Tonight’s draft lottery is unlike any we’ve seen before, which is fitting because everything about 2020 is unique.
Eight teams have an equal 12.5% chance of winning tonight’s lottery. None of them were the among the worst 10 teams in the regular season.
Lafreniere will not be going to a bottom-feeder. He will be joining, at worst a decent team, and at best a team with some legitimate superstars.
While seven teams will lose tonight, he can’t.
He will be put in a position to succeed right away, and won’t have the pressure of having to carry a team.
The only place where he’d be the instant face of the franchise is Minnesota.
Nashville has Roman Josi, who likely wins the Norris Trophy this season.
Florida has Aleksander Barkov and Jonathon Huberdeau.
Toronto has Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares.
The New York Rangers have Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad.
Winnipeg has Mark Schiefele, Patrik Laine and Blake Wheeler.
Pittsburgh has Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
While the Edmonton Oilers have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
Lafreniere, who turns 19 in October, will come to camp, whenever it is, and he will weigh close to 200 pounds. But he won’t have to carry the weight of leading a team to respectability.
WHO NEEDS HIM?
Of course they could all use him, but Nashville and Minnesota need him the most and probably deserve him the most.
The Wild have never finished in the bottom-five in the NHL. Their worst finish was 25th (sixth worst) in their inaugural 2001 season. They drafted Mikko Koivu sixth overall. He was a very good player for them, but not an elite offensive star. They’ve had two top-five picks. They were awarded the third overall pick in 2000 when they were an expansion team and selected Marian Gaborik. You wonder how many more points he’d have had if he wasn’t drafted to an expansion team?
And in the 2005 draft they moved up from #12 to #4 in the lottery. They selected Benoit Pouliot, but the Wild were 19th in the NHL that season — not a bottom feeder.
The Predators’ worst season was 2013 when they finished 27th. They selected fourth overall and took Seth Jones. Great pick, but they traded him a few seasons later to Columbus for Ryan Johansen, as they were looking for a scoring forward. They were awarded the second overall pick in 1998 as an expansion team and selected David Legwand. He had a solid NHL career, but wasn’t an offensive star.
Neither has had a truly dominant forward recently. Kevin Fiala scored 30 points in his final 28 games of the regular season with the Wild and had four points in four playoff games, but he’s yet to prove he is an elite scorer year after year.
The Predators have never had a young, elite forward. They’ve had many elite defenders for multiple seasons in Josi, Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Ryan Ellis, but Paul Kariya, at ages 31 and 32, has the most points for the Predators with 85 and 76. The only other forwards with 70 points were Jason Arnott and JP Dumont with 72 in 2008.
Landing Lafreniere would be a huge boost to the offence of the Predators and Wild.
BEST FITS FOR LAFRENIERE…
The other six teams all have a few really good offensive players, and he’d be surrounded with proven offensive talent unlike any previous #1 overall pick.
However, among those, some teams are still better fits. Keep in mind this is simply about best fit for Lafreniere to have success, put up points and earn a massive raise after three seasons.
#6 Winnipeg has one top centre in Schiefele, but lack a true #2. Lafreniere would have to battle Laine, Connor, Ehlers and Wheeler for icetime on the wings and powerplay. It would be a great problem for the Jets, but not having a legit #2 centre makes the Jets just a little less attractive.
#5 Florida, like Winnipeg, has a great #1 centre in Barkov, but it falls off after him. The Panthers don’t have four legit top-six wingers like the Jets, so Lafreniere would get more opportunities at 5×5 and on the powerplay, especially with Mike Hoffman and Evgeni Dadonov poised to be unrestricted free agents later this fall.
#4 New York Rangers…he could play with Mika Zibanejad, while Ryan Strome skates with Artemi Panarin and Kaapo Kakko. He and Kakko could be teammates for the next decade.
#3 Toronto…he could play with Auston Matthews or John Tavares as his centre. He’d have a great chance to produce, and with his addition the Maple Leafs could trade away a winger, or two, to add some help on the blueline.
#2 Pittsburgh Penguins…he would have the luxury to play with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but after their series loss to Montreal Crosby admitted their chance of winning is lower due to age. “With age, it’s a possibility,” said Crosby. “But I can only speak personally. Obviously, I would’ve liked to stay a little bit healthier and play a full season.” Landing Lafreniere could change that, and there is no doubt Lafreniere would benefit from learning from Crosby and Malkin.
#1 For a winger there is no better centre duo than McDavid and Draisaitl right now. He could play with McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins would stick with Draisaitl. He would have no pressure to be the leader. He’d get to play regularly with McDavid, and if he gets to play on the powerplay with McDavid and Draisaitl he could score 70+ points as a rookie.
WHO HAS LOTTERY LUCK…
There is so much riding on this lottery, because if you don’t get the #1 pick, you drop all the way down to #9-#15. The worst drop a team has had in the past is dropping from #1 to #4.
So this reward is bigger than ever.
Nashville has never moved up in a lottery. You could say they are due. Never had a #1 pick.
Minnesota moved up from 12th to 4th in the 2005 lottery. That year four teams had the best odds, 6.3%, then Minnesota was one of 10 teams with a 4.2%, while 16 teams had a 2.1% chance. They’ve never had a #1 pick.
Winnipeg moved up from sixth to second in 2016 and selected Patrik Laine. This edition of the Winnipeg Jets has never had a #1 overall pick (although Atlanta with Patrik Stefan (1999) and Ilya Kovalchuk (2001). But the Jets/Coyotes organization selected Dale Hawerchuk first overall in 1981.
Florida has a complicated history with the draft lottery. They won the 2002 draft lottery moving up from #3 to #1, but then they traded back down to #3. They gave Columbus the #1 pick and got the right to swap first round picks the next season in exchange for the #3 pick. They never exercised the right because Florida finished lower than Columbus in the 2002/2003. In fact they actually gave up a third rounder in 2002 (John Adams) and a fourth rounder in 2003 (Guillaume Desbiens) to Atlanta so the Thrashers wouldn’t pick Jay Bouwmeester. Hilarious.
They won the 2003 lottery and moved from fourth to first. And again they traded down, this time with Pittsburgh. The Penguins got the #1 pick (Marc-Andre Fleury) and the 73rd pick (Dan Carcillo), while Florida received winger Mikael Samuelsson, the #3 (Nathan Horton) and the 55th pick (Stefan Meyer).
In 2013 they finished last, but moved down one spot in the lottery. Colorado selected Nathan MacKinnon #1 and the Panthers took Barkov #2.
In 2014 they won the lottery and moved up from #2 to #1 and selected Aaron Ekblad.
In 2017 they dropped from 8th to 10th and selected Owen Tippett.
The Rangers haven’t been involved in the lottery very much, mainly because they’ve been in the playoffs. In 2018 they did drop one spot from eighth to ninth and last year they moved up from sixth to second and took Kaapo Kakko. Will their luck continue tonight?
Toronto has never moved up in the lottery. They won the 2016 lottery and maintained their spot at #1 and took Auston Matthews. In 2015 they held their fourth spot and chose Mitch Marner while in 2014 they maintained the eighth pick and selected William Nylander, and in 2012 they remained at #5 and took Morgan Reilly and finally in 2009 they remained at #7 and took Nazem Kadri. They did move up in the draft, via trade in 2008, when they traded up from seventh to fifth and took Luke Schenn.
Pittsburgh won the 2005 Crosby lottery with a 6.3% chance when all 30 teams were involved. In 2004 they dropped from #1 to #2 as the Capitals won and moved from third to first. Washington took Alex Ovechkin, while the Penguins gladly settled for Evgeni Malkin. In 2003, they dropped from second to third, but then traded up to #1 and took Fleury. In 2002 they remained at #5 and picked Ryan Whitney. The Penguins haven’t been in the lottery since they won in 2005.
Edmonton won the 2015 McDavid lottery with a 11.5% chance. In 2011 they maintained their #1 spot, but didn’t win the lottery. New Jersey did, but back then a team could only move up four spots and the Devils went from eighth to fourth, and selected Adam Larsson. Edmonton won the 2010 lottery and maintained their #1 spot and took Taylor Hall, and moved up one spot in the 2012 lottery to take Nail Yakupov. In 2013 they held their seventh spot and choose Darnell Nurse. In 2014 they held their #3 spot and selected Leon Draisaitl. Then they won the McDavid lottery. Since then they have moved down in each draft lottery. In 2016 they went from second to fourth and selected Jesse Puljujavi, in 2018 they dropped from ninth to 10th and picked Evan Bouchard, and last season they dropped from seventh to eighth and selected Philip Broberg.
WHO DO YOU LIKE TO WIN?
The Panthers won it twice in a row in 2002 and 2003.
Edmonton won it in 2010, 2012 and 2015.
Toronto won in 2016
Pittsburgh won in 2005.
The Rangers moved up to 2nd last year.
Winnipeg moved up to 2nd in 2016.
Minnesota moved up from 12th to 4th in 2005.
Nashville has never won anything in the lottery.
Selfishly I want Edmonton to win, so the Internet melts down, plus it would be great to cover another star player. And it makes no sense for any Oilers fan to say they don’t want to win it. Sure, opposing fanbases will chirp you. But would you rather have the 14th or 15th pick, and not endure chirps from people you don’t know, or have the #1 pick and a chance to see your team improve?
Realistically I think Nashville and Minnesota are most deserving. They have been competitive, but never bad enough to re-stock elite forwards in the draft, so their fans could use an elite offensive star.
If I had to pick a team to win it…I’m taking the Jets. Just a hunch pick. It is all luck, but for some reason I think they win it.
Who do you think wins?
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