Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The 2017 draft lottery power rankings

While the second round of the playoffs gets under way tomorrow, there’s another big date coming up on the NHL calendar. The annual draft lottery will be broadcast from Toronto on Saturday night. This will be the second year of the league’s new lottery system, in which we’ll get separate drawings for each of the top three picks.

As always, the 14 non-playoff teams have been slotted in based on their regular-season finish. This time, there’s also a 15th team in the mix, as the expansion Golden Knights enter the fray. And while there’s no Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews waiting for this year’s winner, presumed top pick Nolan Patrick would still give a nice boost to the long-term prospects of any team that gets its hands on him.

You can find the full list of odds for every team right here. But we like to go a little deeper around here, so today let’s offer up some draft lottery power rankings from a few different angles.

The “Who Actually Deserves It?” Rankings

OK, “deserves” might be too strong. Nobody really deserves to win a lottery, especially one that awards the best odds to the teams that have done the worst job of winning. But every year, there are certain results that would leave most hockey fans nodding and thinking, “Yeah, I guess that’s fair.”

Not ranked: Los Angeles Kings: They may be in rough shape now, but they've still won two of the last five Stanley Cups. Not them, please.

No. 5: Vancouver Canucks: With just about everyone predicting an awful season, Jim Benning and company could have gone into fire-sale mode and taken a knee. They didn't, at least at first, and maybe that was a mistake. But they earned 29th place (and the second-best odds) the old fashioned-way – by being terrible.

No. 4: Carolina Hurricanes: They're just about always bad, missing the playoffs for an eighth straight year. But they never tank, and if you're an old-school type, you'd like to see that rewarded.

No. 3: Arizona Coyotes: The Coyotes have had some rough lottery luck over the years, dropping to third in a year with two franchise players in 2015 and then losing out on local boy Matthews in 2016. Maybe this is the year they get some karmic payback.

No. 2: Colorado Avalanche: They're the worst team and have the best odds, so in that sense they deserve it most. And as bad as they were this year, it's not like they tanked. They were just plain bad, and they could use the help. They did win the lottery a few years ago, so they'd be the only team other than the Oilers to win more than once in the cap era, but we can probably forgive that.

No. 1: Buffalo Sabres: Terry Pegula can insist that the Sabres never tanked, but everyone else knows better. The Sabres tanked hard in 2013–14 and 2014–15, finished dead last both years, then watched other teams win the lottery to jump past them for Aaron Ekblad and McDavid. They were actually trying this year, but a combination of injuries and poor play led to a disappointing season that ended with Pegula cleaning house. A lottery win this year might feel like too little too late, but you could make an argument that no team has suffered more from the whims of the lottery than the Sabres, and they could use some good news these days in Buffalo.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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