With less than two weeks remaining until the 2022 NHL trade deadline, GMs are watching their teams closely to determine whether to trade away players, or make additions before the playoff rush.
Speaking of the schedule, this week for the NHL power rankings, we also identified a particularly tough stretch for every club between now and the end of the regular season.
How we rank: A panel of ESPN hockey commentators, analysts, reporters and editors rates teams against one another — taking into account game results, injuries and upcoming schedule — and those results are tabulated to produce the list featured here.
Note: Previous ranking for each team refers to the last edition, published on March 2. Points paces are through Tuesday’s games.
Previous ranking: 1
Points percentage: 0.750
Next seven days: @ CAR (March 10), vs. CGY (March 13), @ LA (March 15)
Beware: March 27-April 5. Five teams. 10 days. It doesn’t sound all that daunting. Until you consider Colorado is facing Minnesota and Calgary on the road, welcomes in San Jose and then tackles a home-and-home against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. Established contenders and a potential team in the hunt? Tough sledding.
Previous ranking: 3
Points percentage: 0.728
Next seven days: vs. PHI (March 10), @ LA (March 13), @ SJ (March 15)
Beware: March 13-27. No home cooking for (checks notes) two weeks? When you’ve won more games in your own barn than anyone this season? Amazing. And the Panthers’ competition during that stretch will be no slouch, either. Florida heads west to see L.A., San Jose, Vegas and Anaheim, and then goes north to meet Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto.
Previous ranking: 2
Points percentage: 0.741
Next seven days: vs. COL (March 10), vs. PHI (March 12), @ PIT (March 13)
Beware: March 20-29. Seeing Tampa Bay twice in short order? Not ideal. Carolina has a tall task coming up with games every other night. The stretch? The Rangers, Lightning and Stars at home, followed by the Blues, Capitals and Lightning (again!) on the road. All playoff teams. All the time.
Previous ranking: 4
Points percentage: 0.714
Next seven days: @ CGY (March 10), @ EDM (March 12), @ VAN (March 13)
Beware: April 4-14. As of this writing, the NHL playoff race is tight. If that holds, Tampa is in for a spirited span through early April. Kicking it off at home against Atlantic Division rival Toronto, the Lightning move on to tangle with Washington, Boston, Buffalo, Dallas and Anaheim. The Sabres are no easy out, and the others should be jockeying for position (or just to stay alive). Fun!
Previous ranking: 5
Points percentage: 0.670
Next seven days: vs. TB (March 10), vs. DET (March 12), @ COL (March 13)
Beware: March 26-April 6. Nothing like another chapter in the Battle of Alberta to begin a challenging run, right? The Flames start by hosting Edmonton, followed by Colorado, Los Angeles and St. Louis (ouch), then swing down to SoCal to visit the Kings and Ducks. That’s a heavyweight schedule.
Previous ranking: 8
Points percentage: 0.675
Next seven days: @ STL (March 10), @ DAL (March 12), vs. ANA (March 15)
Beware: March 19-29. Does any team hope to face Tampa and Carolina over back-to-back nights on the road? Pure stress. The Rangers grind through that, hit their Tri-State rivals in New Jersey on the way home, followed by two tilts against Pittsburgh in five nights. Also, the feisty Sabres sandwiched in. Oof!
Previous ranking: 6
Points percentage: 0.684
Next seven days: vs. ARI (March 10), @ BUF (March 13), vs. DAL (March 15)
Beware: March 27-April 7. Granted, this is a longer block to highlight, but it is particularly difficult for the Leafs. Florida twice. Boston, Tampa and Dallas in there (all on the road). Plus, Winnipeg and Philadelphia mixed in. That’s a rough 12 days that could heavily influence where Toronto ultimately sits in the playoff picture.
Previous ranking: 10
Points percentage: 0.664
Next seven days: vs. VGK (March 11), vs. CAR (March 13), @ NSH (March 15)
Beware: March 29-April 9. Send your good vibes to the Penguins now. Their roughest block opens against the Rangers, feeds into road games at the Wild and Avalanche, followed by another meeting with the Avs and Rangers, and ends against the rival Caps. The stuff of nightmares! And entertaining hockey.
Previous ranking: 7
Points percentage: 0.634
Next seven days: vs. NYR (March 10), @ NSH (March 12), vs. WPG (March 13)
Beware: March 10-22. The Blues are getting right into it here! Those fiery Rangers will be in town to start, and then St. Louis has Central Division foes (Nashville, Winnipeg) and Metropolitan contenders (Pittsburgh, Columbus and Washington). At least they’re getting their toughest stretch out of the way early, right?
Previous ranking: 14
Points percentage: 0.612
Next seven days: vs. SJ (March 10), @ SJ (March 12), vs. FLA (March 13), vs. COL (March 15)
Beware: March 10-19. There’s an outside chance San Jose could make playoffs, if it starts winning (a lot). The Kings, oddly, have three games in a week coming up against their (desperate) Pacific Division rivals. In between, L.A. also must contend with Florida, Colorado and Vegas, the latter of which is right below them in the standings. Buckle up.
11. Dallas Stars
Previous ranking: 17
Points percentage: 0.598
Next seven days: vs. NYR (March 12), @ TOR (March 15)
Beware: March 15-24. Dallas hasn’t been a great road team this season. Unfortunately for the Stars, they have only 13 home games left. This next extended road trip will be toughie, beginning in Toronto and rolling through Montreal, the Islanders, Washington and Carolina, with a home date against Edmonton tossed in. All teams playing for postseason position, or with serious pride on the line.
12. Boston Bruins
Previous ranking: 11
Points percentage: 0.640
Next seven days: vs. CHI (March 10), vs. ARI (March 12), @ CHI (March 15)
Beware: April 19-29. The Bruins will be in a sprint to the finish. Let’s break it down: Dropping in on St. Louis and Pittsburgh, home to greet the Rangers, back out to Montreal, welcome in Florida and Buffalo, wrap up things in Toronto. That’s a long 11 days to lead right into the postseason.
Previous ranking: 12
Points percentage: 0.586
Next seven days: @ BUF (March 10), @ PIT (March 11), @ CBJ (March 13), @ WPG (March 15)
Beware: March 17-24. Vegas has plenty of Pacific Division clubs with which to deal later in the schedule, but before that it will churn through some other tough-to-handle competition. Florida and Los Angeles enter the Fortress first, then the Golden Knights get a back-to-back at Minnesota and Winnipeg, only to have Nashville waiting in Sin City. Bruising stretch, to say the least.
Previous ranking: 13
Points percentage: 0.607
Next seven days: vs. ANA (March 10), vs. STL (March 12), @ MIN (March 13), vs. PIT (March 15)
Beware: April 17-28. Nashville is currently on the postseason bubble. It better hope to have some breathing room in a month, because there’s a potential storm brewing. Six of the Predators’ final seven games are against top-tier clubs, cycling through St. Louis, Calgary, Tampa (on the road), Minnesota, Calgary and a visit to Colorado. That’s a hard path to tread during a late-season playoff push.
Previous ranking: 16
Points percentage: 0.612
Next seven days: @ EDM (March 9), @ VAN (March 11), vs. NYI (March 15)
Beware: March 28-April 10. Washington hasn’t had the best start to calendar 2022, and there are rough waters ahead. A five-game stretch into April lines up the Capitals against Carolina, Minnesota, Tampa and Boston at home, plus a trip to see the Penguins. A test of Washington’s playoff readiness? No question.
16. Minnesota Wild
Previous ranking: 9
Points percentage: 0.627
Next seven days: @ DET (March 10), @ CBJ (March 11), vs. NSH (March 13)
Beware: April 2-12. To be honest, the Wild’s schedule is fast-paced almost to the end. But those early days of April could grind on a team that has been average away from home. Minnesota takes an East Coast swing through Carolina and Washington, dips to see division rivals Nashville and St. Louis, then comes home to take on Los Angeles and Edmonton. Heavy travel, heavy competition.
17. Edmonton Oilers
Previous ranking: 15
Points percentage: 0.561
Next seven days: vs. WSH (March 9), vs. TB (March 12), vs. DET (March 15)
Beware: April 3-16. So. Much. Jockeying! Edmonton has dragged itself back into the postseason picture and the first stretch of April could seal the deal (one way or another) on where the Oilers end up. It’s a rapid-fire trip through Anaheim, San Jose and L.A., then contending with Colorado, Minnesota, Nashville and Vegas. Plenty of key points up for grabs.
18. Anaheim Ducks
Previous ranking: 21
Points percentage: 0.534
Next seven days: @ NSH (March 10), @ NJ (March 12), @ NYI (March 13), @ NYR (March 15)
Beware: April 3-14. Anaheim has been slowly losing ground in the playoff race. If it’s still in it by April, keep an eye on this window of the schedule. The Ducks start in the Pacific against Edmonton and Calgary at home, and take off to see Philadelphia, Carolina, Florida and Tampa. Some heavy hitters with a lot on the line; Anaheim best be ready to do the same.
Previous ranking: 19
Points percentage: 0.544
Next seven days: vs. MTL (March 9), vs. WSH (March 11), vs. TB (March 13), vs. NJ (March 15)
Beware: March 23-30. Hope Vancouver enjoys a steady diet of Central contenders. The Canucks’ drive up the standings will be tested by a four-game road swing via Colorado, Minnesota, Dallas and St. Louis, with another bout against the Blues to cap things off. And if that doesn’t stress Vancouver enough, there’s a home-and-home with Vegas on the other end. A great opportunity to gain ground in the standings awaits.
20. Winnipeg Jets
Previous ranking: 20
Points percentage: 0.526
Next seven days: @ NJ (March 10, @ NYI (March 11), @ STL (March 13), vs. VGK (March 15)
Beware: Apr. 15-24. The Jets believe if they can just make playoffs, there’s a chance they do some damage. The schedule makers haven’t made that feat easy on them. Winnipeg will lead into the end of its season with four road games at Florida, Tampa, the Rangers and Carolina before seeing Colorado back at home. If the Jets can get through that with a positive record, they’ll have earned any postseason berth to come.
Previous ranking: 18
Points percentage: 0.518
Next seven days: @ NYI (March 10), vs. MIN (March 11), vs. VGK (March 13)
Beware: March 29-Apr. 7. If this isn’t the most difficult run remaining for Columbus, it’s the quirkiest. Six games, 10 nights … only three opponents. Columbus has a triple set of home-and-homes against the Islanders, Bruins and Flyers. Is this an … advantage? Disadvantage? We can’t wait to find out!
22. San Jose Sharks
Previous ranking: 22
Points percentage: 0.491
Next seven days: @ LA (March 10), vs. LA (March 12), vs. FLA (March 15)
Beware: March 31-Apr. 12. There’s no sugarcoating the Sharks’ remaining schedule. It’s difficult all around. This specific run goes through Colorado, Dallas, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Nashville, which is especially brutal given San Jose’s quest to claw up the standings. There are potentially big points available here, but it won’t be easy securing them.
Previous ranking: 23
Points percentage: 0.474
Next seven days: vs. MIN (March 10), @ CGY (March 12), @ EDM (March 15)
Beware: Apr. 14-21. Nothing gets the juices going like an invigorating run through top-tier Eastern Conference teams, right? Perhaps Detroit will confirm after going toe-to-toe with Carolina, the Rangers, Florida, Tampa and then Florida again. Truthfully, this will be a good litmus test for the Red Wings’ stable of young, rising talent.
Previous ranking: 24
Points percentage: 0.472
Next seven days: vs. CBJ (March 10), vs. WPG (March 11), vs. ANA (March 13), @ WSH (March 15)
Beware: March 26-Apr. 1. The Islanders’ entire schedule is brutal, thanks to a delayed home slate because of a new building, as well as COVID-19 pause problems. This stretch includes five games in seven nights, with two sets of back-to-back games. The opponents? Boston, Tampa Bay, Columbus (twice) and the Rangers. Woof.
Previous ranking: 25
Points percentage: 0.412
Next seven days: vs. WPG (March 10), vs. ANA (March 12), @ VAN (March 15)
Beware: March 15-23. New Jersey will be getting its miles in. A trek through the western Canadian teams includes Vancouver and Calgary on a back-to-back, a stop in Edmonton and then another back-to-back with the Rangers and Maple Leafs. Better rest up now!
Previous ranking: 27
Points percentage: 0.431
Next seven days: @ BOS (March 10), @ OTT (March 12), vs. BOS (March 15)
Beware: March 15-26. The Blackhawks won’t tread through much worse, competition-wise, than this mid-March bump. Boston and Winnipeg come to town, and Chicago flies out to Minnesota, Anaheim, Los Angeles and Vegas. From the perspective of a Blackhawks’ team looking to play spoiler, that could make for some fun nights of hockey.
27. Buffalo Sabres
Previous ranking: 31
Points percentage: 0.379
Next seven days: vs. VGK (March 10), vs. TOR (March 13)
Beware: Apr. 7-12. The Sabres’ last big road trip of the season is a doozy. Carolina and Florida on a back-to-back, followed by Tampa and Toronto. After that run, Buffalo will have earned a little rest.
Previous ranking: 26
Points percentage: 0.411
Next seven days: @ FLA (March 10), @ CAR (March 12), vs. MTL (March 13)
Beware: March 22-29. Eight nights, five cities, four contenders. Spicy! Philadelphia hits the road for stops in Detroit, St. Louis, Colorado, Nashville and Minnesota. Pound for pound, you won’t find much tougher spans than that.
29. Ottawa Senators
Previous ranking: 28
Points percentage: 0.402
Next seven days: vs. SEA (March 10), vs. CHI (March 12), vs. ARI (March 14)
Beware: Apr. 9-16. Ottawa hasn’t exactly excelled on the road this season. That will be put to the test again with meetings at the Rangers, Detroit and Boston, plus home games against Winnipeg and Toronto, in uncomfortably short order. A real fight to the finish.
Previous ranking: 29
Points percentage: 0.330
Next seven days: @ VAN (March 9), vs. SEA (March 12), @ PHI (March 13), vs. ARI (March 15)
Beware: March 24-Apr. 2. Hey, the Canadiens have turned things around. Showcasing their newfound confidence against the league’s best could be a great thing! Either way, this is happening: Florida and Toronto are in town, and the Canadiens will see the Panthers, Carolina and Tampa over five nights on the road. All of that youthful stamina will be tested.
31. Seattle Kraken
Previous ranking: 30
Points percentage: 0.331
Next seven days: @ OTT (March 10), @ MTL (March 12)
Beware: March 26-Apr. 1. Seattle has only four wins against Pacific Division teams this season, which makes this set of four games a tough one. The Kraken get a pair of consecutive tilts against Los Angeles and Vegas, two contenders that will be happy to pad their spots in the standings — unless Seattle has something to say about it.
32. Arizona Coyotes
Previous ranking: 32
Points percentage: 0.339
Next seven days: @ TOR (March 10), @ BOS (March 12), @ OTT (March 14), @ MTL (March 15)
Beware: March 25-Apr. 1. On the bright side, Arizona gets to spend some extended time with its former Pacific Division friends! Calgary, Edmonton, San Jose and Anaheim all await, and there’s a back-to-back with Winnipeg in there for good measure. If the Coyotes want to get a snapshot of where the team really stands, that stretch can tell them a lot.