Last season the Chicago Blackhawks tanked and the reward was winning the NHL Draft Lottery with the right to draft Connor Bedard.
The wunderkind has been everything anyone could have hoped for. Except he cannot win games on his own.
Injuries to a roster that was already on the fringes of being a borderline playoff team have the Chicago Blackhawks sitting dead last in the NHL. Tanking last season was acceptable because Bedard was the light at the end of the tunnel. The hope was with Bedard on the ice along with a decent supporting cast, the Hawks could at least be competitive and win more games.
Instead, the Blackhawks are the official "get-right" team in the NHL. Even last year, teams knew they were in for a battle for 60 minutes. This season not so much.
It is not like this year's team is not trying. They battled the Vancouver Canucks down three of their top defensemen. Injuries have ravaged this team.
Although the effort has been inconsistent at times. That has led to a couple of embarrassing blow out losses.
Let's face it, the Hawks are horrible. Even when they get some players back, they are not going to get much better. With a team just decimated by injuries, and one that was not very talented to begin with, maybe it is time to shift focus on hoping for the team to tank the rest of the way.
The Chicago Blackhawks have another opportunity to have the best odds of winning the NHL Draft Lottery. This draft's prize is Boston University's Macklin Celebrini.
Celebrini has the potential to man both wing positions and play center. He currently has 25 points for Boston U. He scored 46 goals for the Chicago Steel in the USHL. He is another offensive wizard with his ability to create shots for his teammates while also getting goals for himself. He is being asked to be a frontline scorer for Team Canada at the upcoming World Juniors--much like Bedard was during the last tournament.
Much like Bedard, being a generational talent is being applied to Celebrini.
Still, this team was not purposely built to tank. Sure, the franchise is in the early stages of a massive rebuild. Plus, all tanking does is help get the best odds of winning the NHL Draft Lottery. Does it make sense to ask a fanbase already skeptical of the team's intention to sit through another tank?
Then again, this team was probably not making the playoffs even if it was fully healthy. Bedard is just step one in a lengthy rebuild. Winning will come but it will come by adding another draft class filled with stud prospects. The best case for the franchise's long-term health is to tank one more time and hope the ping-pong balls bounce in their favor again.