The NHL draft lottery is finally here.
Futures will be changed on Tuesday, but the opportunity will look different for every team.
As a note, teams can no longer move up more than 10 spots if they win one of the lottery draws, and can’t win the lottery more than twice in a five-year span.
Here’s a breakdown of what winning the lottery would look like for each NHL club as everyone chases a chance to select Shane Wright:
Montreal Canadiens, 18.5%
Winning the the lottery and securing one of the top-two picks at a draft that they are hosting would get Montreal fans hyped up to a level that haven’t been at since they made the Stanley Cup Final… about a year ago. From the Cup Final to the worst record in hockey, it’s been a wild year for Canadiens fans due to some incredible luck and outplaying their talent on paper and then dealing with injuries and unfortunate coaching in the first half of the season.
The chance to draft a top-line center that plays a game that blends mature decision-making, impressive offensive play driving, and a 200-foot game would be huge for Montreal. With Shane Wright nearly unanimously recognized as the top player available and American center Logan Cooley in the next tier of players, Montreal would have the chance to find a top-six center to pair with Nick Suzuki. That tandem could help make Montreal as dangerous down the middle as they’ve been in a long time.
Arizona Coyotes, 13.5%
This franchise has been toiling for years and hasn’t had sustained success of any kind since they were called the Phoenix Coyotes. Could winning the lottery this year help change that? Sure. Will Wright, Cooley, David Jiricek, or any of the other players in this year’s draft change the course of the franchise? Probably not. This year’s draft doesn’t feature that franchise-altering talent and the situation in Arizona may not even be ready for that kind of player.
Between the off-ice issues that have plagued the team on the front office and management side of things to playing home games at Arizona State University, this team has a lot to figure out. Any player they draft at this point will be a building block on the ice. But no matter how many building blocks they have, if they don’t have a solid foundation on the management side of things, the Coyotes will continue to be the cellar dweller they’ve routinely been.
Seattle Kraken, 11.5%
The NHL’s newest squad saw their first-ever first-round draft choice take the ice when Matty Beniers made his NHL debut as the season wound down. Pairing Beniers with Wright could be a solid one-two punch of smart, two-way centers who have the ability to drive play offensively as well.
They will need to find a cornerstone for the back end as well over the next few years, so landing David Jiricek or Simon Nemec if they don’t pick first isn’t bad, either. As is the case with an expansion team, the slate is fairly clean and they have options, especially given that they’re guaranteed a top-four pick.
Philadelphia Flyers, 9.5%
Being bad by accident is the worst kind of being bad. Trading for Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainenen to join a promising group, only to miss the playoffs, is a terrible look. They dealt with injuries all year and looked lifeless and eventually traded their long-time captain in Claude Giroux to signal their decision to go into a new direction. Although, it’s more of an “aggressive retool” than a true rebuild according to general manager Chuck Fletcher.
Winning the lottery would certainly help them get on track quicker because adding Shane Wright to the mix would go a long way towards replacing some of the center depth lost. They would be in position to have Wright or Cooley develop behind a hopefully healthy Couturier next season.
New Jersey Devils, 8.5%
Another team that feels like they were bad by accident. The Devils looked like they’d challenge for a playoff spot and take a step forward this year. They have a young forward core, some emerging young defenders and a few nice veteran pieces, headlined by prized free agent signing Dougie Hamilton. Injuries, underperformance and overreliance on youth was their downfall though.
This is the first team on the list that also feels like they may not need a center with Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier in the fold. They could opt to go with one of the top blueliners or add a scoring winger such as Juraj Slafkovsky or Joakim Kemell. If they get the top pick though, a three-headed monster down the middle with the addition of Wright could be intimidating down the road.
Chicago (Columbus Blue Jackets), 7.5%
This one is pretty simple. If they win the lottery, they keep their pick this year and Columbus receives their 2023 first-round pick thanks to Chicago trading for Seth Jones last summer. If they don’t win, Columbus receives their first-round pick this year. For a team as mediocre as Chicago was this year, keeping their pick would be nice, but losing a possible top five pick in next year’s draft could hurt. No easy answer, here, and why you hope your big acquisitions take you far.
Ottawa Senators, 6.5%
Winning one of the lotteries would simplify the Senators decision with their first-round pick. No need to go off-the-board at first or second overall. Just take Wright at number one, or one of the next clear-cut group of guys led by Cooley and Jiricek at number two. If they wind up drafting seventh (or as low as ninth depending on the lottery), they still have the opportunity to add a valuable prospect. It’s just up to the front office to not overthink it. Winning the lottery would take the thinking out of it.
Detroit Red Wings, 6.0%
A win would mean that they don’t fall in the lottery yet again after years of terrible lottery luck. They have found ways to get some very impressive prospects in the Steve Yzerman era anyways though. Moritz Sieder and Lucas Raymond put on impressive displays as rookies and will fight for the Calder Trophy. A promising prospect pool gives them plenty of hope for the future as well. A lottery win would likely mean they can add a center to build out their depth down the middle with captain Dylan Larkin and Wright or Cooley occupying the top-six center spots.
Buffalo Sabres, 5.0%
The post-Jack Eichel era Sabres were the most functional brand of the Sabres in almost a decade. They seemed engaged and didn’t look like life in Buffalo had taken a toll. The sun was shining in beautiful Buffalo, New York and development on the ice was happening! Tage Thompson had a big year, Alex Tuch was a beast for Buffalo, Rasmus Dahlin looked revived. Winning the lottery would feel almost like a reward for finally getting on track. Adding another high-quality pick to go along with Owen Power would be huge.
Anaheim Ducks, 3.5%
The Ryan Getzlaf era is over and the next group of Ducks stars are emerging, headlined by Rookie of the Year contender and human highlight reel Trevor Zegras. Jamie Drysdale showed potential in his first full NHL season as well on the backend. With Olen Zellweger and Mason McTavish headlining an impressive prospect group, the Ducks are set up for future success. With Getzlaf retiring, it leaves a very obvious hole at the center position. A lottery win could fill that hole quite nicely.
San Jose Sharks, 3.0%
Drafting William Eklund last season was a good start but the Sharks are in a weird spot. They have a number of aging veterans that are expecting to compete such as Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic among others. They also have players in their prime such as Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier that have been in trade rumors the past few years. Add in a few young players such as Ryan Merkley and Thomas Bordeleau and this is truly a team that has no idea where they are going from an outside perspective. Winning the lottery and adding Wright could help them accelerate their timeline to allow those vets to compete but could also just prolong the facade.
Columbus Blue Jackets, 2.5%
The Blue Jackets winning the lottery would be a fun scenario. It would mean they have two picks in the top-eight at worst. If no other team behind Chicago jumps into another of the lottery spots, they’d have two picks in the top-seven. Needless to say, the Jackets winning the lottery could make this a franchise-altering draft. Adding two players from the top of this year’s draft to a young group that still has a 24-year-old Zach Werenski and forwards Cole Sillinger and Kent Johnson could be a game-changer.
New York Islanders, 2.0%
Having just fired head coach Barry Trotz in a surprising move, a high draft pick would be big for a fanbase that is simply confused right now. Adding one of the draft’s other top prospects could help make missing the playoffs this year a blip on the radar for an otherwise competitive team.
Winnipeg Jets, 1.5%
Oh boy, that Scheifele press conference really didn’t inspire confidence moving forward did it? The Winnipeg Jets have been showing cracks for a couple of years now and the implosion finally appeared to happen this year. Would a lottery win fix that? No. Would a lottery win possibly give them the encouragement to lean into a true rebuild and move on from a stagnant core? Possibly.
Vancouver Canucks, 0.5%
The Canucks are seemingly embracing a bit of a rebuild mentality, looking to build this team back to their glory days. The new front office seems to have a forward-thinking vision. Winning the lottery, despite their minuscule odds, would feel like they were being rewarded for finally taking the team’s future seriously and looking at their roster a bit more reasonably.
Vegas Golden Knights (Buffalo Sabres) 0.5%
Another pretty simple one. If they win one of the lotteries, they get to keep their pick but transfer next year’s pick to the Sabres because of the Jack Eichel trade. Vegas is in a different spot than Chicago though. They would rather keep their pick this year because expectations are that they won’t be in this situation next year. And, hey, whoever they get becomes a cheap, cost-controlled option for a roster that is going to need cheap, cost-controlled options due to the salary cap hell they’re in. So, win-win, I guess?