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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 78.0: The Lottery Race (8pm MST, SNW)

Earlier this week the NHL released the odds for the draft lottery, which will be held on Saturday, April 28th. The Oilers will most likely finish with the eighth, ninth or 10th best odds to win, while the Vancouver Canucks are in a battle for the second, third or fourth best odds. Considering the fifth, 13th and eighth best odds won the lottery last year, I’m not sure anyone can say with certainty that losing or winning the final five games will impact their chances very much.

Here are the odds for the draft.

They are slightly different from last season, because Vegas and Arizona each had the third best odds.

If the Oilers finish 22nd, they will have a 3.5% chance to win. If they are 23rd it will be 5% and if they are 24th it will be 6%. The Oilers are currently 23rd with 74 points, one behind the Rangers and tied with the Islanders, but Edmonton has more ROW so they are ahead. The Oilers play the 28th place Canucks twice and the floundering Flames once along with Minnesota and Vegas.

The Canucks, unlike the Oilers, haven’t had much luck in the draft lottery. In 2016 they finished 28th and had the third best odds, but they dropped two spots and selected Olli Juolevi with the fifth pick. Last year they went in with the second best odds, but dropped three spots and selected Elias Pettersson fifth overall. Pettersson lit up the Swedish Elite League this year, scoring 24-32-56 in 44 games, so losing the lottery might turn out great for them. We’ll see.

But they would love nothing more than to win it this year and select defenceman Rasmus Dahlin.

I’ve never bought into the theory you can ask your players to tank, and with Connor McDavid battling for the Art Ross the Oilers will not be trying to lose. The Canucks simply aren’t that good of a hockey club, but they’ve won their last two games and won’t just hand the Oilers two points. I’m sure Canucks management would prefer to see their team finish with a 13.5% chance of winning the lottery than 9.5% (fourth) or even 7.5% (sixth), which is possible if the Canucks win three or four of their final five games, but Travis Green will not coach his team to lose.

The past few years have seen five of the six spots won from outside the top-three picks.

Toronto held onto their #1 spot in 2016 and selected Auston Matthews. The Winnipeg Jets moved from sixth to second to select Patrik Laine, while Columbus moved from fourth to third and selected Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Last April, New Jersey moved from fifth to first and picked Nico Hischier, Philadelphia jumped from 13th to second and got Nolan Patrick, while Dallas moved from eighth to third and selected Miro Heiskanen.

So a #1, #4, #5, #6, #8 and #13 have won the lottery the past two years. It has lived up to its name and the lottery has essentially eliminated any reason to tank. You could lose on purpose and still drop three spots in the draft.

LINEUP…

Oilers

Nugent-Hopkins-McDavid-Rattie
Caggiula-Draisaitl-Aberg
Lucic-Strome-Puljujarvi
Pakarinen-Khaira-Kassian

Nurse-Larsson
Sekera- Russell
Auvitu-Benning

Talbot

Caggiula has four goals in his last five games. He has made the most of his opportunity playing with Draisaitl and Aberg. Caggiula is most likely a bottom six forward moving forward, and if he can produce 12-15 goals in that role next year he should be fine. The biggest myth surrounding Caggiula is that he has been gifted great opportunities. Last year he came in as a rookie, injured his groin in the preseason and missed the first 18 games. When he made his debut it was at centre, a position he hadn’t played in three years. Breaking into the NHL is hard enough, never mind when you ask a winger to play centre. He played 636 EV minutes last year and his most common linemates where Anton Slepyshev (200 minutes), Zack Kassian (155), Benoit Pouliot (151), Milan Lucic (144) and Mark Letestu (143). He played 67 minutes with McDavid.

This year he has played 700 EV minutes. His most common linemate has been Ryan Strome (180), Draisaitl (168), Patrick Maroon (167), Connor McDavid (140) and Kassian (120). The suggestion he has been gifted minutes is incredibly incorrect. He didn’t have success with McDavid and it seems everyone wants to rip him for that. So he can’t play with McDavid, fine, but shouldn’t Oilers fans be excited he can produce decently without McDavid?

Caggiula won’t be a driver, but he’s only played 122 NHL games. It is amazing to me how many people want to write him off, but at the same time rip the Oilers for rushing players. So you don’t want them to rush players, but if Caggiula isn’t killing it in his first 125 games he’s a bum? The argument makes little sense to me. Caggiula has decent hands, is quick, not fast and is physical for a smaller player. I don’t get why so many claim he has no skill and is terrible. I don’t see that at all.

Also with Slepyshev out, it seems they don’t see him as part of the future. Could re-sign him, but will he want to.

Canucks

Goldobin-Horvat-Virtanen
D.Sedin-H.Sedin-Gagner
Motte-Sutter-Gaudette
Boucher-Dowd-Jokinen

Edler-Stecher
Del Zotto-Pouliot
Sautner-Biega

Markstrom

Adam Gaudette will make his NHL debut for the Canucks. He was a fifth round pick in 2015 and has played the past three years at NorthEastern University. He had 30-30-60 in 38 games this year and 26-26-52 in 37 games last season. The Canucks are hoping he can continue to be an offensive threat.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From CanucksArmy:

  • Give Connor McDavid the puck. Seem obvious. It is. He leads the league in points but has only one point against the Canucks this season. He’s on a tear so let him run wild.
  • Much like the Canucks, Edmonton’s goaltending is quite porous. Edmonton has only allowed four more goals than the Canucks but that’s good for third in the NHL for most goals allowed. Just make a few big saves because it could be a marathon of goals. Easier said than done.
  • Stay out of the box. The Canucks boast the 10th best PP (21.6%) while the Oilers are T-3 for worst PK in the NHL (75.5%). Oh, and Sam Gagner has played well lately so maybe watch out for him.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers bounce back from their dreadful Tuesday performance and skate away with a 5-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid scores two points. He is on such a tear that saying he will score two points isn’t a surprise to anyone.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Lucic has one goal in his past 41 games, easily the worst stretch of his career. In 22 of those games he has one or zero shots on goal. Hard to score when you don’t get any shots on goal. Lucic scores his second goal since Christmas and fires three shots on net.

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Source: Jason Gregor, Verified Twitter Account, 3/29/2018 – 1:15 pm MST