Poor Edmonton. When will the Oilers catch a break at the Draft Lottery?
OK, we’re only kidding. But this much is true: on a night when almost every team’s draft order remained the same, only two teams fell two spots in the order: Edmonton, from No. 2 to No. 4, and the Vancouver Canucks, from No. 3 to No. 5.
Entering the lottery, the Jets were slotted sixth with a 7.5 per cent chance of winning one of the three lottery picks. They moved all the way up to No. 2, which will reap for Winnipeg one of the two 6-foot-3 Finnish wingers, either Jesse Puljujarvi or Patrik Laine.
When Columbus, who entered as the fourth ranked club, won the last lottery spot, it caused both the Oilers and Canucks to fall back two spots.
After the Leafs at No. 1, who will surely select centre Auston Matthews, here’s how the remaining Canadian teams fared, and what we project from then on draft day:
Winnipeg Jets, No. 2: As mentioned earlier, they’ll pick from one of the two Finnish wingers, likely the one they feel pairs best with 23-year-old centreman Mark Scheifele. That’s a pair of 6-foot-3 forwards destined for the Jets top line for years to come. Not bad.
Edmonton Oilers, No. 4: No one is feeling sorry for Edmonton, which has had more than its fair share of lottery luck. And this could be a blessing in disguise for Edmonton, who will be more likely to draft a much needed defenceman rather than add another winger.
Don’t rule out London’s Matthew Tkachuk however. His size and net front work is something GM Peter Chiarelli might want alongside Connor McDavid — especially if he trades a current winger like Jordan Eberle or Taylor Hall in search of a defenceman who can help immediately.
Vancouver Canucks, No. 5: The Canucks needs are many, like any team near the top of the draft, and their disappointment here was the greatest. Edmonton was due some bad lottery luck, but what did the Canucks do to drop two spots, from third to fifth?
Top three forwards are, to these eyes, Vancouver’s biggest need today. The Sedins, who turn 36 in September, will be second line players one day soon, and right now there isn’t anyone to take over for them. They’ll choose a Tkachuk, or 6-foot-1 centre Pierre-Luc Dubois. The Canucks need some guaranteed first-liners, stat!
Calgary Flames, No. 6: Disappointment too for Calgary, which arrived here like everyone else, with visions of at least walking away with one of the two Finns. Instead, they drop from fifth to sixth.
Calgary’s defence is awfully strong, so at the No. 6 position it’s likely they’ll add to a young forward corps that already includes some top-end talent. Whichever of the top ranked forwards remain, Calgary will likely take. Or exercise their option to select the best defenceman in the draft, because unless Edmonton chooses one they should all be there when GM Brad Treliving steps to the podium.
Montreal Canadiens, No. 9: This is prime defenceman territory for the Habs, who like everyone below the Jets stayed right where they were at when the lottery began. And it’s a good thing: Montreal desperately needs some blue-liners in its pipeline. It’s very likely that one of Finn Olli Juolevi, Sarnia’s Jacob Chychrun or Windsor’s Mikhai Sergachev will still be there for the Canadiens to draft ninth.
Ottawa Senators, No. 12: The last Canadian team to draft — that’s seven of the Top 12 picks going to a Canadian team — the Sens plans went unaltered at the lottery. They’re in that Michael McLeod, Tyson Jost, Logan Brown, Dante Fabrro territory.
Ottawa will get a very good player, but not one who is likely to play in the NHL next season.