It’s mid-November, and it goes with out saying that each NHL staff is concentrated on the large prize.
Which prize? That half is determined by the staff.
For most groups, it’s the Stanley Cup. You’ve in all probability heard of it. The large silver factor, apparently fairly heavy, hangs out within the Hall of Fame in Toronto for many of the 12 months after which heads all the way down to America within the spring. But that’s not each staff’s focus, and that’s very true this 12 months.
We might be trustworthy, proper? We don’t need to do the Gary Bettman factor, the place he pretends that NHL groups by no means tank and it’s solely the mean old media making stuff up. That form of factor is insulting to your intelligence as a fan, as a result of you realize groups tank, as a result of you will have eyes and a mind. Sure, you may want to name it one thing else, particularly when your staff is doing it. But you realize a tank once you see it.
And we’ll be seeing a number of of them this 12 months as a result of the highest of the draft class of 2023 is absolutely stacked. There could possibly be three authentic franchise gamers, together with Connor Bedard, who may be the subsequent Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid or perhaps much more. Remember, the league nerfed their lottery system a number of years in the past, so whichever staff finishes useless final this 12 months is assured to get a kind of high three picks. The incentive to be dangerous is clear. Sorry Gary, hearth up the tank and let’s roll.
But which groups will do it? And when? And most significantly, who’s in the perfect place to make it work? Welcome to the Tank Index, the place we attempt to discover out. This is a gimmick I sometimes pull out later within the season. But this 12 months isn’t typical, and with a lot prospect gold ready on the finish of the tanking rainbow, it may be value it to test in a number of instances because the season goes on.
We’ll be taking a look at a number of components:
Season to this point: You can’t win the highest choose in October, however you possibly can go a protracted solution to shedding it. Even a number of additional factors picked up within the first month might be devastating to a staff’s tank, so how dangerous has a staff appeared within the early going?
Seller potential: The greatest solution to tank is to commerce helpful gamers for picks and prospects, since you get to gather future property whereas additionally getting worse within the quick time period. Of course, you want some helpful gamers first, particularly ones on expiring contracts.
Goaltending issues: Even in at the moment’s NHL, it stays true that groups go so far as their goaltending takes them. If you need to tank, you’d higher be certain your goalie stinks, as a result of there’s nothing worse than watching some man stand on his head and price you valuable lottery odds.
Motivation: A difficult one, however perhaps crucial issue of all. This one begins with the GM, who wants job safety to go all in on being dangerous. Will possession perceive and settle for the plan? What concerning the market, and native media? It’s not straightforward to tank when a number of stakeholders aren’t on board.
We’ll give every staff a rating in all 4 classes, and see the place that leaves them. For this primary 2022-23 tank index, I’m going to concentrate on the eight worst groups by factors proportion heading into Tuesday evening, then add 4 extra that I believe are value together with based mostly on preseason expectations. That brings us to a good dozen, and we’ll rely them down as we work our solution to this 12 months’s early tank favourite.
Seller potential: 3/10. All the important thing guys are locked up for no less than three years.
Goaltending issues: 4/10. Juuse Saros has had a tough begin and remains to be inconsistent, however he’s exhibiting indicators of getting again to final 12 months’s stage and ought to be OK.
Motivation: 3/10. David Poile has been pretty steadfast about not rebuilding, and final 12 months’s playoff look wasn’t going to vary his thoughts. As only one instance, they might have moved Filip Forsberg final season, however determined to re-sign him for eight years as an alternative.
Tank complete: 15/40. The Predators are slowly turning into the NHL’s poster baby for the “stuck in the mushy middle” staff, with little indication that they’ve a problem with that.
Season to this point: 5/10. They’ve been over .500 for many of the season, which isn’t going to get it accomplished, however a current shedding streak has them trending downward.
Seller potential: 3/10. They don’t actually have anybody who seems to be like a rental, and the older guys are both harm or have dangerous contracts. Or each.
Goaltending issues: 4/10. Carter Hart seems to be nice to this point. He’s been unsteady sufficient during the last two years that we will’t say for positive that it continues, however it’s awfully robust to complete final once you’re getting .930 goaltending.
Motivation: 4/10. They must rebuild and I think that Chuck Fletcher is aware of it. But his boss doesn’t, and in Philadelphia, that’s what issues. Hiring a coach who excels at grinding factors out of groups gained’t assist. But perhaps long-term accidents to guys like Sean Couturier and different veterans persuade them to learn the writing on the wall.
Tank complete: 16/40. Anyone who picked the Flyers to complete within the working for Bedard clearly wasn’t paying consideration. (Remembers that I did that.) What I meant to say is that hockey is unpredictable.
Season to this point: 6/10. They lastly ended a seven-game shedding streak that torpedoed their document, though they’ve performed so many shut video games that you need to chalk no less than a few of these losses as much as dangerous luck.
Seller potential: 4/10. This could be increased in the event that they determined to flip Alex DeBrincat somewhat than prolong him, however that feels exceedingly unlikely (and will additionally occur through the summer season, since he’s an RFA). Cam Talbot could possibly be intriguing, however in any other case, many of the key items are younger and locked in.
Goaltending issues: 6/10. We haven’t seen a lot of Talbot as a result of harm, however Anton Forsberg has struggled.
Motivation: 3/10. The Senators are properly into a protracted rebuild that Pierre Dorion has already declared over twice within the final two years. This was the 12 months that their followers had been anticipating a playoff push, and with new possession on the way in which, Dorion may fear that if he lands one more excessive choose, will probably be another GM utilizing it in June. He’s in all probability proper.
Tank complete: 19/40. The underlying numbers say they’ll get again on monitor, however it’s been a tough first month.
Season to this point: 5/10. Stop me in the event you’ve heard this one, however the Sabres began off nice and all of us received excited, after which they misplaced a bunch of video games. OK, yeah, I’ll cease.
Motivation: 5/10. Nobody goes to say no to Connor Bedard, however the Sabres have missed the playoffs for over a decade and have already got two No. 1 picks on the roster. If they’re dangerous, Kevyn Adams will allow them to be dangerous, however I don’t assume he’s going to yank the steering wheel in that path if he will help it.
Tank complete: 22/40. Besides, Sabres followers are an honorable lot and would never support a tank.
Season to this point: 2/10. I’m together with them as a result of they completed thirty second simply final 12 months, and all of us anticipated them to be within the working once more. But they’ve been completely superb to this point this season. Maybe even … good?
Seller potential: 6/10. They deliberately collected a number of sellable items in Sean Monahan and Evgenii Dadonov, and it could possibly be lastly time to discover a new residence for Jonathan Drouin. None of these guys are actually driving the present success, although.
Goaltending issues: 6/10. Jake Allen’s been superb to this point, however his well being is value watching. If he will get harm — or no less than harm sufficient to land on the IR for some time — then we noticed final 12 months that issues can disintegrate rapidly.
Motivation: 8/10. This would have been a simple 10 a month in the past, because it was clear that new administration was embracing a long-term rebuild. After a good begin to the season, they could resolve that it makes extra sense to let the younger core experience it out. But if the staff wobbles into the vary of a high choose, likelihood is they wouldn’t hesitate to do what wanted to be accomplished.
Tank complete: 23/40. Have they already fallen too far behind? (Wait … forward? Can you fall forward? That sounds bizarre.)
Season to this point: 9/10. They’re horrible, and getting worse.
Seller potential: 5/10. Drance made the case for a full-on rebuild with zero untouchables, however at this level, it doesn’t seem to be administration agrees. They might play the Bo Horvat card, however in any other case, there isn’t a ton to work with right here.
Goaltending issues: 5/10. Thatcher Demko has been terrible, and generally good goalies simply have a awful season. That could possibly be taking place right here, however I need to see it for an additional month or two earlier than I purchase in.
Motivation: 5/10. My learn on the fan base is that at this level, they’d be superb with blowing all of it up. A number of the media appears to be there too. But would possession log off? Did 73-year-old Jim Rutherford take this job so he might pilot a slow-and-steady rebuild? Patrik Allvin remains to be comparatively new to the GM job and may be capable to promote a tear-down. But the summer season’s J.T. Miller signing means that administration isn’t considering that method.
Tank complete: 24/40. That’s decrease than you needed, isn’t it, Vancouver followers? Unfortunately, Harman agrees. One extra early-season disappointment.
Season to this point: 8/10. Almost shockingly dangerous, though they’ve proven indicators of life during the last week.
Goaltending issues: 5/10. The stats say it could possibly be higher, however any time I recommend that Jordan Binnington is struggling, Blues followers descend on me to swear that he’s really nice and it’s the protection that’s letting him down. I’ll take your phrase for it.
Motivation: 5/10. At this level, I don’t see Doug Armstrong going full tank. This core remains to be simply three seasons faraway from a Cup, in any case, they usually gained a playoff spherical final 12 months. That mentioned, they’re a serious harm or week-long shedding streak away from doubtlessly stepping into 2007 Flyers territory, the place a great staff accepts that every part goes to go flawed for a 12 months and embraces their destiny. (Do not ask Flyers followers how that year’s lottery went.)
Tank complete: 26/40. Not all that prime but, however test again in a month or two they usually may be elbowing groups out of the way in which.
Season to this point: 3/10. At 6-6-3, the Hawks have among the best information of any staff on our checklist, and are already a half-dozen factors out of useless final. That’s not a ton, but when they had been six factors out of a playoff spot we’d say they had been already in hassle.
Seller potential: 9/10. No staff has greater names on the block than Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Of course, the Hawks might not have them both, since we don’t know if both man would waive his no-move clause. But it’s doable, and once you combine in Max Domi then I’m unsure any staff has the potential to worsen as rapidly because the Hawks might.
Goaltending issues: 7/10. It was alleged to be a key weak point, however Petr Mrazek has been OK, Alex Stalock has been good and even Arvid Soderblom, whoever that’s, has performed nice in restricted motion. It in all probability can’t final, however goaltending is bizarre and to this point in Chicago, it’s been weirdly enough.
Motivation: 10/10. No staff was extra apparent about their tanking intentions than the Hawks heading into the season, and it’s secure to imagine Kyle Davidson hasn’t modified plans based mostly on a number of good weeks.
Tank complete: 29/40. It’s nonetheless a good rating, however their begin has value them their preseason favourite standing and opened the door for different groups.
Season to this point: 8/10. They began out 0-5-0 and have barely treaded water since.
Goaltending issues: 5/10. Reimer’s been stable to this point, so in the event that they had been to commerce him and hand the full-time job to Kaapo Kahkonen, this quantity might shoot up.
Motivation: 9/10. New GM Mike Grier has already traded Brent Burns, so that you get the sensation he is aware of precisely what’s wanted right here. Do you actually need to waste a Norris-level season from Erik Karlsson? Trick query, they already are.
Tank complete: 29/40. One concern: The Sharks have already been to extra time six instances this 12 months, and all these three-point video games will add up in the event that they don’t smarten up.
Season to this point: 6/10. They’re 6-8-1 and ran off a three-game win streak final week, so that they’ve misplaced some floor.
Seller potential: 5/10. The Coyotes have already stripped down their roster, which suggests there in all probability isn’t a ton of room to get a lot worse. Jakob Chychrun is the large title, though he hasn’t performed but this 12 months so wouldn’t actually be a subtraction if a commerce occurred at the moment. Other than that, you’ve received Shayne Gostisbehere and perhaps Nick Ritchie and that’s just about it except they determined to maneuver Clayton Keller.
Goaltending issues: 9/10. Karel Vejmelka has been a bit higher than anticipated, however they’re well-positioned right here.
Motivation: 10/10. Like the Hawks, the Coyotes have been clear about their intentions. With hopes of a brand new enviornment to fill in a number of years, now’s the time to land that franchise participant to construct round.
Tank complete: 30/40. They’ve banked extra wins than they’d like, however they’re nonetheless in respectable form.
Season to this point: 9/10. They’re making a run at useless final.
Seller potential: 4/10. Nothing actually stands out, except for some cause you assume Gustav Nyquist nonetheless strikes the needle.
Goaltending issues: 10/10. Elvis Merzlikins has been completely horrible, and with a long-term deal locked in, they in all probability haven’t any selection however to experience it out with him.
Motivation: 8/10. A month in the past, I might have ranked them low right here, since they’d simply signed Johnny Gaudreau and had a fan base that was starved for some kind of success. The horrible begin modifications the equation, although, and shedding Zach Werenski for the season offers them a ready-made out. I’m unsure they want it.
Tank complete: 31/40. It’s already a excessive rating, and if we had been doing trending arrows then the Blue Jackets could be pointing straight up. They might completely be holding down the highest spot the subsequent time we do that.
Season to this point: 10/10. They’re the early chief, sitting useless final out of 32 groups heading into final evening, though the margin is skinny.
Seller potential: 5/10. Pat Verbeek did most of his promoting finally 12 months’s deadline however nonetheless has John Klingberg as a big-name rental to dangle.
Goaltending issues: 9/10. John Gibson has been dangerous, and at this level, I believe we will cease pretending that he’s going to all of the sudden rediscover that Vezina kind he final confirmed in 2019.
Motivation: 9/10. Verbeek is new to the job and inherited a staff that was already rebuilding. Last 12 months’s first-half success may give some pause in different seasons, however not this one, so so long as they’re not so horrible that guys like Trevor Zegras see their growth endure, it ought to be all methods go.
Tank complete: 33/40. This looks like a light upset, and it’s nonetheless early, however proper now every part is lining up brilliantly for the Ducks.
(Top photograph: Bob Frid / USA Today)