Well, we down to the final 5 or 6 games in the NHL regular season and while the playoff picture is starting to clear up, where everyone will finish & their draft position is still up in the air. The Canes currently sit in 23rd in the league or the #8 draft pick (depending on how the lottery goes). They have 5 games remaining; 3 against likely playoff teams and 2 against teams that are likely to miss the postseason. Below is how I think the rest of the season might play out and what draft position we are likely to end up with.
I think it is pretty safe to say that Columbus will likely end up with the #1 pick, they are so many points behind that they cannot pass anyone. Edmonton is also likely to end up with a top 4 pick. They have 3 games remaining against teams fighting for a playoff spot plus 2 against the Ducks and 1 in Vancouver. Montreal is also likely to end up with a top 4 pick. They have a tough road back-to-back against the Rangers & Caps and also have to play us in Raleigh. The last team that I believe will be with a top 4 pick is the Wild. They have 6 games remaining; all against teams that are fighting for a playoff spot or positioning. IMO, it will be very tough for any of these teams to escape the bottom 4.
So now we turn our attention to the group that will most likely miss the playoffs, but is still shuffling around the draft pick order.
Carolina (77) - 5 games remaining
Winnipeg, New Jersey, @ Ottawa, Montreal, @ Florida
I kind of expect that the Canes get wins over Winnipeg & Montreal, lose to New Jersey, and lose in OT to either Florida or Ottawa. So the Canes get 5 additional points and finish the season with 82 and 33 regulation wins.
Winnipeg (78) - 6 games remaining
NY Rangers, @ Carolina, @ Tampa Bay, @ Florida, @ NY Islanders, Tampa Bay
Winnipeg ends the season with 4 of 6 on the road and they aren't as good away from the MTS. Couple that with home games against the Rangers and Lighnting, it looks to be a tough finale for the Jets. I expect them to win the last game against Tampa, but lose the rest. I think they might get to OT in one of the road games, but that's about it. They finish the season with 81 points and 32 regulation wins.
Tampa Bay (77) - 6 games remaining
@ New Jersey, Winnipeg, Washington, @ Montreal, @ Toronto, @ Winnipeg
The Lightning also finish the season with a bunch of road games, but I like their schedule a little more. I expect them to win at home against Winnipeg, in Montreal, and in Toronto. I think they do lose to New Jersey, Washington and the finale in Winnipeg. So they end the season with 83 points and 35 regulation wins.
Anaheim (75) - 6 games remaining
San Jose, @ Phoenix, Edmonton, @ Vancouver, @ Edmonton, @ Calgary
Anaheim is a funny team; they look bad, then look real good, and now their sort of ho-hum. I would imagine them beating Edmonton twice and getting a point against the Yotes & Flames. The finish the season with 81 points and 31 regulation victories.
New York Islanders (75) - 6 games remaining
Pittsburgh, Boston, Ottawa, @ New Jersey, Winnipeg, @ Columbus
The Isles have some difficult teams in there, but they have 4 home games and 1 on the road in Columbus. I even think they are playing pretty well lately, but teams will be fighting for playoff position and they mostly overmatch the Isles. I think Pittsburgh gets a little payback and Boston tries to find it's groove for the playoffs, so 2 losses there. I think NY gets at least 1 point against the Sens & Devils, then goes out and finishes the season strong with 2 wins. They end up collecting 6 more points to finish with 81 and 27 regulation wins.
Toronto (75) - 5 games remaining
Philadelphia, Buffalo, @ Buffalo, Tampa, @ Montreal
I think the Leafs are done for the year. They havent won at home since February and they don't seem to be playing with much energy. I have them losing to Philly, Buffalo twice, and Tampa. I do have them giving it their all and beating Montreal to end the season, but the Leafs end up with only 77 points and 30 regulation wins.
So in the end, here is my project draft order (not counting the lottery).
6. NY Islanders
10. Tampa Bay
Of course anything can happen and any team can win or lose game, but I think this is a likely scenario. What do you guys/gals think?