The Calgary Flames top our NHL Sadness Ratings

NHL Sadness Ratings: Lots of Frowns In Oil Country

The mushy middle is the worst place to be in the NHL – too bad to make the Stanley Cup playoffs but too good to be compensated with a first-overall pick. No team wants to be there. 

Sadly, there will always be a mushy middle. That’s just how it works. At least until we stop rewarding the worst teams with the best pick and get rid of the entry draft altogether. Both are obviously controversial takes that I have received little support for, but I hold steadfast to that opinion.

Anyways, enough of my wild takes on the NHL. Let’s look at what sides are the “saddest” in the league. 

NHL Sadness Rankings

For this I'm looking at all the teams that didn't make the playoffs this year and how far off they were from selecting first overall

NHL Sadness Rankings
NHL TeamPicks back from 1st
Anaheim Ducks-1
Columbus Blue Jackets-2
San Jose Sharks-3
Montreal Canadiens-4
Arizona Coyotes-5
Philadelphia Flyers-6
Washington Capitals-7
Detroit Red Wings-8
St. Louis Blues-9
Vancouver Canucks-10
Ottawa Senators-11
Buffalo Sabres-12
Pittsburgh Penguins-13
Nashville Predators-14
Calgary Flames-15


By this measure alone you've got to feel for Anaheim. They were the worst team in the NHL last season, and still don't get a first overall pick for it. Or maybe even the Vancouver Canucks.

The 'Nucks were supposed to be bottoming out on the season but after trading Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders they went 18-11-4 and totally wrecked the tank.

Another option is Calgary. The Flames made some big moves in the offseason and it totally didn't work out. Not only did they not make the playoffs but they were the furthest from picking first overall. If anyone was in the "mushy middle" it was Calgary. Oh, and now it seems like everyone wants to leave CGY.

NHL Sadness Ratings: Saddest Of Them All

But we've just looked at some of the saddest teams from 2022-23. I think we're all interested in knowing which club is the saddest of them all over time. 

What teams have gone the longest between missing the playoffs and selecting first overall? 

Saddest Of Them All
NHL TeamYears Since Last Playoff AppearanceYears Since Last 1st Overall
Anaheim Ducks530*
Columbus Blue Jackets321
San Jose Sharks432*
Montreal Canadiens21
Arizona Coyotes327*
Philadelphia Flyers348
Washington Capitals119
Detroit Red Wings737
St. Louis Blues117
Vancouver Canucks353*
Ottawa Senators627
Buffalo Sabres122
Pittsburgh Penguins118
Nashville Predators125*
Calgary Flames143*

*Team has never selected 1st overall

Combining the scores for the two columns gives you the top three saddest teams:

  1. Vancouver Canucks
  2. Philadelphia Flyers
  3. Calgary Flames

Philadelphia Flyers Sadness Rating - Don't Worry

If I have hope for any of these teams it's actually the Flyers. Sure, of the three they have the worst Stanley Cup odds at +15000. But the dismantling and rebuilding of the Flyers has only just begun. 

New GM Daniel Briere will continue to shave off some of the more talented pieces of his team and bottom out in 2023-24. They already picked up, arguably, the second-best (if not the best) player from a stacked 2023 draft in Matvei Michkov. Adding yet another prospect, likely even a first overall would dramatically change their sadness rating. 

Calgary Flames Sadness Ratings - Oil Country Is Crying

Of the three saddest teams, the Flames have the better Stanley Cup odds at +3000 and even have decent odds to win the Pacific Division at +900. But that's all assuming they can replace whatever talent they lose and that the guys currently on the roster - like Jonathan Huberdeau - can produce like they once did. 

I doubt this team can coalesce and perform better in 2023-24 than they did in 2022-23. Sure, they ditched the coach they all hated and got a new GM. But the two guys they hired to fill those voids were the assistant coach and assistant GM last year!

Something is rotten deep within the core of the Flames organization. I don't think getting a "new" GM or coach will repair it. The sadness will continue in Calgary.

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