NHL power rankings: Who are contenders ahead of the trade deadline?

The Sabres, Canadiens and Jets are going nowhere, fast. The allure of the playoffs and the millions of dollars it generates is real: Ask the Blue Jackets, who snatched the franchise’s first playoff series win after making the choice to buy and not to sell. The trade deadline, just a few weeks away, presents a hard fork in the season before each franchise’s path diverges toward a playoff push or a mediocre conclusion. And neither Buffalo, Montreal or Winnipeg have much to stake their postseason hopes to.

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