NHL Draft Lottery Winners and Losers
6 months ago
The NHL Draft Lottery used to be a day Edmonton Oilers fans had circled on the calendar in September. It didn’t matter the hype around the team leading into the seasons; fans knew the outcome before the puck hit the ice on opening night.
The last few years have been much more pleasant to Oil Country, who saw their team in a Western Conference 2nd round tilt versus the Vegas Golden Knights. That game went differently than planned, losing 5-1. Either way, at least we weren’t in the draft lottery.
Instead, the Chicago Blackhawks had to sweat to see if they won the Connor Bedard sweepstakes, which they did. That sparked conversation on social media, and rightfully so. Let’s look at some winners and losers from the draft lottery.
Top 5 Teams
Of course, Connor Bedard is the headliner of the draft class, and rightfully so. He is incredibly talented and can change the NHL However, not only he in this class can change a franchise. The top five projected picks are all potential NHL franchise players, too, and if you are Anaheim, Columbus, San Jose or Montreal, you are satisfied with what went down.
The entire cover last night was on Bedard, and who gets to pick him first overall, with little to zero mention of Adam Fantili. The likely 2nd overall pick put up better numbers at the University of Michigan than Matty Beniers did, who is a finalist for the Calder Trophy, yet not a peep. It is understandable, considering there isn’t a debate about who is going 1st overall; however, if you are Fantilli, you likely don’t mind the spotlight being off you. In most years, the former Wolverine would’ve been the talk of the town with being regarded as the 1st overall pick. Instead, he gets to kick back and let people dive more into Bedard while cruising to the NHL draft’s finish line.
Wherever Matvei Michkov lands
Matvei Michkov is a Russian prospect who may have had more hype around his name if Russia wasn’t banned from international tournaments. The conversation would likely have him competing with Bedard for the 1st overall pick rather than where he could fall in the draft. Michkov and Bedard went head to head at the 2021 U18 World Hockey Championships, where the Russian forward outscored the Canadian with his 12 goals and 16 points, compared to Bedard’s seven goals and 14 points. Bedard got the last laugh, though, after winning the gold medal. The problem around Michkov is that he signed a professional contract in the KHL, which prevents him from coming to North America before it expires. He is a top-three talent who likely falls between 8 and 16. Outside of the team selecting Bedard, who picks Michkov could be the real winner of the draft.
Bill Armstrong did everything he could to finish last in the NHL, and his players said no, thank you, we are good. Because of that, they now draft sixth and miss out on one of the elite talents available. The draft stays mostly the same from the 5th to the 6th pick; however, you are likely going from a franchise player to a high-end top six. They may get David Reinbacher, the top defenceman in the class, but they can’t be happy for a team that actively wanted to be horrible.
The NHL rigging the lottery
As much as people want to believe it, the NHL doesn’t rig its draft lottery. The mistake Kevin Weekes made on air when he slipped up saying Columbus had the third pick was a big one, but let’s not forget he is a former NHL goaltender and not a presenter. The biggest mistake was maybe allowing him to host the event in the first place. Yes, the lottery is pre-drawn before they go live – that should be obvious to everyone.
We now know that the Chicago Blackhawks won the draft lottery and likely take Connor Bedard with the pick. With the headlines surrounding them in recent years regarding the Kyle Beach incident, this feels like the most unfair outcome that could have happened. The NHL should have stripped Chicago of picks when the punishment was handed out. They have taken picks away for significantly less, like when Arizona worked players out before the combine, but yet again, the NHL got in its way and put itself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Instead of discussing what Connor Bedard’s future could look like on potentially his new team, we are talking about how this could have been avoided and why he should refuse to sign.
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