The 2018 NHL Draft Lottery has come and gone and now we know the order in which teams will pick from 1-15 at the draft in Dallas on June 22. The first three picks, in order, belong to Buffalo, Carolina and Montreal.
It was a jam-packed evening, with picks 4-15 released prior to Vegas-San Jose Game 2 and the top three unveiled during the second intermission. Two teams moved up into the top three, while the team at the very bottom of the standings was able to hang on to the top pick.
Sportsnet.ca’s blog followed along through the evening, getting the GM’s view of the top players available in the draft, especially projected top pick Rasmus Dahlin. The franchise-altering is now, in all likelihood, a Buffalo Sabre.
Earlier in the evening, Sportsnet hosted a Facebook Live Draft Lottery pre-show with Jeff Marek and John Shannon, where they discussed the draft, prospects and strategies with team representatives. You can watch the show back here.
Scroll down for a complete rundown of the evening’s chatter.
Sabres changed their strategy, believe they’re ‘moving in the right direction’
Moving away from something they’d done in the past, the Sabres did not send a representative to the sequester room where the lottery actually takes place before the results are announced on live television.
Now, Rasmus Dahlin is all but theirs.
“He’s a defenceman 31 teams in the NHL want,” GM Jason Botterill said. “Ability to jump up on the rush, create…This is exciting. For the players too, they want to play with other skilled players. This is a good day.”
In Dahlin, the Sabres can add a blueliner who would undoubtedly step into the NHL lineup right away and be one of, if not the top blueliner on the NHL’s worst 2017-18 team.
But it’s not as though he would be the first piece towards a brand new rebuild. While this reconstruction has been going on for years now, the Sabres have a promising collection of young players on paper, and Dahlin helps to round out the whole group.
“It’s not just him, it’s the other young players in our organization right now,” Botterill said. “You look at the centremen we have with Jack (Eichel), Ryan O’Reilly, Casey Mittelstadt. Then we have guys like Sam Reinhart, Zemgus Girgensons who can also play centre, wing.”
And with this base, and a real urgency to win setting in with the new management group, Botterill hinted the team could also be active on the July 1 player market.
“We also know from the situation we have an owner in Terry and Kim Pegula who are willing to give us resources to try to bring free agents in and hopefully players see the situation and see that the Buffalo Sabres are moving in the right direction.”
Buffalo fans haven’t seen their team make the playoffs since 2011 and haven’t seen a series win since 2007. By now there was supposed to be more progression from the young group already in place. But perhaps Dahlin is the kind of unique, generational talent that can finally transform this group.
Who could the Montreal Canadiens get third overall?
Don’t fret, Habs fans. While you won’t get the generational defenceman third overall, the players left at that position are still highly talented and could push for a roster spot as early as next season.
Generally, this draft is regarded to have a solid top six, though a couple of GMs thought the talent doesn’t take another drop off after Dahlin until as late as pick nine or 10.
At No. 3, the Canadiens are in a great spot to get a supremely skilled scoring winger, either Andrei Svechnikov or Filip Zadina.
Zadina performed better than Svechnikov at the Top Prospects Game where the Czech winger scored two goals. Zadina was also the better of the two at the WJC, though Svechnikov’s minutes were severely limited there. Overall, Zadina finished with 82 points in 57 games for the Halifax Mooseheads, an organization that produced Jonathan Drouin.
Svechnikov missed a large chunk of the season early on with a hand injury, but when he came back OHL competition could not stop him. Despite playing just 44 games, Svechnikov scored 72 points to runaway with the rookie lead by 18. His 40 goals were eighth-most in the OHL and no one scored at a better per-game rate than he did.
Should the Canadiens go in a different direction, puck-moving Swedish defenceman Adam Boqvist will still be there. He spent most of his season in Sweden’s top junior league. Or, the Habs could elect to go with another winger in Brady Tkachuk, a scorer in the NCAA who plays with the same edge as his brother Matthew.
Sabres ‘absolutely ecstatic’ to land No. 1 overall pick
This will be the first time the Sabres pick first overall since 1987, when they took Pierre Turgeon first overall ahead of Brendan Shanahan.
Buffalo Sabres win draft lottery, pick first overall
A couple years after having the best odds, but missing out on Connor McDavid (but still getting a star in Jack Eichel), the Sabres held on to the first overall pick in 2018. Now, they will likely take Rasmus Dahlin, a franchise-altering defenceman.
The Carolina Hurricanes will pick second, and the Montreal Canadiens third.
Who has the best odds now?
The winner of the draft lottery, and the team that will likely take Rasmus Dahlin in June, is about to be announced. What are the odds now that 12 teams have been eliminated?
Public Service Announcement: The correct pronunciation of Rasmus “Dahlin”
Canucks were denied a request to send mascot Fin to Draft Lottery
And now for something completely different.
Earlier, Canucks GM Jim Benning talked about why he was representing the team at the lottery this year instead of President Trevor Linden. After losing out two years in a row, the team tried to find luck with a different look.
But in an interview on Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver, Benning said he wasn’t even the first choice.
A look at who the Oilers could end up with at 10th overall
“We would need a puck-moving defenceman if we’re drafting by need,” Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli said in Sportsnet’s Facebook Live pre-lottery show. “If we’re drafting best player available, all bets are off.”
According to Sam Cosentino’s rankings, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds centre Barrett Hayton could go to the Oilers with this pick. Oddly enough, in a defence-heavy first round, Hayton could be the best centre available.
With 60 points in 63 games, Hayton was sixth in scoring on a loaded Greyhounds team and he’s added 15 points in 16 playoff games with Sault Ste. Marie one win away from the OHL championship series.
If the Oilers seek a puck-moving blueliner here there could still be some available. Quinn Hughes is ranked No. 9 on Cosentino’s list, and coming in at No. 12 is Ty Smith, the second-highest scoring blueliner in the WHL. Our own Daniel Nugent-Bowman recently wrote a great feature on Smith.
There’s also a possibility that exists with the Oilers that is far more of a long shot with any of the other Canadian franchises picking in the top 15: a trade. With motivation to get back into the playoffs, this pick could be used to bring in the puck-moving blueliner Chiarelli is after.
A look at who the Canucks could get at No. 7
Another disappointing fall at the lottery, this time to seventh overall, the Canucks could still get a very good player.
At No. 7 on Cosentino’s list is Noah Dobson, a 6-foot-3 defenceman who has shot up the rankings all season long. In our first rankings in October, Dobson was not even in the top 31.
A puck-moving defender, Dobson scored 69 points in 67 QMJHL games with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, good for second in ‘Q’ scoring among all defencemen.
Other potential picks here could be Evan Bouchard, the OHL’s highest-scoring defenceman with 87 points in 67 games, or Quinn Hughes, yet another great puckhandling blueliner who will represent USA at the World Championship next month.
A look at who the Senators could get at the NHL Draft
Now that we know the order of the teams picking outside of the top 3, we can start to contemplate which players the Canadian teams may end up with.
Using Sam Cosentino’s top 31 rankings as a guide, here are some players the Ottawa Senators could end up with:
Brady Tkachuk: Just missing out on the top three, the Senators will pick fourth overall. If they use this pick as expected, Ottawa will send its 2019 first-rounder to Colorado to finish off the Matt Duchene trade.
At No. 4 on Cosentino’s ranking is Tkachuk, brother of Calgary’s Matthew and someone who is just as feisty. Said Coyotes GM John Chayka of Tkachuk: “he’s a heck of a player…he’s a unique player who brings a skill set that’s tough to find.
Playing for Boston University, Tkachuk posted eight goals and 31 points in 40 games, which was the best among all college players in their first year of draft eligibility. He also had a strong showing for Team USA at the world juniors, finishing sixth in tournament scoring and tops among all draft eligibles at the tournament with seven points in six games.
Other potential picks here could be Adam Boqvist, a puck-moving Swedish defenceman, or Oliver Wahlstrom, a rising star who just finished the World Under-18 tournament as the highest goal scorer with seven in six games.
The three winning GMs talk about picking in the top 3
Well, we know which teams will pick at the start of the draft, but we don’t yet know the order. Unlike last year where the three teams with the best odds all moved down, the Buffalo Sabres still have a chance to hold on to the top pick.
Joining the Sabres are the Canadiens, who moved from No. 4, and the Carolina Hurricanes, who made the biggest jump this year, moving all the way from No. 11.
Here are what their team representatives at the lottery had to say:
Jason Botterill, Buffalo: “We’re obviously very excited about our situation there. And we knew coming in, whether we were going to be picking 1-4 we were going to be drafting a very good player, but with some of our players such as Jack Eichel and bringing in Casey Mittelstadt (eighth overall) from last year, we’re excited to add another top player to our fray.”
Don Waddell, Carolina: “A lot of work to be done here at this point because we were thinking going into the draft we were going to be 11, now we’re going to be picking in the top three so it’s good for our scouts. We have our meetings coming up this week and we’ll be prepared for it.”
Marc Bergevin, Montreal: “Nervous. Our fans…it was a tough year for all of us. And hopefully today…obviously we’re moving up, and we’ll see in a little bit where we pick, but we’re going to be excited about the player we get.”
The results are in: Buffalo, Montreal and Carolina will be the first three teams to pick in the NHL Draft.
The order of the top three picks will be revealed during the second intermission of the San Jose-Vegas game, which is on now. Stay here on our live blog, however, where we’ll discuss some of the top prospects and explore the buzz around the league following this announcement.
Draft Lottery Odds
With the first part of the draft lottery just about to begin, here again are the chances each team has to win the first overall pick.
Latest Top 31 Prospect Rankings from Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino
We’re about half-an-hour away from finding out which teams lost the lottery and will pick between fourth and 15th overall at the draft in June. So while we know the top-ranked prospect is Rasmus Dahlin, if your team is called among the those first 12 selections you’ll want to read up on where Sam ranks the rest of the first-round prospects, and why he ranks them where they are.
Reminder to tune in to Sportsnet, CBC or Sportsnet NOW at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT for the first part of the draft lottery.
How good is Rasmus Dahlin? Team GMs talk about this year’s top prospect
During the Facebook Live session with Jeff Marek and John Shannon, each team representative who joined the show was asked to describe the special talent that Rasmus Dahlin brings to the table.
Often compared to other great Swedish defencemen Victor Hedman and Erik Karlsson, Dahlin will come to North American with great expectations — and each general manager agreed he is elite.
Red Wings GM Ken Holland: “I think everybody in the industry agrees he’ll be a special player, a player who will compete for Norris Trophies.”
Coyotes GM John Chayka: “Our scouts think he could be one of the best Swedish players to come out ever. Just a well-rounded game, I think it’s an effortless game. I think he combines power, speed, skill, obviously great size. He’s got the dynamic aspect to his game as well.”
Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman: “He’s impressive. Really impressive. He’s a fun player to watch. Everyone tries to make comparisons, but to me he’s so unique he doesn’t remind me of anybody. He plays like a skilled forward a lot of times with the way he rushes the puck up the ice.”
In fact, Bowman says, Dahlin could be the one future NHL defencemen get compared to.
“He’ll probably see some people try to emulate the way he plays.”
Senators GM to meet with head coach Guy Boucher on Monday
When Dorion met with Jeff Marek and John Shannon on Facebook Live most of the questions were about the Senators’ prospect pipeline and the upcoming draft, but one focused on the future of head coach Guy Boucher.
Dorion said he would meet with the head coach on Monday to chart a path forward for the organization and hear the coach’s ideas on how the team can get better. But still, no decision has yet been made on Boucher’s future.
“Haven’t made any decisions,” Dorion said. “No timeline.”
Jeff Marek and John Shannon host Draft Lottery pre-show on Facebook Live
Head over to Sportsnet’s Facebook page now to watch our lottery preview show hosted by Jeff Marek and John Shannon.
The guys will talk about some of the top prospects and discuss them and draft strategy with various team representatives. Up first: Senators GM Pierre Dorion.
Be sure to leave a question that could be asked on air.
Canucks GM sees a little Erik Karlsson in top prospect Rasmus Dahlin
In 2016, Vancouver came to the lottery with the third-best odds and in 2017 they had the second-best chance to win the top pick. But luck has not been on their side. On both occasions Vancouver slipped to the fifth overall pick.
So, the team changed it up. Canucks GM Jim Benning is representing the Canucks at the lottery this year instead of president Trevor Linden.
“Trevor sent me this year,” Benning said during the first intermission of the Bruins-Lightning game. “Things didn’t go very well for us the last couple years. I don’t know if it’s going to make a difference this year or not, but we’re going to change it up.”
With just a 7.5 per cent chance of winning the first overall pick this time, Vancouver has lower odds than they’ve had the past two years. But Benning knows what kind of a game-changer it would be for his rebuilding team if they found a little luck and landed the No. 1 overall pick to have a chance to draft Rasmus Dahlin.
“He’s a great two-way player to start off with, he reads the game, carries the puck up the ice,” Benning said. “He’s good defensively, has a good stick defensively, but I think when he gets in the offensive end he’s got some Erik Karlsson in him where he’s not scared to make plays. So he’s an exciting player on the offensive side, too.”
Dahlin is certainly familiar with Elias Pettersson, Vancouver’s fifth overall pick from the 2017 Draft. The two played against each other in Sweden’s top league this season and were teammates for the Tre Kronor at the World Junior Championship.
In March, Dahlin joined Canucks Central at Noon on Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver and was asked what he’d think about being taken by the Canucks.
“That would be sick,” he said.
For more on Dahlin, check out this great Sportsnet video feature from December.
Will the Senators keep their draft pick?
As a result of the Matt Duchene trade, the Senators owe the Colorado Avalanche a first-round pick, but they can elect to keep this year’s and send their 2019 pick to Denver instead.
During the second intermission of the Bruins-Lightning game, Senators GM Pierre Dorion joined Elliotte Friedman and David Amber and was asked if he’d keep the 2018 selection.
“Most likely,” the GM said with a smile.
Rick Nash’s connection to the draft lottery
Game 1 of the Bruins-Lightning second round series is ongoing and the Bruins’ Rick Nash has two goals.
Draft lottery related: The Florida Panthers won and moved from third to first in the 2002 draft. They then swapped picks with Columbus, which gave the Blue Jackets the first overall selection and send Florida back to No. 3. Columbus took Nash and Florida took Jay Bouwmeester.
The Panthers won the lottery again in 2003, moving from fourth to first. For the second year in a row they traded the top pick, this time to the Pittsburgh Penguins for third overall, 55th overall and Mikael Samuelson. The Penguins chose Marc-Andre Fleury and the Panthers, already with Roberto Luongo, took Nathan Horton.
The NHL has had a draft lottery since 1995, but the rules have changed many times. At first, there was one draw and the winner wouldn’t necessarily end up with the first overall pick. From 1995-2013, the team that won the lottery only moved up four spots from their initial position.
Then, the format changed to open up the possibility that any non-playoff team could win the first overall pick. In 2016, the format changed again so that three draws were made to determine who picked first, second and third.
Sportsnet’s Steve Dangle has a great breakdown of the history of the lottery and how it’s changed over the years. Here is the result of every lottery, and which players ended up being picked with the affected spots.
The Sabres may have the best odds at the No. 1 pick, but the Arizona Coyotes are sitting in an historically lucky spot.
We’re still a few hours away from finding out the order of picks 15-4, so in the meantime be sure to check out some great draft-related content from the writers at Sportsnet:
• Big Read: How Rasmus Dahlin became Sweden’s next great prospect, by Gare Joyce
• What a Draft Lottery win would do for the Canucks, by Iain MacIntyre
• What a Draft Lottery win would do for the Canadiens, by Eric Engels
• What a Draft Lottery win would do for the Oilers, by Mark Spector
• 2018 Draft Lottery FAQ, by Emily Sadler
A reminder: three teams that fell short of the playoffs traded away their first-rounder this season, though two of them are conditional.
The Calgary Flames shipped their first-rounder to the NY Islanders in the Travis Hamonic deal, so Isles GM Garth Snow has two opportunities to get the first overall pick.
The Blues traded their first to Philadelphia in the Brayden Schenn deal, but if it ends up in the top 10 they have the option to keep it this year and send the Flyers their 2019 pick instead. Same goes for the Ottawa Senators, who moved their first to Colorado in the Matt Duchene trade. If they opt to keep the pick this year, the Senators’ 2019 first-rounder will go to the Avalanche instead.
Graphic via CapFriendly.com.
The Buffalo Sabres finished last overall in the regular season standings, so therefore have the best shot to end up with the No. 1 pick tonight — but they still only have an 18.5 per cent shot at it.
Here are the percentage chances that each of the 15 teams in the lottery walks away with the first pick overall. For all you need to know about the lottery, check out Emily Sadler’s FAQ.