Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Blackhawks Find Themselves Within Lottery Contenders, Face Possible Reduced Odds At No. 1 Pick

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If the career of rookie Connor Bedard develops as everyone expects it to, the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery will go down as one of the defining moments of Blackhawks history. After finishing the previous season with the third-worst record in the league, Chicago was awarded the first overall pick despite having the third-best odds. They obviously used that pick on the “future of hockey”, and the rest is history.

This season, the rebuilding Blackhawks have performed even worse in the standings table. At 21-46-5, they aren’t too likely to reach the 59-point mark that they achieved last season. However, Chicago may not have any better odds at this year’s first pick when the dust settles on this season. After the Blackhawks picked up two straight wins, this year’s lottery odds have begun to take shape.

San Jose Sharks

With just 40 points on the year, the Sharks are all but locked into the top lottery spot, which has a 25.5% chance of yielding the first pick. Currently on an eight-game losing streak, the Sharks have 11 games to play, and it’s difficult to envision a scenario where they make up seven points in the standings on the Blackhawks. It’s safe to pencil them into the top spot in the race for Macklin Celebrini, who’s all but guaranteed to be taken first overall.

Streaking Blackhawks

It’s hard to call two straight wins a “streak”, but after the year the Blackhawks have had, any success is a big deal. After coming back from a four-point deficit to beat the Sharks in overtime Saturday (which all but sealed the top lottery spot for the losing team), Chicago capitalized on the new momentum by beating the Flames Tuesday.

If recent news is any indication, the Blackhawks may not be done yet. Their fortunes changed after head coach Luke Richardson ripped into them with his intermission speech, and their hardworking, high-intensity play carried over into Tuesday’s game. Will the clearly reinvigorated team pick up even more wins before the season is done?

Anaheim Ducks

If the Blackhawks are able to continue their streak, they may even end up “dropping” to third-worst in the NHL standings, with more points than the Ducks. Anaheim’s 52 points are only five more than Chicago’s 47, and the former is scheduled to play against some of the league’s most dominant teams. It wouldn’t be a huge drop for the Blackhawks to fall from a 13.5% to an 11.5% chance at the top pick, but it’s still something to keep in mind with the season winding down.

The Blackhawks’ recent success is a great sign for the future but could cost them in this year’s draft lottery. With just ten games left to play, Chicago could find itself leapfrogging the Ducks, falling to third in the odds of getting the top pick. That’s far from the end-all-be-all, though – that slot worked out pretty well for them last year.

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