Assessing the Blackhawks biggest threats for the No. 1 overall pick in 2023

A top (bottom?) three is starting to take shape.

Our last look at these threat levels came about one month ago. Things have changed since then, with the NHL now roughly one-third of the way through the regular season.

Once again, we’ll start with the Blackhawks’ record and current point pace.

Current record: 7-15-4, 18 points (31st in the league overall)
Current pace: (18 / 26 * 82) = 56.8 points

The Blackhawks were 19th in the NHL at the time of the last update. They’ve gone 2-10-2 in the games since.

Remember when there were concerns about this team potentially not being bad enough?

Chicago will likely go on a brief winning streak at some point, because the recent stretch of two wins in 14 games is unsustainably bad: that’s a 35-point pace over an 82-game season. But this team is down in the basement — like the front office wanted to be — and will almost certainly be hanging out there through April.

To the rest of the NHL we go, starting with the medium-level threats and working our way up.

Medium threats

Philadelphia Flyers

Current record: 9-13-7, 25 points (t-25th)
Current pace: (25 / 29 * 82) = 70.7 points

Speaking of teams plummeting after a surprisingly strong start, the Flyers were 7-3-2 on Nov. 8. Then the Flyers lost their next 10 games, part of a 2-10-5 stretch that has sent Philadelphia southward. Those pity points from overtime games could come back to haunt the Flyers’ lottery odds, though.

Arizona Coyotes

Current record: 9-13-4, 22 points (t-29th)
Current pace: (22 / 26 * 82) = 69.4 points

Arizona has not been quite as awful as expected, with a Clayton Keller hat trick on Sunday night giving the ‘Yotes back-to-back wins. Beating the Boston Bruins on Friday night was also an unexpected rebound after they were embarrassed 8-2 by the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday. After playing 20 of the first 24 games on the road, there’s plenty of home cooking on the schedule or the rest of the way. And if No. 1 goalie Karel Vejmelka continues playing surprisingly well, Arizona’s lottery odds could also be in jeopardy.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Current record: 10-15-2, 22 points (t-29th)
Current pace: (22 / 27 * 82) = 66.8 points

The Blue Jackets have been decimated by injuries but recently came up for air in the form of back-to-back wins on Friday and Sunday night. That’s helped save them from the freefall of an 8-15-2 start to the season. Offseason addition Johnny Gaudreau is doing his part with 31 points (10 G, 21 A) in 27 games. Not too much scoring help from the other parts of the roster, though.

It appears that two other teams have joined the Blackhawks as the top trio of candidates for the No. 1 pick next season. Here are those two other teams:

High-level threats

San Jose Sharks

Current record: 9-16-5, 23 points (28th)
Current pace: (23 / 30 * 82) = 62.9 points

The Sharks have played more games than anyone else on this list but have just 23 points, which gives them the third lowest points percentage in the NHL at .383 — ahead of only Chicago and the other team in this section. Erik Karlsson is still at an insane pace with 37 points (12 G, 25 A) in 30 games. Forwards Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier and Logan Couture are all near point-per-game paces with 29, 27 and 26 points, respectively. Goaltender James Reimer could return from injury soon and, if he plays while enough while those aforementioned skaters continue producing, the Sharks could emerge from this cavern.

Anaheim Ducks

Current record: 7-18-3, 17 points (32nd)
Current pace: (17 / 28 * 82) = 49.8 points

By far, the early frontrunner for the top draft lottery odds in 2023. Anaheim has actually picked up four points in the last six games thanks to a win and two overtime defeats. But after a brief 3-1-0 stretch around Halloween, Anaheim has gone 3-11-2. A 6-1 loss to the Sharks on Friday night shows just how bleak things are for the Ducks this season with minimal signs of a turnaround. Two more games between Anaheim and Chicago await: Feb. 7 in California and back at the United Center on Feb. 27. Those two games could be the most pivotal to these projections.