In January we ranked the five NHL teams that desperately needed to win the 2022 draft lottery. With this year’s trade deadline now history and the end of the regular season (April 29) on the horizon, it’s a good time to revisit and expand our ranking.
A lottery date has yet to be announced, but we have a clearer picture as to which teams won’t make the postseason.
Of the 16 clubs outside the playoff picture as of Tuesday, the Vegas Golden Knights, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets are still contenders for a wild-card spot. The rest have little or no realistic chance of clinching a berth. Some, such as the Arizona Coyotes, Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers, have been eliminated.
All of those teams out of contention would love to win the lottery and select a top prospect with the first overall pick. Shane Wright of the Ontario Hockey League’s Kingston Frontenacs, Logan Cooley of the United States National Team Development Program and Joakim Kemell of JYP in Finland are among the most promising prospects, as per NHL Central Scouting’s midseason rankings.
Some of these clubs, however, have a more dire need to win the lottery than others. The Coyotes, for example, could use that pick to land a potential franchise player. The Flyers could use it as the cornerstone of a possible rebuild following two discouraging seasons.
Here is our updated ranking of eight clubs that need to win this year’s draft lottery more than their other non-playoff peers. The number of years absent from the playoffs and the status of ongoing roster rebuilds or the need to conduct one were among the factors that determined the rankings.
As with our previous ranking, we’ve limited our list to teams that haven’t won the draft lottery in the past five years. Therefore, the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils are excluded.
8. Philadelphia Flyers
After seven seasons of missing the playoffs or getting eliminated in the opening round, the Philadelphia Flyers seemed to have turned the corner in 2019-20. Under general manager Chuck Fletcher, they finished fourth in the Eastern Conference and reached the second round of the playoffs before falling to the New York Islanders in a hard-fought seven-game series.
Since then, the Flyers have struggled to regain that promising form. A shortened schedule and a COVID-19 outbreak contributed to last season’s disappointing 25-23-8 record. This season, they sagged toward the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, resulting in the firing of head coach Alain Vigneault and trading of long-time captain Claude Giroux to the Florida Panthers.
It’s been 46 years since the Flyers had the first pick, when they used it to select center Mel Bridgman.
Fletcher could be facing pressure from ownership to get this club back on track. Winning this year’s draft lottery could give him the opportunity to bolster his club’s prospect pipeline while working on more immediate ways to improve his lineup through trades or free agency.
The Flyers already have a pair of notable players under 25 on their roster in goaltender Carter Hart and forward Joel Farabee. Youngsters Morgan Frost and Cam York have shown potential in their first full NHL campaigns. Nevertheless, this franchise and fanbase could benefit from adding a potential future superstar with the first pick.