2018 NHL Draft Lottery Watch: Hurricanes, Stars ready to enter the mix

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The end is near for the playoff chances of the Carolina Hurricanes and Dallas Stars. While it’s been pretty clear for a while the Canes wouldn’t be making it, the Stars have hung around long enough a few points away from a wild card spot to give off the appearance that a postseason berth could happen.

Thursday’s night’s loss to the Minnesota Wild brought the Stars’ tragic number down to two points with four games left to play. All four of those games, beginning with Saturday’s rematch with the Wild, come against teams sitting in playoff position. With a 1-7-2 record in their last 10 games and destiny out of their control, time to look forward to the June entry draft and what kind personnel changes — bye, bye Hitch!— are coming.

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

Same can be said for the Hurricanes, who take on the Washington Capitals Friday night holding a tragic number of one. We know a new general manager is coming at some point, but what of the status of head coach Bill Peters? He has a year left on his deal, but as Elliotte Friedman noted this week, it’s believed he has an “out” in his contract after this season. No word on how much of his $1.6 million salary he gets to keep should his activate that clause, but then again, new owner Tom Dundon may just decide to go for a fresh slate for ’18-19 and fire him.

Here’s what the draft lottery standings look like entering Friday’s games:

Tank watch
1 – Sabres (18.5 percent), 60 points, 77 games, 23 ROW
2 – Coyotes (13.5), 65 points, 78 GP, 25 ROW
3 – Senators (11.5), 65 points, 77 GP, 25 ROW
4 – Canucks (9.5) 67 points, 78 GP, 29 ROW
5 – Canadiens (8.5), 68 points, 77 GP, 26 ROW
6 – Red Wings (7.5) 69 points, 78 GP, 24 ROW
7 – Oilers (6.5) 74 points, 78 GP, 30 ROW
8 – Blackhawks (6.0) 74 points, 78 GP, 31 ROW
9 – Islanders (5.0) 74 points, 77 GP, 29 ROW
10 – Rangers (3.5), 75 points, 77 GP, 30 ROW
11 – Hurricanes (3.0) 79 points, 77 GP, 31 ROW
12 – Islanders (2.5) 80 points, 78 GP, 33 ROW (*Previously owned by CGY)
13 – Stars (2.0) 86 points, 78 GP, 35 ROW
14 – Panthers (1.5) 86 points, 76 GP, 36 ROW
15 – Avalanche (1.0) 90 points, 77 GP, 39 ROW

(The 2018 NHL Draft Lottery, to be held April 28, will consist of three drawings: the 1st Lottery Draw will determine the club selecting first overall, the 2nd Lottery Draw will determine the club selecting second overall and the 3rd Lottery Draw will determine the club selecting third overall.)

Time is running out to get yourself in a good position to have a shot to draft Rasmus Dahlin. The New York Islanders could certainly use the young Swedish defenseman; but then again, they traded away Travis Hamonic for that Calgary Flames pick. Probably would have been better for Doug Weight’s team to have Hamonic on the blue line this season, no?

Friday’s key games
Maple Leafs at Islanders, 7 p.m. ET
Lightning at Rangers, 7 p.m. ET
Hurricanes at Capitals, 7 p.m. ET
Blackhawks at Avalanche, 9 p.m. ET

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.