NHL Power Rankings: As we near the end, every single team gets a trophy

There’s just one week left in the season and that means it’s time to hand out some hardware. Welcome to our second annual Every Team Gets A Trophy From The Rankings Boys bonanza!

The premise is simple: the NHL does not have enough awards. Just like every team gets to send one guy to the All-Star Game, every team should also be honored in some way with a trophy. Some trophies are obvious and are already covered: best player, best goalie, best defenseman, best team, etc. But where does that leave our favorite players from San Jose and Columbus? Nowhere — and we’re here to fix that.

We gave out 32 highly coveted awards last year and we’re ready to do the same this year. Every team gets a trophy, no exceptions.

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Last week: 1
Sean’s ranking: 1
Dom’s ranking: 1

Steven Stamkos Trophy: Best sophomore season.

Wyatt Johnston was a pleasant surprise in his rookie season scoring 24 goals and 41 points, but he was clearly just scratching the surface of his full potential. He still is in his second season and that should be a terrifying thought for the rest of the league. With 32 goals and 65 points Johnston leads all U20 players in scoring this season and what makes that more impressive is that he’s done that without a spot on Dallas’ top power play. His 2.61 points-per-60 is the 14th-best mark in the league. Johnston isn’t going to be a problem, he already is one.

Last week: 5
Sean’s ranking: 2
Dom’s ranking: 2

Dean Lombardi Trophy: Best deadline trade.

In 2012 the Kings added Jeff Carter to put them over the top. In 2014 they added Marian Gaborik. Those two deals are the best examples of a strong possession team adding pure production to the mix to make them unstoppable — and they came from the same guy. Could Carolina’s addition of Jake Guentzel conjure the same result? It sure looks like it with the way the Hurricanes have been playing since trading for him. He looks like their missing piece.

Last week: 2
Sean’s ranking: 3
Dom’s ranking: 3

Presidents’ Trophy: Best team.

We’d feel better about this one if the Rangers would’ve managed to beat the Flyers on Thursday night, but they’re still leading the league in points. The goal differential at five-on-five (162-159) might be unnerving, but the body of work speaks for itself. Two points in their final two games (home against the Islanders and Senators) will clinch it.

Last week: 8
Sean’s ranking: 4
Dom’s ranking: 5

Selke Trophy: Best defensive forward.

Let’s be real: Aleksander Barkov was probably going to fill the Selke vacuum left by Patrice Bergeron whether he deserved it or not. The good news is that he indeed does deserve it. Barkov is one of the league’s most impactful forwards in his own end, he does it against top competition and he kills penalties. His second Selke is on the way, and you can bet that more will follow.

Last week: 7
Sean’s ranking: 5
Dom’s ranking: 4

Wayne Gretzky Trophy: Best playmaker.

Apologies to Nikita Kucherov, but 99 assists in 74 games is more impressive than 98 assists in 78 games. The Gretzky belongs to Connor McDavid, who also has seven more assists at five-on-five. We’re hoping McDavid returns from injury to finish his quest for 100 assists this season to really put a stamp on this honor.

Last week: 4
Sean’s ranking: 7
Dom’s ranking: 6

Billy Beane Award: Goes to the team that does the best job at recreating an irreplaceable star.

A big part of “Moneyball” was tracking the Oakland Athletics’ attempt to deal with the loss of Jason Giambi, an MVP-caliber talent who’d left as a free agent. The Bruins were faced with a similar challenge this season when Patrice Bergeron retired. A one-for-one replacement wasn’t going to work, and Boston still doesn’t have a true No. 1 center, but they’re on track to win the Atlantic Division again anyway — and their top two centers, Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha, are both going to hit the 60-point mark.

Last week: 3
Sean’s ranking: 6
Dom’s ranking: 7

Hart Trophy: Most valuable player.

The competition for league MVP is the fiercest it’s ever been. The choice for the league’s best is beyond difficult, but on Tuesday night Nathan MacKinnon gave an emphatic statement that he’s at the top of the hierarchy. He scored not one, not two, but three goals, steaming right through the Wild. It might be one of the coolest hat tricks we can remember, putting an exclamation point on his Hart campaign.

Last week: 6
Sean’s ranking: 8
Dom’s ranking: 8

Tier 1 Award: Awarded to the player most deserving of Tier 1 status after being snubbed last fall.

It’s not just that Quinn Hughes has been great this season — it’s that he’s improved significantly. At five-on-five, Hughes’ points/60 have jumped from 1.27 to 1.74, as have his expected goals share (48.0 to 54.6) and actual goals share (56.8 to 63.5). Sounds like a Norris Trophy winner to us, and a player whose stock will rise considerably when it comes time to put together our Player Tiers for 2024-25.

Last week: 12
Sean’s ranking: 9
Dom’s ranking: 9

Vezina Trophy: Best goalie.

The Jets are more than Connor Hellebuyck, but boy does he ever change what this team is capable of. Without him, they’d probably still be a playoff team. With him, they’re a dark horse contender that can make some noise in the West. Hellebuyck can steal a series on his own and no one would be surprised. He’s been the beast goalie this season from front to back.

Last week: 10
Sean’s ranking: 10 
Dom’s ranking: 10

Sergei Fedorov Award: Most complete player.

Sergei Fedorov didn’t quite have the most goals in 1993-94, but he did finish third with 56 — while also winning the Selke Trophy for best defensive forward (and the Hart, for that matter). That’s the best comparable we have for what Auston Matthews is doing this season: 68 goals while also being top five in Defensive Rating among forwards. The Rocket-Selke combo is an unprecedented one, showing how hard it is to score a ton of goals while still being defensively responsible. What Matthews is doing is extremely rare and in any other year, he’d be a shoo-in for MVP. This year, he’s in the thick of the conversation.

Last week: 9
Sean’s ranking: 11
Dom’s ranking: 11

Jon Cooper Trophy: Awarded to the best coaching job that definitely isn’t going to win the Jack Adams.

Your winner is, of course, Jon Cooper, who helped engineer a late-season turnaround — particularly on defense — that has the Lightning looking, once again, like a real threat. The fact that he and Mike Sullivan have combined for zero Jack Adamses and four Stanley Cup championships will never not be funny.

Last week: 11
Sean’s ranking: 12
Dom’s ranking: 12

Media Appreciation Award: To the team that filled the most story quotas.

The Golden Knights get this one based on their trade deadline performance alone. We got weeks’ worth of material out of all that LTIR stuff, and for that, we salute them. It’s not over yet, either; prepare for another wave of whining once Mark Stone returns to the lineup.

Last week: 13
Sean’s ranking: 13
Dom’s ranking: 13

Jack Adams Award: Best coach.

Apologies to Rick Tocchet, who has done a tremendous job in Vancouver, but what Andrew Brunette has done with this roster is far more stunning. Both teams had some top-tier stars to work with at each position and some questionable depth to start the season — enough to place each team outside the playoff picture. Each coach was able to get the absolute most out of their rosters, enough to turn those stars into franchise-level talents and the depth to look strong without question. It’s Brunette, though, who gets the edge for having a bit less to work with.

14. Los Angeles Kings, 42-26-11

Last week: 14
Sean’s ranking: 14 
Dom’s ranking: 14

Rod Langway Award: Best defensive defensemen.

It’s always cool to see how elite players’ games change as they age, and Drew Doughty is one of the best examples we’ve got. At 34, he leads NHL with a plus-11 defensive rating. Great as he was in his 20s, that sort of thing didn’t seem to be in the cards. On top of that, he’s one goal away from tying his career high of 15.

15 New York Islanders, 37-27-15

Last week: 16
Sean’s ranking: 15
Dom’s ranking: 15

Bylsma-Sullivan Award: Best coaching change.

When the Islanders fired Lane Lambert, they were 19-15-11. Under Patrick Roy, they’ve gone 18-12-4 and generally look the part of a playoff-caliber team, getting production from their high-end players and improving their numbers across the board.

Last week: 17
Sean’s ranking: 16
Dom’s ranking: 16

The Other Jennings Trophy: Awarded to the player who most put the team on his back doe.

Another three-point night for Sidney Crosby, including the assist on the overtime winner, the 1000th of his career, which put him in the top 10 all-time for points. Over his last 10 games, he has 20 points, and the Penguins are back in a playoff spot with a 7-0-3 record. He is literally putting the team on his back right now and carrying them into the postseason.

Last week: 15
Sean’s ranking: 17
Dom’s ranking: 17

Aleksander Barkov Award: Most underrated player.

After eight years in a row of being the NHL’s most underrated player, it’s time for someone new to take over for Barkov. Our choice? A point-per-game, two-way stud who takes on the toughest minutes in a less notable market to make ourselves feel intellectually superior. That’s all any “most underrated player” ever is — a chance to feel smug about someone most diehard hockey fans already know is pretty damn good.

Anyways, Robert Thomas, welcome to the most underrated player club! You rule, and everyone should know it.

Last week: 20
Sean’s ranking: 18
Dom’s ranking: 18

Dion Phaneuf Memorial: The player with the most difficult job in hockey.

We’ve talked plenty about Moritz Seider’s season, but it’s worth saying it again: No player gets thrown to the wolves quite like him. His average opponent has an Offensive Rating of 3.1, highest in the league.

Last week: 19
Sean’s ranking: 19
Dom’s ranking: 20

Dominique Ducharme Trophy: Awarded to the team with the least business of being in its current situation, in honor of the 2020-21 Montreal Canadiens.

Sort the league by goal differential and there are only five teams below the Capitals: Montreal, Columbus, Anaheim, Chicago, San Jose. Extremely prestigious company and yet there the Caps are, just one point out of a playoff spot. Seriously, what are you guys doing here?

“What are you guys doing here” also applies to the team’s last eight games — a 1-5-2 stretch that has put them outside a playoff spot. And it finally feels like they’re going to stay there.

Last week: 21
Sean’s ranking: 20
Dom’s ranking: 19

Martin St. Louis Award: Best player on a lottery team, in honor of St. Louis winning the Art Ross trophy in 2012-13 on the league’s third-worst team.

This Wild season is disappointing on a number of fronts, but the most disappointing is the team wasting such an incredible season from Kirill Kaprizov. He’s not getting as much press, thanks to the Wild losing so much and his own slow start, but he’s putting up some really strong numbers. In 71 games he has 42 goals and 90 points and has some terrific on-ice stats to boot. His Net Rating of plus-19.5 ranks 12th in the league.

21. Philadelphia Flyers, 37-32-11

Last week: 18
Sean’s ranking: 21
Dom’s ranking: 21

Phil Housley Award: Team that falls off the biggest cliff, in honor of the 2018-19 Buffalo Sabres.

Thursday night’s win over the Rangers isn’t enough to undo anything that went on in Philly over the previous couple of weeks. During that eight-game losing streak, they lost five times to teams outside the playoffs, were outscored 42-18, put up a team save percentage of .781 and nuked most of the goodwill they’d built up during their first 70 games. Other than that, everything is great.

Last week: 24
Sean’s ranking: 22
Dom’s ranking: 22

The Golden Calculator: The team that gave us the best reminder of how math works.

Last season, the Kraken scored on 10.4 percent of their five-on-five shots. That wasn’t just high — it was the highest mark of the analytics era. This season, they’re 28th in the league, at 7.77 percent. That shouldn’t surprise anyone, and neither should their also-ran status in the Western Conference.

Last week: 22
Sean’s ranking: 23
Dom’s ranking: 23

Guy Boucher Trophy: Team that took the largest step back, in honor of the 2017-18 Ottawa Senators.

The Devils have underachieved for plenty of reasons: brutal goaltending and a season-ending injury to their best defenseman are only at the top of the list. Either way, a team that was projected to lead the league in points currently sits 22nd. This one is a no-brainer

24. Buffalo Sabres, 38-37-5

Last week: 23
Sean’s ranking: 24
Dom’s ranking: 24

Jonathan Marchessault Trophy: Best out-of-nowhere season.

That the Sabres couldn’t live up to the hype this season despite having a top 10 starting goalie performance is a tough pill to swallow. Tell any hockey fan before the season that Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen would rank eighth in goals saved above expected and they would think that Buffalo was a sure bet for the playoffs. That obviously wasn’t the case, but Luukkonen still deserves plenty of kudos for what he’s done. It was hard to see coming after he posted an .889 and allowed 10.7 goals above expected the year prior.

25. Ottawa Senators, 35-40-4

Last week: 27
Sean’s ranking: 25
Dom’s ranking: 25

Doug Wilson Award: Best accidental tank, in honor of the 2018-19 San Jose Sharks.

It’s probably not ideal to win this award when a team starts the year expected to make the playoffs. Unfortunately, that’s where the Senators are at this year, currently sitting seventh last in the league. The Joonas Korpisalo Effect is very difficult for even the most well-intentioned teams to overcome.

Last week: 26
Sean’s ranking: 26
Dom’s ranking: 26

John Gibson Award: Least valuable player (for the purposes of tanking).

If Jacob Markstrom were a break-even goaltender, rather than No. 2 in the league in Goals Saved Above Expected (28.72), the Flames would likely be in the league’s bottom five, rather than the bottom nine. Every percentage point matters.

Last week: 28
Sean’s ranking: 28
Dom’s ranking: 27

Matt Boldy Award: Best midseason call-up.

Since Dylan Guenther returned to the NHL on Jan. 7, he’s put up 31 points, third-best on the team, including a four-point on his 21st birthday earlier this week. He’s going to be a good player for, uh, somebody.

28. Montreal Canadiens, 30-36-13

Last week: 25
Sean’s ranking: 27
Dom’s ranking: 28

Jack Hughes Award: Biggest glow-up.

Not all No. 1 picks storm into the league as impact players. Some take time to get there. We saw that with Jack Hughes, and we’re seeing it now with Juraj Slafkovsky who has thoroughly beat the bust allegations. Over his last 15 games, he has 15 points including his first career hat trick earlier this week. He has arrived and the difference between who he is now and who he was at the start of the season is night and day. We’re excited to see how high he climbs next season.

29. Columbus Blue Jackets, 26-42-12

Last week: 29
Sean’s ranking: 29
Dom’s ranking: 29

Carter Verhaeghe Trophy: Nicest found money.

Alex Nylander has slowed down after starting red-hot with the Blue Jackets, but his stat line still shines. In 21 games he’s scored 10 goals and 14 points which is roughly where Emil Bemstrom is at over 54 games. Hopefully Nylander can parlay this into a strong full season next year.

30. Anaheim Ducks, 26-48-5

Last week: 30
Sean’s ranking: 30
Dom’s ranking: 30

Tim Murray Award: Most aimless rebuild.

Credit where it’s due: the Ducks were a bad defensive team this season, rather than one of the worst defensive teams anybody has ever seen. Baby steps still count. But man, if you were expecting one of those young players to truly pop this season — or, in Trevor Zegras’ case, regain his footing — you’ve been disappointed. Another year of this, and it’ll be time for some tough questions.

31. Chicago Blackhawks, 23-50-5

Last week: 31
Sean’s ranking: 31
Dom’s ranking: 31

Calder Trophy: Best rookie.

Sorry Brockstars — we obviously love what Brock Faber is doing in a heavy-minute No. 1 role with the Wild. But what Connor Bedard is doing offensively this season on an otherwise inept Blackhawks team is simply too special to ignore. Bedard doesn’t have a single top-six caliber linemate to play with and still is sniffing a point-per-game season. Yes, his defensive game is troubling, but he should get a pass for most of it, given what he has to work with. It’s a very close race, but The Rankings Boys Official Endorsement lies with the future generational star.

32. San Jose Sharks, 19-51-9

Last week: 32
Sean’s ranking: 32
Dom’s ranking: 32

Tim Murray Award: Best deliberate tank, in honor of the 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres.

There are four guys in the current lineup whose names we didn’t recognize. That’s good tankin’, baby! An 18.5 percent chance at the first pick in a year with a consensus No.1 — mission accomplished.

(Photo: Curtis Comeau / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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