The NHL confirmed draft lottery odds for the 2018 NHL Draft on Wednesday, making it official that the worst team in the league will have an 18.5-percent chance to land the top pick.
As the league notes, that 18.5-percent chance is up from 18 percent in 2017, but down from 20 percent in 2016.
With 11 teams mathematically eliminated, the Carolina Hurricanes nearing such a reality, and the Dallas Stars’ hopes hanging on by a thread, it looks like nine teams will battle for the eight playoff spots in both the East and West.
[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]
(Again, the Stars could make a push, but their chances aren’t good. Sports Club Stats gives Dallas a .8 percent chance of making the playoffs, as just one dim example.)
Plenty of NHL fans are already dreaming about winning the Rasmus Dahlin sweepstakes in the event that their team lands the top pick in 2018. With Dahlin’s potential and a dwindling field of viable playoff contenders in mind, it only makes sense to keep an eye on the race to the bottom. PHT will survey that landscape every day as the season winds down.
[Want a look at teams fighting for playoff positioning? Check this post.]
1 – Sabres (18.5 percent), 60 points, 76 games, 23 ROW
2 – Senators (13.5), 63 points, 76 GP, 24 ROW
3 – Coyotes (11.5), 63 points, 76 GP, 24 ROW
4 – Canucks (9.5) 65 points, 77 GP, 27 ROW
5 – Red Wings (8.5) 67 points, 77 GP, 23 ROW
6 – Montreal (7.5), 68 points, 77 GP, 26 ROW
7 – Blackhawks (6.5) 72 points, 77 GP, 30 ROW
8 – Islanders (6.0) 74 points, 77 GP, 29 ROW
9 – Oilers (5.0) 74 points, 77 GP, 30 ROW
10 – Rangers (3.5), 74 points, 76 GP, 30 ROW
11 – Hurricanes (3.0) 79 points, 77 GP, 31 ROW
12 – Flames (2.5) 80 points, 77 GP, 33 ROW
13 – Panthers (2.0) 85 points, 74 GP, 36 ROW
14 – Stars (1.5) 86 points, 77 GP, 35 ROW
15 – Avalanche (1.0) 90 points, 76 GP, 39 ROW
The Senators and Coyotes sport matching 26-39-11 records this season, and both have 24 ROW. The Canucks hurt their chances after upsetting the Ducks last night.
You could break down different teams into tiers.
- Buffalo holds the best odds and is three points behind (or ahead, if you’re looking at it in a different way), while three teams are locked in for second with 63 points. The Coyotes face the Golden Knights on Wednesday, so they could either gain points to worsen their odds or lose to fall behind the Senators. The Canucks hurt their chances with that upset.
- The Red Wings and Canadiens seem poised to jostle for fifth, although a strong finish from Vancouver could put fourth in play.
- The next group (Blackhawks, Islanders, Oilers, and Rangers) vie for seventh. The Flames are already eliminated from the playoffs and the Hurricanes are virtually there too.
- Toward the bottom of the tanks ranks/higher up the standings, you have teams that have their eyes on the playoffs. The Stars would need a mad push down the final stretch, while the Avalanche and Panthers both have very real chances of making the playoffs.
- One more point about the Avs: they actually have more standings points than the Devils (88) and match the Flyers with one fewer game played, but those two teams are currently in the East’s top eight.
To reiterate, the Coyotes are the only active tanking team on Wednesday, as the Avalanche are hoping to move back into the wild-card picture if they can beat Philly.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.