NHL Power Rankings: 1-31 poll, plus do we buy or sell each team’s current playoff status?

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Happy Thanksgiving week! It’s time to whip out the turkey, gravy, pumpkin pie, and everyone’s favorite arbitrary NHL deadline. Since 2005 (the introduction of the salary cap) 76% of teams in playoff position on American Thanksgiving have gone on to make the playoffs, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau. (A subtle reminder that Canadian Thanksgiving was a month ago, which is too early to count such things. Sorry.)

The St. Louis Blues famously bucked the trend last season, and went on to win the Stanley Cup. Who else do we see defying their current situation? For this week’s ESPN NHL Power Rankings, we took a spin on buying or selling whether teams will stay in their current postseason position.

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. The previous ranking for each team is its spot in last week’s edition.


Previous ranking: 1

Current status: In

Buy. Very few teams go on point streaks like the one the Islanders’ were on that recently ended — 17 games — and end up missing the playoffs. The Isles are a tough team to score against, which often equates to a long postseason run.

Previous ranking: 3

Current status: In

Buy. The Patrice Bergeron injury isn’t ideal. However the team seems to be managing the 34-year-old’s nagging groin injury so that he can stay healthy down the stretch.

Previous ranking: 2

Current status: In

Buy. Injuries are piling up (Carl Hagelin, Nic Dowd, Nicklas Backstrom) but the Caps will sustain their success, thanks to one of the league’s top offenses (3.52 goals per game).

Previous ranking: 4

Current status: In

Buy. The Blues are banged up but still finding ways to win. Just imagine if they get Vladimir Tarasenko back in time for the playoffs.

Previous ranking: 6

Current status: In

Buy. One player might not be able to will a team into the playoffs alone — but perhaps two can. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are No. 1 and No. 2 in league scoring and looking as dominant as ever.

Previous ranking: 9

Current status: In

Buy. Coach Rod Brind’Amour‘s main goal was to build off of last season’s run. He’s not totally satisfied with where his team is, but that’s to be expected with so many new faces in the lineup.

Previous ranking: 11

Current status: In

Buy. The Stars are starting to look like their best selves, and the offense is clicking. They’ve also regained form on defense and in net (since their hot streak started on Oct. 19, Dallas has given up a league-low 32 goals in a span of 17 games).

Previous ranking: 7

Current status: In

Buy. The Coyotes’ seven-year playoff drought feels destined to end this season. Thank the NHL’s best goaltending tandem: Darcy Kuemper (.943 save percentage) and Antti Raanta (.926).

Previous ranking: 8

Current status: In

Buy. Joel Quenneville brought his winning ways to Florida, and everything is going to plan. As long as Sergei Bobrovsky regains his form, this will be a scary team to face this spring.

Previous ranking: 12

Current status: In

Sell. Paul Maurice deserves consideration for coach of the year; he has guided this group to wins, despite relentless distractions since the summer. That said, the blue line will eventually get exposed.

Previous ranking: 5

Current status: In

Buy. We saw how dominant the Avalanche could look when everyone is healthy. Just when we feared the injury list was getting too long, it appears Mikko Rantanen is close to returning.

Previous ranking: 13

Current status: In

Buy. The Penguins’ efforts without Evgeni Malkin, and now Sidney Crosby, missing from the lineup have been admirable. But the improvements on defense perhaps have been even more impressive.

Previous ranking: 10

Current status: In

Sell. We’re not saying blowing a 4-0 lead to the Rangers is the only reason we’re worried about the Canadiens, but it’s one of them. The long-term injury to Jonathan Drouin is also troubling.

Previous ranking: 18

Current status: Out

Sell. The Lightning are too talented to miss out on the playoffs altogether. They still have the league’s best power play, plus superstars on the verge of going on a tear.

Previous ranking: 17

Current status: In

Buy. The Sharks got off to a slow start, but they got going with enough time to make up ground. Their league-best penalty kill (91.4%) can help them down the stretch.

Previous ranking: 14

Current status: In

Sell. The Canucks are a plucky young team and the future is bright. But they seem to be falling into old habits, like not consistently showing up for every game.

Previous ranking: 15

Current status: In

Sell. It has been troubling to see Shayne Gostisbehere struggle; the former top defenseman got the healthy scratch treatment twice this week.

Previous ranking: 16

Current status: Out

Sell. OK, so the Golden Knights are going through a rough patch. Their talented top six is too talented to slump for too long, and Marc-Andre Fleury is back to doing Marc-Andre Fleury things on a regular basis.

Previous ranking: 23

Current status: Out

Sell. Who knows if Sheldon Keefe is the long-term answer. However, it sure looks as if he’ll get more out of this group for the rest of the season than Mike Babcock would have.

Previous ranking: 21

Current status: Out

Sell. The Predators’ goaltending has been abysmal lately, but we have faith in Pekka Rinne to figure it out. Seeing Juuse Saros get back-to-back starts (while Rinne is healthy) should be a wake-up call for the veteran.

Previous ranking: 26

Current status: Out

Buy. The Rangers are hanging around, which will tantalize fans. While certain players (like Artemi Panarin) have been consistently awesome, the coaching staff still has to manage the development of many young players.

Previous ranking: 22

Current status: Out

Buy. The Sabres had a hot start, and unlike last season, they haven’t completely collapsed. However, they haven’t looked amazing either. Mediocre and inconsistent play since the 10-game winning streak probably keeps them out.

Previous ranking: 19

Current status: Out

Buy. Despite spectacular goaltending, the Blackhawks have been a confusing team. They’re poised to go on another few small runs, but it is probably another transition season for the club.

Previous ranking: 20

Current status: Out

Buy. The Flames just endured a six-game losing streak in which they were outscored 23-5. Calgary was the West’s best team last season; right now, the Flames are a mess.

Previous ranking: 24

Current status: Out

Buy. The Ducks look more competitive than they did last season. Fans should be encouraged that this team is getting much younger, especially at forward.

Previous ranking: 25

Current status: Out

Buy. You can look for bright spots in the 2019-20 campaign, but the Blue Jackets don’t have enough overall talent to make the playoffs, and slumping veterans haven’t helped.

Previous ranking: 27

Current status: Out

Buy. This season was supposed to be a write-off, but the Senators are much better than expected. That doesn’t mean good enough for the playoffs, though.

Previous ranking: 29

Current status: Out

Buy. The Devils’ weakness in net has been exposed, and the guys playing in front of the goalies haven’t been nearly good enough to overcompensate.

Previous ranking: 30

Current status: Out

Buy. To get to the playoffs, the Wild would first have to win more than two consecutive games (which they have yet to do this season). As an aside, Minnesota is quite bad in overtime.

Previous ranking: 31

Current status: Out

Buy. The stars aren’t stepping up, and the Kings have removed Ilya Kovalchuk from the lineup. The rebuild isn’t always pretty.

Previous ranking: 28

Current status: Out

Buy. Well, at least when we look back at the Steve Yzerman-as-GM era in Detroit, this should be the worst of it.

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