It’s no secret that atop the 2015 draft board are two very talented players in Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. It’s also no secret that some NHL teams could desperately use the boost they would get from acquiring one of these two players. With the injuries, peewee esque hockey and some head scratching, it’s clear some teams are trying a little harder to land in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes.
Teams like the Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames were expected to all make a hard nose dive to the bottom this season. However, a few other teams have decided to join them early on. The Carolina Hurricanes have been decimated with injuries to all of their top centres and as bad as it may seem, it might be the perfect time for the Hurricanes. The Boston Bruins have been struggling out of the gate which no one expected and the Florida Panthers have been struggling in front of an empty arena despite having Roberto Luongo between the pipes.
Would you believe me if I told you that roughly 4 games into the season the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders sit atop the NHL standings with 6 points each? Would you believe me if I told you the Rangers and Flyers were tied at 2 points with the Sabres? Well a quick glance at the NHL standings on October 16th would lead one to believe they were living in a parallel universe.
However, we’re talking about a race to the bottom, not the unusual names of who’s on top. The race for McDavid is going to be a tight one if the first 4 games are any indication and come February or March when teams start to realize their playoff hopes are dying, one can expect it to get even tighter.
The good news is that every team has at least one point, including the Edmonton Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers who are all currently tied for 30th. We’re going to take a look at each of the bottom teams to see what they’ve done or haven’t done thus far.
In the Oilers first 8 games of the season they have lost 7 of 8 available points which means they have lost 87.5% of their available points in those games. That’s not good and means they only have 154 points left to win. If they continue at this rate, which they most likely will not, they would lose roughly 134 of those 154 available points. The good news is that’s highly unlikely to happen, even the Buffalo Sabres last season ended up with at least 50 points.
It’s pretty incredible that with the talent of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle, the Oilers just can’t compete in the dog eat dog NHL Western Conference. Granted McDavid is arguably more talented, they do they really want another young forward?
The Hurricanes have lost 5 of their 6 available points throughout their first 3 games of the season and have been hit hard by the injury bug. They’ve lost roughly 83.3% of all their available points but have two more up for grabs than the Oilers. They’re going to be in tough until either their key players return from injury or Cam Ward remembers how to stop a puck. They came close to a win against the Sabres in a game that can be best described as a good pewee team playing against average pewee team.
If the Hurricanes keep up their current pace they’re set to lose 129 of their next 156 points for a 22 point season. Thankfully no one has ever been that bad and much like the Oilers they won’t keep this brutal pace.
The Panthers are in the exact same boat as the Hurricanes right now. They’ve lost 5 of their available 6 points for a losing percentage of 83.3%. Not exactly the best numbers. One has to imagine the Panthers will pick up their play on the back of Luongo as the season goes on. They’ll finish near the bottom but might not be close to the McDavid sweepstakes.
The Sabres are the last potential lottery bound team will look at today because of the fact the Flyers and Rangers are in the exact same boat. So if you’re a fan of either of those two teams, pay attention. The Sabres have won 2 of a possible 8 points, losing 6 along the way. They’ve lost 75% of their available points during their first four games.
Considering the Rangers made it to the Stanley Cup Final and have king Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes they’ll be just fine once they start rolling. The Flyers always seem to be a mystery. Some years they’re lights out, other years they’re average, but this season there just seems to be a disconnect from players to coaches.
If this current pace for these teams were to continue they’d finish the year with about 39 points. Considering the Sabres finished with roughly 50 points last season in a brutal year and the next closest team was in the 60’s. One can expect the lottery teams to be in the 50-60 point range.
Last season the Buffalo Sabres finished with 52 points for a winning percentage of 32%. That was a historically bad season, so for a team to finish last this season they’ll need a winning percentage of roughly 35%. However, with the race to the bottom we could see some rough seasons for a lot of teams and some really, really bad hockey.
The NHL season is still a young one so you can expect the Rangers, Flyers and Blues who sit just outside the bottom to improve a lot over the year. The Sabres, Panthers, Oilers and Hurricanes are going to improve and finish with roughly 20 win seasons as is the NHL average for last place teams. Lot’s will happen and change over the 82 game season and we’ll keep you updated on the Connor McDavid race all season long.