NHL Trade Deadline 2011: Ranking Every Team's Playoff Chances After the Deadline
The dust has finally settled. The trade winds have come and gone. As the regular season in the NHL nears its eventual close, it is becoming clear which teams will be in the dance.
Unlike the other professional sports, it is more uncertain which teams will make a run in the postseason as parody is dwindled down—and any team can catch fire with the hot goalie in net.
This season is no different, as there are many teams that are on the doorstep of the playoffs but still trying to make their way. The trade deadline helped some and showed others that are going to pack it in for next season.
30. Ottawa Senators
It's not the time for the Senators to think about winning games; they should be aiming at winning the NHL Lottery for the first pick in the draft.
The Sens are last in the Eastern Conference and are perhaps the only team in the conference that for certain will not be in the playoffs. Long time players Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza are still producing, though.
However, the Senators moved Alex Kovalev, Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly, Chris Campoli and Brian Elliott. They did not trade Filip Kuba in all the movement, but overall, they acquired a lot of high draft picks for the future.
29. Edmonton Oilers
The team of the future for some. The Edmonton Oilers only parted way with one of their top five young scorers in Dustin Penner.
Ales Hemsky was rumored to be on the move, but he remains in a Oiler uniform. Eberle and Hall are the cornerstones of the franchise and will be around for a long time. This is still a team that is light years away from being a playoff threat at this point.
Along with Penner, Shawn Belle was moved, but to some people's surprise, Ladislav Smid is still in Edmonton for the remainder of the season.
28. New Jersey Devils
Injuries have finally gotten to the Devils, as they are showing their age. High-priced players have led them to being an afterthought in postseason discussion for this season.
Zach Parise has only played in 12 games this season, and Martin Brodeur has been out for the majority of the season. Brodeur was in some trade talk, but it appears he will in fact remain a Devil for the rest of his career.
They traded Jason Arnott to the Capitals to give him a chance at winning this season. The Devils also swapped some forwards with San Jose early in February.
27. Florida Panthers
Perhaps no team was thought to get rid of more players at the trade deadline than the Florida Panthers under first-year general manager Dale Tallon.
David Booth and Tomas Vokoun were all big-time names that were thought to be on the move to a contender. None were shipped out of Fort Lauderdale in the end as teams passed on Booth—and no one wanted Vokoun.
Bryan McCabe was highly rumored to leave and was traded to the Rangers, who are in the hunt. Michael Frolik was also sent to Chicago. The re-building continues in Florida.
26. Colorado Avalanche
A team that put their best foot forward last season and were thought to have turned the corner have taken a step back this season. Currently ranked second to last in the West, the Avs are a team in limbo.
John-Michael Liles, who has been one of the better defensemen this season, was said to go to Toronto, but that never came to be. Paul Stastny has been brilliant this season, and the Avs decided against trading him.
Getting Erik Johnson was a good move and could pay off in future seasons. It was interesting that they shipped Craig Anderson away, but it will probably not help nor hurt them in the long run.
25. New York Islanders
John Tavares has shown why he was deserving of being the first overall draft pick for the Islanders several seasons ago. The Isles are again near the cellar of the Eastern Conference, and it would be appear they will be shaking up the roster after this season.
Zenon Konopka was shopped around, but it looks like he will hit the market after the season instead of being traded. Al Montoya was acquired from Phoenix, and that was the extent of the deals for New York at the deadline.
This is a team that has a lot of self-searching to do. It will be interesting to see how they build around No. 91.
24. Toronto Maple Leafs
On an unpredictable run right now, the Maple Leafs could somehow sneak into the playoffs against all odds. Odds are exactly what the Leafs are up against with several teams in front of them.
Despite trading Kris Versteeg, Tomas Kaberle and Francois Beauchemin, Toronto still has that sliver of hope. It will be difficult to jump those teams after all these moves though.
The NHL wants the "Original Six" to all be in the playoffs, and currently, the Maple Leafs would be the only ones not going. We will see if that is going to change.
23. St. Louis Blues
Many people had the Blues as a sleeper in the West before the season with the addition of Jaroslav Halak. However, it has been nothing short of a nightmare for the team from the "Gateway City", as they have underachieved this season.
Defensemen were on the move out of St. Louis in the form of Eric Brewer and Erik Johnson—which was somewhat shocking for some. What direction the Blues will go in will be of the most importance.
22. Atlanta Thrashers
For a team that was in the hunt for a division title for much of the season, the last month has been a disaster, as the Thrashers have fallen out of the playoff hunt in an all too familiar way.
Radek Dvorak, Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart were brought into Atlanta, as the franchise desperately needs a playoff appearance to make hockey more relevant in Georgia.
21. Nashville Predators
The Predators gave the eventual-champion Blackhawks a run for their money last season in the playoffs. This year, they again are on the doorstep of the playoffs—along with six or seven teams scrambling to get in.
The Preds will have to rely on Pekka Rinne—as always—to get them there, as they do not score a lot of points. Shea Weber is the team's leading scorer as a defenseman, which has been a problem over the past few seasons.
Nashville did not make any moves of note at the deadline. It is yet to be seen if it will come back to haunt them at season's end.
20. Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets are currently five points back from the eighth seed in the Western Conference. They have a mountain to climb, for sure, but Rick Nash and R.J. Umberger are playing some of their best hockey this season and could sneak in.
The Blue Jackets were involved in some movement with the Flyers and Coyotes in February. And if Columbus wants to make the playoffs, they will need more than Umberger and captain Nash to help them out.
19. Carolina Hurricanes
It has been a long time since the Hurricanes won the Cup in what feels like ages ago. This year's Canes team might have the best shot to make a playoff run than any team we've seen since.
Bringing back Cory Stillman was a deal that might show that the Hurricanes are not going to be pushed to the side and are seriously trying to contend in the Eastern Conference.
Eric Staal is again having a great year, as is Jeff Skinner.
18. Anaheim Ducks
With the talent that the Ducks have, it shouldn't be as diffcult as it has been for them to establish a spot in the playoffs. Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, Teemu Selanne and especially Corey Perry are having seasons to remember, but the team is still muddled in the race for the eighth seed.
With arguably the best goaltender in the game today in Jonas Hiller, the Ducks are in contention til the end and cannot be underestimated.
They made minor moves at the deadline, including bringing in Dan Ellis as an insurance policy at goalie.
17. Minnesota Wild
Putting the puck in the net has been an issue for the Wild all season long. Now, stopping the puck has kept them in the hunt, with Niklas Backstrom continuing to emerge as one of the best in the league.
The Wild stayed moderately content at the deadline despite the need for a scorer. Basically, they are going to need players like Marty Havlat and Andrew Brunette to step up to bring playoff hockey back to one of the most dedicated fanbases in the league.
16. Buffalo Sabres
No one will deny that the Sabres are going to try to make a run at the playoffs and Cup this season. They have a team full of players that have been to the big stage before and are in no position to give up or build for coming years.
They held onto Tim Connolly mostly because of the loss of Derek Roy and were more buyers than sellers—a clear indication that they are in it to win it.
The addition of Brad Boyes is already paying dividends, and I would say Buffalo will be one of the eight in when it's all said and done.
15. Calgary Flames
A veteran team only has so many sunrises and sunsets before they cannot get it done like they used to.
For the Flames, this aging team was going nowhere according to most experts—but they have exceeded expectations by leaping into a current fifth seed in the Western Conference.
The Flames added Fredrik Modin from Atlanta before the deadline, which was a deal to add a solid threat to the weapons they already have.
The Flames should not burn out with the late-season experience on their roster.
14. New York Rangers
The city of New York did not get "King James" last season, but they do have "King Henry" in net at Madison Square Garden. New York may have gotten Carmelo Anthony, but hockey fans enjoyed getting Bryan McCabe from Florida at the trade deadline.
The Rangers are trying to shake off the past couple of seasons and get into the playoffs, where they could play an assortment of rivals in the first round.
Marc Staal will need to step up for the Rangers to hold onto their playoff spot.
13. Dallas Stars
The Stars and Brad Richards were in the trade rumor mill for months on end. Whether it was Richards to New York or several other cities, it did not look like he would remain in "Big D".
Alas, he is still in a Stars uniform, and they have been one of the hottest teams in the league over the past month. Trading away a young player like James Neal surprised many, but they brought in some defensive help in Alex Goligoski.
The destiny of the stars will be shaped in the coming month as the after effect of that move will be seen.
12. Montreal Canadiens
The Habs are a couple wins away from being in the hunt among the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Then again, they are also just as close to being on the outside looking in at the playoff scene.
The Canadiens did not make any big-time moves at the deadline, but did pick up Brent Sopel among others. Like last season, the Canadiens are not a team that many people consider to be among the teams to beat—but they still have the fire power to make a run.
Tomas Plekanec has stepped forward and leads the Habs in points this season.
11. Phoenix Coyotes
The "Desert Dogs" are within four points of the lead in their division—but like so many teams in the Western Conference, they are a couple losses away from being the dreaded ninth seed.
Phoenix did not make any significant moves as the deadline came and went, and perhaps that was on account of their situation financially; they also might just feel they have what they need.
Keith Yandle and Shane Doan have been the key reasons the Coyotes are where they are.
10. Los Angeles Kings
No team has the unheralded potential to make a run to the Cup this season like the Los Angeles Kings. Quietly, in a city that might not seem to realize it yet, the Kings are becoming a serious contender to win the Western Conference.
That is saying a lot considering they barely have the eighth seed in the playoff rankings. But this Kings team is loaded with young superstars, and the addition of Dustin Penner at the deadline only added to that.
"The King's Speech" may have won Best Picture, but by season's end it could be "The King's Cup" for Anze Kopitar and Company.
9. Washington Capitals
When the Capitals are running on all cylinders, they are perhaps the best team in the league. But getting them all on the same page has been a problem this season in many capacities.
The Caps are climbing the rankings, and after adding Jason Arnott, they are poised to erase the memory of last year's atrocious playoff letdown.
Alex Ovechkin and Niklas Backstrom have been their typical selves this season, but they will need to show that they can be playoff heroes at some point.
8. Chicago Blackhawks
We did not know if the Blackhawks were going to even be in the hunt for the playoffs—let alone be a title contender again.
But the Blackhawks have been great since Patrick Sharp won the All-Star Game MVP and have shown they might not be the first team to miss the playoffs after winning the Cup since the Hurricanes.
The Blackhawks added Mike Frolik and Chris Campoli as the deadline neared. With the salary cap restraints that have been put on the team, it was almost the best they could do.
Corey Crawford has also emerged as a goalie they can count on.
7. Tampa Bay Lightning
Some of the best pure scorers in the NHL play their home games in Tampa Bay, and that is why they are in position to be a top contender in the Eastern Conference.
The Lightning added Eric Brewer on defense, which was an area that needed to be addressed. But Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis have been exceptional all season and rank among the league leaders in almost all offensive categories.
If they are on fire going into the playoffs, they could be a team to beat as they have been very good at home.
6. Boston Bruins
Will this be the B's year?
It sure seems like that is a distinct possibility, as the Bruins are the clear-cut favorite to walk away with their division and a high seed going into the playoffs. With around 12 players that have contributed significantly in points and one of the game's premier netminders in Tim Thomas, the Bruins are on a mission in 2011.
Adding Tomas Kaberle was a smart move that can only help in the playoffs with his wealth of experience.
5. San Jose Sharks
Currently, no team is as hot as the Sharks. They have won seven straight games and are looking to continue, with Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley making huge contributions.
Antti Niemi has turned on the switch like he did in the late-season push with Chicago and was given a multi-year deal to stay in California.
This Sharks team has a lot to live up to, as many have a "we'll see how they do come playoff time" attitude. This is a result of playoff failures of recent years.
They will get their chance.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins
Embattled with key injuries, the Pittsburgh Penguins have fought, scratched and clawed their way to be among the top teams in the East.
With extended absences from players like Sidney Crosby, Brooks Orpik and Evgeni Malkin, it has been a tough road for the Pens.
But they did not wallow in their despair. They added a dynamic young player in James Neal from Dallas and brought back veteran scorer Alex Kovalev to produce on the offensive end.
No matter what the reasoning, the Penguins are not a team to take lightly.
3. Detroit Red Wings
Business as usual.
That is what this season has been for the Red Wings, as they have returned to their dominant ways.
Sitting with a commanding lead in the division and the second seed in the conference, they are yet again a contender for the Stanley Cup with a bevy of experience on roster. Henrik Zetterberg has been the catalyst that has made it possible with his outstanding play.
Also, the goalie situation will work itself out, and Jimmy Howard will get his chance to prove himself worthy in "Hockey Town".
2. Vancouver Canucks
With a President's Trophy in sight, the Canucks cannot take their eyes off the real prize when the playoffs begin.
The Sedins have raised the Canucks to the best record in the NHL and will most likely remain the top seed in the Western Conference—making the playoff run go through Vancouver.
If the Canucks can overcome their demons—and possibly another playoff run-in with Chicago—they will be in the Finals.
1. Philadelphia Flyers
With four players that have already reached 50 points in Claude Giroux, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Danny Briere, the Flyers have quickly become the ultimate powerhouse in the Eastern Conference.
The defending champs in the East have not turned down the pace, as they are marching towards revenge after being so close last season.
They added one of the players that got the upper hand last season in the finals in Kris Versteeg, which could bring the Flyers some championship vibes down the final stretch.
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