With half of the NHL season behind us, many teams are focused on the playoffs.
But realistically speaking, several teams around the league don’t really have a legit shot at winning the Stanley Cup this year.
As a result, missing the playoffs this season may be a blessing in disguise as they may have a shot at landing U.S. center Jack Hughes.
Hughes is forecasted to go first overall at the 2019 NHL draft by most scouting experts.
According to a scouting report, Hughes is “an elite skater who can think the game at top speed with a knack for finding open space on the ice. Hughes is the most electrifying player in this draft class, with great hands, feet and an insatiable appetite to succeed. He'll be a franchise-defining player.”
Meanwhile, another report says that he has:
"Outstanding skill with a fantastic imagination, a determined spirit and an electrifying presence."
All in all, it sounds like whatever team that drafts Hughes would potentially be getting a franchise-player for years to come.
With that said, here is a look at five teams that could potentially change the fortunes of their franchise by tanking for Hughes this year.
Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings are a far cry from the team that won the Stanley Cup back in 2014. They are one of the worst teams in the Western Conference and have little financial flexibility to modify their roster.
They are currently going through a phase of rebuilding and are in need of injecting some talented youth into their lineup. As of now, it seems like the Kings will be sellers at the deadline and will be moving out some of their core players.
They have already begun that by trading Jake Muzzin to the Toronto Maple Leafs yesterday.
Landing a player like Jack Hughes could drastically change the outlook of this team. It would give them a new franchise player to build around and possibly more incentive to move out an older center player like Jeff Carter sooner than expected.
The Chicago Blackhawks are another team that desperately needs some new talent in their lineup. Despite having some elite players in their lineup, they still find themselves near the bottom of the standings.
If they are able to land Hughes it might be enough to salvage what is left of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith's prime years.
In some ways, it might make the Hawks better than they were before, as Toews has never played on the same team as another elite center before.
Having Hughes on his entry level for three years should buy the Hawks some time to figure things out before considering blowing things up completely.
Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings are another team currently going through a heavy rebuild and looks like they have a legit shot at winning the lottery.
The franchise has been in dire need of a new franchise player to build around. Since the Datsyuk/Zetterberg era, they never really had a superstar center to build around and Hughes might be the one.
Adding Hughes would definitely speed up the process of the current rebuild and possibly attract some big-name free agents to sign in Detroit as well.
Out of every team on this list, the Red Wings might be the most deserving team to land Hughes - so let's hope the hockey gods are good to Detroit fans this year.
New Jersey Devils
After a spectacular season last year, the New Jersey Devils have come back down to earth.
As the Detroit Red Wings, they are another team that hasn’t had a franchise player for a long, long time.
Some may argue that Taylor Hall is one, but we can’t forget that he becomes a free-agent in 2020 and Jersey does not have a good history of retaining star players.
Considering how the Devils are not a serious contender in the East, it might make sense for Hall to sign elsewhere if he wants to win.
In that regard, tanking for Hughes gives the Devils a little extra insurance and a potential franchise center to build around.
After trading Erik Karlsson last summer, the Ottawa Senators should be on this list.
But unfortunately for them, the Colorado Avalanche owns their first-round pick this year. So if they don’t play themselves out of the bottom of the East, they could potentially give the Colorado Avalanche another franchise player.
To add insult to injury Matt Duchene could potentially walk away from the Senators for nothing this summer.
This franchise has seen better days but aside from winning games nothing is in their control now. So, Senator fans might want to be more optimistic and look forward to the 2020 draft instead.
Which team will win the lottery this year? and which team deserves Jack Hughes the most? Let us know in the comments section below.