Which bad NHL teams are best positioned to win the No. 1 pick in 2024?

The Chicago Blackhawks reminded the hockey world that tanking can help you win the jackpot.

Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson didn’t just sell veteran talent off his roster like a traditional rebuild. He went full scorched Earth by shipping out a 24-year-old Alex DeBrincat, a 21-year-old Kirby Dach and a 24-year-old Brandon Hagel and not qualifying a 25-year-old Dylan Strome.

The 2022-23 Blackhawks were designed to be as bad as possible and while it didn’t earn them a last-place finish, it gave them strong enough lottery odds to win the Connor Bedard sweepstakes. It’s probably not a coincidence either that the Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets, the two other teams who finished bottom three, decided to wait until the end of the season to fire their respective head coaches rather than do it in the middle of the year.

Heading into the 2023-24 campaign, we’ve seen a lot of the bottom-feeders improve. But many clubs are still rebuilding and will find themselves in the race to the bottom for the No. 1 pick in 2024. Which teams are best positioned to sink to the basement of the NHL standings this season? Which bottom-feeders from last year will be moving out of the bottom five? Let’s dive in.

Teams ready to graduate from the basement

Detroit Red Wings

2022-23 finish: 24th

Key acquisitions: Alex DeBrincat, J.T. Compher, Jeff Petry, Daniel Sprong, Shayne Gostisbehere, Justin Holl

Key departures: Dominik Kubalik, Pius Suter

Steve Yzerman’s aggressive offseason has positioned the Red Wings to take a meaningful step this season. There were a couple of questionable contracts handed out in free agency, but there’s no denying that the club is significantly deeper. DeBrincat gives them a new top-of-the-lineup scorer, Compher solidifies the top-nine center situation and Sprong will inject crucial secondary scoring. On the back end, Petry, Gostisbehere and Holl will offer more stability behind the solid top pair of Moritz Seider and Jake Walman.

Lucas Raymond is expected to take a big step in Year 3, while you could continue seeing progress from the likes of Jonatan Berggren and Michael Rasmussen.

Put it all together and you have a team that’s much more likely to contend for a playoff spot than a prime lottery position.

Columbus Blue Jackets

2022-23 finish: 31st

Key acquisitions: Damon Severson, Ivan Provorov

Key prospects arriving: Adam Fantilli, David Jiricek, Dmitry Voronkov

Key departures: None

Columbus’ blue line will be much stronger in 2023-24. Severson will add puck-moving and offense to the top four. Provorov struggled in Philadelphia but he should perform much better in a second-pair role rather than as the do-it-all No. 1 on a bad team. Zach Werenski missed all but 13 games with injury last season, so his return essentially gives the Blue Jackets three bona fide top-four defensemen they didn’t have last season.

The Blue Jackets’ awful defensive structure should improve under new head coach Mike Babcock. And up front,…

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Read More: Which bad NHL teams are best positioned to win the No. 1 pick in 2024? 2023-09-12 10:11:35

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