Chasing the Draft – Merry Christmas Edition

By Bob Trask – With the NHL taking a three day break for Christmas it is a good time for the Canadiens fans to take a look at the the draft rankings. My power rankings consider current winning percentage, goal differential and recent performance so they differ slightly from the overall standings.

After playing above .500 for most of the year the Canadiens finally slipped below that mark after a loss in Dallas last night. Just as importantly from a draft perspective, so did the Florida Panthers. Looking ahead, tankathon.com considers the Canadiens’ remaining schedule to be the 2nd toughest in the league and the Panthers’ to be the 5th toughest in the league. It bodes well for at least one high draft pick (top ten) and maybe even two… but that is hoping for a lot.

Teams to Watch

An interesting team to watch is the Arizona Coyotes. They have quietly been moving up in the standings and have inched their way closer to Montreal and Florida. According to capfriendly.com, the Coyotes have the lowest payroll in the league and currently sit in the #6 spot in my reverse power rankings.

Another interesting team is the Ottawa Senators. While they have a lower points percentage than Florida or Montreal, their goal differential is better and so is their recent record. That vaults them above both these teams in my points system and drops them down to #10 in the power rankings. The Senators first game back after the break is versus the high flying Boston Bruins. If they can somehow manage to win that game or even earn a point with an OT loss it could be a major positive turning point for them.

The two teams of most interest to Canadiens’s fans are, of course, the Habs and the Panthers. My rankings have Florida at #7 in the draft rankings which is mostly due to their abysmal recent record. The absence of first line center Aleksander Barkov, who did not play in the 5-1 loss to the NY Islanders last night is not helping their case. Montreal is struggling with their own injuries to key veterans including Sean Monahan, David Savard and Brendan Gallagher while at the same time trying to showcase veterans for potential trades and trying to develop younger players for the future. I have them ranked just behind Florida at #8 in the draft order.

Draft Odds

As we all know, the draft order is just a starting point for where teams eventually draft; the draft lottery will determine the final order. We can take a look at the potential draft spots where the #7 and #8 team may ultimately make their picks on draft day. Odds presented are courtesy of tankathon.com.

Seventh Overall

The following are the odds that the team finishing 7th overall in the draft order will have for the corresponding picks in the 2023 Entry Draft:

  • 1st overall – 6.5%
  • 2nd overall – 6.9%
  • 7th overall – 44.4%
  • 8th overall – 36.5%
  • 9th overall – 5.6%

Eighth Overall

The following are the odds that the team finishing 8th overall in the draft order will have for the corresponding picks in the 2023 Entry Draft:

  • 1st overall – 5.0%
  • 2nd overall – 5.4%
  • 8th overall – 54.4%
  • 9th overall – 30.0%
  • 10th overall – 1.7%

Should things continue to unravel in Florida and this draft order remains the same through to the end of the season, Montreal would have odds of picking in the top 2 similar to what the team than finishes #3 overall in the draft order would have. And they would be guaranteed to have 2 top 10 picks. It’s getting interesting.

The Reverse Rankings

Keep mind that the reverse rankings don’t take into account the Conference standings and the Wildcard allocations for playoff qualification. The point illustrated in the table are also not predictions of the amount of points each team will earn this season but rather a comparison of the relative strength of each team.

DRAFTTEAMPTS
Lottery Teams
1Chicago Black Hawks51.9
2Columbus Blue Jackets54.5
3Anaheim Ducks54.6
4San Jose Sharks68.2
5Philadelphia Flyers68.3
6Arizona Coyotes70.1
7Florida Panthers (pick traded to the Montreal Canadiens)75.4
8Montreal Canadiens75.7
9Nashville Predators80.2
10Ottawa Senators80.8
11St Louis Blues81.2
12Vancouver Canucks 82.9
13Detroit Red Wings83.3
14New York Islanders86.3
15Edmonton Oilers86.4
16Calgary Flames89.8
Non-Lottery Teams
17Buffalo Sabres92.5
18Seattle Kraken93.5
19Los Angeles Kings94.9
20Winnipeg Jets97.1
21Minnesota Wild97.9
22New Jersey Devils98.2
23Colorado Avalanche98.8
24Washington Capitals100.1
25New York Rangers100.8
26Dallas Stars (draft pick traded to the New York Rangers)101.8
27Tampa Bay Lightning (draft pick traded to the Chicago Black Hawks)101.9
28Vegas Golden Knights103.6
29Pittsburgh Penguins106.6
30Toronto Maple Leafs110.7
31Carolina Hurricanes116.5
32Boston Bruins126.7

Sellers Remorse

Florida, Tampa Bay and Dallas have all traded their first round picks in what is expected to be a deep and talented draft, but on the remorse list Florida currently ranks at the very top.

While three first round picks have been traded by their teams, eight second round picks have already changed hands with the potential for more before the trade deadlines passes. On this remorse list, Philadelphia has to rank at the top having traded their pick to Buffalo. My rankings have Buffalo using that pick at #37 in the second round. In deep draft, Buffalo could land a very good prospect.

Canadiens Picks

It remains to be seen if Kent Hughes is able to add more first or second round picks with pre-deadline trades. If he can’t get reasonable picks back in return, he may focus on prospects already drafted by other teams. More than likely he will try to do a little of both. He may also try to move up in the draft but that wouldn’t happen until after the draft lottery and more than likely it would be at the draft table.

Everyone will be keeping a close eye on Kent Hughes to see if he can add to his stable of draft picks and on the Florida Panthers in the hope that they will continue to flounder in the standings. I’m sure both are on the Christmas wish list of many Canadiens’s fans.

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