2015 NHL Draft: The Race For McDavid / Eichel Power Rankings


As we approach the 2015 NHL Draft and lottery, we will be taking a look at the race for last place and the first overall pick in the draft.

Every NHL team is 100 percent committed to winning the Stanley Cup this season and no one could possibly be tanking their season… or so they say. So why this focus on last place? Connor McDavid – who has already been minted as “The Next Great One” in a long line of “Next Great Ones” that have followed Wayne Gretzky, as well as Jack Eichel, a close runner-up.

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Now that we are past the NHL Trade Deadline and into the month of March, it’s almost certain which teams are going to be in the mix when it is time for the draft lottery. The Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes accelerated their race to the bottom of the standings by selling off assets (and building an impressive stockpile of draft picks) in order to ensure a top pick in this year’s draft.

With that overview out of the way, let’s get an update on the race for last by looking at five teams that are currently in the bottom five of the NHL standings and in the best position to end up with the first overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

30. team. 12. Tim Murray and the Buffalo Sabres made four moves on deadline day this year. The most significant move in regards to the race for last was the trade that sent goaltender Michael Neuvirth to the New York Islanders for backup Chad Johnson. Johnson will likely miss the rest of the season, as he was injured before even appearing in a game for the Sabres. At this point, the only thing that can get in the way of a number one pick for the Sabres is the draft lottery. The Sabres sit in 30th with 43 points, four points behind the 29th place Edmonton Oilers.[/. (19-41-5). Previous: . Buffalo Sabres

Previous: . Edmonton Oilers. 29. team. 148. The Oilers may have one fewer regulation win than the Buffalo Sabres, but those 11 overtime losses give them four more points in the standings – good for 29th overall. The Puck Daddy blog gave the Oilers a D- in their trade deadline grade post, the lowest in the NHL. That’s because the Oilers simply did nothing at the deadline. They didn’t improve their roster, or trade away assets in hopes of building more through the draft. I guess the Oilers are hoping the addition of a Jack Eichel or Connor McDavid will be good enough to turn them into a playoff contender. Because, adding top draft talent to Edmonton has worked so well in the past. [/. (18-36-11)

The Arizona Coyotes were the exact opposite of the Edmonton Oilers at the trade deadline. They moved Keith Yandle, Zybnek Michalek, and Antoinne Vermette, but got draft picks and high ranking prospects like Anthony Duclair in return. Like they Sabres, they improved their chances of getting a good draft position, but the returns on their trades was much better. Whereas the Sabres look like they will be a wasteland for a few more years, the Coyotes might be able to do a quick turn-around. It took Sidney Crosby to finally halt the relocation rumors in Pittsburgh. Perhaps a Connor McDavid could have the same effect in Arizona.[/. (21-37-7). Previous: . Arizona Coyotes. 28. team. 121

Carolina Hurricanes. 27. team. 109. The Carolina Hurricanes were sellers at the deadline – moving Andrej Sekera and Jiri Tlusty, two pending free agents who were unlikely to resign over the summer. The Hurricanes are 5-5-0 over the last 10 and have been playing better hockey since the All-Star break. In January they came in at 29th on these rankings. There is always hope that the Hurricanes can win the draft lottery and get Connor McDavid, and since they did not completely sell off their assets at the deadline it is significantly possible they will be a quick turn-around team. [/. (24-32-7). Previous:

team. 116. The Toronto Maple Leafs had an outstanding trade deadline – moving Daniel Winnik and Olli Jokinen for picks. But the biggest trade of the deadline was moving David Clarkson to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Nathan Horton. Horton will likely never play again, so that makes more cap space for the Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs have to hope for a little luck in the draft lottery in order to get the likes of Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, but a good pick seems to be likely this year. [/. (26-34-5). . Toronto Maple Leafs. 26

Teams from last month that have exited the bottom five:

. Columbus Blue Jackets. 25. team. 113. Considering their terrible injury luck this season and the number of man games lost, it is actually surprising that the Columbus Blue Jackets are not in the bottom three or four of the standings. Perhaps those calling for Todd Richards to be fired should keep that in mind. John Davidson, President of Hockey Operations has already said that Richards will be back next year. The Blue Jackets were involved in the big Clarkson / Horton trade, and as has been the case all season – Clarkson has already been injured and will likely miss the remainder of the season. [/. (27-33-4)

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