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.
- Current Record: 21-32-10, 52 points
- Last 10 games: 4-4-2
- Odds at winning the draft lottery: 8.5%
Last week the Coyotes beat the Blackhawks in their first official game in the post-Patrick Kane era then lost to the Stars in Dallas before returning home to have their lunch handed to them by the Hurricanes on Friday night and the Devils in OT on Sunday.
Arizona made some major moves at the deadline. They traded forward Nick Bjugstad to the Oilers — he’d been their second line center most of the season — as well as their two highest scoring defensemen. Shayne Gostisbehere became a sneaky good, low-cost acquisition for the Hurricanes (he already has three points — two on the power play — in two games) and the soul of Jakob Chychrun was finally and mercilessly released from its imprisonment in the desert in exchange for a rather light return from the Ottawa Senators. Ottawa fans have to love this trade, partly because of the level of player acquired and especially because it pushes them further into legitimate contender territory. At least, that’s what it looked like before Monday night.
Nice of them to continue the trend of making opposing fans love trades by letting Timo Meier score a goal on them in his first game as a Devil.
Arizona has four games this week, all against Central Division foes: they’ll welcome St. Louis and Nashville to Mullet Arena then make a quick trip to Colorado before finishing out the week back home against Minnesota.
- Current Record: 21-34-8, 50 points
- Last 10 games: 4-4-2
- Odds at winning the draft lottery: 9.5%
Anaheim beat the Blackhawks last Monday, lost to the Capitals in overtime then took down Les Canadiens.
Don’t look now but the Ducks are on a hot streak, winning four of their last five (with the lone loss being in overtime).
Oh, wait: I looked again and their goal differential is still minus-96, 25 ahead of the Blue Jackets. They’re on pace for a minus-124, which would be the worst mark in the league since the inaugural season of the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999-2000. To put that in even further perspective, the 2016-2017 Colorado Avalanche, who finished with 48 points for the entire season, had a goal differential of minus-112).
Anaheim made a minor move at the deadline in trading Dmitry Kulikov to the Penguins and a far more significant one in trading John Klingberg to the Minnesota Wild, but maybe not significant in the way you think.
i just want to put klingberg's defensive numbers in perspective before the wild ruin them— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) March 3, 2023
the ducks give up 42.2 shots and 4.2 xGoals per 60 minutes that he's on the ice at 5v5.
the oilers get 37.8 shots and 3.8 xGoals per 60 when mcdavid is on the ice at 5v5 https://t.co/DV5kjv3KGE
That’s correct, Klingberg is better at being bad defensively than Connor McDavid is good at being good offensively. The Ducks got significantly better defensively by sending him to Minnesota, and they got a 2025 fourth-round pick, a prospect and the rights to try and sign another prospect for their trouble. Just like GM Pat Verbeek drew it up.
The Ducks have four games this week: a quick, three-game swing through Seattle, Vancouver and Calgary before they come back to Anaheim to face the Perds on Sunday.
San Jose Sharks
- Current Record: 19-33-12, 50 points
- Last 10 games: 2-7-1
- Odds at winning the draft lottery: 11.5%
The Sharks had been winless since Timo’s been gone, losing a relatively close one to Montreal before getting stomped by St. Louis and the Capitals. But they did pick up an OT win on Monday night over the Jets.
Erik Karlsson? Still there. He only put up a meager five assists this past week though, as I imagine it’s much more difficult for him to score with tears in his eyes.
Karlsson still leads all NHL defenseman in goals (19), assists (63), and points (82), as he works toward putting up the best offensive season by a defenseman in three decades.
After the deadline, Sharks’ GM Mike Grier acknowledged that there was plenty of interest in Karlsson and a deal might make more sense to re-visit during the offseason when teams have more time and financial flexibility to build their rosters.
They’re going to miss Meier’s impact on offense a ton — but they still have Karlsson (for now), Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture (who is somehow only 33) to pick up some of the slack.
San Jose has three games left this week after Monday’s win over Winnipeg: two more road games in Colroado and St. Louis, then the Sharks return home to face the Wild.
- Current Record: 22-36-5, 49 points
- Last 10 games: 6-4-0
- Odds at winning the draft lottery: 13.5%
The Hawks scooped up a goose egg last week (weird, mixed bird metaphors anyone?), losing in Anaheim and Arizona then dropping home games against Dallas and Nashville. But they did start this week with a win over Ottawa.
In the span of a week’s time the Blackhawks gave up Sam Lafferty, Jake McCabe, Patrick Kane, Max Domi and any and all semblance of hope for the remainder of the season. When your leading scorer is a defenseman with 31 points in 53 games, you know that you’ve truly stepped in it. And they may well be rolling the worst lineup in the salary cap-era NHL. I feel terrible for all the suckers who have to write about this team. Oh, wait...
At least the Hawks have plenty of time to graffiti up a parking lot, remove Jonathan Toews from the pregame intro video for some reason and stage a trade call with the franchise’s most recent superstar (no way Kane doesn’t send Davidson straight to voicemail. BTW, here’s what the other side of that call really looks like).
Is it good when one of your main beat writers pens a column explaining how all your new players have no idea who each other are? That’s probably not so good.
The Blackhawks have three games left this week, hitting the road (good luck with all that bonding, dudes) for an Eastern Conference swing with games in Detroit, Sunrise, FL against the Panthers, and Tampa Bay.
Columbus Blue Jackets
- Current Record: 20-37-6, 46 points
- Last 10 games: 4-4-2
- Odds at winning the draft lottery: 25.5%
Columbus upset the Sabres with a big win in Buffalo before losing at home to the Kraken and in Ottawa against the Senators.
The Blue Jackets were part of, maybe, the most surprising move of the deadline when they traded a package of defenseman Vlad Gavrikov and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo to the Los Angeles Kings for LA franchise stalwart Jonathan Quick, a conditional first-round pick in 2023 and a third-round pick in 2024.
Quick wanted no part of the trade and was immediately flipped to Vegas for journeyman goalie Michael Hutchinson and a seventh-rounder in 2025.
Unfortunately, we all know what happens when the Kings trade with the Blue Jackets, so I guess they should just hand them the Cup now and get it over with.
Korpisalo currently sits 17th overall with 8.3 goals saved above expected, so his loss is significant (even more so since Columbus’ other goalie, Elvis Merzlikins has a negative-23 goals saved above expected, which is the second worst mark in the entire league).
In the entire time we’ve been tracking the bottom five, it’s been the Blackhawks and Blue Jackets trading off in dead last and I don’t see any reason why that won’t continue to be the case the rest of the way.
Even though Jonathan Quick never actually left the City of Los Angeles, he was on Columbus’ roster for one day and as a result was paid $13,531.51 by the Blue Jackets while probably sitting on his couch. Nice work if you can get it.
The Blue Jackets have three games this week: at Pittsburgh, at home against St. Louis, then they’ll travel to San Jose to see the Sharks.