Coyotes’ Armstrong admires team fight as draft lottery position unfolds

Mar 25, 2023, 9:30 AM

General manager Bill Armstrong of the Arizona Coyotes talks during the first round of the 2022 Uppe...

General manager Bill Armstrong of the Arizona Coyotes talks during the first round of the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft at Bell Centre on July 07, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — While the race for the NHL’s top record was done by midseason thanks to the Boston Bruins’ potential record-setting run, the chase for the worst mark remains up for grabs in the final three weeks.

After Friday’s games, Columbus and San Jose are tied for “first” at 53 points, followed by Chicago (54), Anaheim (56), Montreal (62) and Arizona (66). The odds for the team with the worst record to land the top pick is a 25.5% chance, second-worst record is 13.5% while the third-worst record drops to 11.5%.

The ultimate prize awaits the team that picks first as consensus No. 1 pick Connor Bedard is atop all analyst’s draft boards.

Bedard currently has 71 goals and 73 assists in 57 games with the WHL’s Regina Pats.

Even though half of the league’s 32 teams do not make the playoffs, only 11 are eligible for the lottery. The rules instituted in 2022 state a team can move up a maximum of 10 spots.

For the last two years, the team with the worst record has won the lottery, but that often isn’t the case. In 2012, the Blue Jackets had the worst record and lost the top pick to Edmonton.

The last thing any of the coaches at the bottom want to hear, though, is lottery odds.

Arizona was near the bottom three spots for most of the season, but a 6-1-3 run in the last 10 games has it at 66 points and tied for the sixth-fewest points in the league. The team is in the midst of three straight losses after taking points in seven straight games prior to that.

Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong is OK with his franchise’s chances of landing a top-three pick taking a significant hit.

“As a GM, you never want to take the fight from your team. And so you’ve got to continue that and enjoy what you’re going through and how hard your team is fighting,” he said.

“I’ve been through so many drafts that you can’t control where you draft, but you can control who you pick, and that’s what you got to worry about. So at the end of the day, no matter where we lie, we’ve got to be good at picking.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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