Odds show Flames almost as likely to win Bedard lottery as the Stanley Cup

Mar 11 2023, 10:52 pm

The Calgary Flames are stuck in the middle.

And it might get them nowhere.

The Flames, by way of a “shit the bed” 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night, sit four points back of the Winnipeg Jets for the second and final wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, with the latter having a single game at hand.

Sandwich the Nashville Predators in there — who might be in a better position to challenge the Jets and boast a better points percentage than the Saddledome-dwellers — sit two back of Calgary with four fewer games played.

Five more points, and the Flames would hold a postseason berth.

Five points down, though, and Calgary would be tucking themselves just underneath the Detroit Red Wings for 23rd in the overall standings.

The significance?

Teams can only jump 10 spots under the NHL Draft Lottery format, meaning a win starting from 12th and lower doesn’t get a club a shot at the No. 1 overall pick and the chance at Connor Bedard — the consensus top pick and prodigy following in the footsteps of Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby.

Bedard, who nearly sold out the ‘Dome last month, leads all draft-eligible scorers and paces the Western Hockey with 125 points (61 goals, 64 assists) in just 50 games played for the Regina Pats. The next-closest WHL and draft-eligible scorer is Zach Benson of the Winnipeg ICE, who has 98 points (36 goals, 62 assists) in 60 games.

By comparison, McDavid logged 120 points (44 goals, 76 assists) in 47 games in his draft-eligible season in 2014-15 with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League. Crosby logged 168 points (66 goals, 102 assists) in 62 games with the Rimouski Oceanic in 2004-05.

High stakes.

Tankathon - March 11, 2023

Tankathon

And that No. 10 spot currently occupied by the Red Wings grants a team a 3.5% shot at landing Bedard. Even the No. 11 spot, with 3.0% odds, keeps a club within No. 1.

The Flames currently rank in at the No. 13 spot, with the Ottawa Senators (whose pick belongs to the Arizona Coyotes via the Jakob Chychrun trade), Florida Panthers (who traded their pick to the Montreal Canadiens for Ben Chiarot last season), and Predators all ranking higher in the standings based on points percentage to this juncture.

That No. 13 spot, with a 2.0% shot at a lottery win, could only elevate Calgary to the No. 3 pick with the right combination of ping pong balls falling.

But should the Flames — who are projected to miss the postseason for the second time in three years — find a way to reverse-leapfrog the Buffalo Sabres and Washington Capitals and into 11th, they’d automatically enter themselves in the Bedard sweepstakes and up their odds to 3.0%.

It’s not so far-fetched with the Flames holding a two-point edge on Washington, a three-point gap on Buffalo, and four clear of Detroit with 16 games remaining. The Flames and Capitals have played the most out of the bunch, too, helping Calgary’s odds on a couple of fronts.

So, while the Flames — who are projected to have a 15.1% shot at postseason play according to Hockey Reference, and a 31.8% probability of postseason play and a 2.6% likelihood of a Cup hoist, according to the ever-optimistic MoneyPuck — are looking up at the Jets, some Calgary fans are undoubtedly looking back at the Bedard sweepstakes.

A shot at hockey’s Holy Grail pumped in at 2.6%.

A potential 3-to-3.5% probability of hockey’s next ‘holy crap’ jaw-dropper in Bedard for the Flames, should they slide a few slots.

That lottery ticket is a real possibility.

And the odds of a win there are better, too.

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