Monday, March 28, 2022

The Wild land the big name, the Islanders do nothing, and the rankings sort through all the teams in between

The deadline was one week ago and it already feels like it was four months ago, because time gets very weird around this point in the season. The playoffs are tomorrow but every team still has 15 games left, and nobody has anything to play for except the teams whose very existence is on the line. It’s weird, and it’s OK to feel disoriented.

But yes, after crunching the numbers I can confirm that this is indeed the first Monday rankings of the post-deadline era, which means we need to try to figure out how much the biggest deals moved the needle on our expectations, if at all. That qualifier matters, because the impact that any one move can have on a team is smaller than we’d all probably like to think. And while this year’s deadline certainly had plenty of action, the biggest stars to be moved ended up being a 37-year-old goalie having a decidedly average season and a 34-year-old forward with just one second-team all-star pick on his career resume. Not exactly Russell Wilson or James Harden or Tyreek Hill or even Matt Olson, but we work with what we have.

A few of these calls probably won’t be all that controversial. Just about everyone seems to like the Panthers going all-in, even if the consensus is that they overpaid for Ben Chiarot. They look like the Eastern favorites right now, even if you’re still not quite sold on their goaltending and the Aaron Ekblad injury looms over their first round. The rest of the East contenders got better too, with the possible exception of the Hurricanes, whose mostly quiet week stands out unless you think Max Domi can be fixed.

Out west, the Wild were the big winner with Marc-Andre Fleury, but it’s goaltending so world’s biggest shrug emoji. The Avalanche made a few small moves instead of any big ones, and that’s probably fine. The Flames made their big move a month ago, the Oilers didn’t do much, the Golden Knights somehow did even less than that, and nobody thinks any of the other teams are really a threat, which means one of them is definitely going to the Stanley Cup Final.

OK, you might say, but what we really want to know is how all of this shakes out in the top and bottom five. (You were not saying this, but humor me.) Let’s find out …

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