Former NFL quarterback and Super Bowl champion Trent Dilfer once said, "You cannot lose games in the NFL and still win."
Take that logic and apply it to the NHL, and in the most literal sense, his argument remains airtight. It's tough to hoist the Stanley Cup if you're losing games instead of winning them. However, looking at the bigger picture, losing big can sometimes be the first step toward winning big.
No team wants to be stuck in the middle -- good enough to avoid the draft lottery but not great enough to seriously contend for a championship. In that case, losing games and going after a generational talent at the top of the draft is probably the more appealing option. That's especially the case with the 2023 NHL Draft, which by all accounts is loaded and features Connor Bedard as the presumptive No. 1 pick and next great phenom in professional hockey.
Bedard -- who plays for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League -- makes the bottom of the NHL standings a little bit more interesting this year, with front offices silently hoping to score the best odds in the draft lottery. Over the offseason, the Arizona Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks took measures to make sure they would be in that conversation, but neither of those teams are in our initial Battle for Bedard update.
With more than a couple of surprises in the NHL's basement, let's look at where the race to the bottom stands just a few weeks into the season.
1. Columbus Blue Jackets | 4-9-0 | 8 points
As it turns out, it takes more than one splashy free agency signing to build a good team. Johnny Gaudreau has played well, but he can't carry this team to the postseason on his own. I do think he could single-handedly pull Columbus out of the NHL's basement, but this is a very worrisome start for the team as a whole. The Blue Jackets have the second-worst goal differential in the league (-22), and they are getting crushed at five-on-five. Now, star defenseman Zach Werenski is out for the season with a torn labrum. That will make this season even more difficult for the Jackets, but Bedard might be waiting at the end of it.
2. St. Louis Blues | 4-8-0 | 8 points
The Blues have been one of the biggest surprises so far, and not in a good way. The Blues just snapped an eight-game losing streak in which they didn't pick up a single point in the standings. The team's shooting percentage and save percentage have both been in the tank through 12 games, and St. Louis is last in the NHL with 28 goals scored. The Blues now face an uphill battle just to get back into the playoff picture, but I would be stunned if they were this bad for 82 games. Eventually, puck luck will turn, the goals will come, and St. Louis will climb over the rest of the teams on this list.
3. San Jose Sharks | 3-9-3 | 9 points
Even with a resurgent season from Erik Karlsson on the blue line, the Sharks still find themselves in the running for the No. 1 overall pick. Frankly, this might be the best-case scenario for San Jose given the current state of the team. If some of the more expensive veterans like Karlsson can increase their trade value, first-year general manager Mike Grier will be in a good position to begin his rebuild. A bad team with an aging core, the Sharks are in desperate need of some young star power, and they could get that at the top of the 2023 NHL Draft.
4. Anaheim Ducks | 4-9-1 | 9 points
Like the Sharks, the Ducks are a rebuilding team, but the difference is that Anaheim should be farther along in the process. Given the amount of young talent already on the roster, the Ducks should be closer to playoff contention than the No. 1 overall pick. Instead, Anaheim has been one of the worst teams in the NHL to this point, and this slow start can't be blamed on poor goaltending. John Gibson has been fine in the crease, but the team in front of him is rolled on a nightly basis. The silver lining in all of this is that the prospect of watching Bedard play alongside Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry is enough to make you salivate.
5. Ottawa Senators | 4-8-1 | 9 points
For the second time in as many years, the rebuild in Ottawa looked to be completed. The Senators traded for 40-goal scorer Alex DeBrincat and signed veteran forward Claude Giroux. Combining those two with Brady Tkachuk and the other budding stars in Ottawa seemed like a recipe for success, but the team is off to a disappointing start. DeBrincat has scored just two goals in 13 games, and center Josh Norris could be out for the season with a shoulder injury. With the way things are trending, the most exciting aspect of the Senators this year might be .
6. Vancouver Canucks | 4-7-3 | 11 points
This year was supposed to be different for the Canucks. They were going to get off to a fast start under coach Bruce Boudreau and contend for a playoff spot in the Pacific Division. Instead, Vancouver's start to the 2022-23 season looked awfully familiar to the team's start in 2021-22. The Canucks have been out of sync, and they've found ways to blow leads in every way imaginable. If there is some reason for optimism that things will improve, it's that I don't expect Thatcher Demko to be a below-average goaltender all season. Demko rounding into form would do a lot for this Canucks team.
7. Nashville Predators | 5-8-1 | 11 points
The Predators made what looked like a couple of improvements in the offseason by adding Nino Niederreiter and Ryan McDonagh, but the team has been considerably worse than last year. Riding career best seasons from three or four players, which is what Nashville did for much of the 2021-22 season, is apparently not a sustainable model. One of the biggest reasons the Predators sit within striking distance of Bedard is that goalie Juuse Saros hasn't just been mortal, but he has been one of the NHL's worst at the position.
8. Calgary Flames | 5-6-2 | 12 points
I don't expect the Flames to be here in the next Battle for Bedard update. Calgary is simply too talented, and Darryl Sutter is too good of a coach to let this roster go to waste. Jacob Markstrom, Jonathan Huberdeau and Andrew Mangiapane are all off to slow starts, and I would expect all three of those players to get going sooner rather than later. The Flames are still a strong five-on-five team, and they will be able to work their way out of this funk and climb the Pacific Division standings.