I love the lead up to the NHL Entry Draft. It’s fun to learn and discover the future of the NHL, but, as much as I love it and find it fascinating, I know that the picks my two favorite teams make are not going to be relevant for another couple years. At least not at the NHL level.
My teams are the Toronto Maple Leafs (I have no idea how that happened) and the Minnesota Wild (I’m from Minnesota). Both teams are sitting in a playoff spot right now. The Leafs are almost guaranteed a spot and hopefully the Wild will be able to hold onto at least a wildcard position. There is no real chance that either of my favorite teams will get the first overall pick and draft Jack Hughes. But, that does not mean that this year I am apathetic regarding the draft lottery. There is a fast, talented, American projected to go first overall. Of course I am invested!
Now, because I don’t cheer for any of the teams that are in contention for the first overall pick, my own desires for the draft lottery outcome are completely based on narratives and most entertaining possible results. I have two prominent desired outcomes for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft; the first overall pick should go to either the Vancouver Canucks or the Colorado Avalanche via Ottawa’s first round pick.
Vancouver winning the draft lottery is the more heartwarming narrative. I have watched several Canucks games this year, and every time has been exciting, as well as unpredictable. It will be fun to see what this team is able to do in the future with Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Thatcher Demko, Quinn Hughes, etc. The Canucks have a new guard and the team is entering a new era. It is exciting and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for Vancouver.
With the Sedins retiring at the end of the 2017/2018 season, there is a lack of brotherly energy on the Canucks. Which is why I think it would be wonderful for Jack to join his brother, Quinn, in Vancouver. The narrative possibilities are endless and it makes Jack Hughes going to Vancouver an appealing idea.
The more sinister of my two desired outcomes is for the Ottawa Senators first round pick (which they traded to Colorado in the Matt Duchene deal) to get the first overall spot. Nothing has gone right for the Senators recently; the team is 28th in the standings, do not own a first round pick, and the team’s two best players (Mark Stone and Matt Duchene) are free agents at the end of the season. Even though the Senators situation is sad and I probably should feel sorry for the team, all I want to do is make fun of them for losing out on Jack Hughes.
Ottawa is already the punchline to so many hockey jokes, but it is fun to imagine how many more there would be if the Avalanche draft Jack Hughes with Ottawa’s pick. If you can make dark humor out of hockey, this possible draft lottery outcome would be it.
The Colorado Avalanche do not need another elite talent to be successful in the near future. They have a dominant first line with Landeskog-Mackinnon-Rantanen, and currently hold the first wild card spot in the Western Conference. Hughes would make the Avalanche a deeper team and a Mackinnon-Hughes center pairing would be one of the best in the league for many years. I probably should not want any team in the Central Division to get better, but the Avalanche are endearing and difficult to dislike.
Along with two desired future homes for Jack Hughes, there are two outcomes I pray do not happen. Firstly, I do not want the Edmonton Oilers to win the draft lottery. It’s not that I have something against the Oilers; I just do not trust their management to fix the bad situation they created. The Oilers drafted first overall four times in less than a decade and have a generational talent in Connor McDavid yet are still in the bottom half of league. I want to see the Oilers succeed, but nothing makes me think they can under the team’s current management. No part of me wants to see Hughes suffer in a poorly run organization.
The other team I do not want the first overall pick to fall to is the Chicago Blackhawks. This is because I do not want to see the Blackhawks play well for a long time. They have killed the Wild in the playoffs too many times for me to want to see them do well ever again. Problem for me is, the chances of the Blackhawks actually winning the draft lottery are very high; the team is currently 5th worst in the league, and I doubt it would surprise anyone if Chicago finished even lower in the standings.
On a positive note, watching Jack Hughes play at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Junior Championships made me excited to watch him in the NHL in the near future. I know he will not play for either of my favorite teams, but I have a feeling that he will be one of the players I cheer for not matter what team he ends up on.
Header from The Telegraph Herald.