Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Flyers up, Ducks down, Panthers added in the midseason edition of the Tank Index

It’s January. Do you know where your team’s tank is?

You should, because we’re about to hit the halfway point of the season, and it’s time to get serious about losing with our second Tank Index of the season. This is normally a gimmick that I break out once a year, but this upcoming draft class is so top-heavy that we needed multiple check-ins along the way.

Our first came back in November, with the surprisingly awful Ducks and Blue Jackets leading the way. Since then, we’ve seen teams move up and down the standings. But far more importantly, we’ve just seen a World Juniors where Connor Bedard went absolute cheat code on the rest of the world. If anything, the urgency should be even higher now. Spoiler alert: For at least a few teams, it absolutely is.

As always, this entire exercise takes place in a fictional alternate universe where tanking exists, because Gary Bettman has assured us that it doesn’t in this one and he wouldn’t lie to us. We’re scoring teams based on four criteria:

Season so far: How are they doing so far? A team will have less motivation to really commit to a tank if the absolute bottom is already out of reach. The worse the record, the better the score.

Seller potential: Who has the potential to get worse quickly by trading useful contributors? The key here is having useful players that others teams might actually want.

Goaltending problems: The most volatile position in hockey is also the key to a tank. One hot goalie can ruin the plan, while a few lousy ones can make it look easy.

Motivation: Maybe the most important factor of all, especially this year. Sure, you want a high draft pick, but how far are you willing to go? If you’re a GM, are you risking you job? If you’re the owner, will it impact your bottom line? Will the media be calling for heads? What about the fan base?

Four scores, each out of ten, and then we add it all up

Last time, we looked at a dozen teams that felt like tanking contenders, which feels like a good cutoff. This time around, the Predators and Sabres have played well enough to escape consideration, at least temporarily. That means that two new teams have joined the list, and one of them has some unique circumstances attached. We’ll get to those guys first.

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