The NHL got the chaos it wanted in the NHL draft lottery. Which team winning would make everyone most upset?
The NHL loves chaos and after last night’s NHL draft lottery, the league has to be happy. Fans of the Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Ottawa Senators, Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, and New Jersey Devils are all upset because a team that loses in the play-in round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will have the first overall pick.
And not just any first overall pick. The first overall pick that will be used to draft Alexis Lafrenière. He’s one of the most hyped prospects in recent memory. He’s not Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews, but he didn’t win CHL Player Of The Year two years in a row by accident.
There’s going to be chaos. But how much chaos will there be? That all depends on which play-in round loser gets the first overall pick. Let’s break it down and see how many tin foil hats would be created by each team winning.
Nobody really hates the Carolina Hurricanes. Well, except for Don Cherry, but besides him, no one else. They’re not any team’s top rival. The Hurricanes are a fun bunch of jerks and have been screwed a few times by the draft lottery, so getting some good luck for a change would be a good thing.
In fact, as long as the Hurricanes promise to do a Storm Surge to celebrate winning the lottery, I’m all for them winning it. Even if they don’t, the Canes are an option that would prove the lottery isn’t rigged at all. Sure, you could argue that’s what the NHL wants us to think, but if you want to think the league that had multiple mumps outbreaks in the 2010s is smart enough to pull off a conspiracy, feel free.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Much like the Hurricanes, nobody really hates the Columbus Blue Jackets. You could argue maybe the Pittsburgh Penguins do, but they’re at best their third biggest rival. Penguins fans hate the Flyers and Capitals way more than the Blue Jackets.
There would also be a bit of a “karma” aspect to it if the Jackets win. They went all-in at the trade deadline in 2019 and didn’t reap the rewards they deserved for doing so. This would be a nice consolation prize.
If the Winnipeg Jets win, the over/under for “Winnipeg doesn’t have an airport” jokes is set at 10.5. Bet the over.
In all seriousness, the Jets should have won it anyway. If the lottery was done under normal, traditional standards, the Jets would have been the team who won it. But hey, 2020 is anything but normal and traditional.
The Florida Panthers have been stuck in mediocrity for a very good portion of their existence. When you’re as mediocre as them, you don’t have many enemies. You might get a few nutjobs saying the league just wants a star in Florida, but other than that, you’re not going to find many people who are upset if the Panthers get the first pick. Dale Tallon would probably just let the clock run out on the pick anyway.
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New York Islanders
If the New York Rangers lose in the play-in round, you can bet they’ll be upset if the New York Islanders win the lottery. Likewise for the New Jersey Devils, even though they have nothing to complain about since they’ve won two draft lotteries in the last four years.
You could make a “conspiracy” argument for the Islanders winning the lottery. It’s a stretch, but hey, the Isles are getting a new fancy arena at Belmont. What better way to get people to come to it than Alexis Lafrenière? That said, the league didn’t even do this for the Detroit Red Wings, so why would they do it for the Islanders?
The Minnesota Wild have never had the first overall pick in the NHL draft. Heck, they’ve only had one draft pick in the top three. They’re long overdue for some lottery luck. You’ll see a few angry Colorado Avalanche fans because of their lack of lottery luck in 2017 (though frankly, they should be ecstatic they got Cale Makar). Maybe some angry Central Division fans. But other than that, nothing else.
Sure, you’ll have some angry Edmonton Oilers fans and probably some upset Vancouver Canucks fans too. But other than that, nobody’s going to be upset.
Nashville is a freaking fantastic city. People knock their fans for having an SEC football atmosphere indoors, but I went there for a game and it was wonderful. Still, for some reason, there’s a sizable group of hockey fans who simply don’t like the fact that Nashville’s turning into a hockey town. You’ll definitely get some more of those “the NHL just wants a good player in the South” lunatics.
On one hand, very few teams have been screwed by the draft lottery harder than the Vancouver Canucks. They’ve picked in the top five just twice in the 21st century – and both times they had the fifth pick.
But on the other hand, this is where you start getting suspicious. A talented young team get another elite talent? Yeah, you’ll definitely get nutjobs yelling about a conspiracy. Also, Devils fans will be mad because this would mean the Devils wouldn’t get the Canucks 2020 first-round pick. The Canucks are a Canadian team, so you can be sure people will be mad for that reason alone.
Chaotic And Fun
Alright everyone, let’s face it, the Arizona Coyotes are going to get the first pick. Taylor Hall’s on the Coyotes, you all know the drill. But seriously, this would be so hilarious. Hall would get another draft lottery win on his resume. Keep in mind he’s going to be a free agent this summer. Would a team who wants better lottery luck consider signing him for his draft lottery luck alone?
Also, imagine how mad all the mainstream media folks in Canada would be if the Yotes got the first pick. They already don’t like them for various reasons, most of them revolving around Quebec not having a team. There would absolutely be people who think the NHL fixed the lottery for the Coyotes.
Full Blown Chaos
There are six chaotic options. If you’re like me and you love chaos, you’re going to want one of these six teams to win because it’s going to piss everyone off. It would be the NHL’s equivalent of the1985 NBA Draft. All of these options would cause a ton of chaos, so I’m not going to bother ranking them in any specific order.
The Chicago Blackhawks jumped up from 12th to third in the 2019 draft and people got all upset about it. Now, imagine how outraged people would be if the Blackhawks lost in the play-in round and still got the first overall pick. Everyone would be fitting themselves for tin foil hats.
People already think the NHL is biased towards the Blackhawks. After all, they get outdoor games all the time and are featured prominently on national television, even when they’re bad. Watching the Blackhawks get the first overall pick would take that hatred people have for them to another level.
The Edmonton Oilers represent everything wrong with the draft lottery. From 2010 to 2015, the Oilers had the first pick more times than they didn’t. People still haven’t forgiven the Oilers for that nonsense.
If the Oilers get the first overall pick, you’ll have about 500 “why the draft lottery is the worst” articles written within 24 hours. Guaranteed. Fans of every team other than the Oilers would be outraged. If you want chaos, root for the Oilers to win.
The Montreal Canadiens are the NHL’s banner franchise. They’ve won more Stanley Cups than any franchise. However, the Canadiens haven’t been too successful since winning the Stanley Cup in 1993. A lot of fans don’t like them because the Habs are immensely popular despite their lack of recent success.
Oh, and Alexis Lafrenière is from Quebec. The draft was supposed to be held in Montreal. It’s not hard to see how conspiracy theorists would be able to connect the dots.
New York Rangers
If this was a year ago, this option would have been by far the most chaotic. How convenient for the NHL to give the New York Rangers a first overall pick as soon as they desperately need one. Even though the Rangers got the second overall pick in 2019, people would be mighty pissed if they won the 2020 draft lottery.
Any time a team from a large market gets the first overall pick, you hear people saying the league just wants a star in that market. Devils fans would be outraged and so would Islanders fans. Fans across hockey would be pissed off because the Rangers don’t really need that much help. They’ve got a great prospect pool, Artemi Panarin, and an underrated supporting cast.
Did I mention the Rangers are the NHL’s most valuable franchise?
It’s unfortunate social media wasn’t really a thing in 2005. If it was, could you imagine the tweets when the Penguins won the 2005 draft lottery, which gave them the right to draft a generational superstar in Sidney Crosby?
That’s why I’m rooting for the Penguins to win the lottery. We were deprived of pure chaos in 2005. It’s not a secret people think the league favors the Penguins. Them winning the lottery despite being one of the best teams in the league during the regular season would give us some really fun conspiracy theories.
Toronto Maple Leafs
I know I said I wouldn’t rank the most chaotic options, but this is the most chaotic option by a pretty comfortable margin. The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the NHL’s most valuable franchises, as they trail just the Rangers in terms of value.
Here’s the thing. Devils fans hate the Rangers. So do Islanders fans. But that’s about it. Just about everybody who isn’t a Maple Leafs fan hates them, or is at least sick of how everything they do gets blown out of proportion.
Honestly, I really want the Leafs to win the lottery. It’s been a while since hockey fans have had a heel team to root against. If the Leafs win, everyone will think the lottery was rigged. That’s going to piss off a lot of people.
The Leafs would be booed even louder than the late 1990s New York Yankees. Even louder than the LeBron James-led Miami Heat. Heck, even louder than the Golden State Warriors with Kevin Durant. Every game would be like LeBron’s first return to Cleveland.
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This is precisely what the NHL wanted. The league loves chaos. A playoff team winning the draft lottery is exactly what the NHL was hoping for. Why else would they have even given those teams a chance to win the lottery? You’ve got to tip your hat to the NHL. They wanted chaos and now they have it.