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A loss today guarantees Leafs finish in the bottom two

That would also guarantee them a top five pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Last night, the Vancouver Canucks beat the Los Angeles Kings, and that officially put them out of the Maple Leafs' reach. With three games left, the maximum number of points the Leafs can secure is 73: the same number Vancouver, currently sixth worst in the NHL, has, but the Canucks win the tiebreaker.

So that guarantees Toronto will finish as one of the five worst teams in the NHL this season. The absolute lowest they can draft now will be eighth overall, and that involves not only Toronto winning out, but only teams above them winning all three lotteries.

But wait: all the Leafs have to do is lose their next game, and suddenly, they're guaranteed a bottom two finish. In that case, the absolute worst they'd be able to draft would be fifth overall.

One more loss would leave them unable to catch the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets. And, if said loss comes next game, it would leave them unable to catch the Columbus Blue Jackets: Toronto's next opponent.

A loss in any fashion to the Jackets put them out of reach. Columbus picking up two points gets them to 72, a number the Leafs will be able to reach only if they lose in overtime or the shootout: but the Jackets have the tiebreaker here, and would therefore be uncatchable.

If the Leafs beat the Jackets, though, then that would put them at 69 points, while Columbus would have 70 or 71. Losing the last two games of the season would put them out of the running for third worst, regardless of what Columbus does.

All this leaves just one team left: the greatest threat to anybody else's tank, the Edmonton Oilers. They're tied with the Leafs with 67 points, but have just two games left. They have the tiebreaker, though - 26 ROWs to Toronto's 22 - so if the Leafs keep pace with the Oilers, they lock up 30th place and, with that, the best possible odds for drafting Auston Matthews (at least until Edmonton wins the lottery, because we all know how this is going to end already).

The only major downside to all of this? Tomorrow is the Leafs' last home game of the season. That's a real bummer to go out on - but at least if the Oilers can win a game or two, then from away we can cheer for the Leafs to end their season on a high note without consequence to the tank.