NHL both wrapping and amping up
Playoffs start in mere days, and everybody’s got eyes on the draft pick this year
The last National Hockey League (NHL) hockey game of the season is scheduled for Friday, April 14, with the playoffs scheduled to begin on Monday, April 17. In the Central Division, the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, and the Minnesota Wild have all secured playoff spots in the Western Conference. The current playoff picture has the Avalanche playing the Kraken and the Stars playing against the Wild.
In the Pacific Division, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, the Edmonton Oilers, and the Los Angeles Kings have all secured playoff spots. The current standings show the Golden Knights playing the Jets and the Oilers and Kings playing each other. In the Atlantic Division, the Boston Bruins, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Tampa Bay Lightning have all secured a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. It appears that the Bruins will be playing the Islanders and the Leafs will be playing the Lightning.
In the Metropolitan Division, the Carolina Hurricanes, the New Jersey Devils, and the New York Rangers have secured playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. The playoff picture shows the Hurricane playing the Panthers with the Devils playing the Rangers. The wildcard spots have not officially been secured. However, the New York Islanders, the Seattle Kraken, the Florida Panthers, and the Winnipeg Jets are currently favoured in the standing to obtain a playoff spot with the Pittsburgh Penguins close behind.
The Boston Bruins are a favourite going into the playoffs, as they have 127 points compared to the second-place team in the whole league, the Carolina Hurricanes, who have only 109 points. FOX Bet currently has the Boston Bruins as the favourite, with the Colorado Avalanche and the Toronto Maple Leafs being in second and third places respectively.
The NHL is also experiencing a race to the bottom this season. This is due to teams wanting to obtain the first pick in the 2023 NHL draft in order to draft Connor Bedard first overall. Many teams see Bedard as being a key player in helping to rebuild their team. Bedard finished his Western Hockey League regular season with 71 goals and 72 assists in 57 games for the Regina Pats.
When Sidney Crosby was asked about Bedard, all he had to say was “No weaknesses,” which showcases the potential that one of the best in the hockey world sees in Bedard. It will be interesting to see how Bedard transitions into the NHL, and how effective he will be with the team he is playing on. Bedard is considered a once-in-a-generation player, which is no small feat. If Bedard is able to translate his success from the Western Hockey League and the World Juniors without letting the pressure get to him, he’ll have one heck of a career in the NHL.
The first-round draft pick normally goes to the team with the worst record in the league. However, this season, the Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, and the Columbus Blue Jackets all currently have 56 points with four games left in the regular season as of the time of writing. It will be interesting to see which team wins the draft lottery set to be held May 8 and has the opportunity to draft a standout like Connor Bedard.