Matt Hackett: Eyes on the Prize.
Hopefully, the MN Wild after the 2012 draft. The Watch is a bit late as I was awfully busy last week, and was in a training session on Friday. That's okay, we now have 7 games left stretched over 2 weeks. We're in that lousy stretch at the end of the season where the Wild are already eliminated but still have games left. The team is talking about winning and battling for pride, but where every win feels a little bit more like a loss. Let's make this clear, pride and solid hockey games are great, but the one thing that remains exciting is the very real chance that the Wild could end up with a top 2 pick, and potentially the second best chance to pick 1st.
There is some pretty exciting talent at the top of this year's draft class, and the Wild will likely draft a solid player no matter where they pick in the top 10. However, there could be some franchise game breakers available at the top, so let's take a look at where the Wild, and the other teams stand in getting a shot to draft the future.
Key: Draft Pos : Team : Games Played : Total Points : Last 10 Record : Next 4 Games (bold = against teams on chart)
1. Columbus (- no change) : 75gp (7 remaining) : 55pts (+4) : 4-6-0 : @Det - Det - FLA - @ St. L
2. Montreal (+1) : 76gp (6) : 71pts (+4) : 4-3-3 : FLA - @NYR - @Was - Tamp
3. Edmonton (-1) : 76gp (6) : 71pts (+10) : 5-2-3 : Dal - LA - @Anah - @LA
4. WILD (+2) : 75gp (7) : 72pts (+4) : 3-7-0 : NYR - FLA - LA - @Chi
5. NY Islanders (-) : 75gp (7) : 73pts (+6) : 4-4-2 : @Pitt - Pitt - Bos - Ott
6. Carolina (-2) : 76gp (6) : 75pts (+8) : 5-4-1 : @Tor - Winn - NJ - @Ott
7. Anaheim (+1) : 76pg (6) : 75pts (+4) : 4-5-1 : SJ - @Pho - Edm - @Van
8. Toronto (-1) : 76gp (6) : 75pts (+7) : 3-5-2 : Car - Philly - Buf - @Buf
9. Tampa Bay (-) : 74gp (8) : 75pts (+4) : 4-5-1 : @Philly - @Bos - @NJ - Winni
10. Winnipeg (-) : 75gp (7) : 78pts (+4) : 5-5-0 : Ott - NYR - @Car - @Tamp
Teams on the Playoff Bubble (WEST): Calgary (6 games left) 83pts; Colorado (5) 86pts; San Jose (7) 86pts; Los Angeles (7) 86pts (8th in West); Phoenix (5) 87pts (7th in West)
Teams on the Playoff Bubble (EAST): Buffalo (6) 84pts; Washington (6) 84pts (8th in East); Ottawa (6) 86pts (7th in East)
Two weeks left and the Wild are positioned for a very good draft pick. The LA Kings, Florida Panthers, NY Rangers, will all play a big role over the next week or so all playing a couple games against bottom 5 teams. The Kings are playing to make it into the playoffs, the Panthers are not awfully secure in their playoff spot, the Rangers are playing for home ice through out the playoffs.
The WILD are a single point out of the #2 draft spot, and the second best shot at winning the lottery. They are only 4 points out of drafting #9. Do you feel that anxiety?
Okay... what do you see happening over the next two weeks? Let's see if we can predict how the bottom 10 will finish. Does Edmonton pass the Wild? Can Montreal get another couple wins? What is the likelihood that the Wild are eyeing up those top offensive players, and doing a whole lot of catch up scouting... who would have ever thought they'd even have a chance at drafting one of those guys even 2 months ago (besides me, I guess)?
Editor's note - This post was originally published at 9:14am. Time stamp updated.