Blue Jackets outclassed by Lightning, now guaranteed to finish 29th

With a loss in Tampa Bay last night, combined with a Montreal win; the Blue Jackets will finish 29th in the NHL standings this season.
Columbus Blue Jackets v Tampa Bay Lightning
Columbus Blue Jackets v Tampa Bay Lightning / Mike Carlson/GettyImages

There are three games left for the Columbus Blue Jackets this season. None of them mean a darn thing for us. Win or lose, the Jackets will finish 29th in the league.

We won't be jeering wins or cheering for losses this year. Nothing can change.

The Jackets have a record of 26-41-12 (64 points). They can only pick up a possible 6 points if they win out, and the team ahead of them in the standings (Arizona), has 7 more points (71).

Nobody can catch them, either. The team behind the Jackets (Anaheim) has three games left as well; but they're 7 points back.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that the Blue Jackets will have the fourth best odds at the NHL draft lottery next month.

Their selection odds aren't as great as they were last year, when they finished with the second-worst record in the league. But, there's still a chance they could win the lottery and earn the right to select Boston University superstar Macklin Celebrini first overall. But remember: Chicago won the lottery last year with the third best odds.

Their odds of picking 1st overall will be 9.5%. They could also win the second overall pick (9.8% chance), but they cannot move up one spot and pick third. Most likely, they get a pick either 4th (15.4%), 5th (44.9%) or 6th (20.5%).

If they don't get lucky and win the first pick, I don't think there's a huge talent difference between second and sixth overall this year. So, the first lottery is the only one that really matters, in my opinion.

Depending on who you ask, there are a variety of players ranked in this range. It may come down to each team's preferred prospect or even position here. If you're sitting fourth or fifth, you could still get the player you have ranked second.

There isn't really a clearly marked "second tier" after Celebrini. There are some really good defensemen available: Sam Dickinson, Anton Silayev, Artyom Levshunov, or maybe even someone like Zeev Buium could shoot up the rankings.

There are also forwards like Cayden Lindstrom, Berkly Catton, Ivan Demidov or Cole Eiserman. Right off the bat, I see no fewer than 8-10 guys who could go inside the top-4, or even outside of the top-10. Bob McKenzie's rankings are a good one to follow, because he bases these off of surveys from NHL scouts.

All of these prospects come with their own upsides, strengths and weaknesses. We'll be going through them in the coming weeks, as things start to become clearer for the Blue Jackets.

In the end, this is another disappointing season for the team - but it's another chance to add a top prospect to an already impressive pool of young talent. If they get this draft pick correct, they should be well on their way to success in a few years' time.