(Photo Credit: B5254)
Teams are on the clock
As with every year, the biggest question heading into the NHL's Draft Lottery night was which team would be lucky enough to land the number one pick, and secure the coveted Rasmus Dahlin. Which of the top teams will fall from their expected draft position?
On an oddly scheduled Saturday night, half of the teams in the league found out where they would pick in this year's entry draft. In case you haven't already seen, here are the draft positions for the top 15 picks, and what it means for those lucky top 5:
1 - Buffalo SabresAfter not picking first overall in 2014 or 2015 after having the best odds, Buffalo avoids disaster and wins the draft lottery, effectively securing future franchise player Rasmus Dahlin.
A major win for the Sabres, Buffalo has been struggling along the blueline and having a player able to make an immediate impact like Dahlin will be a major part of crawling out of the league’s basement.
2 - Carolina HurricanesThe 2018 draft lottery night may be the best night the franchise has had since they won the Stanley Cup in 2006. Coming into the night, Carolina was listed as the likely 11th overall pick, with only a 9% chance at a top pick.
Jumping up nine spots is a major win for the team, and a great opportunity for new owner Thomas Dundon to start rebuilding his franchise. With a fairly stable left side and defensive core, it’s a safe assumption that the Hurricanes will add a highly touted right winger in either Andrei Svechnikov or Filip Zadina.
3 - Montreal Canadiens Montreal moves up one spot to leapfrog Ottawa into the third overall pick. A top three pick for Montreal is an interesting situation to keep an eye on, as they are the first team of the draft that may pick outside the prospect rankings and take a lower ranked defender over the right wing prospect that Carolina doesn’t choose.
Although they currently have eight defensemen on their roster, the likes of Adam Boqvist or Evan Bouchard could take significant pressure off of Shea Weber and Jeff Petry, allowing Montreal to roll three D pairings with significant offensive potential. With GM Marc Bergevin stating "there's a debate between 2 to 5," fifth-ranked Adam Boqvist could find himself a third overall pick come July.
4 - Ottawa SenatorsA big blow to the Senators rebuilding plans as the 2nd lowest regular season team dropped out of the top three picks, eliminating their chances at drafting Erik Karlsson’s possible replacement in Rasmus Dahlin.
With General Manager Pierre Dorion already confirming the team will keep the pick instead of sending it to Colorado to fulfill the Matt Duchene trade, the question turns to which of the top three forward prospects will be available. In a best-case scenario for the Sens, Montreal would skip a highly touted right winger, allowing Ottawa an opportunity to fill in their weak side and move on from Alexandre Burrows or Marian Gaborik.
5 - Arizona CoyotesDropping out of a top three position this year especially hurts the Coyotes, a team struggling in the Right Wing position. It’s a safe assumption that top prospects Andrei Sveshnikov and Filip Zadina will be off the board at the fifth pick, but Oliver Wahlstrom has the obvious potential and would be a welcome addition to the Desert Dog’s pipeline. Of course, there’s always the possibility of Brady Tkachuk being available at 5, and the Coyotes have drafted NHL offspring before (Max Domi) which worked out well.
The rest of the lottery picks are as follows:
6- Detroit Red Wings7 - Vancouver Canucks8 - Chicago Blackhawks9 - New York Rangers10 - Edmonton Oilers11 - New York Islanders12 - New York Islanders13 - Dallas Stars14 - Philadelphia Flyers15 - Florida Panthers
It will be very interesting to see how these teams handle their position and don't be surprised to see a major change or two on the draft order as the Islanders could very well look to trade one or both of their picks to build an immediately competitive team to convince John Tavares to stay in town.
The only thing left to do now is wait for the draft on June 22, which feels like a shorter wait than sitting through the first two periods of the Vegas-San Jose game to see the order of the top three teams.