As the second half of the NHL season ramps up and teams begin jockeying for playoff spots, there's another battle going on at the bottom of the standings.
The allure of drafting NHL Central Scouting's No. 1 skater in their midterm rankings, Connor Bedard, is strong. Saying it's "strong" is putting it very lightly because we haven't seen this kind of fervor for the cellar since 2015 when Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel were the prizes atop the draft board. Even though the rules on the draft lottery are a little different compared to back then, it hasn't stopped executives from attempting to set their teams up to be in the best position to be No. 1 at this summer's draft.
Even though the bottom 11 teams have the opportunity to pick first, there are seven teams that are making the hardest run at having the best odds for the lottery. No disrespect (?) intended for the likes of St. Louis, Ottawa, Detroit and Philadelphia, but you guys are almost within sniffing distance of the playoffs, whereas the next seven teams we're going to rank out are not.
We're ranking out which teams among the bottom seven could stand to win the lottery the most and come away with Bedard, a prospect thought of to be in the same class as McDavid or Sidney Crosby. How does one rank out bad teams? We could be boring and just go by record and determine that's who needs Bedard most. But we're not boring, no, no.
We're going to slot out the insignificant seven based on how long they've been bad, bad luck in previous lotteries and how recent they've had a No. 1 pick, along with how poorly they're playing this season. We need some gray area in there so you can turn red in the face and yell about it in the comments. And that's why we're really here, isn't it?
To the countdown!
7. Chicago Blackhawks
If there could be one united cause among NHL fans, it would be to make sure the Chicago Blackhawks do not win the NHL draft lottery and gain the No. 1 pick. The world is very much over the Blackhawks for myriad reasons.
We've seen Chicago a million times (rough estimate) in the spotlight since the Blackhawks emerged as the Stanley Cup champions in 2010. They've been in countless Cup Finals and outdoor games. They essentially copied the Detroit Red Wings' formula for how to win a pile of titles in a (relatively) short amount of time and were very successful as they won it in 2010, 2013 and 2015. If there was a marquee event to be played or a prime-time game to be played, chances were pretty high the Blackhawks with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Patrick Sharp were going to be a part of it.
Enough with the Blackhawks, they've had their fill.
As for this year's team on the ice, the 'Hawks front office has been making sure they can sink to the bottom, and that's even before they trade Kane and/or Toews. This year's team wasn't built to win, and that's just how they like it.
Listen, that's just how business gets done in these once-in-a-generation-player situations. It doesn't mean we have to want to see the Blackhawks come away with Bedard, and I can speak for a lot of the NHL world and say that we do not. Get 'em outta here.