With just two wins in their last 10 games, the other shoe has finally dropped for the Montreal Canadiens.
And while it may feel like a disappointing month for many fans, when it comes to the 2023 Draft odds, their collapse couldn’t have come any sooner.
Simply put, the Canadiens have relied on goaltending and raw talent throughout the year. The push to the midway point of the standings was the result of a flash in the pan rather than anything that could be considered sustainable.
And that’s a good thing.
As it stands, the Canadiens have a 6.5 percent chance of winning the Draft lottery, as well as a 6.9 percent chance to end up with the second-overall pick. They also own the Florida Panthers’ first-round pick, which gives them an additional 3 percent chance at the first-overall pick.
The Arizona Coyotes, the Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks are the teams to beat, or rather, are the teams the Canadiens hope to beat in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes.
The bad news for prospect aficionados is that the Panthers are unlikely to finish among the worst teams in the standings, given they have relatively healthy underlying numbers.
But the great news, on the other hand, is that the Canadiens do not have anything remotely close to healthy underlying numbers.
Their stats indicate December was not a trend, as much as it was a sneak peek into the second half of the season.
As evidenced by the chart below, the Habs’ paid hommage to Kevin from The Office with their chilli-spilling month of December, in which they controlled the second-fewest shots (CF%), the second-fewest high-danger chances (HDCF%), and the second-fewest expected goals (xGF%).
Despite earning four wins in their last 10 games, the Anaheim Ducks are the only team that has managed to produce worst underlying results than the Canadiens in the last 30 days.
But the Canadiens have a 2023 Draft ace up their sleeve, seeing as they have the most difficult strength of schedule of any team in the NHL.
If the Canadiens continue to play as poorly as they have in December, they’re on pace to earn a little under 33 points in 46 games, which would place them firmly in among the bottom-five teams in the standings with a total of 66 points.
Of course, there are no guarantees the Canadiens will continue their Bonny and Clydesque dive into a canyon, but even if they miss out on Bedard, it’s safe to say the 2023 Draft will provide much more high-end talent than in previous years.
And that’s exactly what the Canadiens need most when it comes to their long-term rebuild.
All Statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted, via Natural Stat Trick.
Strength of schedule and Draft odds via Tankathon.