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Dying Hard: NHL Reverse Standings Update — Valentine’s Edition

Checking in on the worst teams in the NHL this season.

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This poor man would rather crawl through an air conditioning duct than choo-choo-choose to have any one of these teams be his valentine.

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: 17-26-11, 45 points
  • Last 10 games: 4-3-3
  • Odds at wining the draft lottery: 8.5%

San Jose went 2-1 this past week — beating the Lightning in overtime in Tampa, losing to the Panthers in Florida, then defeating the Capitals in Washington on Sunday afternoon. The Washington game marked the end of an 8-game road trip that started way back on Jan. 21.

The Erik Karlsson shenanigans continue — he has 9 points (3 G, 6 A) in his last 5 games — and there’s been a significant uptick in talks about the possibility of him being traded to the Oilers (which if that were to happen, Godspeed to the rest of the Western Conference).

Timo Meier hasn’t been nearly as hot as of late — with only two goals and an assist in his last five games — but he’s still the best forward available and at the top of just about every draft board. San Jose may be hurting their return by not allowing his agent to negotiate a contract extension in unison with a trade, but that won’t sway any of the dozen or so contending teams that would be interested in adding him for their playoff run (plus next season, as he’s an RFA). Certainly not swaying any fan bases either ...

Upcoming Schedule

The Sharks welcome the Pittsburgh Penguins to San Jose for a Valentine’s night faceoff then travel to Vegas to see the Golden Knights before coming back to home to take on the Buffalo Sabres.

Arizona Coyotes

  • Current Record: 17-28-8, 42 points
  • Last 10 games: 4-3-3
  • Odds at wining the draft lottery: 9.5%

Arizona started their week by beating the Wild in Minnesota before losing back-to-back road games in overtime — against the Hawks here then against the Blues in St. Louis.

The Jakob Chychrun era in Arizona could be over just about any second now (and just as I figured out how to spell his last name without looking it up). He was scratched right before their game against the Blues on Saturday night due to trade-related reasons and it seemed like a deal to the LA Kings — involving top prospect Quinton Byfield — was imminent. HOWEVA...

It’s Monday and no such deal has materialized yet. There was even some chatter late Sunday that the Kings and Coyotes were working on an even bigger deal involving Chychrun, Arizona goaltender Karel Vejmelka and LA’s tippy tippy top prospect defenseman Brandt Clarke — which caused prospect reporter and noted Brandt Clarke aficionado Scott Wheeler to weigh in during the (checks notes) birth of his child.

Any trade involving both Chychrun and Vejmelka would be a huge blow to the Coyotes competitiveness for the remainder of the season.

Sounds like Chychrun will sit out again on Monday night as Arizona works to complete a deal.

Arizona is currently in the midst of an 18-game road losing streak — although they only play 9 of their remaining 29 games on the road.

Upcoming Schedule

Arizona has four games this week: at Nashville, home against the Lightning, then they’ll travel to LA to face the Kings (and possibly some former teammates) before heading back to AZ to see Columbus for a good, old basement battle.

Anaheim Ducks

  • Current Record: 17-31-6, 40 points
  • Last 10 games: 5-4-1
  • Odds at wining the draft lottery: 11.5%

Anaheim lost to the Dallas Stars in a shootout last Monday, beat the Blackhawks in overtime, got waxed by the Penguins 6-3, then got stomped in Vegas 7-2 on Sunday afternoon.

After two blowouts last week, the Ducks’ goal differential has dropped all the way down to a league-leading minus-88, which is worse than second worst Columbus (minus-69) by a full 19 goals.

Anaheim was dealt a significant injury in their first game back from the break when its all-star representative — forward Troy Terry — was injured during the first period of their game against the Stars. Terry caught a stick to the ribs, went down in immediate pain and then left the ice and did not return. The Ducks placed him on injured reserve and consider the injury to be week-to-week. Terry currently has 42 points (13 G, 29 A) and is second on the team in scoring behind Trevor Zegras.

Upcoming Schedule

Anaheim has three games this week; they’ll welcome both the Sabres and Kings to Anaheim before heading down to Florida to take on the Panthers.

Chicago Blackhawks

  • Current Record: 16-30-5, 37 points
  • Last 10 games: 5-4-1
  • Odds at wining the draft lottery: 13.5%

The Blackhawks lost to the Ducks in OT, beat the Coyotes in OT, then lost to a legit contender in Winnipeg.

The Toews and Kane trade dance continues — which may have bit the Blackhawks in the butt by prompting the Rangers to acquire Vladimir Tarasenko, instead of Kane, so that he could be the one to help Artemi Panarin go nuclear.

Losing one of the destinations that made the most sense for Patrick Kane — and had the type of draft picks and prospect capital the Hawks want in return — is certainly no bueno. He didn’t sound happy about it either, but even without the Rangers there will be significant interest if he waives his NMC and makes himself available.

Ditto for Toews as he works his way back from a non-COVID illness.

Upcoming Schedule

The Hawks have four games this week; they’ll finish their Canadian swing with stops in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa before returning home to face off against the Maple Leafs again next Sunday.

Columbus Blue Jackets

  • Current Record: 16-33-4, 36 points
  • Last 10 games: 3-5-2
  • Odds at wining the draft lottery: 25.5%

Columbus had a back-to-back against the Leafs this week — getting shutout in the first game before an upset 4-3 win in Toronto on Saturday night.

It’s over. The air is dark and heavy. Nothing feels good. My joy has turned to ash in my mouth. Kirill Marchenko got an assist.

Marchenko registered his first career assist after starting his NHL career with 13 consecutive goals, three short of a bizarre 105 year-old NHL record.

He’s still scoring goals though. And a lot of them too.

Marchenko is one of the lone bright spots for Columbus this year, working himself all the way up from the AHL to skating on the Blue Jackets top line with Boone Jenner and Johnny Gaudreau as well as their top power-play unit.

Upcoming Schedule

Columbus has four games this week. It’ll see the New Jersey Devils and Winnipeg Jets at home before traveling to Dallas and Arizona for games this weekend.