The 2014-15 NHL season will have an added dynamic that the league has not seen since Mario Lemieux was set to enter the 1984 draft: This season, teams will have the next generational player on their mind. The presence of Erie Otters forward Connor McDavid in the 2015 draft will affect decision-making by teams who expect to be in the hunt for the top pick.
The preseason favorites for the most pingpong balls in the NHL's secret lottery machine have been widely thought to be the Buffalo Sabres and Calgary Flames, with the Edmonton Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes and Winnipeg Jets lurking. However, there is another group of teams that could be in the hunt but have spent their offseasons making moves to contend.
A close look at these teams' statistics suggests that they may not be as good as expected, and by the trade deadline, they could be thinking more about improving their lottery odds than winning the Stanley Cup. We'll make reference throughout to goals versus threshold (GVT), a Hockey Prospectus proprietary statistic; for more on GVT, click here. All other advanced stats are courtesy of ExtraSkater.com.
So who are these teams?