TANKWATCH 2023: How do the remaining schedules of the worst teams compare?

How likely are the Blue Jackets to finish in the bottom 3?

The Columbus Blue Jackets earned five of a possible six points last weekend, including victories over two Western Conference contenders, Winnipeg and Dallas. While some fans enjoyed seeing the team be more competitive, others lamented the potential negative consequences with regards to the draft lottery.

These fans aren’t necessarily wrong to feel this way. Blue Jackets history has several examples of the team playing well in meaningless late season games, just enough to cost a chance at a precious top three pick. Instead, they end up picking in the lower half of the top ten. Still a chance to get a good player (which they often blew in the first decade), but well short of getting a can’t-miss prospect.

The Blue Jackets have selected fourth three times, and also selected eighth that many times. They have picked sixth a whopping FOUR times. That’s more times than they’ve picked in the top three (three times). They have never won the top pick, as the selection of Rick Nash at #1 in 2002 was the result of a draft day trade from the #3 spot.

The 2023 draft projects to have four of those can’t-miss type prospects at the top: Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, Leo Carlsson, and Matvei Michkov. All but Michkov are centers, a position of great need for the Jackets. With the top two picks subject to the lottery, a last place finish guarantees a pick no lower than #3. It also carries a 25.5% chance of picking #1.

Odds of winning the lottery:
#32: 18.5%
#31: 13.5%
#30: 11.5%
#29: 9.5%
#28: 8.5%

Odds of selecting #1 overall:
#32: 25.5%
#31: 13.5%
#30: 11.5%
#29: 9.5%
#28: 8.5%

Check out Tankathon for the full table of odds, and a draft lottery simulator.

So, with the appearance of being more competitive, do we have much to worry about, relative to the other teams racing to the bottom? Let’s look at the remaining schedules for the six teams with a points percentage of .430 or through Tuesday’s games:

Vancouver .430
Arizona .430
San Jose .405
Chicago .384
Columbus .360
Anaheim .353

Home/Away Splits

First, I looked at the points percentage for each team at home, and on the road. I then applied that to the number of games remaining in each scenario to come up with a points percentage for the remaining games:

Remaining home/road splits

TeamGPPts%Home Pts%Home GRProj H PtsAway Pts%Away GRProj A PtsProj Rem Pts%
San Jose580.4050.35114100.4511090.396

Hopefully this comes as a major relief to fans of the tank. Columbus has been barely mediocre at home, but they are HORRIBLE on the road. They’re collecting just over a quarter of available points when wearing the away whites. Might as well be a white flag. After a home-heavy schedule in the fall (when they played poorly regardless of venue), 15 of the remaining 25 games are road games.

Anaheim is close to having as bad of a projected points rate, because they’re close to equally bad in either case, so having a home heavy stretch run doesn’t help them much.

Arizona, on the other hand, has had quite a home ice advantage at Mullett Arena. They had a lengthy road trip in the fall as the locker room construction was finished, so they get to make up for that here in the spring.

Strength of Competition

For this part, I split the league into three tiers. First, there are the teams that I consider to be clearly good. These are the teams that have a points percentage above .600, and have all but punched their ticket to the postseason:

Boston, Carolina, New Jersey, Toronto, Tampa Bay, New York (Rangers), Vegas, Dallas, Winnipeg, Seattle, Los Angles, Colorado, Edmonton

Next, I grouped all of the teams with points percentages under .500, aka the Clearly Bad Teams:

St. Louis, Philadelphia, Montreal, and the six we discussed above already

Then the other ten are in the middle, all with flaws but still scratching and crawling for a wild card berth:

Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Calgary, Buffalo, Nashville, New York (Islanders), Florida, Washington, Ottawa

For our six teams in the Bedard Race, I figure that the games against the good teams are where they will be most outmatched. As we saw last week, that doesn’t mean they can’t win, but you shouldn’t count on it. On the flip side, against other bad teams there’s a good chance even these teams can get a point. Then, against the mid teams, figure it’s about 50/50.

Games remaining, listed in order of good opponents/mid opponents/bad opponents:

Arizona 13/5/7
Vancouver 10/5/10
San Jose 11/6/7
Chicago 8/11/7
Columbus 9/11/5
Anaheim 10/7/7

The good news for Jackets fans is just five “easy” games remaining. This is a function of them being the one Eastern Conference team in this cohort. The last 13 games will be intraconference, so fewer probable wins.

The downside is everyone but Chicago getting double digit games against the top 13.


What we’ve looked at is based on the rosters everyone had for most of the season. That’s going to change by next Friday’s trade deadline, however, as the contending teams scramble to add reinforcements, and the lost cause teams sell off whatever assets they can.

Vancouver already got a head start by unloading a key forward, Lane Pederson Bo Horvat. They are 2-4-1 since trading their captain to the Islanders.

Arizona can move their best skater, Jakob Chychrun, but he’s already been scratched as a precaution for “trade-related reasons” and the Coyotes are nevertheless on a nine game point streak.

Chicago will not be able to trade captain Jonathan Toews as he continues to deal with the effects of long COVID. Patrick Kane could be moved, but he has final say on any trade. Even if he goes, it’s not like he has made the Blackhawks much better this season.

San Jose is the team that can take a big dive here, with teams sniffing around a resurgent Erik Karlsson. It’s not an easy contract to move given the term and cap hit. Much easier to move and much more attractive is pending RFA Timo Meier. The 26 year old Swiss Can’t-Miss winger already has 31 goals in 57 games. If both are moved, that would take away the players responsible for 27% of the Sharks points this season.

As for the Blue Jackets, they have scratched Vladislav Gavrikov and a trade is in place with Boston pending the Bruins making another move to free up cap space. The team defense has been solid for the last four games despite missing Gavrikov. Weird, right? The bigger impact to the tank would be a trade of Joonas Korpisalo. He has been the best CBJ goalie by far this season, with more quality starts than Elvis Merzlikins and Daniil Tarasov combined (14 vs. 10). More wins, too (10 vs. 8).

So, how do you think the bottom of the standings will sort out a month and a half from now?

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