All sorts of speculation early this NHL season about which teams might tank for a chance to draft Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.
In years past, there might have been 2 or 3 teams who were so bad that they might want to give up on the season and do everything they can to get the 1st overall pick but this season I think it’s fair to say there might be 8.
But I think, in reality the list is likely a bit shorter.
Let’s start at the bottom.
As of this writing, the team with the worst win percentage is the Edmonton Oilers (.328)
Oilers’ GM Craig (It’s Not My Fault) McTavish has already indicated he won’t be making any moves to improve his team so it’s likely they’ll limp along pretty much where they are for the rest of the season at least until the trade deadline when I expect they’ll move Jeff Petry and David Perron for “futures”. The loss of those two might cause a slight downturn in the teams performance but not to the degree that it should have any signifcant impact on the final standings.
Staying in the Western Conference, the Arizona Coyotes have been bad and they’re getting worse. They’ve just dropped their 8th straight game at home and have only won twice in their last 11 games. GM Don Maloney has already indicated he’s getting ready to blow things up and move out sone expensive veterans and I expect he’ll soon follow through on that threat not only to start a rebuild but to save money for the cash strapped team. I would wager all of Keith Yandle, Antoine Vermette and Martin Erat will all have new addresses early in the new year and the Coyotes will go from bad to worse and then worser. This is the team I think will finish 30th in the NHL and draft McDavid. The team desperately needs a marquee name to market and I expect the NHL will do everything in its “power” to ensure that happens.
Another teams that is poised to go into sell mode soon is the Carolina Hurricanes. Jiri Tlusty and Andrej Sekera are both UFA at the end of the season and I expect both will be dealt. I also believe the Hurricanes will try to convince Eric Staal to waive his NMC so they can turn him into a first round pick and other assets. Say hello to Jack Eichel!
The Buffalo Sabres are not a very good team but they have stellar goaltending, a great coach and are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games played and look like they’ll be moving out of the sub basement.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are beginning to get their injured players back and are on a 5 game winning streak. I think they’ll easily play themselves out of the chance to draft the wonder kids.
Which leaves us with 3 big question marks…The Philadelphia Flyers, The Colorado Avalanche and the Dallas Stars.
Now, the odds of any of these 3 teams winning the lottery are pretty low but an extended losing streak by any of them could increase those odds significantly and I can see Ed Snider in Philly, with a wink and a nod from his buddy Gary, going into full tank mode in the very near future.
Stranger things have happened.