It’s been rough. But through 40 games, following a 6-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, the Flyers were pretty much where everyone expected them to be: Out of playoff contention, but not bad enough to be one of the bottom three or four teams in the National Hockey League standings. And along the way, there has actually been some entertaining hockey.
The Flyers were 15-18-7 at the 40-game mark, which doesn’t look too bad, thanks to a recent four-game winning streak against the three California teams and the Arizona Coyotes. But in reality, the Flyers have 15 wins and 25 losses, meaning they win 38 percent of the time if you round up just slightly.
They’re not as good as six teams ahead of them in the Metropolitan Division, and they’re clearly not as bad as the Columbus Blue Jackets, nor are they as bad as a few teams that seem to be manufactured to live at the very bottom of the league standings such as the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks.
At the halfway mark, the Flyers are seventh from the bottom, which is miles away from playoff contention but still gives them a slim chance at landing either the first or second pick in the draft via the draft lottery. Due to a new rule change, teams can only move up 10 spots in the draft, so a team would need to be in the bottom 11 for a chance at picking first overall. Finishing in that 12th to 16th worst record is not a good place to be. You’re out of the playoffs and dead in the lottery in terms of getting the first pick.
Currently at seventh-worst, the Flyers have a 6.5 percent chance of winning the Connor Bedard sweepstakes with the first overall pick. They’d have a 6.9 percent chance of getting the second overall pick. There’s more than an 80-percent chance that they would pick either seventh or eighth. All of this great info is from tankathon.com/nhl, where you can check out lottery odds, look at mock drafts and even simulate the lottery. On that note, we ran a few simulations, well more than a few. But the first one was particularly interesting. Not so much for the Flyers, who ended up eighth. It was the Detroit Red Wings, who were in the 11th spot, winning the No. 1 pick with a 3-percent chance of doing it. The No. 2 pick went to the lowly Blackhawks, so at least some sanity was restored. It went to show, 11 teams truly do have a shot at a franchise-altering player and it would be in the Flyers’ best interest to at least hold one of those lottery tickets.
Want some better news? The second simulation had the Vancouver Canucks winning the top prize and the Flyers getting No. 2. The second overall pick wasn’t kind to the Flyers last time around as Nolan Patrick didn’t pan out here. But this year’s draft has a pair of big names that could go No. 2 including University of Michigan’s Adam Fantilli and big Swedish forward Leo Carlsson. Either guy could help turn the Flyers around in a hurry.
Want the bad news? It took exactly 23 simulations for the Flyers to finally get No. 1.
Can the Flyers improve their odds? Sure. But not by much. With half a season left, the Flyers are 13 points ahead of Chicago, 11 in front of Columbus and nine in front of Anaheim. It’s likely they aren’t catching any of them. The Flyers, to their credit, play more close games this year and are tied for the league lead in overtime losses with eight. Even when they lose, the Flyers often move up the standings.
Let’s say, hypothetically, the Flyers really hit a rough patch and are passed by Arizona, San Jose and Montreal and finish fourth-worst like they did last season. The Flyers’ odds of winning the lottery would increase by only 3 percent (up to 9.5 percent.) If they go on a heater and end up passing Vancouver, Florida and Ottawa, the Flyers’ odds would go down to 3.5 percent. It matters slightly, but all these scenarios have a less than 1-out-of-10 chance.
And right now, that’s where this franchise’s hopes of quick resurgence are likely hanging.