Despair for Lafreniere: Volume 1

We are debuting a new feature for the 2019-20 season. Now that the calendar has turned to November, what better time than now to start looking at teams in the hunt for the draft lottery.

Starting now and weekly throughout the season, we will track the teams most in the hunt or on the verge of the hunt of being in the Alexis Lafreniere sweepstakes. We are starting to see some early separation at the bottom of the standings. Some were expected to be here. Others not so much.

Each week, we will list teams in two groups. The first group will be the honorable mentions of the week. Then we will count down from five to one the teams closest to the bottom of the standings and provide some analysis. Without further ado, let’s see who make volume one of Despair for Lafreniere.

Alexis Lafreniere Rimouski Oceanic
Alexis Lafreniere is the prize for lottery teams in the 2020 NHL Draft. (Photo by Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images)

The Honorable Mentions

  • Philadelphia Flyers (6-5-2) and Tampa Bay Lightning (6-5-2): One of these is not like the other. Each are tied for the 10th worst point total in the league. I don’t expect each to be on this list very long but it goes to show you how unpredictable the start of the season can be. Did the Blue Jackets really break the Lightning? Speaking of the Blue Jackets…
  • Columbus Blue Jackets (5-6-3): Opening the season with just five wins in their first 14 outings will put you in this conversation. The top players have badly underperformed as a whole and their young goaltending is posting an .883 save percentage as a team. This could be a long season if they can’t start figuring things out soon.
  • New York Rangers (5-5-1): This is not really surprising. There is talent but it is mostly young. Their defense has major holes in it. They will be exciting to watch but will give up way too many goals over the course of this season to be a serious playoff contender. Could you imagine Lafreniere on Broadway? My God.
  • New Jersey Devils (3-5-4): They at least have a few wins now but they seemed destined for a date with the bottom of the Metro. But on the bright side, they have the ultimate trump card of the lottery in Taylor Hall. That is of course if he’s not traded before because they couldn’t get a long-term extension done. Don’t look now but the Devils could be the new Oilers if they keep winning draft lotteries.
  • Los Angeles Kings (5-9-0): Somehow there’s five teams below them as of now. That won’t last long. We just need to allow a little more time.

Despair for Lafreniere Rankings

5. Chicago Blackhawks (3-6-3)

It just seems all those miles have caught up to the veterans on the team. There’s some nice young talent there but without a consistent defense and effort from their forwards, they will live on this list all season. You wonder if GM Stan Bowman can survive another clunker given higher expectations for this season.

4. Minnesota Wild (4-9-1)

Bill Guerin is good people and needs time to evaluate the situation in the State of Hockey. But without much in the way of elite talent on the roster, they seemed destined for an extended stay here. Better days are eventually coming here, just not this season. But hey, at least the press room food is top notch.

3. San Jose Sharks (4-10-1)

They invested in Erik Karlsson and let Joe Pavelski walk. Yet I don’t suspect anyone thought the Sharks would be here this early in the season. But they can’t get a save or consistent offense. If there’s anyone that can turn things around, it is the Sharks. There’s worse teams out there that should pass below them. “Should.” We’ll see.

2. Detroit Red Wings (4-10-1)

If this was 2025, I’d be very bullish on the Red Wings. But it’s only 2019 and they got work to do, a lot of work to do. Pieces are falling into place but they are a ways away. They will be in the thick of the running all season for this list. Get by this season, it starts going up.

1. Ottawa Senators (3-8-1)

D.J. Smith is a good coach. There’s some talent in places. But that’s about it. The Senators are here for a reason and are your odds-on favorite to finish with the worst record. My challenge will be to find different things to write about them every week. Challenge accepted!

Alexis Lafreniere Stats

Eyes on the prize folks. Here are Lafreniere’s stats as of the morning of Nov 4, 2019.

  • 12-31-43 in 18 games. 1 PPG and 17 PP assists.

See you next week for more Despair for Lafreniere.