There may not be any playoff watch parties to attend this spring, but Montreal Canadiens fans are very much looking forward to learning the results of the NHL draft lottery on May 8.
With 68 points and a record of 31-45-6, the Habs finished their season in 28th place in the league’s standings — behind the Arizona Coyotes. As a result, they have the fifth-best odds of winning the draft lottery on Monday night.
That gives them a mere 8.5% chance of winning the lottery and the opportunity to select long-favoured No. 1 pick Connor Bedard.
When you take into consideration that the last-place Anaheim Ducks only have an 18.5% chance, those odds don’t seem too bad.
With that said, Montreal’s pick is most likely to drop.
The Habs actually have a higher chance (58%) of moving down one or two spots than they do of moving up. Their most likely outcome is sixth overall (44% chance) followed by staying put at fifth (24.5% chance). Luckily, the lowest Montreal’s pick could fall is down to seventh (13.9% chance).
The odds of ending up with the second pick (8.8%) are nearly the same as winning the whole lottery. With the way the system is set up, the Canadiens are not in the running for third and fourth overall picks at all.
Montreal also has another first-round pick in their back pocket this year. The Florida Panthers gave the Habs their 2023 first-rounder in a deal last year that involved defenceman Ben Chiarot.
Had the Panthers not snuck into the playoffs this year, that pick would have landed somewhere between 15 and 16, giving Montreal two picks in the top 20.
But now that they’re in the second round, it corresponds to their place in the standings and are locked at 17 — unless they beat Toronto and advance to Round 3. In that case, the pick will move down to somewhere between the 29th and 32nd spot.
With so much uncertainty regarding their picks, this year’s Entry Draft can go a lot of different ways for Montreal. Given general manager Kent Hughes’ record, there’s also the possibility of blockbuster trades on the big day.
The draft lottery is set to begin at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT on Sportsnet.