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Canadiens Analysis

Canadiens Tank Watch: A Tight Race To Improve Lottery Odds



NHL Draft hosted by Montreal Canadiens Habs news

The Montreal Canadiens will not qualify for the playoffs this season, but their results in the final stretch of the 2023-24 campaign are still important.

Rather than racing to the top, the Habs are involved in a race to the bottom, with the ultimate goal of improving their 2024 NHL Draft Lottery odds.

Current Situation

As it stands, the Canadiens are 26th in the NHL standings, leaving them with relatively weak odds of drafting among the top 5 teams.

If the season ended today, Montreal would have a 6.5 percent chance of drafting first overall, a 6.7 percent chance of drafting second, and a 0.2 percent chance to draft third. What’s more, they would not be eligible to draft fourth, fifth, or sixth overall.

Their best odds would be to draft either seventh (44.4 percent) or eighth (36.5 percent), though there’s also a chance they’d end up with the ninth overall pick (5.6 percent).

Teams In The Mix

Montreal is almost guaranteed a top-10 pick, but there’s still a chance they can finish lower than their current position in the standings.

In the last edition of the Canadiens Tank Watch, we noted it would be difficult, but not impossible to finish lower than the Anaheim Ducks. Since then, the Ducks have only banked two out of the 10 available points, essentially putting them out of reach for the Habs.

Only the Arizona Coyotes, the Ottawa Senators, and the Columbus Blue Jackets are realistic targets at this point in the season.

Montreal canadiens standi


Strengths Of Schedule

The Habs still own the most difficult strength of schedule in the NHL, the main driving force behind the hopes and dreams of fans who want a top-5 pick.

But we should note that the Senators and Coyotes have also entered the difficult strength of schedule conversation, which mitigates much of the advantage the Canadiens have down the stretch.


29th Place – Columbus Blue Jackets – Strength of schedule: 12th

28th Place – Ottawa Senators – Strength of schedule: 7th

27th Place – Arizona Coyotes – Strength of schedule: 6th

26th Place – Montreal Canadiens – Strength of schedule: 1st


Recent Form

To get a better idea of how the teams have performed recently, we’ll take a look at their record in the last 10 games, as well as their shot control (CF%), high-danger scoring chances (HDCF%), expected goals (xGF%), shooting percentage (SH%) and team save percentage (SV%).

Montreal CAnadiens stats

There is some good news from a lottery odds perspective.

The Canadiens had started playing some of their best hockey since Martin St-Louis took over as coach, and it led to a surge in most underlying numbers.

That’s no longer the case.

As you can see, the Canadiens controlled a little over 46 percent of the shots in the last 10 games, the lowest number among the teams in the mix.

They did, however, do a much better job controlling the high-danger chances, which means they actually had the highest expected goals percentage of the four teams we’re tracking. Their shooting percentage also saw an uptick, and the goaltending has started to stabilize.


Brass Tacks

With just 17 games left to play in the season, it will be very difficult for the Montreal Canadiens to finish below the Blue Jackets.

The Senators and Coyotes are still viable options. But if the Habs finish 27th or 28th, they’ll only slightly improve their odds of drafting in the top 3.

montreal canadiens draft odds


Things can change, but for now, Canadiens fans should probably start to re-adjust their expectations and come to terms with the idea that the Canadiens are likely to end up drafting between fifth and eighth overall.

All 2024 NHL strength of schedule information via Tankathon.