Lads and ladies, we’re now one month away from the end of the NHL’s 2013-14 regular season. While for many clubs that means fretting about playoff seedings and potential first-round match-ups, for the province of Alberta – and a few others – it means worrying about the NHL Draft and lottery positions.
There are five NHL clubs with a bonafide chance at the NHL’s bottom seed. Here’s a look at how they sit with a month to go, and most importantly, their individual chances at falling to dead-last (and getting a top pre-lottery selection).
Presently: 30th overall.
Points: 46 (19-38-8)
Games Remaining: 17
Strength of Schedule: remaining opponents have 54.1 points percentage and 47.5 winning percentage
Projected Remaining Wins: 8.9; record would be around 28-46-8 for 64 points
Record Since Deadline: 1-3-0
Outlook: The Sabres have hit the skids a bit, winning at the deadline and since losing three straight. The team’s also got several outside distractions. That said, Ted Nolan’s got a good foundation for next year that may eventually include Aaron Ekblad or Sam Reinhart.
Presently: 29th overall
Points: 54 (23-35-8)
Games Remaining: 16
Strength of Schedule: remaining opponents have 59.4 points percentage and 53.5 winning percentage
Projected Remaining Wins: 7.4; record would be around 30-44-8 for 68 points
Record Since Trade Deadline: 2-1-0
Outlook: The Oilers have a rough schedule from here on out: St. Louis, San Jose (twice), Anaheim (thrice), Colorado and Los Angeles. There’s a good chance they’ll under-perform under the expected wins model because the team will be getting thrashed and might just mentally quit. While they should be pretty bad down the stretch, I can’t see them bridging an 8-point gap with Buffalo. But when you look at the projected records, it may get really close.
Presently: 28th overall
Points: 55 (24-34-7)
Games Remaining: 17
Strength of Schedule: remaining opponents have 56.0 points percentage and 49.3 winning percentage
Projected Remaining Wins: 8.6; record would be around 32-43-7 for 69 points
Record Since Trade Deadline: 1-2-0
Outlook: Good news! The Panthers have Roberto Luongo! Bad news! The Panthers don’t have a heck of a lot of established stars. They have some good young talent, but it’s surrounded by all that much. They also have the second-toughest schedule of the bottom-five group.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Presently: 27th overall
Points: 59 (25-33-9)
Games Remaining: 15
Strength of Schedule: remaining opponents have 52.3 points percentage and 45.5 winning percentage
Projected Remaining Wins: 8.2; record would be around 33-40-9 for 75 points
Record Since Trade Deadline: 1-1-1
Outlook: The Isles have the easiest schedule of the bottom-five teams. They also have Kyle Okposo, who’s quite good. But they’re missing some stars, otherwise they wouldn’t be in this mess. They should, barring disaster, finish around Calgary in the standings.
Points: 59 (26-33-7)
Games Remaining: 16
Strength of Schedule: remaining opponents have 53.9 points percentage and 47.5 winning percentage
Projected Remaining Wins: 8.4; record would be around 34-41-7 for 75 points
Record Since Trade Deadline: 3-2-0
Outlook: Calgary has the second-easiest schedule of this group, and has already earned regulation wins against two teams above them (Ottawa & Anaheim), suggesting a tendency to over-perform.
As of right now, the data suggests a bottom five with the same order we have now. Buffalo, Florida and the Oilers will converge on the bottom end, while it’s probably that Calgary and the Islanders pull away a bit.
Our pals at Sports Club Stats has the odds for each bottom five spot like this:
- 30th: Buffalo (94%), Edmonton (4%), Florida (2%)
- 29th: Edmonton (50%), Florida (32%), NY Islanders (7%), Calgary (6%), Buffalo (5%)
- 28th: Florida (37%), Edmonton (29%), NY Islanders (18%), Calgary (14%), Nashville & Buffalo (1%)
- 27th: NY Islanders (34%), Calgary (29%), Florida (19%), Edmonton (12%), Nashville (3%)
- 26th: Calgary (35%), NY Islanders (29%), Nashville (10%), Florida (9%), Carolina (5%), Edmonton (4%)
SUM IT UP
Barring something unforeseen, like Calgary winning the draft lottery, the Calgary Flames will draft 5th or 6th in the 2014 NHL Draft. There exists a teeny, tiny chance that they can over-perform enough to move past Nashville or Carolina into 25th overall. But it’s not particularly likely given the gap between the teams and the games remaining.