Playoff watch: With Rangers-Panthers on center stage, who's winning the Presidents' Trophy?


Saturday’s NHL schedule features a number of tantalizing matchups, whether it’s for playoff positioning — such as Edmonton Oilers-Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+) — or better odds in the draft lottery, as is the case with Chicago Blackhawks-San Jose Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+).

But the game we’ve got circled as Saturday night’s main event is the Florida Panthers’ visit to Madison Square Garden to take on the New York Rangers (8 p.m. ET, ABC and ESPN+). Given that these are two of the league’s top four teams in the standings — and the other two, the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks, are in action as well — it’s time to take a look at the race for the Presidents’ Trophy.

The obvious caveat here: The Presidents’ Trophy, awarded to the team with the most points in the standings in the regular season, is not necessarily a good-luck charm when it comes to winning the Stanley Cup that season (at least recently). Since the trophy was first awarded in 1985-86, only eight teams have won the regular-season points race and the Cup in the same campaign, the most recent being the Chicago Blackhawks in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. A recent trend is for a team to make its big run to the Cup one year after winning the Presidents’ Trophy:

  • The Washington Capitals led the league in points in 2015-16 and 2016-17, then won the Cup in 2018.

  • The Tampa Bay Lightning dominated to the tune of 128 points in 2018-19, then won two Cups in a row (2020, 2021).

  • The Colorado Avalanche earned the Presidents’ Trophy in the wonky 2020-21 season, then won the Cup in 2022.

  • The Panthers raced out to 122 points in winning the regular-season points race in 2021-22, then made the Cup Final in 2023.

So is this the Bruins’ year after their first-round flameout last spring? The B’s come into Saturday’s action with the highest current point total (97), though their regulation wins total (32) lags behind the other top contenders. Currently projected for 112.6 points by Stathletes, their journey continues with a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday (1 p.m. ET, NHL Network). Seven of the B’s final 11 games are against teams currently in playoff position, and two of the others are against the Capitals, who are fighting for a wild-card spot.

The Panthers are Stathletes’ current projected pick for the Presidents’ Trophy, at 112.7 points; they are at 94 points heading into the showdown with the Rangers but have a regulation wins edge on Boston (37) and two games in hand. They have one game in hand on the Rangers and Canucks but are one regulation win behind those teams. Including Saturday’s game, seven of the Panthers’ final 13 games are against teams in current playoff position, but they also have two left against the Ottawa Senators and one apiece against the Montreal Canadiens and Columbus Blue Jackets. (Now that projection makes sense, doesn’t it?)

New York had a statement victory against Boston on Thursday night, 5-2 at TD Garden, and it’ll hope to get a similar result against the Atlantic’s other power on Saturday. The Rangers are a point behind the Bruins (96) but have an edge in regulation wins (38). Just five of the Rangers’ 12 remaining games are against teams in playoff position, and two of those are against the recently wobbly Flyers. Stathletes’ model doesn’t like them quite as much as the other teams, however, as they are projected for 108.9 points.

The Canucks, who host the Calgary Flames in one of Saturday’s late games (10 p.m. ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+), are right behind Florida and Boston in the projections, at 111. Their current totals are in a deadlock with the Rangers’ — 96 points and 38 regulation wins. Of the Canucks’ final dozen games, seven are against teams currently in playoff position, but they do have a pair against the Arizona Coyotes and one against the Anaheim Ducks.

What’s that sound I hear overhead? Ah yes, it’s the Winnipeg Jets, currently right behind the projected leaders, at 110.4. After their surprising loss to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, the Jets head to UBS Arena to square off with the New York Islanders (1 p.m. ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+). Though they are four points behind the B’s in the points column, the Jets have the most regulation wins in the league (39), with seven of their final 13 games against teams currently in a playoff spot.

Finally, although the Carolina Hurricanes are not in action on Saturday, they are still very much in play for the Presidents’ Trophy, projected for 110.4 points as well; currently, they have 95 points and 36 regulation wins. The Canes will host the Maple Leafs on Sunday (6 p.m. ET, ESPN+ and Hulu), and after that will play just three teams in playoff spots over their final 10 contests.

Stay tuned to find out which team wins — and potentially guarantees itself a long run in the 2025 postseason.

As we traverse the final stretch of the regular season, it’s time to check in on all the playoff races — along with the teams jockeying for position in the 2024 NHL draft lottery.

Note: Playoff chances are via Stathletes.

Jump ahead:
Current playoff matchups
Saturday’s schedule
Friday’s scores
Expanded standings
Race for No. 1 pick

greyline

Current playoff matchups

Eastern Conference

A1 Boston Bruins vs. WC2 Detroit Red Wings
A2 Florida Panthers vs. A3 Toronto Maple Leafs
M1 New York Rangers vs. WC1 Tampa Bay Lightning
M2 Carolina Hurricanes vs. M3 Philadelphia Flyers

Western Conference

C1 Colorado Avalanche vs. WC1 Nashville Predators
C2 Dallas Stars vs. C3 Winnipeg Jets
P1 Vancouver Canucks vs. WC2 Vegas Golden Knights
P2 Edmonton Oilers vs. P3 Los Angeles Kings


Saturday’s games

Note: All times ET. All games not on TNT or NHL Network are available via NHL Power Play, which is included in an ESPN+ subscription (local blackout restrictions apply).

Winnipeg Jets at New York Islanders, 1 p.m.
Boston Bruins at Philadelphia Flyers, 1 p.m. (NHLN)
St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild, 2 p.m.
Detroit Red Wings at Nashville Predators, 5 p.m.
Edmonton Oilers at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7 p.m.
Ottawa Senators at New Jersey Devils, 7 p.m.
Florida Panthers at New York Rangers, 8 p.m. (ABC/ESPN+)
Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks, 10 p.m.
Columbus Blue Jackets at Vegas Golden Knights, 10:30 p.m.
Tampa Bay Lightning at Los Angeles Kings, 10:30 p.m.
Chicago Blackhawks at San Jose Sharks, 10:30 p.m.


Friday’s scoreboard

Washington Capitals 7, Carolina Hurricanes 6 (SO)
Dallas Stars 4, Pittsburgh Penguins 2
Colorado Avalanche 6, Columbus Blue Jackets 1
Arizona Coyotes 2, Seattle Kraken 2 (OT)


Expanded standings

Atlantic Division

bos

Points: 97
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: A1
Games left: 11
Points pace: 112
Next game: @ PHI (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

fla

Points: 94
Regulation wins: 37
Playoff position: A2
Games left: 13
Points pace: 112
Next game: @ NYR (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

tor

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: A3
Games left: 14
Points pace: 105
Next game: vs. EDM (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

tb

Points: 82
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 13
Points pace: 98
Next game: @ LA (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 99.1%
Tragic number: N/A

det

Points: 78
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 12
Points pace: 91
Next game: @ NSH (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 35.8%
Tragic number: N/A

buf

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 11
Points pace: 82
Next game: @ CGY (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 1.1%
Tragic number: 15

mtl

Points: 62
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Points pace: 74
Next game: @ SEA (Sunday)
Playoff chances: ~0%
Tragic number: 10

ott

Points: 60
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Points pace: 72
Next game: @ NJ (Saturday)
Playoff chances: ~0%
Tragic number: 10


Metropolitan Division

nyr

Points: 96
Regulation wins: 38
Playoff position: M1
Games left: 12
Points pace: 113
Next game: vs. FLA (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

car

Points: 95
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: M2
Games left: 11
Points pace: 110
Next game: vs. TOR (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

phi

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: M3
Games left: 12
Points pace: 93
Next game: vs. BOS (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 77.1%
Tragic number: N/A

wsh

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Points pace: 92
Next game: vs. WPG (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 55.0%
Tragic number: 25

nyi

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 21
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Points pace: 87
Next game: vs. WPG (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 12.1%
Tragic number: 21

nj

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 12
Points pace: 84
Next game: vs. OTT (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 19.3%
Tragic number: 18

pit

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Points pace: 82
Next game: @ COL (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0.5%
Tragic number: 17

cbj

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 12
Points pace: 68
Next game: @ VGK (Saturday)
Playoff chances: ~0%
Tragic number: 4


Central Division

col

Points: 95
Regulation wins: 38
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 12
Points pace: 111
Next game: vs. PIT (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

dal

Points: 95
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 11
Points pace: 110
Next game: @ ARI (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

wpg

Points: 93
Regulation wins: 39
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 13
Points pace: 111
Next game: @ NYI (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

nsh

Points: 86
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 12
Points pace: 101
Next game: vs. DET (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 99.5%
Tragic number: N/A

stl

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 12
Points pace: 90
Next game: @ MIN (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 4.6%
Tragic number: 20

min

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 12
Points pace: 89
Next game: vs. STL (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 8.2%
Tragic number: 19

ari

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 23
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 12
Points pace: 74
Next game: vs. DAL (Sunday)
Playoff chances: ~0%
Tragic number: 6

chi

Points: 43
Regulation wins: 14
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 12
Points pace: 50
Next game: @ SJ (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Pacific Division

van

Points: 96
Regulation wins: 38
Playoff position: P1
Games left: 12
Points pace: 113
Next game: vs. CGY (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

edm

Points: 88
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: P2
Games left: 15
Points pace: 108
Next game: @ TOR (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

la

Points: 83
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: P3
Games left: 13
Points pace: 99
Next game: vs. TB (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 95.9%
Tragic number: N/A

vgk

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 13
Points pace: 96
Next game: vs. CBJ (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 88.9%
Tragic number: N/A

cgy

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Points pace: 86
Next game: @ VAN (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 2.8%
Tragic number: 18

sea

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Points pace: 82
Next game: vs. MTL (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0.1%
Tragic number: 14

ana

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 12
Points pace: 60
Next game: vs. TB (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

sj

Points: 39
Regulation wins: 12
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Points pace: 46
Next game: vs. CHI (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

p — clinched Presidents’ Trophy
y — clinched division
x — clinched playoff berth
e — eliminated from playoff contention


Race for the No. 1 pick

The NHL uses a draft lottery to determine the order of the first round, so the team that finishes in last place is not guaranteed the No. 1 selection. As of 2021, a team can move up a maximum of 10 spots if it wins the lottery, so only 11 teams are eligible for the draw for the No. 1 pick. Full details on the process can be found here. Sitting No. 1 on the draft board for this summer is Macklin Celebrini, a freshman at Boston University.

sj

Points: 39
Regulation wins: 12

chi

Points: 43
Regulation wins: 14

ana

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 18

cbj

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 18

ott

Points: 60
Regulation wins: 19

mtl

Points: 62
Regulation wins: 15

ari

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 23

sea

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 22

pit

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 25

buf

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 27

cgy

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 28

nj

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 29

nyi

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 21

min

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 27

wsh

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 27

stl

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 28

* The Penguins’ first-round pick was traded to the Sharks as part of the Erik Karlsson trade. However, it is top-10 protected.



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