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 your 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 10, 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 groups first.


12. Florida Panthers

Season so far: 5/10. In an almost unfathomable fall, the Panthers have gone from 120-point powerhouse to sub-.500 also-ran. That’s a nearly unprecedented plummet, and an unquestioned disaster for the franchise, but they’re still not all that close to the bottom.

Seller potential: 3/10. There would certainly be interest in some of their veterans if they decided to move them. But as far as rentals on expiring deals, there’s really not much to offer here.

Goaltending problems: 8/10. Sergei Bobrovsky is double trouble, since he’s both bad and incredibly expensive. Spencer Knight has been better, and should be the starter. But if the Panthers said they were sticking with Bobrovsky to “get him right,” it would be the perfect cover for a second-half tank. It’s the perfect crime, what could go wrong?

Motivation: -10/10. Oh, right.

Here’s the problem with the Panthers’ tank potential: They don’t have their own first-round pick. They traded it to Montreal for Ben Chiarot last year, and it’s not lottery protected. So if the Panthers do bottom out, or get “lucky” on lottery day, they’ll be handing a generational prospect to a division rival.

A quick aside: This is pretty much the same situation the Maple Leafs found themselves in back in 1990-91, when they’d traded away their pick in the Eric Lindros draft and then ended up neck-and-neck with the Nordiques for dead last. To their credit, they found a pretty clever solution: They traded picks and prospects to the tanking Nords in exchange for a bunch of veterans, making Toronto slightly better and Quebec even worse. A win-win trade for two teams that couldn’t win.

Tank total: 6/40. Patrick Kane to the Panthers, is what I’m trying to say.