The Canucks didn’t win a lot on the ice this season, but if they can get a big win on Saturday, it will all be worth it.
After a lot of anticipation, the NHL’s annual draft lottery will take place on Saturday. The big prize up for grabs is Auston Matthews, who could be a game changer for the Canucks.
Matthews is a 6’2″, 194-pound future number-one centre. The native of Scottsdale, Arizona played pro hockey in Switzerland this season, playing under former Canucks coach Marc Crawford.
The 18-year-old was Crawford’s most productive scorer, putting up 46 points in 36 games.
Vancouver holds an 11.5% chance to win the lottery. Of course that means the Canucks have an 88.5% chance of not winning the lottery, despite the fact that they have the third-best odds of any team heading in.
Fortunately, for the first time ever, there are two consolation prizes to be won as well. The second and third picks are also going to be awarded via a weighted lottery. Vancouver holds approximately a 34% chance of getting a top-3 pick.
A pair of talented Finnish wingers will go #2 and #3 this June. Patrik Laine is a 6’3″, 200-pound left winger who scored 33 points (17-16-33) in 46 games with Tappara Tampere, a professional team in Finland.
Similarly, Jesse Puljujarvi is a 6’3″, 198-pound right winger that scored 28 points (13-15-28) in 50 games this season, playing with Karpat in the same league in Finland.
This is the fifth time that the Canucks will have a chance to win the first overall pick in the NHL Draft by way of some kind of game of chance. So far they’re 0-for-4.
Since the inception of the draft lottery in 1995, the Canucks had a chance at the first pick in 1998, 1999, and 2014, but didn’t get their ball drawn.
Vincent Lecavalier went #1 in 1998, the Canucks chose Bryan Allen with the fourth pick. In 2014, the #1 pick was Aaron Ekblad, while the Canucks chose Jake Virtanen at sixth overall.
Former Canucks GM Brian Burke wheeled and dealed picks at the 1999 Draft, and ended up with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, with the #2 and #3 picks. Patrik Stefan and Pavel Brendl also went in the top-4.
Do the Tampa Bay Lightning win a Stanley Cup if they get Allen instead of Lecavalier? How far do the Canucks fall in the last ten years if you replace the Sedins with Stefan and Brendl?
The most famous lottery loss the Canucks franchise suffered was before they ever took to the ice in 1970. That’s when Vancouver lost in the spinning wheel game of chance to their expansion cousins, the Buffalo Sabres.
The Canucks chose second that season, getting Dale Tallon, a good defenceman that went on to a 642-game NHL career. But the Sabres got Gilbert Perreault, who went on to a Hall of Fame career, scoring 1326 points in 1191 games.
With so much of a team’s success being dictated by the draft nowadays, luck will be of the utmost importance. The Canucks franchise has not overflowed with luck in the past, so you can be forgiven if you expect them to drop down the order.
Linden will represent #Canucks at draft lottery
— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) April 21, 2016
Maybe Trevor Linden can be the team’s good luck charm?
And hey, if practice makes perfect, maybe the Canucks hold an edge?
Benning: A couple nights ago I spent 2 hours playing the lottery simulator.
— Donnie & The Moj (@DonnieandTheMoj) April 21, 2016