no-man's land: his team isn't bad enough to blow up and start a rebuild, but it's not good enough to have any realistic chance at the Cup. Hence, he couldn't really do much of anything on deadline day. Later that night, the Flames went out and looked flat in a 3-1 home loss to St. Louis. It seems like these guys are primed for a slow fade. Last week: 0-2-2
 
22Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Week: 19
You had to love Brian Burke on Monday. He accepts an invitation to come on TSN to talk about the trade deadline, then proceeds to tell host James Duthie that his first question about what the Leafs were hoping to do was "none of your business." Burke overvalued his own goalies, then said the Leafs might be in the market to get a new one. Then he said he believed in the group he had, and questions about his goaltending were dumb. Burke is nothing if consistent. Last week: 0-2-1
 
23Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Week: 24
They aren't out of the playoff picture just yet (six points from a berth, entering Tuesday). Steven Stamkos is the big reason, thanks to his torrid scoring. Yet, GM Steve Yzerman stockpiled some first-and second-round picks, and added veteran castoff Mike Commodore via trades. If Stevie Y believes this team has a shot, he's not showing it. Last week: 2-2-0
 
24Minnesota Wild
Last Week: 23
Minnesota Wild (28-25-9)
Tom Gilbert from Edmonton was the big deadline acquisition by GM Chuck Fletcher. Excuse us if we're underwhelmed. Gilbert is billed as an offensive defenseman, but his stats? Three goals in 47 games. And it cost Minny steady D-man Nick Schultz to get him. Last week: 2-1-0
 
25Buffalo Sabres
Last Week: 27
Buffalo Sabres (27-27-8)
Right when the trade deadline was officially about to be declared as ultimately exciting as Geraldo Rivera opening Al Capone's vault, the Sabres got Cody Hodgson for Zack Kassian and gave the day a good finishing kick. Hodgson will thrive in Buffalo before long, though it's probably too late for the Sabres to get into the playoffs. Last week: 2-0-1
 
26Carolina Hurricanes
Last Week: 25
They're having the classic too-little-too-late finish to a season: now that all the pressure is off, they're playing decent hockey again. Congrats to 'Canes radio man Chuck Kaiton for broadcasting his 2,900th career game with the franchise last week. Going back to the days of the Whale in Hartford, Kaiton's work has always been a treat. Last week: 0-0-2
 
27New York Islanders
Last Week: 26
They just can't seem to string a bunch of wins together to really get into the playoff hunt. They beat the Rangers last week, but turned around and got smoked by the Senators and were 4-6-0 in their last 10 entering Tuesday's game against the Caps. Maybe next year ? or the year after ? or the year after that. Last week: 1-2-0
 
28Edmonton Oilers
Last Week: 29
Edmonton Oilers (25-31-6)
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins returned to the lineup and helped the Oil get a nice road win at Winnipeg on Monday night. They also shut out the Flyers at home. But there will be no playoff game in Edmonton this spring. Maybe next year. Last week: 3-1-0
 
29Montreal Canadiens
Last Week: 28
After a brief flurry of good times, the bad times are back. The Habs' current four-game losing streak has effectively ended their season. There were rumors that GM Pierre Gauthier might be shown the door, but "The Ghost" is still haunting Habs fans with his moves. Last week: 0-3-0
 
30Columbus Blue Jackets
Last Week: 30
Jeff Carter escaped, but poor Rick Nash still has to finish out this dreary season in Columbus. Nice of GM Scott Howson to reveal that it was Nash who first went to the team and asked out. That should endear the captain to the home fans the rest of the way. Last week: 1-2-0

 
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