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NHL Power Rankings: Canadian teams on the eve of the trade deadline

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Mark Keast

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Elias Pettersson Vancouver Canucks


Has there ever been a time in recent memory when the Stanley Cup coming back to Canada after 30 years has seemed so realistic?

On the sports betting front, this morning’s BetMGM Stanley Cup futures says a lot – with their huge 2-1 OT win last night over the Boston Bruins, line movement (Open to Now) for the Edmonton Oilers has gone from 10.00 to 9.00. 

In terms of highest ticket percentage, for the Cup, the Colorado Avalanche are generating the most betting action (12.3 per cent), followed by the Oilers (8.9 per cent). Edmonton is also a favorite to win the Western Conference (4.75). The Oilers this morning are betting favorites to win the Cup, at 9.00, tied with the Florida Panthers (9.00).

But looking at the power rankings, the Vancouver Canucks (14.00), Toronto Maple Leafs (14.00), and Winnipeg Jets (14.00) are also very much in the Cup conversation as well.

And that brings us to this Friday. I can’t remember a more relevant NHL trade deadline day, as it relates to the Canadian NHL teams. Let’s go down the list, looking at the Canadian teams most favored to win the Stanley Cup, and what they might do by this Friday, 3 p.m. EST. 

The Oilers (38-20-2-78, 2nd in the Pacific Division)

Such impressive growth on display last night against the Bruins. This is a fun time of the year, because more and more NHL regular season become playoff-style games for the teams that are in the thick of the races.

The powerhouse Bruins (36-13-15-87, second in the Atlantic Division) came into Toronto Monday and put on a clinic, handily beating the flared Leafs, 4-1. Last night? Not so much, and in Boston’s barn, no less. The Oilers, led by the best player in the world, Connor McDavid, a team blessed with a ton of offensive flair, beat the Bruins at their own game, putting the screws down on team defense.


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So where does GM Ken Holland go from here, to further strengthen the team?  They have a bunch of trade capital they can use – 2024 first round pick, 2024 second rounder, first rounders in 2025 and 2026. They have a bit of cap space – $2,373,102 of deadline space (amount of cap space the team will have with 40 days left in the season, assuming their roster doesn’t change).

They are going to do something. There are rumors they are going to move out D Cody Ceci (two years left at $3.25 million annually, according to CapFriendly) as part of any move to create more cap space to bring in a bigger ticket player, whether that’s a Top 9 forward or a Top 4 defenseman. 

The Leafs (35-18-8-78, 3rd in the Atlantic Division)

That Monday night loss to the bruins at home said a ton – the John Tavares-led era has been marked by wondrous regular season accomplishments and individual player point achievements, lots of players and the organization making lots of money – but a country club reputation, a lack of identity when games get serious and calamitous playoff failures. The so-called centre of the hockey universe hasn’t won a Cup since 1967.

Toronto is the most interesting trade deadline story – little draft capital available to use (2024 first rounder, 2024 third rounder via the New York Islanders, no second rounders through 2026, nothing until the fifth round in 2025, a first round, third and fourth pick in 2026) and $144,166 in deadline cap space, according to CapFriendly. 


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They can’t afford not to do anything, and GM Brad Treliving has indicated that the small deal they made a few days ago to bring in D Ilya Lyubushkin won’t be the only deal they make.

But Toronto is going to have to subtract to add, to make their cap fit. F Noah Gregor, F Nick Robertson, F Bobby McMann must be in play. They also have some underperforming players on expiring contracts: D TJ Brodie and D Timothy Liljegren. Will Treliving part with prized prospects Fraser Minten and Easton Cowan, currently tearing up the OHL on the scoring sheet? 

For those looking at NHL betting odds around the trade deadline, related to the Leafs, FanDuel has an interesting market today: Total Trades Completed by the Leafs on Trade Deadline Day (Over 1.5 2.30, Under 1.5 1.63). Our money is on the Over.

The Jets (39-17-5-83, 2nd in the Central Division)

The Jets may already have made their move – acquiring F Sean Monahan from the Montreal Canadiens in February, sending their 2024 first round pick to the Habs. And Monahan has fit in nicely – eight goals in 13 games.

The Jets have a ton of draft capital left – second via the Habs in 2024, third and fourth in 2024, first, second and third rounders both in 2025 and 2026 – plus they have $5,843,790 in deadline cap space according to CapFriendly. 


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Is Monahan it? The Jets were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs last year and have a mountain of challenge with the Oilers and Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference as well, but they have one of the best goalies in the world, Connor Hellebuyck (29-13-3, 2.29 GAA, .922 SV%, three shutouts).

Like the Leafs, they would like to add a right-handed defenseman to balance out their corps. Rumoured to be available there include David Savard of the Habs, Noah Hanifin of the Calgary Flames, Matt Dumba of the Arizona Coyotes, Sean Walker of the Philadelphia Flyers, and Joel Edmundson of the Washington Capitals. 

The Canucks (40-17-7-87, 1st in the Pacific Division)

The Canucks under GM Jim Rutherford have already been one of the more active teams on the trade front this season – acquiring D Nikita Zadorov from Calgary, F Elias Lindholm, a Top 6 centre, also from Calgary in a separate deal.

The Canucks have been consistently great all year, buying in to a coach-of-the-year candidate, Rick Tocchet. 

They have $1,091,250 in deadline cap space. But they do have draft capital – a third and fourth in 2024 (conditional), then first and second rounders in 2025 and 2026. 

They will be in the thick of it – looking for another Top 9 forward or look to further beef up their defense.


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Getting star center Elias Pettersson to sign an eight-year contract this past week was a huge move forward for a team that has a legitimate shot at their first Stanley Cup.

Sportsnet is reporting a scenario that involves the Canucks targeting the Pittsburgh Penguins’ F Jake Guentzel, the most impactful forward rumored to be on the market, in a trade involving Lindholm, in order to make the money work.

The Flames, Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens? They’re out of it (126.00, 251.00, and 501.00 in BetMGM Stanley Cup odds, respectively). They’ll be looking to move out assets, replenish their prospect base and pick up draft picks as they re-tool for future seasons.


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