Monday, February 17, 2020

Weekend power rankings: Which teams are facing the most pressure ahead of the trade deadline?

We’re down to one week before the trade deadline, and every team is feeling the heat. Whether it’s buying or selling, a big move or minor tinkering, an investment for down the road or an all-in move for right now, everyone is under pressure to do something.

But not all pressure is created equal. Therefore, before we get to this week’s power rankings, let’s break out a different sort of list by ranking the dozen teams facing the most pressure to make something happen this week. It’s a tough list to narrow down.

12. Devils: Selling is generally a more straightforward path than buying, but Tom Fitzgerald is an interim GM auditioning for the big job, either in New Jersey or elsewhere. That adds an interesting dynamic to a season that’s already had plenty of twists and turns. Yesterday’s deals are getting good reviews, so that’s a solid start. Is there room to do more?

11. Flames: Brad Treliving signed an extension earlier in the season, and nobody saw the whole Bill Peters mess coming. Still, going from 107 points to out of the playoffs in one year should be unthinkable. The Flames are right there, and they need help. But maybe they should sell

10. Blues: They already have their rings, and Doug Armstrong could play the whole “Vladimir Tarasenko is our deadline addition” card. But the last few weeks have gone sideways, and you only get so many chances to win with a championship core. Armstrong knows he has one, so how aggressive does he want to get?

9. Hurricanes: It’s Carolina, so we know that if they make it in, they’re going to play in at least three rounds. But right now, they’re no guarantee to make it in, and missing out would derail a lot of the momentum they built up with last year’s run and all the fun stuff that went with it. We keep hearing that their first-round pick is in play, so there’s a chance of something big happening here.

8. Oilers: You know the drill by now. Missing the playoffs in Connor McDavid’s prime is not an option, even though they keep doing it. Ken Holland was brought in to make sure that didn’t happen and the Oilers are in decent shape in the Pacific but are a bad week away from dropping out of a spot. There aren’t any obvious paths to a major upgrade, but Holland has some pieces that he could move and still has the Jesse Puljujarvi card to play. And they didn’t bring him in to just do the easy stuff.

7. Coyotes: John Chayka has made two major deals to bring in big-name forwards, and his team still might miss the playoffs. A lot of that would be due to injuries, especially in goal, and a GM can’t control that. But man, missing the playoffs after the Taylor Hall deal would feel like a disaster, no? On an unrelated note, Chayka is the longest-serving GM in the league to have never made the postseason with his current team.

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