NHL Power Rankings: 1-31 poll, plus the worst deadline trades for every team


The best moves at the NHL trade deadline are usually the ones teams don’t make. Sure, there’s always a chance a team finds that perfect, Butch Goring-sized puzzle piece to complete a championship picture. But more often than not, the NHL trade deadline is like impulse-buying a poorly constructed boat: filled with overpayment, eventual regret and an overall sinking feeling.

Every team has its dark deadline moments, even if the eventual failure didn’t come into focus until the draft picks were cashed in. In this week’s Power Rankings, we take a look at the worst NHL deadline trades for all 31 teams, at least in our opinion.

How we rank: The ESPN hockey editorial staff submits selections ranking teams 1-31, and those results are tabulated to the list featured here. Teams are rated through Tuesday night’s games, taking into account overall record, recent success and other factors such as injuries.

Last week’s rankings

Note: Standings point pace is based on games through Feb. 12.

Previous ranking: 5
Standings point pace: 114

The Lightning traded center Brad Richards and goaltender Johan Holmqvist to the Stars for goaltender Mike Smith, forward Jussi Jokinen, forward Jeff Halpern and Dallas’ fourth-round pick (later traded to Minnesota, later traded to Edmonton; Edmonton selected Kyle Bigos) on Feb. 26, 2008. The Lightning traded Richards two years into his new contract and got an ultimately underwhelming return for him. (Smith and Jokinen didn’t find their games until they left Tampa.)

Previous ranking: 2
Standings point pace: 116

The Bruins traded forward Joe Juneau to Washington for defenseman Al Iafrate on March 21, 1994. The Bruins were correct that Juneau wouldn’t get back to the 103-point heights of his best season. They didn’t know that Iafrate would see his career cut short by injuries. But the fact remains that they flipped a player who’d go on to put up decent numbers for the next decade. (For the record, this one runs neck and neck with the Rick Nash deal.)

Previous ranking: 1
Standings point pace: 113

The Capitals traded forward Filip Forsberg to the Predators for forwards Martin Erat and Michael Latta on April 3, 2013. We all know what Forsberg has become with the Preds. Erat had requested a trade earlier in the season; he requested another one after playing just 62 games in Washington, scoring two goals during a span in which he was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career. General manager George McPhee decided to leverage one of his top prospects in a trade, and this happened.

Previous ranking: 4
Standings point pace: 110

The Penguins traded forward Markus Naslund to the Canucks for forward Alek Stojanov on March 20, 1996. Stojanov would play 45 games with the Penguins, scoring two goals and four assists. Naslund would play 884 games with the Canucks, scoring 346 goals and 410 assists. One of the most lopsided trades in NHL history.

Previous ranking: 6
Standings point pace: 107

The Avalanche traded goalie David Aebischer to the Canadiens for goalie Jose Theodore on March 8, 2006. On paper, this wasn’t a disaster. Aebischer played only 40 more games in the NHL. Theodore won two playoff series with Colorado. But his $6 million salary-cap hit versus his production for the Avs, especially in the 2006-07 season, made this a rough one.

Previous ranking: 3
Standings point pace: 107

The Blues traded goalie Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, forward William Carrier and their 2015 first-round pick (later traded to Winnipeg) and a 2016 third-round pick (later traded to Florida) to Buffalo for goalie Ryan Miller and forward Steve Ott on Feb. 28, 2014. Miller went 10-8-1 with a .903 save percentage and lost his only playoff series with the Blues before leaving as a free agent that summer. Not worth the first-rounder, and Halak went on to become one of the better goaltenders in the league with the Islanders and Bruins.

Previous ranking: 7
Standings point pace: 107

The Islanders traded goaltender Chris Osgood and their third-round choice in the 2003 draft (eventually used on Konstantin Barulin) to the Blues for forward Justin Papineau and St. Louis’ second-round choice in the 2003 draft (Jeremy Colliton) on March 11, 2003. GM Mike Milbury didn’t want to pay Osgood, so the Islanders shipped him out to the Blues for a package that eventually included current Blackhawks coach Colliton. Osgood went on to win 131 more games and capture another Stanley Cup with Detroit.

Previous ranking: 8
Standings point pace: 101

The Blue Jackets traded forward Anthony Duclair, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick to the Senators for center Ryan Dzingel on Feb. 23, 2019. While the merits of the Matt Duchene trade can be debated, this is already tilting toward a loss for Columbus even before the Senators use these picks. Dzingel had 12 points in 21 games for the Jackets, and then a disappointing one goal in nine playoff games, when he eventually was a healthy scratch. He then left in free agency, dashing hopes that the Ohio State product would stick around Columbus. Duclair has 21 goals this season for Ottawa.

Previous ranking: 9
Standings point pace: 99

The Flyers traded their 1989 first-round pick (Rob Pearson) and Calgary’s 1989 first-round pick (Steve Bancroft) to Toronto for goalie Ken Wregget on March 6, 1989. Wregget’s best was yet to come … with rival Pittsburgh, where he was shipped to in 1992. But the idea that the Flyers gave up two first-rounders for him and got a 42-47-9 record and a .879 save percentage … woof.

Previous ranking: 10
Standings point pace: 101

The Stars traded forward James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen to the Penguins for defenseman Alex Goligoski on Feb. 21, 2011. Goligoski was an expendable asset for the Penguins, and they flipped him for Neal, who continued to be one of the NHL’s most consistent goal scorers for the next seven seasons, and a solid defenseman in Niskanen. Goligoski had six strong seasons in Dallas, but the Stars definitely shipped out more than they received here.

Previous ranking: 14
Standings point pace: 98

The Maple Leafs traded forward Darby Hendrickson, forward Sean Haggerty, defenseman Kenny Jonsson and their first-round draft pick in 1997 (Roberto Luongo) to the Islanders for forward Wendel Clark, defenseman Mathieu Schneider and defenseman D.J. Smith on March 13, 1996. Clark is, of course, catnip to the Leafs, so they overpaid for him by shipping Jonsson (who played 597 games with the Islanders) and the following year’s first-rounder to New York. Whoops: The Leafs dropped 12 points in the standings and the Islanders ended up with the No. 4 pick in 1997.

Previous ranking: 12
Standings point pace: 98

The Hurricanes traded center Eric Staal to the Rangers for center Aleksi Saarela, their 2016 second-round pick (traded to Chicago) and their 2017 second-round pick (Luke Martin) on Feb. 28, 2016. Staal had some trade protection, was in a down year and was a pending unrestricted free agent — so there’s another bad side to this trade. (See: Rangers, New York.) But it’s a tribute to the Hurricanes that they don’t have (A) many deadline trades in their history and hence (B) many bad trades at the deadline. And since we’re not going to cheat and use one of several awful Hartford Whalers trades here, we really have little choice than to go with the Staal trade, because the Canes probably could have gotten more value from another suitor. Saarela never panned out, and Martin is still playing in college.

Previous ranking: 11
Standings point pace: 98

The Canucks traded forward R.J. Umberger and defenseman Martin Grenier to the Rangers for forward Martin Rucinsky on March 9, 2004. Rucinsky was a rental bust. While Umberger didn’t latch on with the Rangers, he would sign with the Flyers as a free agent and have a fine 779-game career.

Previous ranking: 13
Standings point pace: 97

The Panthers traded defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Matt Bartkowski to Boston for forward Byron Bitz, forward Craig Weller and Tampa Bay’s 2010 second-round pick (Florida selected Alex Petrovic) on March 3, 2010. The Panthers haven’t done a ton of deadline buying, and have won more trades than they’ve lost, but this one hurt. Seidenberg, whose contract was expiring, went on to have a terrific run with the Bruins, and Bartkowski had a productive few years. Petrovic was fine, but nowhere near as impactful as Seidenberg.

Previous ranking: 16
Standings point pace: 90

The Golden Knights traded their 2018 first-round pick (Joe Veleno), the Islanders’ 2019 second-round pick (Robert Mastrosimone) and a 2021 third-round pick to the Red Wings for forward Tomas Tatar on Feb. 26, 2018. Tatar managed just four goals in 20 games in the regular season, then one goal in eight games in the postseason. He was repackaged that summer with Nick Suzuki and Vegas’ second-round pick for Max Pacioretty.

Previous ranking: 15
Standings point pace: 97

The Oilers traded forward Miroslav Satan to the Sabres for forward Barrie Moore and defenseman Craig Millar on March 18, 1997. The Oilers didn’t want to pay Satan and were worried he’d bolt for Europe, so they traded him to Buffalo for two players who combined for 40 games with Edmonton. Satan, meanwhile, bedeviled the NHL for 735 points in 1,050 games.

Previous ranking: 18
Standings point pace: 90

The Flames traded forwards Brett Hull and Steve Bozek to the Blues for defenseman Rob Ramage and goaltender Rick Wamsley on March 7, 1988. In fairness to the Flames, no one knew that Brett Hull was going to become Brett Hull, and Ramage played a role in the Stanley Cup win the next season. But after scoring 27 goals as a rookie in Calgary, Hull would go on to score [checks notes] 714 more of them in the NHL.

Previous ranking: 17
Standings point pace: 89

The Coyotes traded forward Danny Briere and their third-round pick in the 2004 draft (Andrej Sekera) to the Sabres for forward Chris Gratton and Buffalo’s fourth-round choice in 2004 (later traded to the Oilers, who selected Liam Reddox) on March 10, 2003. The Sabres made this deal because of their poor financial state and yet ended up with Briere, who had 230 points in 225 games in Buffalo, and a pick that became Sekera, who played seven seasons with the Sabres. Gratton? He lasted one season with the Coyotes.

Previous ranking: 21
Standings point pace: 89

The Jets trade defenseman Johnny Oduya to the Blackhawks for their 2013 second-rounder (later sent to Washington) and third-rounder (J.C. Lipon) on Feb. 27, 2012. We’re not including deals from their Thrashers days here, which severely limits the scope since GM Kevin Cheveldayoff was notorious for not making many player-for-player trades. So we’ll do with this one, as Oduya went on to play a role on two Stanley Cup winners in Chicago. (If you trade-tree this out, the Jets did end up with Tucker Poolman as a roundabout result from this deal.)

Previous ranking: 25
Standings point pace: 85

The Canadiens traded forward Vincent Damphousse to the Sharks for Phoenix’s fifth-round choice in 1999 (Montreal selected Marc-Andre Thinel), San Jose’s first-round choice in 2000 (Marcel Hossa) and San Jose’s second-round choice in 2001 (later traded to Columbus) on March 23, 1999. The rebuilding Habs traded a productive 30-year-old Vinny for three picks who didn’t equal the 289 points in 385 games Damphousse had with the Sharks.

Previous ranking: 19
Standings point pace: 88

The Predators traded forwards Olli Jokinen and Brendan Leipsic, along with their 2015 first-round pick (later traded to Philadelphia), to the Maple Leafs for defenseman Cody Franson and forward Mike Santorelli on Feb. 15, 2015. The Predators made a mistake in trading Franson away in 2011 and then tried to correct that error a few years later … by making another one. Franson was a rental, and that pick eventually bounced to the Flyers, who used it to draft Travis Konecny.

Previous ranking: 20
Standings point pace: 83

The Blackhawks traded defenseman Chris Chelios to the Red Wings for defenseman Anders Eriksson and Detroit’s first-round choices in 1999 (Steve McCarthy) and 2001 (Adam Munro) on March 23, 1999. On paper, this made sense. Chelios was 37. Detroit was offering a roster player and two firsts. How were the Blackhawks supposed to know they were trading a supernatural creature who played until he was 48 and finished second for the Norris Trophy at 40 years old?

Previous ranking: 22
Standings point pace: 89

The Rangers traded forward Aleksi Saarela, their 2016 second-round pick (traded to Chicago) and their 2017 second-round pick (Luke Martin) to Carolina for forward Eric Staal on Feb. 28, 2016. While they didn’t give up much for him, Staal was an epic failure with the Rangers, with three goals and three assists in 20 regular-season games and no points and minus-7 in five playoff games. He left to sign with Minnesota that summer.

Previous ranking: 23
Standings point pace: 88

The Wild traded defensemen Kim Johnsson and Nick Leddy to the Blackhawks for defenseman Cam Barker on Feb. 12, 2010. At the end of the day, Leddy turned out to be a solid NHL defenseman and Barker was an epic bust for the Wild.

Previous ranking: 24
Standings point pace: 83

The Sabres traded forward Dave Andreychuk, goalie Daren Puppa and Buffalo’s 1993 first-round pick (Kenny Jonsson) to Toronto for goalie Grant Fuhr and Toronto’s 1995 fifth-round pick (Kevin Popp) on Feb. 2, 1993. Fuhr lasted 64 games in Buffalo, while Puppa would become an eventual Vezina finalist for the Lightning after they plucked him in the expansion draft. Hall of Famer Andreychuk would play until 2006.

Previous ranking: 27
Standings point pace: 78

The Ducks traded forwards Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi to the Penguins for defenseman Ryan Whitney on Feb. 26, 2009. Whitney lasted parts of two seasons with the Ducks and was flipped to Edmonton at the 2010 trade deadline. Kunitz skated with some guy named Crosby and had 388 points in 569 games with the Penguins.

Previous ranking: 26
Standings point pace: 76

The Sharks traded defenseman Josh Gorges and their first-round pick in 2007 (Max Pacioretty) to the Canadiens for defenseman Craig Rivet and Montreal’s fifth-round choice (Julien Demers) on Feb. 25, 2007. Georges became a dependable defenseman for the Canadiens, and that first-rounder could have been used on Pacioretty, David Perron or Mikael Backlund, all of whom were available with that pick.

Previous ranking: 29
Standings point pace: 75

The Devils traded defensemen Tommy Albelin and Cale Hulse and forward Jocelyn Lemieux to Calgary for defensemen Phil Housley and Dan Keczmer on Feb. 26, 1996. Housley had 15 points in 22 games for the Devils, but they missed the playoffs despite this investment at the deadline. Albelin was a good soldier for New Jersey, to the point where it reacquired him in 2001. Hulse went on to have a 619-game NHL career.

Previous ranking: 28
Standings point pace: 69

The Senators traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Lightning for forward Cory Conacher and Philadelphia’s fourth-round pick in the 2013 draft (Tobias Lindberg) on April 3, 2013. If there’s one piece of advice every general manager knows but few actually practice it’s to “sell high.” Steve Yzerman took that advice when he traded Conacher during a strong rookie campaign for Bishop, who would win 131 out of 227 games in which he appeared for the Lightning and go on to become a three-time Vezina Trophy finalist.

Previous ranking: 30
Standings point pace: 64

The Kings traded their third-round choice in 1981 (Colin Chisholm) and first-round choice in 1983 (Tom Barrasso) to the Sabres for forward Rick Martin on March 10, 1981. Martin, unfortunately, was damaged goods, playing only four games for the Kings after the trade. Barrasso would win 369 games in the NHL.

Previous ranking: 31
Standings point pace: 45

The Red Wings traded defenseman Sebastien Piche and their 2012 first-round pick (Andrei Vasilevskiy) to the Lightning for defenseman Kyle Quincey on Feb. 21, 2012. Quincey was acquired by the Lightning for Steve Downie, and then traded to the Red Wings for a prospect (who didn’t pan out) and a first-round pick (who very, very much did). Quincey played four more seasons in Detroit but was never worth a first.

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