Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The 2019 draft lottery power rankings

It’s​ draft lottery night​ in​ the​ NHL,​ and​ if​ it feels​ a little early to​ be saying that,​ well,​ that’s because it​​ is. The league has moved the drawing up this year, abandoning the usual slot as pre-game entertainment during the first round to give the ping pong balls a night to themselves in the spotlight.

There are 15 teams in the running, with odds ranging from the Avalanche (via Ottawa) at 18.5 percent to the Canadiens at just one percent; you can find the odds for all 15 teams right here. We’ve spent most of the year looking at this as the Jack Hughes draft, and it still seems headed that way even as Kaapo Kakko has pushed his way into the conversation. If you count Kakko as a second can’t-miss prospect at the top of the draft, that just makes tonight’s lottery all the more important. Remember, the top three spots are all up for grabs under the new format introduced in 2016.

With that much on the line, we’re going to need more than a list of percentages to get prepared. So as we count down the hours until the big reveal, let’s take a look at the contenders from various angles with the annual Draft Lottery Power Rankings.

The “Which Team Needs It Most?” Ranking

Every team needs a Jack Hughes or a Kaapo Kakko. But some teams need them more than others.

Not ranked: Ottawa Senators – I mean, they clearly need a top prospect. It’s just that … yeah … about that…

5. Buffalo Sabres – This team needs help pretty much anywhere, not to mention some reason for optimism, and adding Hughes or Kakko to Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin would provide both. Besides, who better to take advantage of multiple lottery wins than reported next head coach Todd McLellan?

4. Los Angeles Kings – They’re old and bad and don’t have much going for them beyond California winters.

3. Anaheim Ducks – They’re old and bad and don’t have much going for them beyond California winters and not being the Kings.

2. Edmonton Oilers – They could certainly use a winger, which would make Kakko a viable option even if they land the top pick. But more importantly, they need some good news in a town where fans, media, and even the franchise player are all sick of losing. Besides, it would be the first time that the Oilers winning a draft lottery made Connor McDavid happy.

1. Detroit Red Wings – They have a new arena to fill and might be looking to attract a new GM – potentially one who suddenly has his eye on some other job. And while they’ve got Dylan Larkin and some solid youth on the way, it’s been a long time since they’ve drafted a sure-thing prospect, especially at center.

Add it all up, and no team would see their outlook shoot up more with a lottery win. Luckily they’ve had a bad year so their odds are great, according to fans who stopped watching with three weeks to go in the season.

The “Who Actually Deserves It?” Rankings

Nobody deserves it, because we continue to rely on random ping pong balls instead of the vastly superior Gold Plan, under which teams would actually have to earn the top pick. But since that would be fun and cool and therefore out of the question for today’s NHL, let’s do our best to figure out if there’s anyone we should be rooting for more than anyone else.

Not ranked: Edmonton Oilers – We’re all on the same page here? Cool, just making sure.

5. Los Angeles Kings – The point of the draft is to help bad teams, and the worst of the teams that still have their pick.

4. New York Rangers – They’re rebuilding, but doing it with a Hall of Fame goalie, so it’s not like you can say that they’re tanking. They haven’t picked in the top three in over 50 years, and have also never won a lottery. In fact, the only time they show up in the story of lottery history is to note that they once traded for a winning pick and then used it to select Pavel Brendl. That alone should probably entitle them to a little bit of karma.

3. Montreal Canadiens – They weren’t just the last team eliminated, they actually finished ahead of three Western playoff teams. That has to warrant a little bit of luck, right?

2. Detroit Red Wings – In an alternate universe where we do use the Gold Plan, the Red Wings’ hot streak to end the season means they would have held off the Kings for top spot.

1. Colorado Avalanche – This is usually a tough category to crown a winner in, but not this year. The Avalanche are the only team that can claim that they’ve earned their shot at the top pick not by losing, but by outsmarting another team. They didn’t tank, because they didn’t have to. They outsourced the job to somebody who could do it better.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

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