Since starting the month of February with three straight wins, the Toronto Maple Leafs have gone 2-11-2. With their current skid, the Leafs have free fallen from sixth place in the Eastern Conference and a secure place in the playoff race to oblivion.
This losing streak is so bad that the Leafs are threatening to crash the NHL Draft Lottery, which will be held during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The five worst NHL teams are eligible to win the first overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, and whoever wins the lottery will likely select Sarnia Sting forward Nail Yakupov, the NHL’s next superstar.
With four weeks left in the season, here’s how the worst teams in the NHL are doing in the Fail For Nail Sweepstakes™. The following chart shows the points they’ve accumulated and the games remaining in their season:
|30||Columbus Blue Jackets||51||14|
|27||New York Islanders||65||14|
|24 (tie)||Toronto Maple Leafs||68||14|
|22||Tampa Bay Lightning||69||14|
|21 (tie)||Buffalo Sabres||72||13|
Columbus: They are in the driver’s seat in the Fail For Nail Sweepstakes™. I have no idea who Rick Nash’s linemates are, and when your second best defenseman is James Wisniewski you’re in trouble.
Edmonton: Don’t count these guys out. GM Jeff Tambellini has done everything in his power to keep the Oilers out of playoff contention and he was rewarded with a contract extension.
Montreal: Back in the day they got first overall picks all the time via French-Canadian privilege (The Habs used to have a “cultural option” that allowed them to get the best two French-Canadian players available in the draft every year until 1969). When that gravy train got derailed, the Habs fleeced financially troubled franchises like the California Golden Seals (RIP), Atlanta Flames, Kansas City Scouts and the eternally stupid Los Angeles Kings via trade for a full decade. As a Leafs fan I’d love to see this happen but not this time. They deserve another season of Scott Gomez scoring goals once a year before they get “rewarded”.
NY Islanders: A waste. They’d trade him away a few years later for a handful of magic beans just like they did Roberto Luongo, Wade Redden and Zdeno Chara.
Carolina: Like the Leafs, this is a franchise that’s in limbo. They’re not good enough for the playoffs and not bad enough to bottom out and this year is no different. As of today they’re eligible for the first overall pick, but they’re seven points out of a playoff spot and have gone 2-1-2 so far this month. That’s going to get them another top ten draft pick that may or may not pan out in a few years.
Anaheim: They were on a winning streak but Corey Perry is out with a shoulder injury and their remaining schedule is tough. They have a shot to “pass” Carolina in the Fail For Nail™ standings.
Toronto: The Leafs are missing Joffrey Lupul, the goaltending is maddeningly inconsistent and the defense still makes mistakes. New head coach Randy Carlyle is using the rest of the season to evaluate the talent on the roster before the upcoming offseason purge, so I do not expect them to run off a winning streak anytime soon. Onward!