The good news about being one of the worst teams in the NHL this year is you get your shot at picking near the top of an incredibly loaded draft where players like Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, Matvei Michkov and Leo Carlsson could help change the fortune of your entire franchise in an instant.
Going into this season the plan was for the Chicago Blackhawks to be one of the worst teams in the entire league. Let’s check in on the other teams that make up the bottom five and hope to get their shot at drafting Connor Bedard this summer.
San Jose Sharks
- Current Record: 14-25-9, 37 points
- Last 10 games: 3-5-2
- Odds at wining the draft lottery: 8.5%
The Sharks went 1-2-1 this past week; losing to the New Jersey Devils in a shootout, beating the Dallas Stars at home, then losing on the road to the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Boston Bruins.
every time I see a Sharks highlight it's like "Timo Meier scored a goal and raised his xGF to 87% while Erik Karlsson did something that hasn't been done since Bobby Orr of the 1971 Boston Bruins, as the Kings defeated the Sharks 4-2”— Patrick Bacon (@TopDownHockey) January 12, 2023
Erik Karlsson continues his “fuck you” tour this season. He had 6 points (2G, 4A) in his last 4 games and is currently on pace for 110 points — which would be the first 100-point season by a defenseman since 1991-1992. And yet (see above).
In the meantime, the trade chatter surrounding Timo Meier seems to be heating up.
The Sharks have three games before the all-star break — all on the road — against the Detroit Red Wings, Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins.
- Current Record: 15-27-5, 35 points
- Last 10 games: 2-8-0
- Odds at wining the draft lottery: 9.5%
Arizona went 2-2 this week, putting an end to their 9-game losing streak. They beat the Red Wings in a shootout, were blanked in back-to-back 4-0 losses by the Washington Capitals and the Stars, then beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 at home on Sunday night thanks to a Clayton Keller hat trick.
The Jakob Chychrun trade watch continues. He’s typically ranked as the second most valuable player available on most trade boards (we’ll get to the consensus third best in a moment...) and there’s been some recent speculation he’s being targeted by the Kings.
In apparently the only other Coyotes news, they debuted a new “Desert Nights” third jersey this week. Yes, there were more tweets and articles about that than anything else going on with the team.
New fit, who dis pic.twitter.com/Tu39eK50Hc— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) January 23, 2023
The Coyotes have three games before the break. They’ll see Anaheim and St. Louis at home before catching the Ducks again in Anaheim.
I knew the Sharks and Coyotes were at four or five, just like it has been every week I’ve done the Dying Hard so far. I’m sure nothing else has probably changed all that much with the top three spots but I should probably fire up the old laptop and head on over to NHL dot com to check the standings page, just in case. Guess I’ll take a nice, big sip of my coffee while I’m waiting for the page to load and...
- Current Record: 14-27-4, 32 points
- Last 10 games: 6-4-0
- Odds at wining the draft lottery: 11.5%
The streak may be over but the winning was enough to catapult them “up” to third from dead last. But I feel like there’s something else we need to talk about.
I caught a stat immediately after I posted my recap last night (because, of course) that Patrick Kane had zero shots on goal in back-to-back games for the first time in his entire career.
Most of us have watched him long enough to realize that there’s something noticeably different going on with him this season. Whether it’s age, lingering issues from the injury that caused him to miss games for the first time since 2015, a bigger issue with his hip, or the lack of quality running mates — his scoring has cratered this year (after amassing the second highest point total of his entire career last season).
I’m assuming he goes home after every game now, stares out a rainy window and listens to “Everybody Hurts” on repeat while looking longingly at pictures of Alex DeBrincat and Artemi Panarin on his phone.
Meanwhile, the questions surrounding the availability of both Kane and Jonathan Toews continue — and I think it’s best for everyone that a decision gets made one way or another relatively soon.
- Current Record: 13-29-5, 31 points
- Last 10 games: 3-6-1
- Odds at wining the draft lottery: 13.5%
The Ducks went 1-3 this week, losing to Pittsburgh in overtime and the Philadelphia Flyers in regulation, beating the Blue Jackets in Columbus then losing to the Buffalo Sabres in New York.
Anaheim currently has five total wins in regulation this season — which translates to a .245 regulation winning percentage — and if it wasn’t for the wizardry of Trevor Zegras and his four shootout goals they could be in an even worse overall position. And they’re still firmly on track for the worst record in franchise history.
The Ducks are still waiting for John Klingberg to find his game and they have two other defenseman who would most definitely be available via trade in Kevin Shattenkirk and Dmitry Kulikov. Doesn’t help Anaheim’s ask for any of those players though that they currently skate on a team with the worst defensive metrics that has also allowed the most goals in the entire league.
The Ducks have three games this week, traveling to Arizona and Colorado before facing the Coyotes back at home on Saturday in their final game before the break.
Columbus Blue Jackets
- Current Record: 14-30-2, 30 points
- Last 10 games: 3-7-0
- Odds at wining the draft lottery: 18.5%
Columbus hit rock bottom this week — literally and perhaps figuratively as well — with losses to the Rangers, Predators and Ducks before beating San Jose at home on Saturday night.
So about that game against the Ducks: the Blue Jackets jumped out to a 3-0 lead before allowing five straight goals to ultimately lose 5-3. Columbus has been outscored 71-41 in the 2nd period this season, a minus-30 differential that is second worst in the entire league, trailing only the (checks notes) Anaheim Ducks at minus-34.
Columbus has a big one on the schedule this week as they’ll accompany Johnny Gaudreau back to Calgary for the first time since he left in free agency this summer. I’m sure the Flames fans will sit quietly and clap politely for him, just like they did for Matthew Tkachuk earlier this season.
Columbus is the lone member of the bottom five with four games this week. They’ll travel to Calgary to face the Flames tonight, then make stops in Edmonton, Vancouver and Seattle.