Slackin’ for Macklin: Which five teams have best odds to land 2024 NHL Draft’s No. 1 pick?

      Which team will snag the top prospect for the 2024 NHL Draft?

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      If your team is near the bottom of the barrel, you have lots to be thankful this American Thanksgiving.

      It pays to be bad sometimes. Just ask the Chicago Blackhawks, who landed the first overall pick in 2023. That was a game-changing moment for them, and for whoever nabs Macklin Celebrini with the first pick, they have the opportunity to right their own ship, too.

      The Boston University superstar is on pace to match Adam Fantilli’s incredible freshman season with the University of Michigan last year – a campaign that landed him the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s top male hockey player. And Celebrini progressed to the college game a year before anyone his age was able to after fast-tracking his way up the ranks. Seriously, what we’re seeing from Celebrini as the NCAA’s top player so far is remarkable.

      History has shown that if you’re not in the playoff picture by American Thanksgiving, it’s probably not in the cards for you. That’s especially true for the San Jose Sharks, who, at one point, were on pace for the worst start in NHL history. But for a few others on this list, consider this your wake-up call.

      With the 2024 NHL Draft not until June, will we see Celebrini in a Sharks uniform? Will he be skating alongside Bedard in Chicago? Will the Oilers keep this horrible play up? Here’s a look at the five teams with the worst records and the best shot at getting the first overall pick as of American Thanksgiving:

      1. San Jose Sharks7 points, .184 (18.5 percent)

      File this under “well, duh.” The Sharks have three wins this season, with a full-season pace of 51 points. It wouldn’t be their worst season, given their 24 points in 1992-93 was utterly ridiculous, but it would put them among the worst since the league broke the 30-team barrier. Whether it was by design, or if this team truly can’t figure out the objective of the game naturally, the Sharks deserve the best odds at landing the first pick in the 2024 NHL Draft. And it would be fitting given that Celebrini lived in California, where his dad, Rick, works with the Golden State Warriors. The Sharks have a decent prospect pool with solid center depth, but a 1-2 punch of Celebrini and Will Smith would make this team a force sooner rather than later.

      2. Chicago Blackhawks – 10 points, .294 (13.5 percent)

      Could you imagine if the Hawks had a 1-2 duo of Connor Bedard and Celebrini? The two B.C. natives would make the rest of the league look silly. Add in Oliver Moore, and you’ve got a winning trio down the middle for the future. Bedard is already putting the league on notice after finding a groove in recent weeks, and Celebrini – who is ripping apart the college ranks – could step in immediately next year. There are many people who dislike the Hawks for landing Bedard in the wake of the sexual assault cover-up scandal, so getting the first pick in consecutive years likely wouldn’t land well, either. But from a hockey standpoint, watching over the next 20 years would be incredible.

      3. Edmonton Oilers11 points, .306 (11.5 percent)

      Crazy, right? The team so many believed was headed for the glory land instead is hanging out near the trash bins they spent a better part of a decade hiding in. The Oilers picked first overall four times in six years, with just two picks – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2011 and Connor McDavid in 2015 – still remaining today. The team has too many issues right now to even consider a big turnaround, but can you can never completely write off McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. While a few others on this list were expected to be near the bottom, picking first in 2024 would be a catastrophe of epic proportions.

      4. Columbus Blue Jackets14 points, .350 (9.5 percent)

      With the way the Blue Jackets are playing, they seem to desperately want a crack at Celebrini. This looked like the year when the club was set to take a step forward with some new faces, including 2023 third-overall pick Adam Fantilli. Instead, it’s been an absolute disaster for the Blue Jackets, who finally ended a nine-game losing streak with a win over Chicago. They look terrible at both ends of the ice, and the star players have been anything but that this year. Columbus has one of the best prospect pools in the game, and another high pick would only help them strengthen that. But sooner rather than later, something has to give here.

      Minnesota Wild – 14 points, .412 (8.5 percent)

      On a recent episode of Frankly Speaking, Bill Guerin told Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli that “everybody needs a kick in the ass sometimes.” The Wild were looked at as a playoff contender, and instead, the stars haven’t shown up and consistency has been a significant issue. The Wild are in the midst of a five-game losing streak and are 2-5-3 over the past 10 games, so something has to change – and quick. It’s not too late to make the playoffs, and it seems unlikely they’ll finish in the bottom five this year, but they’ll have to figure this out sooner rather than later before it’s too late.


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