All year long, the discussion surrounding the 2015 NHL Draft lottery has been about the teams best positioned to land the top prospects Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.
There’s been the annual “Is tanking ethical?” debate and plenty of suggestions on how to improve the draft lottery system.
Instead of that, we’ve decided to focus on the long shots in the lottery. Sorry, Toronto.
Even though the odds are miniscule, there’s still a chance that a team could come out of nowhere to win the lottery. And this year, the draft’s top pick will be as in demand as ever.
Here are the five craziest draft lottery scenarios that could unfold on Apr. 18:
Buffalo finishes with the top two picks: I know, this scenario is as likely as me dating a supermodel. However, it’s still technically possible. As part of last season’s Thomas Vanek trade, the Sabres acquired the Islanders’ first-round pick in 2015. And it’s NOT lottery protected. So here’s the scenario: The Islanders choke down the stretch, lose their final two games in regulation, and miss the playoffs. That would be tough to swallow for the Islanders, but it would be far worse if they somehow won the lottery — even with the longest possible odds. In that case, both McDavid and Eichel would end up in Buffalo. How fun would that be?!
Senators’ hard work pays off: Despite their magical late-season run, it’s still very possible the Ottawa Senators fall short of a playoff spot. That would be a tough blow to Senators fans, but they could still be rewarded by the hockey gods. And wouldn’t it make the anti-tanking crowd happy if the Senators ended up atop of the draft after fighting so hard down the stretch?
Oilers nab a pair of top picks: This wouldn’t be as fruitful as Buffalo landing the top two picks, but Edmonton is positioned well in a deep draft class — especially with the Pittsburgh Penguins’ late-season slide. In case you forgot, Edmonton acquired Pittsburgh’s first-rounder in the trade for forward David Perron earlier this season. So Edmonton faces a scenario in which they could land two of the top four picks. To achieve this they would not only need the Penguins to miss the playoffs, but also win the lottery. In that case, Edmonton would pick No. 1 and No. 4. since they’re primed to finish with the league’s third-worst record. Haven’t they had enough No. 1 overall picks already?
Kings go from first to worst: No, the Kings wouldn’t technically finish in last place, but how unbelievable would it be for a defending Stanley Cup champion to win the draft lottery? The thought of McDavid on the same roster as Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter just seems unfair. What a reward that would be for missing the playoffs.
Sharks finally get some luck: In terms of sheer craziness or improbability, the Sharks landing the top pick doesn’t rank all that high. But there are some fun elements to it. For one, the Sharks have never picked first overall in franchise history. Joe Thornton was drafted first, but that pick was made by the Boston Bruins in 1997. The Sharks have been No. 2 three different times (Patrick Marleau, Pat Falloon, and Andrei Zyuzin). With Marleau and Thornton nearing the decline phase of their careers, landing McDavid would certainly revitalize the franchise. But can the Sharks actually catch a break? Doesn’t seem likely.