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: 15-25-11, 41 points
- Last 10 games: 3-4-3
- Odds at wining the draft lottery: 8.5%
With the New York Islanders trade — and subsequent monster extension — for Bo Horvat, the Timo Meier trade derby and rumor mill should definitely kick up a notch or two as the league returns to business this week. Meier is at the top of most trade boards and I’m sure no one will overreact in the slightest that he spent most of his all-star break hanging out with New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier.
The Sharks did make a minor move on Sunday night — trading defenseman Jaycob Megna to the Seattle Kraken for conditional fourth-round pick in this year’s draft. Megna doesn’t move the needle much scoring-wise (1 G, 11A in 48 GP) but he was skating substantial minutes for San Jose — most frequently paired with Erik Karlsson.
The Sharks have three games this week — which finishes their current eight-game road trip. They’ll see the Lightning in Tampa, the Panthers in Sunrise and the Capitals in D.C.
- Current Record: 16-28-6, 38 points
- Last 10 games: 3-6-1
- Odds at wining the draft lottery: 9.5%
Arizona’s big move coming out of the break was sending forward Dylan Guenther to the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL — where he’ll get to play with a couple of dudes we know in Kevin Korchinski and Nolan Allan (plus Colton Dach, whenever he gets back).
P.S. Guenther is nasty.
Dylan Guenther is going to score a lot of goals in this league pic.twitter.com/DyMLvVFZCf— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) January 23, 2023
Jakob Chychrun continues to be the top defender available on the trade market — where Arizona’s price is believed to be two first-round picks plus a prospect.
The Coyotes have three games this week; vs the Minnesota Wild at Mullet Arena tonight, here in Chicago against the Hawks on Friday (which Dave, Mil and I are possibly subjecting ourselves to for some unknown reason), then a contest Saturday night in the place where both dreams and hygiene go to die — against the Blues in St. Louis.
- Current Record: 16-29-5, 37 points
- Last 10 games: 4-5-1
- Odds at wining the draft lottery: 11.5%
So, Trevor Zegras won the weekend. Not only did he not have to spend a single second inside the state of Florida but he also fired off this tweet, midway through the broadcast of the skills competition on Friday night:
— Trevor Zegras (@tzegras11) February 4, 2023
He’s not wrong.
Not everything is quite so rosy in Anaheim however — the Ducks current all-situations goal differential is minus-80, which is the 17th worst since 2000-2001. They’re currently only at the 50-game mark and, if the pace continues, they would finish with the worst overall differential since 1999-2000 Atlanta Thrashers.
The Ducks have three games this week: they’re in Dallas to play the Stars tonight, here to face the Hawks on Tuesday, then back to Anaheim to see the Pittsburgh Penguins at home on Friday.
- Current Record: 15-29-4, 34 points
- Last 10 games: 6-4-0
- Odds at wining the draft lottery: 13.5%
There’s been a significant uptick in the trade chatter around Sam Lafferty all of the sudden. Frank Seravalli has ranked Lafferty 12th on his most recent trade board (with Jake McCabe slotting in 6th). It’s easy to understand why contending teams would be interested in Lafferty: he has plus speed, forechecks hard, is winning face-offs at a 52.6 % clip, kills penalties (second in the league in short-handed goals — thanks San Jose), and is signed for an additional season after this one.
As much as I like Lafferty, if anyone offers Kyle a third (or better) I will drive him to O’Hare myself (and stop at Gene and Jude’s on the way).
This week could go a long way in affecting the lottery as the Blackhawks welcome both Anaheim and Arizona to the United Center. They’ll also face off against the surprising Jets (2nd in the Central) in Winnipeg on Saturday night.
Columbus Blue Jackets
- Current Record: 15-32-4, 34 points
- Last 10 games: 3-5-2
- Odds at wining the draft lottery: 25.5%
Columbus was the lone participant of the “Worsties” with a game last week — losing to the Washington Capitals 4-3 in overtime last Tuesday.
More significant injury news for the Blue Jackets as it sounds like Gustav Nyquist — who is their most attractive forward trade chip — might be done for the season after sustaining a shoulder injury during their game versus Edmonton on Jan. 25.
Nyquist says he thinks he’ll be able to play again before the end of the season and if the Jackets were somehow able to move him — they traded forward Riley Nash while he was injured two seasons ago, so it’s not unprecedented— suiting up for a contender might be all the motivation he needs to make it back for the playoffs.
The Jackets have already lost defenseman Zach Werenski for the season and forward Jakub Voracek still isn’t skating after suffering a concussion last November.
Columbus only has two games this week — a home and away series against the Toronto Maple Leafs — they’ll be at home Friday then in Toronto on Saturday night.