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NHL Power Rankings: Identifying top trade deadline priority for every team as Panthers hold down top spot

NHL Power Rankings: Identifying top trade deadline priority for every team as Panthers hold down top spot

Teams are about to be wheeling and dealing, and Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin may be among the players moved

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The NHL trade deadline is just two days away now, and the action is slowly starting to pick up. Before the clock hits 3 p.m. ET on Friday, I have kindly identified each team’s trade deadline priority in this week’s NHL Power Rankings.

When it comes to the teams at the top of the rankings, like the Florida Panthers, things are actually pretty simple. They’re an excellent team, but maybe a little bit more pop in the middle of the lineup could really get them over the hump. The same could be said for the clubs at the very bottom of the rankings. Get those assets and keep tanking, baby.

Things get a lot murkier in the middle of the pack. For instance, take teams like the Nashville Predators and Philadelphia Flyers. They both currently occupy playoff spots in the middle of rather surprising seasons. Give truth serum to Barry Trotz and Danny Briere, and they would probably tell you they thought they’d be selling by now. Instead, their teams are stuck between being good enough to make the playoffs but not quite good enough to win the Stanley Cup.

With trade rumors, buzz, and speculation running wild at this time of year, here is every team’s top priority ahead of the 2024 NHL trade deadline.

Biggest Movers

Rk

Teams

 

Chg

Rcrd

1

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Panthers

Scoring winger | The Panthers may not need to make any moves at all, but if they’re going to do something, they could use a little extra pop on the wing. Perhaps they could make an Anthony Dulcair reunion happen. Maybe Vladimir Tarasenko could slot into the middle-six. Those options wouldn’t cost much, but they would give Florida a bit more offense as the playoffs approach. 44-17-4
2

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Jets

Middle-six forward | Winnipeg’s offense has been somewhat inconsistent this season, and Gabriel Vilardi just missed his third straight game with an injury. That being the case, the Jets could use another player who can make the top-nine look a little more formidable. Then again, the Jets could just give Nikolaj Ehlers first-line minutes, and that one move might solve the issue entirely. 1 40-18-5
3

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Oilers

Goalie insurance | GM Ken Holland has said he’s not in the goalie market, and I would suggest he rethink that deadline strategy. Stuart Skinner’s play has slipped over the last month, and all it will take is a few off games in the playoffs to send the Oilers home. I understand not wanting to invest premium assets into a new goalie, but Edmonton at least needs a reliable backup it can turn to in a pinch. 3 39-21-3
4

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Rangers

Third-line center | It’s not a secret that the Rangers have been sniffing around for a center since Filip Chytil suffered a season-ending injury. Tommy Novak was reportedly a target for the blueshirts, but he just signed an extension in Nashville. Adam Henrique is a fun option because of the history there, but the Rangers might want to aim higher as they try to load up for a Cup run. 2 41-18-4
5

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Maple Leafs

Third-pair defenseman | It seems like the Maple Leafs are constantly looking for defensemen around the deadline, and they will probably look to add another one this year. Toronto has already acquired Ilya Lybushkin, but the team’s depth at the position still leaves something to be desired. The Leafs don’t have to make a big splash, but just getting someone who can perform well in sheltered minutes would help. 1 37-19-8
6

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Hurricanes

Scoring touch | In recent postseasons, Carolina’s offense has gone cold and cost the team a chance at the Stanley Cup. The Hurricanes will want to make sure that doesn’t happen in 2024, and they can do that by acquiring another offensive weapon. Ideally, they would win the Jake Guentzel sweepstakes, but the Canes don’t normally pay up for rentals. Would they be willing to pay the high price for Pavel Buchnevich? 1 39-19-6
7

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Avalanche

Second-line center | Colorado is still looking for a long-term answer at the second-line center spot, and I recently suggested that the team make a bold move to acquire Trevor Zegras with the Ducks. Even if the dream of the MacKinnon-Zegras duo down the middle doesn’t come to fruition, GM Joe Sakic is probably working the phones trying to get Colorado more help down the middle. 1 40-20-5
8

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Red Wings

Shutdown defenseman | The Red Wings have had a great season so far, but they can still be a little bit loose on the defensive side of things. Between Jake Walman and Moritz Seider, Detroit has some blueliners who can create offense, so adding a true shutdown defenseman would make some sense. The Wings do have some talented prospects at the position, but those won’t do them much good in the 2024 playoffs. 1 33-25-6
9

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Stars

Depth defense | Dallas has already gotten Chris Tanev from the Flames, but it couldn’t hurt for the team to add another defenseman. The Stars are as deep as any team at forward, so why not do the same on defense? The Stars have reportedly been linked to Flyers defenseman Nick Seeler, and that would make sense for what they need. 40-17-9
10

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Bruins

Top-six center | The Bruins need to get David Pastrnak some help up front because the top-six combo of Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha has not been working lately. Of course, top-six centers aren’t always readily available on the trade market, and they often go for exorbitant prices. If Boston is going to add some firepower down the middle, it will have to move some money out as part of the deal. 1 38-13-15
11

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Canucks

Scoring winger | Vancouver has hit a rough patch in its otherwise excellent season, and all reports indicate GM Patrick Allvin will be aggressive in upgrading the roster. That being the case, the Canucks could use another top-six winger. Brock Boeser and Nils Hoglander have been finding the back of the net frequently, but the team has had trouble getting consistent scoring out of the other wings. That’s a main position of need for the Canucks. 1 42-17-7
12

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Predators

Value for UFAs | The Predators are 8-0-1 in their last nine games, but that doesn’t mean they should abandon their rebuild. Between Yakov Trenien, Alex Carrier, Tyson Barrie and Kevin Lankinen, Nashville has a few pending free agents that could provide value to contenders. The Preds might want to consider moving a couple of those players to add to its already impressive stockpile of draft picks. 2 37-25-4
13

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Kings

Goal-scorer | Los Angeles has had trouble finishing its chances all season, and that could be a major problem if/when it faces a team like Edmonton or Vancouver in the playoffs. The Kings lack elite finishing talent, and getting that kind of player would make them look much more imposing in the Western Conference playoffs. Might I suggest Jake Guentzel or Pavel Buchnevich? 4 32-20-11
14

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Flames

Treasure chest of future assets | There is no doubt about what the Flames are doing ahead of this deadline. They’ve already traded away Elias Lindholm and Chris Tanev, and it seems like Noah Hanifin is already packing his bags for The Sunshine State. Jacob Markstrom might even be on the move this week. By Saturday, there’s a chance Calgary’s stable of draft picks and prospect pool will be far more robust than they are now. 1 31-28-5
15

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Lightning

Top-four defenseman | Speaking of Noah Hanifin, the Lightning could really use another defenseman. With Mikhail Sergachev on IR with a fractured tibia, the Bolts need another top-four defenseman if they want to make another push for a Cup. That could be Hanifin. It could also be Sean Walker. Either one would be an upgrade on the current blue line in Tampa. 2 34-25-6
16

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Golden Knights

Health | Welcome to hard times, Vegas. It has been a rough go in the desert lately. LTIR jokes aside, the Golden Knights have been bitten by the injury bug, and their performance has suffered as a result. They’re 2-7-1 in their last 10 games, and that has them in danger of slipping into a wild card spot. Vegas did add Anthony Mantha on Tuesday, but the team needs to get healthy more than anything. 4 34-23-7
17

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Flyers

Vision | The Flyers have been an awesome story in the 2023-24 season, but their playoff spot might be in jeopardy after a somewhat middling stretch. Philadelphia might still reach the postseason, but it would still be an uphill battle for this group to make a deep run. That being said, GM Danny Briere needs to keep his eye on the prize and deal players like Sean Walker to recoup some assets. 1 33-24-8
18

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Islanders

Change | After back to back conference finals appearances in 2020 and 2021, the Islanders have been stuck in the mud, and now they might miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season. It might be time to find a new direction on Long Island, but that may have to wait until the offseason. With so many players on deals with a lot of term, the Isles’ hands might be tied at this trade deadline. 8 28-20-14
19

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Kraken

Offseason ammunition | At this point, you might have noticed I’m trying to find creative ways to rephrase “draft picks and prospects.” In the case of the Kraken, they should have some salary cap room this offseason and could create even more by trading away some of their pending UFAs. That would give them more room to build up their NHL roster in free agency, as well as on the trade market. If Seattle plays the next few months correctly, it could be a very interesting team next season. 6 28-24-11
20

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Capitals

Retool fuel | Washington began its sell-off by dealing Anthony Mantha to the Golden Knights, and there might be more moves on the horizon. Ideally, the Capitals would try to set themselves up for at least one more bid at a Stanley Cup with Alex Ovechkin on the roster. It would be a shame if he never gets another real shot at winning it all before his career is over. 30-23-9
21

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Wild

Cap flexibility | The Wild still have another season of dealing with the large dead cap hits of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, so anything they can do to create a little more breathing room might be a win. Would Marcus Johansson have any suitors? Could Minnesota get a decent return for Brandon Duhaime? How about Jon Merrill? We’ll see what GM Bill Guerin can do over the next couple days. 2 31-27-7
22

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Devils

Saves | At this point, the Devils probably aren’t making the playoffs in 2024, but they have to upgrade in goal if they’re going to return to Cup contender status in 2025. Whether it’s Jacob Markstrom or Juuse Saros, New Jersey GM Tom Fitzgerald needs to do something big at that position. The Devils have too much skill to let goaltending sink them on a regular basis. 4 31-29-4
23

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Sabres

Draft capital | When I was reviewing the Sabres’ CapFriendly page for this exercise, I was a little surprised to see that they don’t have any extra first-round picks in the upcoming drafts. I figured they would have at least one draft with multiple first-rounders given that their playoff drought is about to reach 13 seasons. Buffalo could fix that by trading Casey Mittelstadt, a pending RFA in the middle of a really strong season. 1 30-30-5
24

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Penguins

Fresh start | The Penguins are poised to miss the playoffs for the second straight year, and Jake Guentzel is on his way out in Pittsburgh. This might mark the end of an era for the Pens, and that’s OK. Kyle Dubas needs to do whatever it takes to get this roster turned over in a hurry so that Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang can get one more shot at the Stanley Cup. 28-27-8
25

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Blues

Blue-line turnover | One of the most glaring issues when looking at the Blues’ roster construction is the fact that they have a lot of money committed to an aging group of defenseman. The big question for St. Louis is whether it could find another team to take on one of those contracts. That’s probably more of a summer project, but it might be worth exploring this week too. 2 32-29-3
26

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Blue Jackets

Memory eraser | Could John Davidson get one of those M.I.B. flash pens in exchange for Jack Roslovic or Ivan Provorov? It has been a year to forget in Columbus from Mike Babcock’s firing to Kent Johnson’s season-ending injury. Just get some draft picks and get to the offseason, Jackets. 1 22-32-10
27

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Ducks

Veteran forward | Anaheim has quite a few young players on its roster, as well as a great collection of prospects. When the Ducks do decide to sell someone like Adam Henrique in the coming days, maybe they could get another inexpensive veteran presence in the return. The Ducks definitely have the cap space, and it couldn’t hurt to have another more experienced presence in the locker room. 1 23-37-3
28

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Senators

Good return for Tarasenko | The Senators probably have to trade Vladimir Tarasenko at this point. It would make no sense for them to carry him through the deadline, so it comes down to maximizing the return for him. Tarasenko, who has 17 goals in 57 games, may not fetch a first-round pick, but a second-round selection probably isn’t out of the question for Ottawa. 7 25-33-4
29

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Canadiens

Another Slafkovsky hot streak | The Canadiens may not make any more big moves ahead of the trade deadline, so we’re going to cheat here and go with more development from the former No. 1 overall pick as a deadline acquisition. Slafkovsky has shown a lot of improvement this season, but he has gone a little cold lately. Montreal would like to get him going down the home stretch so that he has some confidence going into the 2024-25 season. 24-30-10
30

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Coyotes

New home | Arizona has sold the farm plenty in recent years, and they are going to trade Jason Zucker after holding him out of the lineup Tuesday. That said, this team needs to get things sorted out on the ice before it builds a true contender. That starts with finding a permanent home and creating a more attractive destination for players. 2 26-34-5
31

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Sharks

Slew of draft picks | Between Anthony Duclair, Mario Ferraro, Mikael Granlund and Alexander Barabanov, the Sharks do have a handful of interesting trade chips. The return from those players probably wouldn’t blow anyone’s socks off, but the Sharks could get some mid-round picks and become volume shooters in the upcoming drafts. 1 16-40-7
32

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Blackhawks

More losses | Chicago doesn’t have many desirable assets ahead of this trade deadline. That’s what happens when you tear it down to the studs in order to land the No. 1 pick. The Hawks just need to keep doing what they’re doing (aka losing) in hopes of landing Macklin Celebrini to pair with Connor Bedard. 1 17-43-5

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