Where the Ottawa Senators Could Pick This Draft

Looking ahead to the off-season: where are the Senators likely to draft with their first pick?

Where the Ottawa Senators Could Pick This Draft
Photo by dylan nolte / Unsplash

There hasn't exactly been much to root for the last few months with the Ottawa Senators. They've been out of the play-off race for a long time, and although there are interesting storylines within the team, almost everyone is focused on one thing this off-season: the draft.

I don't think anybody thought they'd be this bad in 2023-24, but here we are. There are just two weeks left in the regular season, and the Sens have eight games remaining. So, assuming they keep their pick, what do we know about the draft as things stand today?

Let’s start at the current bottom of the standings:

The Senators have 70 points in 74 games, which is tied for 6th-last in the NHL, although they have five more ROW than the Montréal Canadiens, which gives them the tiebreaker. The San Jose Sharks are ridiculously behind everyone else, and even the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks are also in their own horrific tier. The Columbus Blue Jackets are somehow eight points ahead of Anaheim, yet they're still eight back of the Senators with one more game played, making it almost impossible to pass Ottawa.

The Coyotes and Canadiens could make things interesting though. Arizona is three back, and as I mentioned, Montréal is tied, both with the same amount of games played. The Coyotes have one fewer ROW and two fewer wins, although if they end up tied on points, those very well could be tied as well—in which case, Arizona would win the tiebreaker as they beat Ottawa both times this season. Montréal would have to outright beat Ottawa for that position, but it's possible. The two rivals play each other on April 13th too, so there's a decent chance that game decides who has the higher pick. What a depressing scene that could be.

Looking upwards, the Calgary Flames are three up with one fewer game played, the Seattle Kraken are five up, the New Jersey Devils are six up with one more game played, and the Buffalo Sabres are seven up with two games in hand. The Flames might be catchable, but the Sens would still have to get two more wins than them in just eight games, which isn't easy. Technically any of these teams could get surpassed by the Senators, although it would probably require winning at least six of their final eight games. If Ottawa goes on a heater to finish the year, I'd say the "worst-case" scenario is they pass two teams ahead of them, finishing ninth overall in the draft lottery.

That means they're very likely to finish with the sixth or seventh-best odds, with the potential to go as high as fifth and as low as ninth. However, we know that where you end in the standings doesn't necessarily mean that's where you'll draft.

Here are the lottery odds for each position:

If the season ended today, Ottawa would have a 44.4% chance of picking seventh, 36.5% chance of picking eighth, and a 5.6% chance of picking ninth. That's a 42.1% chance they move down, a similar chance they stay at their spot and just a 13.4% chance they move into the top three picks. It's a good reminder to go into the draft lottery ready for some amount of disappointment — if only for self-preservation.

If the Sens moved "up" to the fifth-best odds, they go from a 13.4% chance to pick in the top-3 to a 17.4% chance, so it's not exactly a huge difference. Meanwhile, if they "fall" to the ninth-best odds, they have a 10.4% chance to move up, so still not vastly different. At the same time, going in with the ninth-best odds would give them the possibility of picking 11th, which would be quite disheartening.

In terms of strength of schedule, Ottawa actually has the fourth hardest in the entire league the rest of the season, as they have games against the Rangers, Bruins, Lightning, and two against the Panthers. The Canadiens have the 10th-hardest and the Coyotes have the 12th-hardest. Then you have the Kraken and Flames who are 28th and 30th in strength of schedule, making it more challenging to catch them.

Winning the lottery and selecting Macklin Celebrini could be franchise-altering, although there are plenty of other names such as Ivan Demidov, Artyom Levshunov, Zayne Parekh, Cole Eiserman, Cayden Lindstrom, Sam Dickinson, and Berkly Catton who could be difference-makers. That list isn't infinite though, and the higher the pick the better, of course.

It's probably best to expect the eighth overall pick based on all of this data and not getting our hopes up, although they have to get lottery luck one of these years...right?


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