The race for the bottom of the NHL standings is usually the focus right now. We’re three weeks from the finish line, the Eastern Conference is settled, and the West is basically nine teams competing for eight spots. At this point, it’s not a good position, if you’re in the nebulous lower third. This is where you miss the playoffs, but face long odds of earning a top-three draft pick, and possibly eventually selecting a franchise cornerstone that makes a difference.
And although the New Jersey Devils are making a late run, there are currently three main contenders to become the first team in history to finish 32nd in the now 32-team NHL: the Arizona Coyotes, the Canadiens of Montreal and the Seattle Kraken.
Seattle, as an expansion team, could really use a No. 1 pick to soften the disappointment of a less than stellar start.
Still, if you discount what the Vegas Golden Knights did in their inaugural season, the bumps and bruises the Kraken endured are a common path for NHL expansion teams. Some of the damage was likely self-inflicted – the choices they made in the expansion project may not have turned out as well as they had hoped. A little more consistency between the pipes would also have helped, as the faith they showed in Philip Grubauer and Chris Driedger didn’t pay off. Maybe it will eventually.